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What Does it Mean for You?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror...

James 1:22-25
What Does it Mean for You? Book Cover

written to them, preserved for us

As we study the letters and Revelation, we might find ourselves wondering how we can possibly apply them to our lives. These books were written to specific people for specific reasons at specific times in history. And while it’s true that the letters and Revelation were not written to us, it is equally true that every book in the Bible has been preserved for us.

But, if we’re honest, affirming that these books are valuable for us is the easy part. Understanding how they apply to us in relevant and practical ways has its challenges. So, how do we do it? How do we get from a set of books written almost two millennia ago—in specific circumstances and to particular people—to how we live our lives today?

the letters: two principles

When it comes to the letters, two principles can help us navigate the tricky world of application. First, there’s the “To Them/For Them” principle. This principle reminds us that not everything in the letters has an application for us today. There are some passages that were truly meant only for the original readers. Second Timothy 4:13 is a helpful example. Paul wrote to Timothy asking him to visit him. And “when you come,” he wrote, “bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas.” There’s nothing in this passage for us. So, while we might think applying the Scriptures means we have to draw some spiritual value from every verse, the truth is that’s not necessary. By accepting that some verses weren’t meant for us, we can better focus on those that are.

Second is the “Then, Always, Now” principle. We use this principle by asking three questions of the passage we’re studying. Let’s take 2 Timothy 3:16–17 as an example.

Looking back on the work we did yesterday, what do we know of what was going on in the passage then?

What do we read in these two verses that we recognize to be always true of all people, in all places, and in all times?

Finally, how should what is always true of all people, in all places, and in all times in this passage impact our lives right now? What does it invite us to believe about God? What does it challenge us to do in response to that belief?

revelation: hope

When it comes to Revelation, it may seem like application is beyond us. After all, the book often focuses on future events. How can we possibly apply something today that hasn’t happened yet? As is the case with all things related to the book of Revelation, the key to application comes down to hope. We can apply our key Scriptures, Revelation 21:3–4, by asking:

How does the hope we have for Jesus’s return impact how we love God and others?

How does this hope change the way we live our lives?

The way we face adversity?

The way we respond to setbacks and disappointments?

And finally, what can we do to share this hope with others in practical ways? How can our lives today be foretastes of the life that is to come?

Learning how to apply the Scriptures is a process. Thankfully, it’s a process we don’t have to undertake alone. God has given us a helper in the Holy Spirit to guide us and instruct us and a community in the church to hold us accountable.

Praise God that, as Paul wrote, it is God who works in us, “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

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Comments (6)

Tht "To Them/For Them” and “Then, Always, Now” principles are helpful for not only the letters, but also for other parts of the Bible. Applying these principles while I read through scriptures will help me to put things into context. Together these principles call me to acknowledge that even though some words are written to and for people at a specific time, that a large portion of scriptures were preserved for me to walk in today. This Word is alive and active and calls me to action in the now despite it being written so long ago.

Thank you for all your faithful early morning responses during these past six weeks Shameika! It was encouraging to hear a bit of your heart each morning after doing the study! Praying we all grow in handling and seeking the Word of God in confidence after doing this study. Thankful for all the ladies (and I’m sure men too) who worked to make this teaching available to us!

Thank you so much for your hard work! This study has been a blessing to me. You always make your studies easy to understand. Thank you for helping me to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of God.💜

This passage was very helpful to me as I often feel like there are no other Christians who want to serve the LORD as much as I do so I feel abandoned. Not supported But the attitude portrayed in the passage is SOOOOO much more GODLY than mine Don’t hold it against them LORD WOW I feel GOD get them teach them a lesson draw them closer to YOU LORD!! Then I see it says GOD will stand by our side!! Wow isn’t it better to have HIM!! Then HIS message might be proclaimed and we will be delivered!!

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭4:16-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This study has been such a blessing. I am so excited to now dig in to my Bible with a method of study that I didn’t know previously. Now I can actually dive into the Word without walking away like it was a checkbox on my to-do list. I will miss this study as it has really opened the Word for me; however, I now know I can do this without a guided devotional. THANK YOU!

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