Our human self-centeredness often let us fall into a trap to misinterpret the Bible as if it was only written for me, for now. This cpuld be a way to disguise and turn what God wants to say, into what we want to hear.
And yet, without God speaking to me, to us, today, Bible reading will become a tedious task with no relevance and therefore one we would too easily neglect.
I was excited when I came across articles by David Powlison about personal application of the Bible, and I want to share the core truths of these articles with you, in two parts. This is only the introduction.
The biggest challenge about Bible reading / studying / understanding- is how to personally apply your Bible reading to your life and your current circumstances. There is a correct, appropriate way that has the authority of God’s Word for you on the day you read it. Yet, there also are ways of reading the holy Scriptures where we make the Bible say what we want to hear, instead of what the Spirit intended it to mean to all believers. Such an interpretation has no authority as God’s Word and leads to misunderstanding, misleading and heresy.
Yet no believer should miss out on the miracle when the Spirit personally applies the Bible as God’s Word in our lives, today.
The words written in the holy Scriptures addressed the concerns of long-ago people in faraway places, facing specific problems, many of which no longer exist today. Yet they, the first, original readers, had no difficulty seeing the application for their lives and faith.
But nothing in the Bible was written to us in the same way as it was to the first readers and their circumstances.
In the Bible we are reading someone else’s mail.
Yet, the Bible repeatedly verifies that these words are also written for us:
Rom 5: 4 says “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction” (Also see Deut. 29:29, 1 Cor 10:11 and 2 Tim 3: 15 – 17.)
Application for our own help and benefit needs to discover the ways in which the Spirit applies the Scriptures in my present day to my present day needs.
We should always remember that the Bible is in the first place written to reveal God to us and in the second place about what this revelation practically means to us and our questions and calling, today.
The subject matter of the Bible is the Triune God as fully revealed in the life and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We read that when Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 22:45), Christ showed how everything written — creation, promises, commands, history, sacrificial customs, psalms, proverbs and much more — is really and ultimately, about God revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is further also true that whatever we read about Jesus - and the whole Bible points to him - includes a word for you and me.
It has a personal message for you. Application of the Bible for my life and questions I have today happens when the Spirit “rewrites” my life’s story by the revelation of who God is and what he is doing and has done through Jesus our Redeemer, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Personal application of the Bible has the authority of God speaking to me, today, with divine authority, when I respect and accept the above principles about reading the Bible, thousands of years after it was written. It was written during various ages, in three languages and by many human authors inspired by the same Spirit, yet telling a coherent, single narrative about God and his love for us, his people.
The Bible was first written for others — but speaks to you too.
The Bible is about God — but draws you into the narrative. Your challenge remains to apply Scripture afresh, because God’s purpose is always to change the narrative of your life’s story today - and every day, till the end.