I don’t want to oversimplify Bible study, but in most basic terms it involves two steps. The first step is to understand what the author meant by what he wrote back then. The second step is to then consider the enduring application of that text for us today. Back then . . . today. Two steps. One. Two.
Bible study is not a hop. We cannot simply try to understand what the text means for us today. But this happens all the time. Last night I was enjoying a Bible study in Isaiah 28-35. We noticed how easily writers will try to explain the content of the passage in terms of “us.” The problem with this “melded” approach to understanding a passage is that it flattens and simplifies everything.
You might say that actually simplified is good when it comes to complex books like Isaiah. Indeed, but not when simplified comes at the cost of understanding what Isaiah was actually writing, and at the cost of enjoying the multi-layered, complex, intricate and beautiful plan of God. When we look at the way God works out His promises we should be stirred to cry out, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” There is a richness to the way God works through history. That richness can be lost so quickly – in the time it takes to change two steps into a hop.
Wherever we are in the Bible, let’s be sure to wrestle with what the author meant back then, followed by the possible applications for us either by enduring theological truth or by extension (interpretation before application). One … two. Not a hop.
2 thoughts on “Bible Study Is Not a Hop”
i used to be afraid whenever involving application in study groups or sermon outline. fearing that i might interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit. ever heard of that?
some folks would think that doing application for the pew would push the Holy Spirit away and keep Him from illuminating the lives of the listeners. but now im quite sure this isnt right. though i still struggle in justifying why. perhaps because it will be the Holy Spirit telling the preacher what the application should be for the pew at that time? please advise, thanks!
Petalfin – thanks for your comment and question. One answer to this question of whether the preacher should apply in preaching is found here.
Feel free to ask further questions or poke for more on this subject.