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Day 10: Application

 

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Learn to Study the Bible with Logos: Part 3

Day 10: Apply the Passage

Part 3 Overview

We now understand the first two stages of Bible study, observation and interpretation. We are not only able to observe what the text says, but we’re also better equipped to answer the question, “what does the text mean?” We searched for and found important words and phrases in our passage that have helped us understand the meaning of the text. We looked at the structure of Matthew 4 for clues about what Matthew was communicating in this narrative.

In the next section of this course, we’ll spend some time on application. We are answering the question, “what does the text mean to me and to others I’m communicating with?” or, as Darrell Bock puts it, “so what?” When we apply the text we should keep the original audience’s context and our modern context in mind. Our desire is to take what we learned when we interpreted the text and legitimately apply that meaning to the context we live in. While the meaning of the passage doesn’t change over time, the application of that meaning often does. In Grasping God’s Word, Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays suggest coming up with a universal principle after we interpret the text. What is true about God, His world, and people that transcends the time and culture of the original writer that continues to be true today? We can then take that universal truth and apply it to our current situation. Remember, if you need further help, additional training videos are located at Logos.com/Logos-Pro and you can always contact the Logos Pro team at LogosPro@Faithlife.com.

Let’s dive in!

Step 9: Apply the Passage

Application is the work of taking a universal principle from a passage and thinking through its relevance for contemporary situations. I purposefully used the word “work” in the last sentence. Application is hard work and takes time. The best practice is to pray for God’s help as we think through the passage and how it applies to our own life. Nothing can replace concentrated time spent in prayer and meditation with the truths we’ve gleaned from the passage. The reason we don’t go to other sources first for application is because we can apply the text to our situation better than most, because, after all, no one knows our own situation better than we do.

Personal application should be paramount when we do personal Bible study. Too often, our sinful hearts tend to think about how the text applies to others before we allow what the Spirit is teaching through the Word into our own hearts.

Duvall and Hays’ concept of finding the universal principle of the text and applying it to today’s situation is a helpful one. The universal principle is what the text addresses that applies to all of God’s people and should flow directly out of the author’s intended meaning. For some passages in the Bible identifying the universal principle is relatively simple. It’s pretty easy to identify the universal principle in Paul’s admonition to the Philippians in chapter 2, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

With other passages, it’s more difficult. The genre of a passage and its historical setting may make identifying a universal principle more difficult. For instance, what universal principle can we derive from the story of left-handed Ehud’s killing of Eglon in the book of Judges? The point I’m making isn’t that there isn’t a universal principle in this story, just that it will take more time to identify it than it will for other passages.

Let’s briefly begin the work of application for Matthew 4:1–11. We summarized the meaning as, in the temptation, Jesus, the promised Messiah and beloved Son of God, victoriously triumphed over the evil one through reliance on His Father succeeding where Israel and the rest of humanity failed. We also hinted at the universal principle for this passage: we must have faith in the perfectly obedient and victorious beloved Son of God. This principle applies as directly to Matthew’s original audience as it does to us.

We can now take this principle and begin to apply it to our own lives. There are two sets of questions we’ll ask to do so, one centering on Jesus’ perfect obedience, the other on Jesus’ victory over Satan in the temptation.

First, what part of our lives does not reflect faith in Jesus’ perfect obedience for us? In Matthew 3, God the Father’s voice comes out of heaven to affirm Jesus’ sonship. Immediately afterward, in Matthew 4, Satan tests that declaration in the first two temptations challenging Christ with the words, “If you are the son of God.” Jesus demonstrates that He truly is the Son of God, not by miraculous deeds in this case, but by obedience and reliance on His Father. Matthew is showing off Jesus: He is trustworthy. We can rely on His obedience. So, in what ways are we relying on our own obedience and performance to become or maintain our status as beloved children of God?

Next, what part of our lives does not reflect faith in Jesus’ complete victory over Satan? The account of the temptation escalates to the final and boldest demand from Satan, “Worship me.” Jesus confronts this bold demand with an even more powerful command, “Be gone, Satan.” This was the central part of the passage’s structure and a foreshadowing of Jesus’ ultimate victory. In what ways do we not trust Jesus’ absolute control of situations in our life, including the temptation we experience? Are we trusting Jesus for victory over our sin or are we trusting our own devices?

How we answer these questions depends on our individual situation, and we can make the application more specific the longer we think about them.

Sermons

There are, of course, other things we can take away from the passage. We want to make sure our main application comes from the author’s main intention, but there’s nothing wrong with looking for other ways to apply the passage. We’ll call these concepts “secondary applications.” For instance, Jesus’ reliance on the Spirit of God and the Word of God to overcome the temptation is evident from the passage. Jesus is not only our substitute and King, He is our example. We can learn from His example in our own temptation. Again, this isn’t the primary level of application, but it is a level of application.

We’ll want to make sure these applications don’t contradict Scripture. One way to safeguard our application and find further application is to look to the application made by pastors we respect. The Sermon section in the Sermon Starter Guide is perfect for this task. Let’s highlight the passage, right-click, choose reference, and select “Sermon Starter Guide.” We’ll expand the Sermons section to see if our library includes any sermons on this passage.

John Piper is a well-known and respected voice in evangelicalism. I find two sermons he’s preached on this passage. In his sermon entitled “You Shall Worship the Lord Your God,” Dr. Piper includes a piercing illustration that he then applies to us, we should take “cues from the King’s Son” and have a devotion to worship God the Father as Jesus did. Piper states, “Yes, worship is a must. But not THAT kind of must. Not the kind that says, ‘I don’t want to, but if I must, I will.’ That will not do in kissing, and it will not do in worshiping….There is no value in a kiss or an act of worship that does not come from the heart…. The duty to worship is a duty to become a new person, to get a new heart. If worship must come from within, and worship is our number one duty in all of life, and you don’t find it coming from within you, then you need to be born again. Hearken to the renewing Word of God!”

His sermon entitled “Man Shall Not Live on Bread Alone” applies the text to fasting. He says, “In other words Jesus’ fasting is part of his testing the way hunger was for the people of Israel in the wilderness. But that doesn’t mean fasting wasn’t a means of battling Satan. Because fasting reveals where the heart is. And when the heart proves to love God more than bread, Satan does not have the foothold he would if our heart was in love with the earthly things like bread.”

If you find the Sermons section valuable, consider adding 17,000 sermons to your library with the Sermon Finder Collection.

Step 10: Share Insight

We’ll conclude this 10-Day Bible Study Challenge with a related challenge. Share. Your. Insight. If you are anything like me, spending so much time in Matthew 4 has lit a fire in my bones to share what I’ve learned. This forms the tenth and final step in our Bible study method. You may be sharing the insight you’ve gained with a church you preach or teach at, or with a small group you are a part of, or with a believing or unbelieving friend. Regardless of your audience, speaking the truth in love is a biblical imperative. In Ephesians 4:15, Paul encourages, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

9Marks Application Grid

We are including this biblical step in the application stage because part of sharing the insight you’ve gained is thinking through how the passage applies to the person or people to whom you are speaking. The best tool for this task I’ve found is the “Sermon Application Grid” that Mark Dever and 9Marks popularized. Michael Lawrence’s excellent Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church includes a quick summary of the application grid. The grid forces us to ask the following six questions about the passage:

  • “Where is this passage located in redemption history and how does it relate to us?
  • What does this point mean for the non-Christian?
  • What does it mean for us as citizens, as employees, and so forth?
  • What does it teach us about Christ?
  • What does it mean for us as individual Christians?
  • What does it mean for our church as a whole?”

We can take the answers we come up with for these questions and communicate them to others.

Visual Copy

One of the best places to find help for application is typing a topic into the Go box. We’ll do the same thing we did at the beginning of the challenge, type “temptation” into the Go box. The Topic Guide includes a whole section on Illustrations. The Sermon Starter Guide includes a section called “Preaching Resources” that includes links to quotations related to the topic. Illustrations and quotations are helpful tools for communicating truth. Let’s expand the Thematic Outlines section of the Sermon Starter Guide. There’s an entire outline on resisting temptation including “encouragement to those facing temptation,” “finding in God and His word resources to overcome temptation,” and “practical suggestions for overcoming temptation.”

I especially resonate with James 1:12. If we want to share this with our friends because we know many are struggling with temptation, we can right-click on the verse, select the reference, and choose visual copy. Logos displays a beautifully designed piece of art that we can share with our friends on social media or through email. We can also add it to presentation software if we are prepping for a Bible study.

We can share any one of the quotations we found while working through the Matthew 4. Let’s open our Clippings file, open the resource with the quotation, highlight the quotation we want to share, right-click, choose selection, and select Visual Copy on the left. Logos just created a professionally designed slide and we can change the design with one click.

Next Step

After finishing the 10-Day Bible Study Challenge, you may be wondering what the next step is. It’s simple. Choose another passage of Scripture and follow the ten Bible study steps. You can reference the videos and transcripts in this course at any time through the process. Let me remind you of the steps.

The first stage was observation and it included five steps:

  • Step 1: Read the passage in its context several times
  • Step 2: Identify important themes in the passage and connect them to the broad themes of the Bible
  • Step 3: Compare English translations
  • Step 4: Explore the passage’s literary and intertextual context
  • Step 5: Explore the passage’s historical and cultural context

The second stage was interpretation and it included three steps:

  • Step 6: Look for and study important words and phrases and connect them to the rest of Scripture
  • Step 7: Outline and interpret the passage
  • Step 8: Check your interpretation with the interpretation of others

The third stage was application and it included two steps:

  • Step 9: Apply the passage
  • Step 10: Share insight

Assignments

Here are your final assignments:

  • Apply the main point of Matthew 4:1–11 to at least three groups of different people: your family, your church, and those who do not believe in Jesus
  • Use visual copy to share either a quote you have found during this course or Logos verse art via email or social media
  • Choose the passage you’ll study next

We are so glad that you’ve stuck with us all the way through this 10-day challenge. Even as you move on to the next challenge, we would love to hear your questions and stories; you can connect with us at LogosPro@Faithlife.com, or through the 10-Day Challenge Faithlife group. It is our sincere hope that this method, and the tools in Logos Bible Software, will inspire and assist you in your continuing pursuit to grow in the light of the Bible.