How does what we teach from the Bible relate to everyday life? This is the question of “application,” how the text applies to life. More specifically, it is how the original message of the text applies to the lives of those whom we are teaching today.
To work out the application of a given text one needs to ask a series of questions. Jeramie Rinne suggests seven questions: 1) What is the main point of the text? 2) How did this text apply to the original hearers? 3) How might the text apply to different people groups? 4) How does the text shape, change, challenge, encourage the church? 5) What objections might a skeptic have? 6) How does the text relate to the gospel? 7) How does the text help us know and worship God?
When thinking about application I find it helpful to think in three categories – moral, knowledge related and practical. I have taken a fairly standard list of application questions (I think they are from Living by the Book by Hendricks) and divided them into these three categories:
Application can be related directly to moral issues: Is there a Sin to avoid, forsake or confess? Is there an Attitude to change or guard against? Is there a Command to keep? Is there an Error to mark? Is there a Priority to change?
Application can also be related to issues of knowledge and belief: Is there a Promise to believe? Is there a Truth to memorize and meditate upon? Or to action: Is there an Example to follow? Is there an Action I need to take? Is there a Prayer to pray? Is there Something to thank or praise God for?
Teaching good application will avoid a student leaving the room remarking, “so what?” It is also a key purpose for teaching the Bible since, as Paul exhorts Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).