Applying the Bible

What are our attitudes, presumptions, and methods for applying the Scriptures to life?

  1. The Old Testament versus the New
    • Fundamental difference in audience
      • Jeremiah 31:31 – 34, Hebrews 8:8 – 12
      • The Kingdom formerly was populated by a vast majority of unbelievers
      • The present Kingdom is populated by believers only
    • Purpose of practices
      • To illustrate concepts
        1. Sacrifice
        2. Festivals
        3. Temple
      • To prepare for the Messiah (same items)
    • Result of obedience under the Law
      • Good crops and livestock, victory in war, large families
      • Blessings: Deuteronomy 7:12 – 16, 28:1 – 14
      • Curses: Deuteronomy 26:15 – 26, 28:15 – 68
      • No mention of heaven, hell, or eternal life
    • Law is for the lawless: 1 Timothy 1:8 – 11
  2. The New Testament Church
    • Futility of lists of practices (Romans 14:1 – 15:7)
      • What is a “doubtful thing”? (14:1)
      • Diet, holidays (14:2 – 23)
      • Whatever things were written before were written for our learning (15:4)
      • Receive one another just as Christ has received you (15:7)
      • See also (1 Timothy 1:3 – 7, 4:1 – 5, 2 Timothy 2:14, 3:1 – 7, 4:3 – 4, Titus 1:10 – 14, 1 Corinthians 8, Colossians 2:16 – 23)
      • The New Testament does not give a list of essential practices
        • People piece together lists based on different presumptions
          1. Worship as an event (acts of worship)
          2. “Silence of the Scriptures”
          3. Command, example, and necessary inference
        • Tradition influences relative importance
        • Culture influences relative importance
        • Even the 1st century church had problems with this
        • We have met the enemy and he is us
    •  Liberty
      • We have liberty: Titus 1:15, 1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23, Galatians 5:1
      • Do not abuse liberty: 1 Corinthians 8:9, Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:15 – 16
    • Motives for regulation
      • Distrust of members
      • Concept of authority
      • Law is what we know
      • Liberty (faith) is hard to measure
      • Assuming that behavior is the purpose of Creation
  3. How do we interpret and apply?
    • All was written to the various original audiences. We are observers.
      • Like the angels, we learn from their faith (Ephesians 3:8 – 12)
      • Blessed are those who do not see yet believe (John 20:29)
      • Dividing the Scriptures into “them” and “us” is arbitrary
    • “General” statements of truth sometimes have a “hidden” context
      • A “general” statement in the Old Testament may be directed to unbelieving Israel, not to all people of every age, else Gentiles would be excluded. (g., unclean things were an abomination to the Lord).  Arguments against immoral behavior and against certain foods are described with similar words.
      • “All” or “none” sometimes refers only to members of a specific group (Romans 3:10 – 18), particularly quotations in the New Testament from the Old Testament
      • The New Testament was written entirely during a period of frequent “signs and wonders.” To the original audience, this was normal.  We need to see beyond the miraculous to the point being made. (g., 1 Corinthians 14:23 – 26)
  4. Where do practices fit?
    • Morality
      • We are the Temple of the living God, therefore cleanse yourselves, perfecting holiness in the fear of Christ (2 Corinthians 6:16 – 7:1)
      • Unrighteousness is not “fitting” (Romans 1:28, Galatians 5:1 – 14) Fitting?
        1. John 17:20 – 23 “That the world may believe that Thou sent Me”
        2. Matthew 5:48 “Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”
      • Malice and wickedness spoils sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8)
      • Bad behavior slows the spread of the gospel (1 Corinthians 5:1)
      • Bad behavior by outsiders is not our concern (1 Corinthians 5:9 – 10)
      • Displaying the power of God (2 Corinthians 4:7)
      • Works of the flesh are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16 – 25)
      • “Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:6) Note: check the context!
      • Immorality is contrary to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 8 – 11)
      • Useful for the Master (2 Timothy 2:21)
    • Rituals are reminders, not goals
      • Baptism (10 illustrations in one action)
      • Lord’s Supper (14 illustrations in one action)
      • More?
        1. Wedding/marriage
        2. Clergy
        3. Foot washing (John 13:15)
        4. Sacraments
  1. What is the point?
    1. Trust God (“trust” perhaps conveys the concept better than our modern word “faith”)
    2. Love your neighbor