Building a Beautiful Life, Chapter 13: Application
Integrating the Truth into Our Lives
I. Definition of Application
In a similar way, when the work of Bible study is completed, the time comes to move into the truth and live. Application is the assimilation and integration of truth to our lives. It deals with the question, “How should the truth affect my life?” The truth has implications that affect how we should live. When we apply the Scriptures appropriately, we move into the house of truth to live. There is a beautiful transformation of our character, which is demonstrated through our lives. When we live out the truth through valid application, we are dwelling in the place God has meant for us all along, and we become possessors of the promise “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Application is the assimilation and integration of the truth to our lives; it is moving into the house of truth to live.
How ridiculous would it be for a family to camp out in the front yard of their beautiful new home and not actually live in the house? Yet, it is no more so than for the Christian to assert the truth of the Scriptures and not actually study it so as to apply its truth to life. The application of Scripture is the process of learning to live consistent with the truth. It is a process that involves a radical transformation of our thinking, affections, and will. Application takes the truth out of the realm of theory and demonstrates truth visibly by transformed attitudes, affections, and actions. When we live in the truth, we demonstrate the supernatural, personal nature and character of the Creator. We bear witness to His existence and goodness.
Again this topic could easily be the basis for a book by itself. Here, though, I will attempt to answer three questions: “Why do we need to apply the Scriptures?” “What is the goal of application?” and “How do we apply the Scriptures?” Most of our focus will concern a method for how we apply the Scriptures. By answering these questions, we will obtain a basic understanding of the key elements of application.
II. The Need for Application
Christianity is based on the objective truths revealed in the Scriptures. It is from these truth statements we derive our understanding of reality. It is these truth statements that form the basis for theology and our understanding of the character of God. These in turn are the basis for our worldview. As we begin to address the idea of appropriate application, it brings us full circle back to the place we started: “Why do we need hermeneutics in the first place?’” The answer is, because we are spiritual beings, and we need answers and guidance for the spiritual aspect of our nature. We need answers to the serious questions of life that are not knowable apart from revelation. We need hermeneutics so that we can accurately understand and apply the truth of revelation to challenges and questions we face every day. The principles of biblical interpretation aid us in accurately handling and then integrating the Word of God into a coherent unified view of reality.
We need hermeneutics so that we can accurately understand and apply the truth of revelation to the challenges and questions we face every day.
As children grow, they quickly learn they must not violate certain physical principles because there are significant penalties for doing so. A child learns that fire is hot and must not be touched, sharp things cut, and falling down hurts. On the positive side, as the child matures, the benefits of good nutrition, physical exercise, and proper sleep are also learned. Avoiding pain and enhancing health are achieved through the recognition and respect of physical principles.
If we were only physical beings, there would be no need for answers to questions that go beyond the purely physical. Spiritual questions concerning morality, purpose, or existence would not press against our minds and hearts. If we were not spiritual beings, we would not feel pain, emptiness, or longing within ourselves for violating spiritual realities. It is precisely because we are personal, spiritual beings made in the image of the Creator for a transcendent purpose that these spiritual issues press upon us, and demand answers. The Scriptures are the communication from the Creator, which provide answers to these issues. There are spiritual principles that if violated bring pain. However, there is also the potential for great joy, peace, and contentment by living in harmony with the truth.
III. The Goal of Application
As Christians we are called to do more than merely believe the right things. We are called to integrate truth into our lives. The truth should transform our thinking, bring joy to our hearts, and be evidenced in our behavior. When this occurs, beauty and grace will be evidenced in our character. It will be visible in all our relationships. This is the relational transformation that united Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus as beloved brothers. When Christians live out the implications of Christianity, there will be profound and beautiful transformation of relationships. Racial and economic arrogance and prejudice are vanquished at the cross.
We are called to be a living demonstration of the grace of God, who is the Truth. This is true of the individual Christian and also the corporate life of the church as a community of believers. We are called upon to be like Christ and through our character and relationships bear witness to the goodness of God. This can only happen as the truth works deeply into our personality.
The problems humanity faces are the result of being in conflict with the character and plan of God. We are morally broken and living in a morally broken world, which for the most part has vanquished God and with Him the only hope for an integrated view of reality. Our modern world ignores or denies the reality of a personal Creator and then attempts to find meaning outside of and apart from a personal relationship with Him. This puts us in conflict with Him and the moral design He placed within us. It is clearly evidenced by the moral disintegration and identity confusion of our time. God has communicated Himself in the Scriptures for the purpose of restoring humanity and bringing us back into proper relationship with Himself.
The Scriptures have as their goal the redemption of humanity. Redemptive truth is for the whole personality—to be understood in the mind, loved in the heart, and obeyed by the will.3 As this occurs, we begin to live in the truth and are at home there. This is the transforming process of renewing our minds and being sanctified. As we live in the truth, we are set free from the slavery of sin and its destructive influences. We enter into fullness of joy and purpose in life.
Redemptive truth is for the whole personality—to be understood in the mind, loved in the heart, and obeyed by the will.
This excerpt is from Building a Beautiful Life by author Jim LaBerge, currently available on Amazon.