Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Understanding the Bible part 1 - Application


The need to understand and apply it.

At the end of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives clear instructions to his followers to "go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them AND teaching them to obey all I have commanded" (Matthew 28:19-20 - New International Version). This tells us that a disciple of Jesus is not merely someone who believes that He exists, but one who has committed to follow Him and obey His teaching. However to fully obey God's word we need to properly understand it so that we can correctly apply it to our lives. We are not just to be hearers of God's word, but doers also (James 1:22).

To come to maturity

The Bible teaches us how to live our life successfully, by which I mean that we come to a place of maturity as a believer. The Bible used terms such as full stature or fully grown, but maturity simply means that we have come to the place in our Christian lives where we not only know the right thing to do, but we actually do it. 
Ephesians 414 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (New Living Translation)


 Mature Christians are those who have built their lives on the sound foundation of God's word. They have learned to feed themselves spiritually and stand firmly in their faith. Spiritual infants on the other hand are easily led away from the truth and can get into serious error. They need someone else to read the Bible for them, and tell them constantly what to do, like a mother with a toddler who has to mash their food up and coax them into eating what is good for them. However the mature believer has moved on from baby food and is able to take hold of the strong meat of God's word, (Hebrews 5:14) and make wise choices as a result.

To avoid heresy or error

Many of Paul’s letters to the churches tackled various heresies and controversies of the time such as Gnosticism, whether there was still the need to follow Jewish laws and customs or the debate over the return of Christ. There were men going around the various churches who would seek to distort the truth for their own ends., however Paul and the other Apostles wanted the churches to come to maturity and be able to discern the truth for themselves. Much of the New Testament writings by those early apostles were to keep the church in line with the truth of the gospel and not to be sidetracked. That is also why we have the creeds of the early church fathers, so that our fundamental beliefs as Christians could be clearly established.

It should be the aim of every Christian to have a sound understanding of the scriptures and to come to a place of maturity in their own life, so that they might be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2) For if we are to make disciples we first need to become disciples.


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