OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


          In addition to saving the souls of lost men and women, God’s Word has been revealed to direct, govern, and preserve the child of God.  Paul wrote:  “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, or correction, for instruction in righteousness:  that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17).  Paul informed the elders of Ephesus that God’s Word could build them up in addition to giving them an eternal inheritance (Acts 20:32).  Paul told Titus that God’s grace teaches us “that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:11-12).

          Because of its benefits to the lives of God’s children, God wants His Word taught and preached.  Timothy was commanded to “preach the word” (II Tim. 4:2).  The one who gave this command to Timothy practiced what he preached.  When Paul assembled with the church in Troas, he preached unto them.  “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and he continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

          When the Word of God is proclaimed, those who hear it have many responsibilities.  First, they are to hear, that is pay rapt attention to what God is saying.  James put it thusly:  “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (Jms. 1:19).  Not only is the Word of God to be heard, it must also be applied.  “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jms. 1:22).

          The points that we have made above are well-known to most Christians.  The problem, however, is that many do not seem to understand that every Bible class lesson, every sermon and every bulletin article should be heard and applied.  They can be applied in numerous ways.  First, they should be applied directly.  By this, we mean that the subject matter often applies immediately and personally to things that are happening in one’s life.  If the sermon is about lying, and one engages in the practice, the sermon applies.  The individual needs to heed the message and cease lying.  If the sermon is about being faithful in one’s worship and service to God, the sermon should be applied by all who are not faithful.  It is amazing how so many seem unable to make immediate application of the lessons taught.  Individuals will leave the services, compliment the lesson, and make no changes to their lives.

          Second, the lesson can be applied as a warning.  A Christian couple may be in a wonderful relationship.  The preacher’s lesson is about the evils of divorce.  The couple could dismiss the lesson as not applicable to them.  Or, they could apply the words as a warning.  The evils of divorce will cause them to strengthen their marriage even more.  They resolve that they will never have to face the evils of divorce that were mentioned.

          Third, a lesson can be applied in the sense of having it in your arsenal of materials to teach to others.  When a minister preaches about the sin of using instrumental music in worship, it could be easily dismissed by those who engage in scriptural singing in worship.  This, however, should not be done.  The points of the lesson can help them teach someone else in the future.  It is wise to pay close attention to what is said.  It is good to learn how to accurately apply the Scriptures so when an opportunity to teach another arises, they are equipped to do so.

          Fourth, a lesson may need to be stuffed away for future application to one’s life.  There are some people who have never experienced the loss of someone very close to them.  Lessons on grief and loss, therefore, do not immediately strike a chord with them.  Down the road, however, a tragic loss may occur in their family.  If they paid close attention to the lesson of the past, it can now be applied.  They will appreciate their ability to go through the stages of grief.  They will be thankful they understand the emotions they are experiencing.  They will be ready to move through the process quicker because of the knowledge they possess.

          For some reason, applying the Scriptures to our lives is a difficult task.  We listen, then, we have a tendency to set the message aside.  My friends, this is rebellion against God, especially when His words need to be applied immediately to our lives.  In Exodus 5:1, Moses and Aaron approached Pharaoh with a command from God.  “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.”  The words were simple.  The application should have been easy.  Israel should have been released.  Pharaoh, however, did not apply the words.  “And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?  I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Exo. 5:2).  We are shocked by Pharaoh’s attitude.  But, don’t we act like Pharaoh at times?  God commands.  We refuse.  God instructs, but we will not make the application.  Perhaps our demeanor is not quite like that of Pharaoh, but we are in just as much rebellion to God as he was.

          Dear readers, every sermon, class, and article applies to every Christian’s life in some way.  Let’s quit turning a deaf ear to God’s instructions.  Let’s quit acting like sermons apply to everyone else but me.  Let’s stop acting like we are eating off a buffet, taking only what we like and leaving the rest behind.  Only those who “do” God’s Word will be blessed.  “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jms. 1:25).