Nehemiah 8:13-18 gives us a great example of how we should apply our Bible studies. Meeting together with Ezra to study the scripture, :14 says that the people of Israel “found written in the Law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month.” But although God had commanded it to be done, :17 says that Israel had not observed The Feast of Booths since the days of Joshua. How would Israel respond after this “Bible study”?
If it was like many of our Bible studies today, they might not have done anything at all, other than note the historical fact! But Nehemiah 8 describes how, after they read about the feast in scripture, “the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves”and celebrated the Feast as God commanded (:16). This is a great example of how we should apply scripture, both as individuals and as groups in the church. We should study God’s word, discover where we are not aligned with it, and take action to correct that, by doing what the scripture says!
Unfortunately, what often happens instead is that we endlessly “study” principles in scripture which we have absolutely NO INTENTION of applying in any practical way. Studying the Bible becomes like an intellectual exercise instead an attempt to continually align ourselves and our church’s practices with God’s commands.
Ask yourself: when is the last time I changed a practice in my life because of something I read or heard in scripture? When is the last time our class or church did something different as a direct result of our Bible study? If it’s hard to come up with an example, you might consider what your commitment to the authority of God’s word really is.