Week 3: Applying God’s Word
In the Bible, there’s a written
account of a eunuch who applied God’s Word as soon as he heard it. He was an
official of the queen of Ethiopia,
and he held a position like that of a present-day finance minister. The story
unfolds when the official was on his way home after worshipping in Jerusalem. Travelling on desert road in his chariot, the official
spent the time studying God’s Word. But there was a small passage he couldn’t
Philip, a disciple of the Lord
Jesus, was sent to minister to him. Philip noticed the official was reading
from the prophet Isaiah and he asked the official if he understood (Acts
8:26-39). The official confided he needed help, and he invited Philip to join
him in the chariot.
It so happened that the scripture
the official had trouble understanding was none other than that about Jesus.
Philip told him that the passage was about Jesus who had come from God to this
world, where, when he was 33 years old, he died a slow and painful death on the
cross. Coming from a culture where animals were sacrificed for the forgiveness
of sins, the official understood that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. Philip
explained that Jesus’ blood opened a fountain to cleanse man’s sins and lead
him to salvation; and that this cleansing power was available to the official
through the sacrament of water baptism.
And this is how the Bible records
this official’s reaction. “Now as they went down the road, they came to some
water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being
baptized?” (Acts 8:36).
As you can guess, the official was
baptized immediately. This is just one example about a person applying God’s
Word as soon as he heard it. Having been baptized, you too share a similar
testimony. In this lesson, we shall study the importance of applying God’s
Some Basic Principles
The virtue that stands out the
most in the above example is the man’s humility. Though a high-ranking official
with a great deal of power in the queen’s court, he was not offended when
Philip appeared out of no where and asked if he knew what he was reading.
Instead, he listened to a complete stranger. In the process, the official
received the gift of eternal life. It is as promised in Psalm 147:6, “The Lord
lifts up the humble.”
Look, Listen and Learn.
The official’s position in the
queen’s court tells you that he was a man of many years. That the queen trusted
him with all her wealth also tells you that he was someone who was admired and
respected in that nation. You would not be mistaken if you also imagined that
in this powerful position, many people answered to him. He probably could do no
wrong. Yet, this official understood that there were some areas of life where
even he needed help, and he was not afraid to ask for it. It is written, “A
wise man will hear and increase learning” (Prov 1:
Act On It Now.
The official responded to God’s
Word with a sense of urgency. When he saw water, he seized the opportunity to
be baptized. Being the official who had charge of the queen’s treasury, this
man knew the buying power of money. But after listening to Philip, the official
understood that no money could ever buy the gift of salvation. He also
understood the essence of time. No amount of money could buy that either. Says
the scripture, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is
near” (Is 55:6).
Be Familiar with the Bible.
The Ethiopian official was a man
who studied God’s Word whenever and wherever he could. Because of this, he
understood the big picture of God’s Word. So on this day, after Philip
explained the meaning of a small passage that he had been puzzling over,
everything the official had ever read now came
together and made sense. Applying God’s Word immediately, then, was the natural
thing for him to do.
Make a Conscious Effort.
From the beginning of time, man’s
struggle to apply God’s Word has remained an ever-present everyday challenge.
The psalmist, a man who knew his own weaknesses and understood the power of
God’s Word reflected: “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed
according to Your word.” Here we see the psalmist
talking about his problem and thinking about applying God’s Word. But he didn’t
stop there. In the next 2 verses, we actually see him making a conscious
effort. He prayed, “With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my
heart, That I might not sin against You” (Ps119:9-11).
Pray for Understanding.
“Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart”
(Ps 119:34). The presence or absence of understanding is often why we do or do
not do something. For example, when a preschooler understands why he must not
rush out into the street to get to the other side, he will wait for his parents
to hold him by the hand and walk him over. By the same token, when we
understand why we must not do the things that we wish, then, we shall be more
likely to pray for God to give us the strength and the courage to do the right
Rely on the Holy Spirit.
Don’t be surprised if, at first,
you find that, more often than not, “you do not do the things that you wish”
(Gal. ). You are not
alone because this is a common struggle for every believer, no matter how long
ago or how recent he/she has been baptized. But we can hope for improvement.
Before Jesus was taken away from his disciples, he promised them that God would
send the Holy Spirit to help them. The Lord said, “He will teach you all things,
and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (Jn ).
Today’s believers can count on that promise, as well. Even so, we must not let
our guard down. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples warned, “Be sober, be
vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8).
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new ideas that could
work for you.
List at least 3 principles that will be helpful
when you are applying God’s Word in your walk of faith.
Memorize Psalm 147:6 and write it down.
How was the eunuch a humble man?
Read Prov 1:5. What
characterizes a wise man according to this verse?
The eunuch responded to Philip’s message with a
sense of urgency. Why must we do likewise when we hear God’s Word today?
The eunuch was able to make sense of Philip’s
explanation so quickly because he was familiar with the Scriptures. T/F
How can you hide God’s Word in your heart? From
the time we wake up until the time we fall asleep, who can we rely on to help
us remember to do the right thing?
Why did the psalmist pray for understanding?
As disciples of Jesus, we believe that he made
the ultimate sacrifice and died so that we may have eternal life. Therefore, we
can do no less than learn to apply God’s Word in every area of our daily lives.
was recently baptized and has been studying the Bible voraciously ever since
her baptism. In just a few short months she has already almost finished reading
the whole Bible twice. During the lunch break, after the Sabbath church
service, Julie tells the pastor that she has gotten so much out of the Bible.
She excitedly relates to the pastor all the joy she has received from reading
God’s word and listening to sermons. Julie then tells Tom, “You know, I almost
read one book of the Bible a day. I especially love to read the gospel books.
My favorite book of all is Matthew. Jesus’ teachings are so good to read. And I
always put what I learn from the Bible into practice.” Amanda, who is listening
to the conversation, blurts, “So you must think you’re pretty smart, right? I
mean you sound like you’re ready to go on the pulpit and preach a sermon.”
Julie then gives Amanda a dirty look and says, “Are you trying to be rude or
are you just born that way?” Amanda just returns Julie’s dirty look and walks
away. After the service, Julie rushes home extremely unhappy. She vows she’ll
never talk to Amanda again. In fact, Julie thinks about the many avenues of
revenge available to her. Before Julie goes to bed that night, she reads a
large section of the Bible as usual. During her Bible reading, she comes across
a passage she read a few times before: Matthew 18:21-35. The passage talks
about Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness. The verse really touches Julie because
she relates the passage to her argument with Amanda. At the same time, she
starts to think about the day’s argument and thinks angrily, “Why is Amanda so
insensitive to other people? I can’t stand her! But Jesus says I need to
forgive her. But Jesus probably meant forgive only good brothers and sisters. I
don’t think Jesus cares if I’m angry with a rude person like Amanda. I’ll get
her back for what she did.” What’s wrong with this picture? What advice would
you give Julie on applying God’s word?
Gary, who has been baptized for about a year
now, confides to Bill, his close friend in church. He tells Bill, “After I got
baptized, I was so excited about my new faith. I wanted to read the whole Bible
in a month. And pray for hours every day. I really had a strong desire to seek
after God. I would be so deeply moved by the passages I read in the Bible that
I would try to put everything I learned into practice. But I don’t know what’s
happened. Now, I cannot relate at all. When I listen to the preacher, it all
seems so dead to me.” Bill, feeling very concerned asks, “Well, what do you do
with your free time?” Gary
replies, “Oh, I’ve been watching these videos I tape so I can keep up with the
story line of the most popular TV show. My roommate sometimes asks if I want to
pray with him. He’s so rude. He likes to do that when I’m in the middle of a
good story.” What do you think is Gary’s
problem? Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation, and how have you
a short list of some of the important virtues found in the Bible (e.g.,
humility, gentleness, mercy, love, self-control, etc.). Now try to find the
polar-opposite vices for each virtue on your list (e.g., pride, rudeness,
vengefulness, hate, lust, etc.). Now pick a virtue or a vice you feel you could
most improve upon. Find about ten verses/stories that are on point to the
virtue or vice you picked, then study what the Bible teaches in those
verses/stories. Write or print out the verses, in whole, or the stories, in
outline form (a concordance may be useful to find the verses or relevant
stories). If possible, commit the verses/stories to memory. The most important
thing to remember is the teachings found in the verses/stories. Now, over a period
of time, evaluate yourself on whether you have improved upon your chosen virtue
or vice. Whenever you encounter a challenging situation that calls for
application of your virtue (or the defeating of your vice), try to mentally run
through all ten or so verses/stories as an activity in Bible application.