Transformational Study
By Dan Vis
May 14, 2018

Believers today are bombarded with different Bible Study strategies and plans. And it can be confusing! But there's only one method that leads to real life transformation--and learning that method should be our top priority. In this week's memo I'll tell you more about it...

Most Christians recognize the importance of study, and in most congregations, believers are encouraged to spend regular time in the Bible. We're urged to imitate the Bereans, who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.). And we all try, with one degree of consistency or another.

Our desire to grow in the Word is complicated by the fact there are multiple methods for taking in Scripture. These include listening to sermons, filling out study guides, simple Bible reading, in-depth study, Scripture memorization, and more. Each is both biblical and valid.

Bible study methods can be further categorized into inductive and deductive approaches. And there are specific strategies for passage studies, topical studies, biographical studies, and word studies, to name just a few. In fact, we at FAST have an entire course, called Mighty in the Word, devoted to teaching study methods.

Throw in the impact of our modern day information explosion, and we sometimes feel like we are drowning in a virtual sea of websites, ebooks, videos, sermons, commentaries, and more. A lifetime is barely long enough to even scratch the surface!

What's a believer to do?

One Thing Is Needed

I want to let you in on a secret. Each of these study methods and strategies and resources have their place. Learning a new approach keeps our time in the Word interesting, and can lead to fresh insights we might otherwise miss. But there's only one skill you need to experience true life transformation--and that's learning to make personal application.

Or to put it differently, what you do with the information you glean is far more important than how you get it.

Learning to connect Scripture to one's personal life has been at the core of our training at FAST for decades. The process of going from the points of a passage, to its principles, and ultimately to specific projects (a plan of action) is essential if we are ever to grow into a mature disciple. Furthermore, a failure to apply Scripture personally can seriously undermine our witness to others.

Learn this skill successfully, first, and it will enrich every other approach after. You can make applications from the sermons you listen to, the devotional book you read, the study guides you fill out, the verses you memorize. Everything becomes richer and more exciting when you learn to connect Scripture to your daily life!

And the converse is also true. Without good mastery of the art of application, every other study approach will be impoverished. A wealth of information may be coming in, but until it is made personal and practical, it remains theoretical. Don't we all know someone with plenty of Bible knowledge, but not much of a Christlike character?

Four Reasons for Application

I'd like to suggest 4 reasons learning to make personal applications should be given priority focus in our life:

1) Application unleashes the Holy Spirit in our life. The Bible is clear that the work of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction to our hearts (John 16:8And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:). And often our heart burns within us when we study. But if we fail to act on those impressions, we risk dulling the voice of the Spirit. According to Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him., the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God. If you want more of the Spirit, focus more on obedience.

2) Application leads to spiritual insights. Many think the ability to interpret Scripture is a function of intellect or theological training. But the Bible makes it clear, it's actually a function of personal obedience. Jesus made it clear we will know the truth, if we will simply focus on doing His will (John 7:17If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.). Similarly, James warns that those who are mere hearers, and not doers of the Word, risk ending up being deceived (James 1:22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.). In my experience teaching others, it's rarely the complexity of the Bible that trips people up--it is almost always rooted in an unwillingness to do what God asks.

3) Application can direct your study. The Bible actually gives important instruction on what study topics to avoid, and which to pursue. When Paul urged Timothy to become a skilled Bible worker, he wrapped the call to study with verses before and after about the kind of study to avoid (II Timothy 2:14-1614 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.). Verses like II Timothy 2:23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. and Titus 3:9But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. give even more specific counsel. Learning the areas of your life God wants to work on most, and then focusing in on those specific areas gives direction and purpose to your study. Or as Solomon put it, "much study" (ie, information without action) is a "weariness of the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.).

4) Application leads to transformation. Actually, that's the purpose of Bible study. In speaking to the disciples, Jesus promised continuing in the Word would make them free (John 8:32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.). Later, He described them as clean through His Word (John 15:3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.). And His prayer was that ultimately they would be fully sanctified by the Word (John 17:17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.). The Bible is all about change! But that process requires the Word to be translated into action. Information may change our thinking, but application changes our choices, actions, habits, and ultimately our character. Regardless of the method used to glean biblical insights, if it is not further connected to one's daily life in terms of practical, concrete steps of action--there will be little real life change.


There are countless methods for studying the Bible, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Like keys on a key chain, each can open a different lock. But what matters more is what we do with the information we acquire. Learning the art of application should be our top priority.

Focus your efforts, first, on learning the skills required to discover the points of a passage, to draw out its principles, and ultimately to develop projects for personal implementation. It will enrich every other approach to Bible study and unleash the Holy Spirit in our life, to give insights, direction, and true change.

What's needed most today, is true transformational study!

Take the Next Step

Want to learn the art of application? Our all new live training event will teach you the exact skills you need to connect Scripture to your personal life. Sign up for our Application Workshop & Experience and learn how to move from principle to project! Enrollment closes May 16. Click here to sign up:

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