I just finished A. J. Jacobs’ New York Times bestseller, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Jacobs is a secular Jew who vows to live according to both the Old and New Testaments every day for an entire year. Despite what you may think of his quest, his humorous (and often poignant) reflections on the challenge of putting the Bible into practice are well worth the read. (Not to be missed are how he stones an adulterer in Manhattan and how his wife cleverly subverts his attempts to adhere to Old Testament laws concerning menstruating women!)
Applying the Scriptures to life—your own or another’s—seems like a fairly straightforward task until you really begin to think about it (or try to teach others to do so). As a biblical counselor I’m constantly seeking to connect people with the life-giving message of Scripture. I seek to do that in my own life as well—as I read and study the Word. Certainly, unless the indwelling Spirit guides me, I’m sure to misfire. We depend on God’s Spirit as we set about this task. But how, exactly, should we approach “application”?
A person who can't interpret the Word of God properly can't counsel biblically. Scripture is easily misused and twisted by would-be counselors. How does one interpret the Bible well? It takes diligent study. Three words describe this task. "Hermeneutics" means to explain (Lk 24:27). "Exegesis" means to lead out, drawing a writer's thoughts out of his writing. "Opening" means to open the door of knowledge from God's Word (Luke 24:32, 45). The goal is to understand the thoughts and intents of the Holy Spirit.