Life Application Made Easy

August 04, 2023

What’s the goal of your Sunday school class? Is it for every student to have a detailed knowledge of the names and customs of all the Canaanite tribes? For them to be able to name the twelve disciples in the order in which Jesus called them? If so, they will make great Bible trivia players!


Is it your goal for them to describe what scholars believe to be the order of events in the end times? To explain the differences between various theological positions? Maybe they will become professors or write books about theology.


While there is nothing wrong with learning the detailed facts of the Bible, and it is certainly important to understand and explain correct theology, a primary goal of the Sunday school class should be for the students to be able to apply and live out the truths of God’s Word. We want to help them do that.


The motivation to apply God’s Word in daily life flows from a growing relationship with Christ. The apostle John wrote, “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20, NIV).


While much of God’s Word has immediate application for God’s people, the Bible is really a book about God and His involvement in this world. When Jesus appeared to Cleopas and a second disciple while walking to Emmaus, He explained how the Scriptures spoke of himself. “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms’” (Luke 24:44, NIV). It’s ALL about Jesus.


Your teaching is important to help your students learn to apply Scripture properly. In their eagerness to grow in Christ, some new believers examine the Scriptures as though every text has immediate application to their own situation. Likewise, many teachers believe every biblical passage under study has immediate application for their students. For example, one pastor’s wife shared how she overcame marital apprehensions before her wedding. The romance of the relationship overshadowed her ability to reason. Did she really love this future minister? Was this truly God’s will for her life? Asking the Holy Spirit for direction, she allowed her Bible to fall open and her eyes landed on these words: “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy” (Psalm 96:11–12, NIV). With this text as confirmation from the Lord, she proceeded with her wedding plans and married the young Bible college student. They have been married more than 40 years.


Unfortunately, this approach to Bible study treats God’s Word as a horoscope. Baby believers often ask the same questions when reading their Bibles as unbelievers ask when they consult a horoscope: Should I purchase this car? Should my family relocate? Which person should I ask to help me? Seeking direction in this manner looks very similar to the magical thinking found in pagan religions.


Paul told us how to apply Scripture to our lives. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us” (1 Corinthians 10:11, NIV). Paul expected the Corinthian believers to understand basic principles of conduct found in the Bible, and then apply those principles to their own situations. Should they avoid idolatry, sexual immorality, or grumbling? Yes, because judgment would fall on anyone who repeated tragic choices of those under the leadership of Moses (Exodus 16:6–12). When we find our situation matching those found in the Bible, then God’s Word to them is also God’s Word to us.


Many people claim Jeremiah 29:11 as a personal promise from the Lord: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (NIV). This specific word from God was meant to encourage those who had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon in judgment for the continuous sin of the Southern Kingdom (Jeremiah 29:4). The principle that we can apply to our own lives is God’s will for us can be known. However, it would be inappropriate to claim this text as a promise that we would enjoy prosperity and never suffer harm. As you examine the Scriptures with your students, examine the context to be sure you are teaching appropriate application practices.


As you study the Scriptures with students, it is your great privilege to guide them in properly applying God’s Word. As you do this, you will be blessed as you observe spiritual growth, both in your students and in your own life.

How to choose a Sunday School curriculum

Sort through your curriculum options with this checklist to find the right choice for your ministry.