Is the Bible not Practical? Sometimes It’s Too Practical!

That’s one of the complaints pastors sometimes hear from those who have stayed away too long from the Divine Service and the teaching of God’s Word. “I find that what you teach is just not practical.” Or maybe, “It’s just doesn’t seem to apply to my life.”

That’s an excuse, and a deceptive one. But first, notice how the complaint is usually focused upon what “you” teach, as in “your church over there.” But the reality is that what we teach at Bethany and Concordia is not originally our teaching. It comes from God. I realize that it sounds like a pretty brash claim to make, but it’s not, from our perspective. I recently heard someone saying that those who claim to be teaching God’s Word must think they have “a direct line into God” or something. Wow, did that sound crazy when it was put that way. But on the other hand, we are not saying that God agrees with our personal opinions. We merely repeat what holy scripture says, and end with “thus saith the Lord.” *That* is where our teaching comes from. As long as that’s the case, anyone who may object to what we teach has a much bigger problem than a disagreement with our church. They disagree with their Maker. It’s not that we have “a direct line into God” that nobody else can use. On the contrary, *anyone* can use the Bible. If there is a difference between our teaching and that of others, it arises from a difference in the way we approach the Bible. We consider it to be God’s Word, among other things, and that’s what makes our teaching different.

As far as our teaching being practical, I find that sometimes it’s *too* practical for our comfort. In fact, this is often the case. When God’s commandments condemn us, then our sinful nature wants to distance ourselves from them. We begin to think, “that old stuff surely can’t apply to me!” Maybe times have been tough for us. Maybe we’ve learned more since 1446 B.C. Whatever the excuse may be, we think that those crusty old laws must no longer apply. And what a relief that is, because if we tried to follow them, we’d fail in the first hour! We’d forever have to deal with a guilty conscience, and we’d be forever trying to mend our ways. But then, that’s exactly the point. God’s commandments *are* meant to describe what’s right and wrong, even for people today. When they condemn us (which happens every day), we need to realize that God is driving us to the other message in His Word, the Gospel. The God-given treatment for our guilty consciences is His forgiveness, applied weekly in the Divine Service, and daily in private devotions everywhere.

If you find yourself uptight about the way “our” teaching happens to condemn your life, then it’s time to realize the reason God has made this happen. He wants you to repent, to amend your life, and to receive again the complete forgiveness that Jesus has won for you. That’s the most important practical application of the Bible to your life, and it should be applied daily.