According to Johnny Miller, former pastor and past President of Columbia International University, that's the most important question to ask when we study the Bible.
The text says this (observation). So what?
The text means this (interpretation). So what?
This second “So what?” should lead us to implications of the truth for our lives (application).
For those of us who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, so what? The events of the first Easter spawn numerous implications, but here’s one that inspires me today.
I can pray “in Jesus’ name,” not in my own name.
Allow me to unpack this obvious statement.
Ever had such a bad day spiritually that you doubted God wanted to spend any personal time with you? Ever feel unacceptable to Him, hesitant to pray, because you’re doubting your acceptability to Him based on the day’s substandard performance?
The demands of work or family responsibilities crowded out your usual morning devotions.
You spoke too harshly to your spouse.
You dropped the ball over lunch and didn’t take advantage of the opening an unchurched friend gave you to share your personal testimony.
A traffic jam generated irritation and spawned a barrage of negative mutterings. (Good thing no one else was in the car!)
Then when you began a prayer time before turning in for the night, the enemy whispered, “Whoa! Why would God want to spend any time with you after the day you’ve had?!” You didn’t feel close to God so you cut the prayer time short.
I’ve been there. That’s when God’s Spirit countered with whispers of His own.
"Terry, would you feel more like praying tonight if you had enjoyed a half hour with Me to start your day? If you hadn’t raised your voice to Dolly? If you had shared a winsome testimony over lunch? If the traffic jam hadn’t resulted in such an eruption of impatience?"
I reply, “Yes, Lord, You know I would. I’d feel a whole lot more comfortable in Your presence.”
“Then you’d be praying in the name of Terry Powell.”
His whisper continued, reminding me of truth stemming from the events of the first Easter weekend:
“Your performance today doesn’t affect your standing with Me. When you trusted in Jesus’ death as payment for your sins, at that instant all of His righteousness was credited to your account. The right to enter My presence is based on His performance, not your own. If you pray more when you feel you’ve been a spiritual success, you’d be praying “In Terry Powell’s name.” On rough days, if you question your acceptability before me as a Christian, you’re questioning Jesus’ acceptability—and that’s heresy!
As Stuart Briscoe put it, “Spiritual experience begins in the mind.” Always follow your grasp of biblical truth with “So what?”
What is another “So what?” of Jesus’ death and resurrection that’s special to you?