“So you’ve told me what the Bible says, but what does that mean for me? What should I do about it?” These questions are asked in thousands of churches every week. Sometimes the questions are verbalized, but often they surface in the minds of hearers without them giving voice to the questions. This is a serious issue because failure to get answers to these questions frustrates the hearer, and it can leave them unable to connect God’s Word to their everyday life.
There are three questions that I try to answer for the hearers every time I teach God’s Word. If your Bible class or congregation can answer these questions when you teach, you will make the kind of impact that you desire. More importantly, you will help your people to become doers of the Word and not merely hearers of the Word (James 1:22-25).
The three questions are: What? So what? Now what? The “what” question concerns the content of the biblical text. What does the text say? What does the text teach? Every biblical passage has one meaning and the “what” question is answered when the teacher explains the meaning of the text.
The second question is “so what?” This question concerns the relevance of the truth being taught in the biblical text. The Bible teacher must do more than state what is true, i.e. what is taught in the Scripture. The Bible teacher must help the hearers understand why this truth is vital for them.
The third question is “now what?” This concerns what the hearer needs to believe, or what the hearer needs to do, as a result of the biblical truth.
For example, if we were to teach from John 3:16, here’s how we could answer those three questions. The text says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Question one is “What?” What is the meaning of John 3:16? It means that the one true God, God as He is revealed in the Bible, loves the sinful people of this world. The word “world” in John’s Gospel means “the people of the world who are in rebellion against God.” God loves people so much that He gave His Son Jesus to be the Savior of the world and give eternal life to those who believe.
Question two is “So what?” Why is the truth of John 3:16 relevant and important? The answer, it is relevant because it reveals the one and only way a person can receive eternal life and escape eternal death. Jesus does not provide one way among many for people to be saved. Jesus is the one and only way for people to be saved and live forever with God.
Question three is “Now what?” What do I do with the truth I have been taught from God’s Word? The answer, I must believe in Jesus Christ as God’s only Son and as God’s only provision for my eternal life. To believe in Jesus is more than simply acknowledging who He is. To believe in Jesus is to repent of living for anything other than Him and to give your life to Him. You must believe in Jesus Christ, and you must believe in Him now in order to receive eternal life.
If you can answer these three questions for your class or congregation, you will help them connect the Bible to their everyday life. Failure to answer each of these questions will greatly inhibit the effectiveness of your teaching. But if you can interpret and explain the Scriptures clearly, and apply them in a relevant way to your hearers, your teaching will have great and lasting impact … lasting all the way to heaven itself.