What did the text mean? To look at the text and learn what it means requires that we cross a big gap and go “back then” in our minds. But then we must also cross that divide to “today” and progress to Live! This is the application stage of seeing the life impact of the text. What difference does the text make to my life today?
Something is missing. Too much training in Bible handling is missing something critical. Either we get the technical interpretation elements well: such as recognizing the distance between the world of the text and the world of the contemporary reader, and seeing the gaps that need to be crossed (linguistic, cultural, geographical, religious, etc.). Or, we dump the technical process and lose both textual accuracy and authority as we treat the Bible like an ancient source of contemporary devotional material.
To put that another way, while some are stronger on the “back then” nature of the text, others are too quick to rush to a “for today” impact. Good Bible handling requires both a “back then” and a “for today” mindset.
We Must Cross the Divide
The traditional inductive approach to the biblical text requires that we cross the divide. We begin with Look! This is the observation stage of seeing what is actually in the text.