students small group Bible study

Is the Bible relevant for today’s world?  

Six steps to discern biblical perspectives on contemporary issues

Much of the content in this blog is adapted and abridged from the epilogue in Exploring the Word and the World produced by three IFES ministry teams: Scripture Engagement, Engaging the University, and Logos and Cosmos Initiative.

What does the Bible say about…? 

But what about climate change? Artificial intelligence (AI)? Censorship? Illegal migration?  

Do you believe the Bible speaks to these topics? Does it address every issue in today’s world? When you hear the concerns and conversations going on around you, do you think the Holy Scriptures have something to say?  

We affirm that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). So, how does it work? We’re not going to find a direct answer in the Bible to “Should we embrace or reject the advancement of AI?” So, how can we discern what a biblical perspective is on AI? 

This blog shares six steps that can help you explore and discern a biblical view on any contemporary issue. Together, the steps form a movement of three stages: exploring God’s world, examining God’s Word, and then sharing the Word in the world.  

The journey involves defining, refining, and clarifying our questions, humbly approaching the relevant texts for biblical insights, faithfully applying what we’ve learned, and sharing our experiences with others so that we can practically address contemporary challenges. 

Here are the six steps: 

students talking listening discussion

Consider one issue affecting life today. Think of a topic that’s generating concern and discussion in your context. What questions, worries, and interests do non-Christians around you have? Listen to them.

It may surprise non-Christians that you’re asking – and listening! It might intrigue them that you’re honestly seeking to find out what the Bible has to say on contemporary issues. Your belief that God’s Word is relevant in today’s world could spark their curiosity.  

Reflect on why the issue you chose is important to the contemporary world. It’s good to go beyond your own opinion and perspective by talking to others (but avoid relying on what you might already know or assume). Investigate: gain a genuine sense of why people are worried about this issue. 

Our understanding can be enriched and challenged when we engage with other views – especially when they’re rooted in experience or expertise. How do historical, geographical, social, economic, cultural, or religious contexts relate to the issue? Gather relevant information from reliable sources. 

small group discussion diverse biblical perspective
student thinking, considering biblical perspective

Information and data can be overwhelming. If we fail to spot meaningful connections in it, what we’ve gathered can even be unhelpful.  

So, these questions can help you sort through it: 

  • How am I affected by this issue? 
  • How is my community affected by it? 
  • How are other people from different contexts being affected
  • How are my nation and other nations handling this issue

Then ask yourself: 

  • What values are at stake when this issue is put under the microscope? 
  • Does the issue affect everyone equally? What about the most vulnerable? 
  • How do attitudes to power, wealth, or social status affect how people view the problem? 
  • Do all solutions to the problem value life equally? 
  • What are the possible causes according to the observable information? 

We may not agree on the causes. For example, very different views exist on what causes poverty, criminality, racism, and climate change. But listening to these different views will help us understand why people fail to unite around a common solution. 

From the first three steps, summarize the kinds of questions you’re taking to the Scriptures. It may be helpful to make a list.  

Then ask:  

  • From what you know of God through the Scriptures and his redeeming work through Christ, why is it important to address this issue? 
  • Do you know how other Christians (past and present) have related this issue (or its associated themes) to the Scriptures? 
student with open Bible, studying, exploring

At this point, you may realize that the questions you’re considering are not simple or straightforward. Their connections to the original issue might not be clear or obvious. But it’s good to recognize that the Bible doesn’t offer “easy answers” on the complexities of life. Stick with it; seek broad themes and associated values. 

Now, turn to the Bible and try to identify passages: 

  • Connected to the issue itself. 
  • Connected to a related theme that frequently occurs in the Scriptures. 

These passages can be any length, maybe even a whole book. On your own or in a group, either: 

small group Bible study students biblical perspective

Take an overview. Look over all the passages and themes you identified. Reflect on why you’ve chosen them. How do they help to understand and address the issue from a biblical perspective? 


Focus on one. Select a passage to study in detail, taking time to deeply engage with God’s Word. How will you respond to the issue according to what you’ve discovered in the Scriptures? 

To aid you in either approach, the IFES Scripture Engagement blog contains excellent resources on Small Group Bible study and biblical genres. And various websites give good guidance on how to read the Bible, ways to study it, and methods to try. 

As we examine God’s Word, we often find that it surprises us, raising new questions or offering unexpected answers. After all, engaging with Scripture is not a quest to find solutions to all of life’s problems. It’s an encounter with God – it’s about getting to know the Creator of all things, not just finding out what he wants us to do. 

The good news of life in Christ has the power to transform hearts, societies, and nations. So, how could you share your insights with non-Christian friends? How could you invite them to hear how God’s Word speaks to this contemporary issue? How can you show them that the Bible is relevant in today’s world

students talking sharing

If you’re interested to see how this approach works in practice, take a look at the passages, notes, and questions for eight Bible studies in Exploring the Word and the World. Topics address issues such as the value of academic study, the dynamics of power, the role of technology, and the voice of the marginalized. 

The booklet includes contributors from different cultures, each addressing a topic in their field. For example, Roland Cubahiro is from Francophone Africa. As a computer engineer specializing in robotics and AI, he offers the study ‘Tools and Technology’. 

This six-step approach affirms that the Bible is relevant to every aspect of today’s world. The Holy Scriptures comprise various authors and genres from different centuries, contexts, and cultures. Yet, despite such diversity, this ancient book speaks with one voice – God’s voice – into our contemporary issues.  

Would you like to go deeper?  

If you’d like to learn more about engaging with the Bible, you can sign up for the Foundations of Scripture eLearning course run by the IFES Scripture Engagement team. Email for more details. 

If you’re passionate about how God’s Word relates to today’s student world, then visit IFES Engaging the University, where you can find more resources, including an Engaging the University e-course for students, staff, and academics – see here.

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