A follow-up thought to yesterday’s post. The difference between a true expository sermon and an interesting biblical lecture is often the speaker’s awareness of sermonic purpose. As Bryan Chappell wrote (Christ-Centered Preaching, p52) “Without the ‘so what?’ we preach to a ‘who cares?’” In his own way Haddon Robinson has put it like this, “Preaching can be like delivering a baby, or like delivering a missile – in one your goal is to just get it out, but in the other your goal is to hit the target!”
Perhaps the problem goes deeper though. While it is true that we must think through the purpose for a sermon before preaching it, there seems to be an issue at an earlier stage in the process. Are we saying that it is possible to study a passage, but not follow through and consider its application? Hermeneutical purists argue about whether application is a part of the hermeneutical process. Yet as preachers our concern is not academic wrangling, but bringing the Word of God into the lives of His people, by the power of His Spirit, to see His purposes worked out. May we never fall into the trap of studying a passage, determining the author’s intended meaning, but failing to consider the contemporary application of that passage in our own lives.
Perhaps a lack of application in the pulpit is the fruit of a lack of application in personal study. The implications are frightening.