Preaching & Application 5

Here’s the end of the list.  Probably the most important post of the series . . .

17. Be wary since not every application is biblically legitimate. That is to say, a potential application in a passage may not be the intended application of that passage. For example, to make a big point out of the problem of grumbling from Luke 19:7 is to entirely miss why the reference to the grumbling crowd is included in the story of Zaccheus. You might point to the verse as support, but you don’t have the support of the passage standing with you.

18. Be careful that an application from here may not be consistent with the rest of Scripture. We are quick to talk about the value of comparing Scripture with Scripture in our exegetical phase of bible study. I think there is massive value in this principle coming to bear at the level of application. Stay where you are during your study (for the majority of your study), but be careful to check your application is consistent with the whole of Scripture. Be a shame to start sacrificing animals in obedience to Leviticus, right? We can fall into less obvious mis-applications too for the same reason.

19. Be wary of biblical application that is sub-biblical in its goal. Let me give one, probably the most common, sub-biblical application. “In light of this passage you need to . . . ” or “let us . . . ” Any application that focuses on listeners becoming self-starting or independently successful individuals should set off alarm bells all over our theology. Remember where the “you can be an independent self-starter” came from? Let the spiritual radar hiss when you hear this serpent-like implication, even when you are quoting Scripture to support your point (I suspect you won’t be quoting it accurately in its broader context!)

20. Be an on purpose “match-maker” in your application. Maybe this isn’t the best phrase for what I mean here, but it is a vital point. If your goal isn’t independent self-moved successful individuals, then your goal must involve some relational connection. The gospel changes lives. God changes lives. When you preach, please don’t beat us up and tell us to try harder. Instead, offer us the Father revealed in the Son by the Spirit and watch our hearts melt, our motivations stir, and our lives change.

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