The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 13 (Proclaim #80)

Welcome to episode #80 of PROCLAIM! — the podcast that teaches every Bible-believing Christian how to preach the Gospel by any means necessary in many different settings, including using the internet and the new “podcast pulpit”.

Our Scripture Verse on preaching is Mark 1:14-15 which reads: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.””

Our quote on preaching today is from Charles Spurgeon. He said, “I always say to young fellows who consult me about the ministry, “Don’t be a minister if you can help it,” because if the man can help it, God never called him. But if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts the following three books: “Lectures to My Students” by Charles H. Spurgeon; “The Preacher and his Preaching” by Alfred P. Gibbs; and “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

Today, our topic is titled “The Road from Text to Sermon, Part 13” from “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon W. Robinson.

3. We Apply It: “What Difference Does It Make?” (contd.)
When the correspondence between the twenty-first century and the biblical passage is less direct, however, accurate application becomes more difficult. An expositor must give special attention not only to what modern men and women have in common with those who received the original revelation but also to the differences between them. For instance, Paul’s many exhortations to slaves had direct application to Christian slaves in the first century and those throughout history. Many of the principles touched on in the master-slave relationship can also govern employer-employee relationships today, but to ignore the fact that modern employees are not slaves to their employers would lead to gross misapplication of these passages. For example, denouncing membership in a labor union because slaves are to “obey” their “masters” (Eph. 6:5) would be to ignore completely the distinction between employees and slaves.

The problems multiply when we apply texts from the Old Testament to contemporary audiences. Indeed, misapplication of the Old Testament has had an embarrassing history. One unsatisfying approach lies in using these passages like a sanctified Rorschach test. Interpreters allegorized Old Testament stories to find in them hidden meanings that were buried not in the text but in their own minds.

Origen, for example, allegorized the account of the battle for Jericho (Josh. 6). He maintained that Joshua stood for Jesus, and the city of Jericho represented the world. The seven priests who carried trumpets around the city represented Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Jude, and Peter. Rahab, the harlot, stood for the church, which is made up of sinners; and the scarlet cord that she displayed to deliver herself and her household was the blood of Christ.8 Commentators who use allegory deserve high marks for creativity but low marks for approaching the biblical account as literature.

Another inadequate method of handling the Old Testament uses it only as an example or illustration of New Testament doctrine. Here the authority for what is preached comes neither from the theology of the Old Testament nor from the intent of the Old Testament writer, but entirely from the reader’s theology read back into the passage. Should those who do this be challenged about their interpretation or application, they appeal not to the passage before them but to some passage in the New Testament or to a theology that they assume they share with their audience.

How then can we proceed as we answer the third developmental question, “So what? What difference does it make?” Application must come from the theological purpose of the biblical writer. John Bright states the case for determining the author’s intent: “The preacher needs to understand not only what the text says, but also those concerns that caused it to be said, and said as it was. His exegetical labors are, therefore, not complete until he has grasped the text’s theological intention. Until he has done this he cannot interpret the text, and may egregiously misinterpret it by attributing to its words an intention quite other than that of their author.”

We cannot understand or apply an individual passage, whether in the Old Testament or in the New, until we have studied its context. For instance, plunging into an analysis of a paragraph or chapter of Ecclesiastes without first gaining an appreciation for the thrust of the entire book might lead to many heretical ideas and devastating applications for people today. Only after mastering the larger passage do we find the clues for understanding what the smaller texts mean and why they were written.

Let’s Pray —

Dear friend, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, may God bless you!

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