“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “The next doctrine leads to still clearer
Being ignorant or not knowing the laws and commands of God can be very dangerous. We can often “break” or violate Divine principles and not be aware of them. However we may still face the consequences.
As believers we face an even greater danger and that is being satisfied with intellectual knowledge. Obtaining biblical knowledge is very beneficial and can be very rewarding. If we stop there, simply obtaining knowledge, that knowledge can be absolutely of no value to us. As a matter of fact it can even be dangerous, because it can delude into thinking that we need to nothing further.
Pastor James encountered this in his day causing him to write,
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.” (James 1:22, NKJV)
The Puritans truly took this and similar scriptures to heart! If there was one thing that characterized their preaching it was the fact that they emphasized application. In fact, at times I have encountered “application” that was longer than the exposition. They were adamant about it. I think we can take a lesson from the Puritans. It seems to me application has gone by the wayside in most sermons today.
I have listened to a “running commentary” on a text, (in place of an exposition), only to hear the preacher end his sermon with, “let’s pray.” I have no doubt that the preacher is counting on the Holy Spirit to apply the word preached and make specific or individual application. Unfortunately this is shooting for the stars in many congregations. Only a few may be so disposed to truly search their heart and find specific application of the sermon for themselves. Learning something does not necessarily lead to action.
Walter Kaiser wrote in his Towards an Exegetical Theology, “We cannot be acquitted as scholarly exegetes until we have led the church to understand how to respond to the very words that we have analyzed most critically and carefully.”
I say we have not preached adequately or effectively if we have not preached to the mind, emotion, and volition of those who hear us. We must preach for decision. This is part and parcel of the definition of exposition.
Even though expository preaching has gained immense popularity very little is actually being done. Exposition not only includes a thorough exegesis of a certain passage, but it includes relevant application.
Exposition is determining the meaning and intent of the original author and finding relevance to twenty first century believers by the way of application. We as preachers need to find the dominant thought of the text, drive it home with every point, and call for a specific response, or application.
We need to know and do!