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Why I Gave Up Sermon Application

Much of Scripture is meant to be enjoyed, not applied.

Why I Gave Up Sermon Application

It is likely a miracle that I can remember a few sermons from the required chapel services I attended two to three times a week during my year in Bible College. Among the chapel services, youth group services I led on Wednesday nights, and church services on Sundays, I heard anywhere from four to eight sermons a week. Of those sermons, one particularly sticks out. The preacher himself does not stick out in my memory. It's a shame I don't remember who he was, because I wish I could give him credit for the sermon.

The sermon was about Psalm 103, the famous passage beginning and ending with the cry, "Bless the LORD!" The speaker's exegesis of the Psalm was perfect. About two-thirds of the way through the sermon, Christ became clear to me as the preacher set everything in its context and place. As any preacher would want, the preacher made Christ look as Christ does in Scripture: Beautiful. The preacher spoke with authority and let the text breathe all while remaining ...

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Displaying 1–5 of 18 comments

Victoria Carrington

January 11, 2018  12:17pm

Thank you, thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to speak this truth through you. This is confirmation for me of what God has been showing me. Jesus is beautiful and attractive. The Holy Spirit will convict. Our job is to reveal the beauty of the truth and grace of Jesus and let the Holy Spirit work.

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January 11, 2018  6:01am

The passages you mention that question the ability to apply to our lives are easily applied. Are you going to find yourself in the belly of a large fish? Probably not, but it also shows us how we need to listen to God and if He has something for us to do that He wants us to do, He will find a way for us to do it. I know that's just one example, but I do believe the Bible is meant to both inspire us and guide us in our daily living. Perhaps a particular passage is just meant to inspire or lift up the reader, but perhaps there are those that are meant for application, too? Either way, I don't see throwing the baby out with the bath water to be the answer. Just my opinion, though.

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January 10, 2018  11:27pm

I agree because I struggle with that too. However, how do you prevent the message from being lost among the congregation? I think the methodologies & formulas are to help the congregation let the sermon stick, rather than having them walk away thinking that it's "just another good talk". Do you have ways to mitigate that?

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Clemence Olaoluwa

January 10, 2018  6:30pm

Quite insightful and revolutionary!

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Stanley J. Groothof

January 10, 2018  1:19pm

Great article with great insights. I've discovered something very similar in recent years. Instead of trying to find applications in the text, I look for implications. Before I do anything, I want to perceive what *God* is doing and then participate in that with Him. Someone who helped me articulate this is Darrell W. Johnson in his book _The Glory of Preaching_ (IVP Academic, 2009), notably chap. 7, titled "Walking the Sermon into Everyday Life." I heartily recommend that chapter and indeed the entire book.

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