Is Sermon Application Legalism?

Is Sermon Application Legalism?

Declaring and obeying God’s commands is not legalism. Legalism is seeking to obey God’s commands in order to be right with God. Biblical obedience is seeking to obey God’s commands because a Christian is already right with God through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Confusion on this point can lead to a significant distortion of the Christian life.

Some pastors think that to become great at sermon application, you need to develop a certain skill. Whereas there is skill involved in crafting sermon application, excellent sermon application doesn’t begin with skill acquisition; it begins with shaping what you believe about sermon application.

Application is the Crown of Exegesis

Application is the crown of exegesis (2 Tim. 3:16–4:2). The ultimate goal of exegesis is not simply to “get it right.” Exegesis also aids the pastor in his calling to reprove, rebuke, and exhort real people to live for God’s glory.

In his book, Toward and Exegetical Theology, Walter Kaiser makes the point powerfully, “Exegesis is never an end in itself. Its purposes are never fully realized until it begins to take into account the problem of transferring what has been learned from the text over to the waiting Church. . . . The exegetical process and the hermeneutical circle have not been closed or completed until the exegete comes to terms with his own and his intended audience’s response to the text.”

Paul Tripp often says that serving up exegetical insights without carefully crafted sermon structure and thoroughly prepared sermon application is like serving individual ingredients rather than a thoroughly prepared dish. To grow in sermon application, you must believe that exegesis is a means to spiritual growth in the life of God’s people—a necessary ingredient that must be baked in.

Application is the crown of exegesis.

Application is a Friend of the Gospel

The preacher must also believe that indicative and imperative verbs belong together. An indicative statement indicates something.

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