It has been stated that application must follow interpretation, and that application must depend
upon interpretation, not vice versa.
If an application is adduced which is different from, or broader than, the application the author actually
intended in that context, evidence must be given which shows that the new application is justified.
Acceptable evidence would be: a) common sense--a reasonable link to the new application,
or b) language indicating variable application.
A narrative example cannot be imposed authoritatively unless backed up by precept or principle.
Someone has said that “A sermon without application is not only shadow boxing,
it is swinging wildly at no target at all.”
The preacher spends 25- 30 minutes building up to the application.
If the application is neglected, the value of the major part of the sermon is lost.
Of what value are facts and explanations if there is no purpose or application?
Facts and explanations require knowledge; application requires spiritual perception to find
in facts and explanations balm for the soul’s struggles.
Failure to meaningfully apply the text leaves “a great gulf fixed” between the pulpit and the pew.
Good application is difficult.
Proper application requires the preacher not only to be a student of scripture,
but a student of human nature as well. He must not only know the word, he must also know his world.
He must not only be concerned with what the text means, but how the text will help his hearers
in their daily struggles.
It is relatively easy to examine the text; it is difficult to examine the needs, physical and social pressures,
loneliness, conflicts, and guilt of the hearers and apply the word of God to them.
It is even more difficult to know the hearers’ hidden needs, needs of which the hearers are not even aware,
and bring them into awareness.
Preachers cannot assume their hearers can or will make the application.
While most hearers are concerned about their own needs, they lack either the ability or the inclination
to relate the word of God to those needs.
Like the Ethiopian eunuch, they need someone to guide them, taking the principles that Paul espouses
and applying them to modern America in the same fashion that Paul used them to impact Corinth.
Good application requires creativity and courage.
Creativity is required to envision the battles fought daily in the lives of God’s people.
Courage is required to apply God’s word to those struggles on a personal level.
Because application concentrates on the transformation God requires of his people, hearers,
unwilling to directly attack the message, often attack the messenger.
Therefore, the messenger is tempted either to mince words or avoid the application.
Unlike Nathan, he is unwilling to point the finger of application at his hearers and declare,
“Thou art the man.” (2 Sam. 12:7.)
Application must always be made with love, and it hit the target!
Good application is practical and pragmatic.
How can a preacher impress the audience with his knowledge when he deals on such levels?
Will his hearers not think that he is dull of mind and slow of wit?
Jesus did not worry about such concerns. He spoke simply and plainly.
He spent little time sawing sawdust.
As someone stated, he ripped into real problems of real people; he generated a response.
Men may not marvel at the eruditeness of those who follow his example, but they may say,
as they did of him, “Never man spake like this.” (John 7:46.)
A traveler should always begin begins his journey with his destination in mind,
and so should the preacher his preparation with his intended application in mind.
Application is not an afterthought added when preparation has been all but completed.
His selection of illustrations is essential, and so is the selection of supporting passages.
Then the preacher needs to consider how his hearers might react with the questions,
“So what” (“Why should I listen?”) and “Now what” (“Having listened, what action should I take?”)?
Modern contempt of preaching is caused in part because preaching often bears no meaningful
relationship to the hearer’s life.
It is the application that moves the hearer to God, reveals the gospel’s power and beauty,
and provides a reason to implement that gospel in daily living.
It is the application that stirs the hearer because it addresses real concerns.
It is the application that brings the hearer face to face with God’s demands on his life
and the implications of calling Christ Lord.
It is in the application that that which is first perceived as the preacher’s voice is discerned
as the voice of God calling upon the hearer to respond to God’s claim.