Home > Biblical Theology, Preaching > Redemptive-Historical Preaching and Application, Part 1

Redemptive-Historical Preaching and Application, Part 1

One of the biggest concerns I hear about preaching in a redemptive-historical fashion is that it often lacks concrete applications to modern hearers.  John Frame has voiced a similar concern, but has also described the importance of biblical theology and its relationship to application.

Biblical theology at its best does not, however, allegorize every Scripture into arbitrary Christ-symbolism; it is a serious, scholarly discipline, and that makes the discovery of the Christ-centeredness of the Scriptures all the more wonderful.  In that kind of biblical theology, the reader is assured that the applications of Scripture to Christ are neither a human invention nor a fanciful imposition on the text but something that is necessitated by the scriptural text.  Students who become “fanatical” about biblical theology sometimes lose a proper sense of the goals of theology and preaching.  I once heard a student say that a sermon should never seek to apply Scripture but should only narrate redemptive history, letting the congregation draw its own applications.  But that idea is quite wrong for these reasons.  (A) Biblical theology itself is application.  There is no difference between finding meaning and finding applications.  (B) The purpose of preaching must be nothing less than the purpose of Scripture itself, which is not merely to narrate historical facts but rather to incite people to faith and good works (John 20:31; Rom 15:4; 2 Tim 3:16f.). (Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 208, 211)

Frame’s comments are an important reminder that good preaching involves proper application.  Yet how can we maintain a redemptive-historical perspective of the Bible and rightly apply the Scriptures while avoiding the kind of pitfalls that either deny application or make misapplications? In my next post I will outline a few points on how redemptive-history and application work together and then I will provide a few examples.

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