Remember, the ultimate points of application are found in Christ. Run to Christ at the end of the text and as the solution to crisis and need. As you run to Christ, you can point out the many signs of fallenness and the need for the gospel. After all, so many of our pressing cultural concerns go back to the effects of total depravity and the aftermath of Genesis 3.
Part I of this article is available to read here.
As an expositor, one must assess both the culture and the congregation in order to determine whether or not to engage certain concerns that arise. Clarity in this matter is essential. How does the preacher gain clarity in his assessment? Let’s consider these nine questions, which will serve as indicators for the expositor—helping him discern the extent of the concern and whether or not it should impact his upcoming sermon:
- Does the concern affect a substantial portion of the congregation in a substantial way? Does the problem, crisis, or concern on the minds of the church members move them to come to church hoping (and needing) to hear a direct and timely Word from the Lord? Given the sensationalized and never-ending news cycle to which we are now afflicted, the keyword is substantial—are a substantial number of people affected in a substantial way?
- Should this concern be affecting them? Is the distraction a legitimate one? Many church members stumble into worship with earthly distractions. Everything from college football and pop culture personalities and circumstances to the rolling events of the never-ending news cycle all clamor for their attention. The last thing the preacher should do is give these issues legitimacy or draw attention to them. To engage such is to forfeit biblical exposition altogether and become a topical preacher. Just because there is an elephant in the room does not mean one should engage it. Perhaps it needs to be ignored—or shooed out altogether.
- Does this concern pose a threat to God’s people, morally, doctrinally, or in some other way? The faithful shepherd warns the sheep. This warning most commonly happens through the regular exposition of Scripture, but there are times when a more direct, timely word is needed. Hence, it may be necessary to preach an isolated, expository sermon on the Prosperity Gospel, the historicity of Genesis, biblical sexuality, the Obergfell decision, religious liberty, etc.