A Helpful Grid for Application in Preaching

Michael Lawrence, a pastor with a Ph.D. (much like Mark Dever, from whose ministry he comes), uses the following grid to help him make sure to cover all his bases in application:

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(Lawrence is a Baptist, so he assumes that the preacher will have three outline points, but obviously there could be more or fewer.)

The first column helps remind the preacher to apply a given text (especially an Old Testament one) to the right period of redemptive history, namely our own. The other columns help the preacher remember to take into account both individuals and groups, both saved and lost.

Here’s what Lawrence wrote about it:

Even when I preach hour-long sermons, I never use all the points of application developed in the grid. But having thought through each of the categories, I’m much more likely to apply the text beyond the very narrow range most Bible teachers normally operate in: ethical application to the individual Christian life and gospel appeal to the non-Christian. And I’m more likely to apply the text to the corporate life of our church as a whole and to consider worldview implications for the non-Christian. Most importantly, I’m reminded by this grid that one of the most important “applications” isn’t about me or us at all, but simply what the text teaches us about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and how the Trinity has worked together to purpose, accomplish, and apply our salvation to their eternal glory.

Michael Lawrence, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2010), 185.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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