Exegesis (using sound biblical context of God’s unfolding plan) gives us certain theological ideas; Sin, Death, Love, Atonement, Creation, Humanity, Suffering, Eternity, Jesus, Life, Responsibility, Sovereignty, Power, Spirit, Law, Satan, Time, Guilt, Sex… these are all just topics that you can gather data on – from the bible – and summarise into an intelligent sentence. But that’s not ‘doing theology’ – yet. It’s just good, biblical (systematic) exegesis.
But take one of those ideas; any of them. imagine it as a locomotive steaming down the tracks… then take another one of those ideas; and imagine it on the track, steaming head-on towards the first…
Collide them… imagine the engines disintegrating into each other…
What form do they take? What becomes of them? What necessary truths must we hold as a result of believing A and B together?
That’s doing theology. And that’s where most of our early church fathers, and our reformed forebears did such great work. They showed what the bible said, and they argued the corollary was necessary.
So, go and do some theology.
Exegeting a biblical passage or theme isn’t not enough to do excellent application. The other type of exegesis needed is to deeply exegete the heart of yourself and your audience.
What will they first think when they hear this?
How will they be likely to reject it?
Why don’t they already believe and behave in accordance to it?
How has the Spirit already been applying this to their hearts and lives?
Where have you seen fruit like the passage expects?
What type of soil will this word be likely to land on?
What lies are you tempted to believe rather than just accept what God’s word says?
What would your life look like if you really were 100% convinced of this?
Know your people, know yourself, know Jesus.
You work at the text, you see it from every angle, you explain it in every detail, you apologise for its complexity, while encouraging people to work really hard at understanding it…
And then “the Illustrator” arrives and says, “Oh, so it’s kinda’ like how…” and proceeds to come up with a BRILLIANT illustration for what you’re trying to say, such that everyone just goes, “Ohhhh!! right!”
And it all seems so simple.
When was the last time you asked someone to help you come up with an illustration?