Applicational Preaching -- By: Abraham Kuruvilla

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 173:692 (Oct 2016)
Article: Applicational Preaching
Author: Abraham Kuruvilla

Applicational Preaching*

Abraham Kuruvilla

* This is the fourth article in the four-part series “A Vision for Preaching,” delivered as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 3-6, 2015.

Abraham Kuruvilla is Research Professor of Pastoral Ministries, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.


The first three articles in this series have developed a Vision for Preaching.1 A recap is in order.

The biblical canon as a whole projects a canonical world in front of the text—God’s ideal world—segments of which are portrayed by individual pericopes. Each pericope of Scripture projects a segment of the canonical world in front of the text. Thus each sermon on a particular pericope is God’s gracious invitation to mankind to live in his ideal world by meeting the requirements of God’s ideal world as called for in that pericope’s world-segment. Or to put it another way, as they accept the divine invitation in each pericope, week by week and sermon by sermon God’s people are applying pericopal theology and thereby progressively and increasingly inhabiting God’s ideal world. This is the goal of preaching.

Since only one Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, perfectly met all of God’s demands, being without sin, one can say that this Person, and this Person alone, has fully met every theological thrust of every pericope. Christ alone has perfectly inhabited the world in front of the text. In other words, each pericope of the Bible is actually depicting a facet of the image of Christ. The Bible as a whole, the collection of all its pericopes, then, portrays what a perfect human looks like, exemplified by Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the perfect Man. So Scripture portrays Christ’s image. And by living by the

theology of each pericope God’s people become progressively more Christlike, aligning themselves to the image of Christ displayed in the theology of each pericope. Thus, preaching facilitates, sermon by sermon, the conformation of the children of God into the image of the Son of God. After all, God’s ultimate goal for his children is that they look like his Son, Jesus Christ, in his humanity—“conformed to the image [εἰκών] of His Son” (Rom. 8:29)—a christiconic hermeneutic.2 This final article of the series continues outlining implications of the vision for preaching begun in the third article.

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