In part 1 of this series, which you can read by clicking here, I gave my argument for why Scripture is relevant for us today. I concluded:
Scripture is relevant to us today because we deal with the same things those in biblical times dealt with.
Adam’s sin in the garden affected all mankind leaving us with a sinful nature (Gen. 3). Since we have a sinful nature, we not only sin, but are deficient, not understanding the way God would have us to live. The biblical writer understands man’s condition, and in his writings deals with man’s sins and deficiencies, the same sins and deficiencies we deal with today. Thus, understanding the sins, or deficiencies, a biblical writer is dealing with, and the commands, or counsel he offers, will provide us with the author’s purpose for writing the text, as well as it makes the text relevant for us today.
Where We are Headed Today
In what follows, I want to provide you with a few practical questions to ask in order to determine the author’s purpose. If we can find the author’s purpose, then we can determine what sins, or deficiencies, he was writing towards. This will help us to determine the FCF (Fallen Condition Focus), which is
The mutual human condition that contemporary believers share with those to or about whom the text was written that requires the grace of the passage for God’s people to glorify and enjoy him .
Once we determine the FCF, we are on our way to understanding how the passage relates to both biblical and modern times.
How do I Determine the Author’s Purpose?
In order to determine the author’s purpose you should ask these questions:
- Why are these concerns addressed?
- What causes this account, these facts, or the recording of these ideas?
- What was the intent of the author?
- For what purpose did the Holy Spirit include these words in Scripture? 
Example: Justification by Faith
For example, if the biblical writer brings up a particular doctrine, such as justification by faith, then you need to immediately ask why? Why did he brings this into the letter? It is not to provide his readers with a systematic theology lesson alone, he has a purpose.
The purpose could be that those whom he is writing were trying to earn their salvation through their works, were doubting the sufficiency of God’s grace, or they could have been afraid of God’s rejection because of a particular sin .
As you can see, there could be a number of reasons for writing about justification by faith, but you need to determine the particular reason for your text. Once you do so, you are on your way to determining the author’s purpose and the FCF he was writing toward.
An FCF Does Not Always = Sin
It is important you understand the FCF does not have to be a sin. We have deficiencies because of our sinful nature (fallen condition), which hinders us from living the way God would have us live. Bryan Chapell is helpful here when he says,
An FCF need not be something for which we are guilty or culpable. It simply needs to be an aspect or problem of the human condition that requires the instruction, admonition, and/or comfort of Scripture. Thus, an FCF is always phrased in negative terms. It is something wrong (though not necessarily a moral evil) that needs correction or encouragement from Scripture .
What are things other than sin that need to be addressed? Some examples could be:
- Parenting from a biblical standpoint (Eph. 6:4)
- Marriage (Eph. 5)
- Sex (1 Cor. 7)
- Grief (1 Pet. 1:6; 1 Thess. 4:13)
- Spiritual Gifts (1 Cor. 12)
- Prayer (1 Jn. 5:14)
These are not sins, but they are things we, as fallen man, need biblical instruction, admonition, and/or comfort concerning.
After you have determined the author’s purpose for writing the text by determining the FCF of those to whom he is writing, you need to explore what he says about the FCF. How does he instruct his readers to handle their particular sin or deficiency? In other words, how does he apply the doctrine, instruction, command, or admonition to the FCF? Once we understand how the biblical writer applies the text to the lives of his readers, we can do the same to ours.
When applying the text to your own life, or another you are close with, be specific. For example:
Instead of saying, “Prayer is so powerful it can save an individual from hell,” be specific by personalizing the truth. Say, “My prayer for my rebellious son is so powerful it can save my son from experiencing a life of sin, heartache, and eternal damnation” .
Specificity is a powerful tool because it drives the truth into the heart and causes one to act.
Understanding the author has a purpose for writing his text, and that purpose is to deal with man’s sins or deficiencies (FCF), the same sins and deficiencies we deal with today, helps us to see how a 4,000+ plus old text is still relevant for us today. Once you understand the FCF the author is writing toward, you can then take and apply his words to your own life. Your specific situation may look a little different than the situation in the biblical text, or it may not, but you can still take and apply that truth to your life.
This week, as you read through the text, I challenge you to start looking for the author’s purpose, the FCF he is writing towards, and how he is applying God’s truth to his readers lives. After which, you should apply that same truth to your own life. Doing so will help you to see how relevant the Bible really is, and will cause your passion and desire for Scripture to increase exponentially.
 Chapell, Bryan, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 50.
 Ibid, 51-52 .
 Ibid, 51.
Image: Adrian van Leen for openphoto.net CC:PublicDomain