The Relevance of Scripture | Part 2

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 [1].

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? [2]

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 [3].

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 [4].

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” [5].

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.


[1] Chapell, Bryan, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 50.
[2]Ibid, 48-49.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid, 51-52 .
[5] Ibid, 51.

Image: Adrian van Leen for CC:PublicDomain

The Relevance of Scripture | Part 1

How is a 4,000 yrs old + book relevant for today? That is the question most people ask when they approach the Bible. They read about the Law, tent dwellers, and shepherds. They think back to a time where television and the internet were not even a glimmer in someone’s eye. Skyscrapers did not rule the air, nor were we immediately accesible through email, text message, or a mobile phone. With this in mind, how does such a foreign time remain relevant to us today?

Scripture is for Equipping

The apostle Paul tells us,

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Paul informs us that every word of Scripture is God-breathed and useful in order to equip the man of God. Knowing that all Scripture is useful is part of Scripture being relevant for today, but there is another piece of the puzzle we must fill in before we have our answer [1].

Scripture is Written with a Purpose

Each writer had a specific purpose for the text he wrote, which is the missing piece to our puzzle. Modern writers write with purpose. They do not write a short story, poem, or book without a reason or purpose for doing so. In biblical times, it was no different. Every story, poem, and book in the Bible has a purpose for being there.

From Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 3, we know the purpose of the biblical writer was to thoroughly equip the man of God for every good work. The way the biblical writer equips is no different than how our modern writers would equip. They looked at the situations the readers were facing and wrote toward those ends.

Our Issues are More Similar Than You Think

Some of you may be thinking, those in biblical times did not face the same situations I do today. How could they? There time was much different than mine. Even though all the modern conveniences were not available, and their culture was not exactly like ours, the situations the writers and readers of the biblical text dealt with are strikingly similar.

From the beginning of the Bible we see writers writing about men who desire power, wanting to be their own gods (Gen. 3), adultery and enticing women (Gen. 39; Prov.1-8), as well as barrenness (Gen. 16 -17). Demon possession (Luke 4), Homosexuality (Rom. 1), Disunity in the church (1 Cor. 3; Eph. 4; Phil. 2), Lawsuits (1 Cor. 6), Marriage (1 Cor. 7; Eph. 5), Partiality (James 2), Speech (James 3), Enemies (Matt. 5), Judging others (Matt. 7), and Anxiousness (Matt. 6) are a few more purposes for which the biblical writers wrote. Even though our world’s may look a little different on the outside, we are all still dealing with the same things on the inside.

Fallen Condition Focus (FCF)

Bryan Chapell calls

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 is the Fallen Condition Focus [2].

Our world, and the biblical writers world, is corrupt and fallen. Since our world and man is corrupt, we need the grace of God to instruct us in how to live. The Word of God is designed to do just that, to instruct us in how we are to live, and it was the writers of God’s Word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who took up that task in their writings.


As you read through the text, you can be assured that God’s Word is relevant for you. The times may be different, but we are still fallen and corrupt, needing God’s grace to instruct us in how to live. The biblical writers, just like the writers of today, write with a purpose. Their purpose is to thoroughly equip us for every good work. They do so through the many stories, poems, letters, and books they wrote.

So then, when we approach a text of Scripture, we need to first determine what FCF the writer is seeking to address, then we need to identify how we are to respond biblically to the FCF the writer is addressing.

Next time

In my next post, I will look more specifically at how we are to determine the purpose of the biblical writer and the FCF he is addressing.


[1] Chapell, Bryan, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 49.  See also pages 48-51.
[2] Ibid., 50.
Image: Adrian van Leen for CC:PublicDomain