How do you listen to a sermon that’s not about you? How can you benefit from a talk on anxiety if you’re not worried, marriage if you’re not married, or depression if you’re not down? I’m preaching through 1 Peter, and coming across some passages with specific target audiences—like Christian wives, many with non-Christian husbands (1 Pet. 3:1–6)—all vital topics for Christians in these situations.
But can all members of our churches benefit from these passages? Should we even try?
Expositional preaching forces us to tackle each passage that comes up in the flow of given biblical book. It might be addressed to first-century slaves. It might be about fathers or mothers. It might be for those actively persecuted for their faith.
I assume pastors shouldn’t skip these passages and listeners shouldn’t ignore them. But are there specific reasons we should listen and learn, even when it feels we’re not the intended audience? Yes. Here are six good reasons.
1. Every passage is part of the ecosystem of truth.
Every passage of Scripture is part of the broader ecosystem of truth. It’s related to every other passage, whether the connections are right on the surface or subtle and subterranean.
Scripture provides the only unerring framework for living, the only worldview with an authoritative lens for seeing the world accurately. But if you ignore or minimize certain parts, you’ll distort the rest.
If you ignore or minimize parts of Scripture, you’ll distort the rest.
So whether you’re reading a priestly manual called Leviticus, love notes between a king and his bride, the confrontations and comforts of a prophet, or Paul’s two pastoral letters to his ministry protégé Timothy, God is using his Word to marinate you in his ecosystem of truth—regardless of your personal situation.
2. Every passage helps us understand the gospel.
The Bible culminates with the good news that God has entered human history in Christ, fulfilling the promises he made to Adam and Eve, Abraham and Israel, David and the prophets.
But this good news is anticipated, explained, symbolized, applied, and spread through a vast diversity of scriptural genres and truths. For example, in a royal psalm lamenting political slander, we get a foretaste of what Christ would endure (Ps. 41); through God’s specific instructions to husbands, we learn about Christ’s relationship with his church (Eph. 5:22–33); through instructions about how…