In my Bible Ah-Ha! #2 post, I talked about how thinking of the necessary, probable, possible, improbable, and impossible implications of Scripture can help us think through application of Scripture. Since someone asked for examples, here are a couple to consider:
The first is from Haddon Robinson, from whom I learned this. In an October 1, 1997 Leadership Journal article titled “The Heresy of Application.” Haddon says,
“We want to have a “Thus saith the Lord” about specific things in people’s lives, but we can’t always have that. So we need to distinguish between various types of implications from the text.
Implications may be necessary, probable, possible, improbable, or impossible. For example, a necessary implication of “You shall not commit adultery” is you cannot have a sexual relationship with a person who is not your spouse. A probable implication is you ought to be very careful of strong bonding friendships with a person who is not your spouse. A possible implication is you ought not travel regularly to conventions or other places with a person who is not your spouse. An improbable conclusion is you should not at any time have lunch with someone who is not your spouse. An impossible implication is you ought not have dinner with another couple because you are at the same table with a person who is not your spouse.
Too often preachers give to a possible implication all the authority of a necessary implication, which is at the level of obedience. Only with necessary implications can you preach, ‘Thus saith the Lord.'”
Now let’s try the method Haddon has described. How about something from the Old Testament Levitical Law? In Leviticus 11:45, Moses quotes God as saying to his chosen people, “For I am the LORD that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” Leviticus 11:45
Here, the God of Israel is speaking with regard to dietary regulations of “clean” and “unclean” foods. So, the original meaning of these words needs to be seen in the context of how God defined what we now call Kosher.
When it comes to applying this text to ourselves, see if this makes sense to you. It seems to me that a necessary implication of this quote is that, even in something as common as eating, the Lord’s people are to reflect our relationship to God. A probable implication is that if we think about how even our eating reflects upon our Lord, we are more likely to think about him in more important matters. A possible implication is that it would be wise for us to think again about the kind and amounts of foods we eat, and whether we thank God for our food out of real gratefulness or mere routine. An improbable conclusion is that we should never eat junk food. An impossible implication is that what we eat determines our relationship with God.
Now, how about giving it a try, and share your conclusions with the rest of us.