APPLYING HISTORICAL NARRATIVE
Most preachers seem to have never thought through a consistent method of applying the historical passages of Scripture. When teaching a story, such as David and Goliath, they dogmatically assert that "God is telling us the four steps to overcome our fears." But did God ever really say that all His principles concerning "How to Deal With Fear" were contained in this passage? Think about this approach for a moment. Although Scripture is inspired, not every action of a biblical character should be emulated. For example, the Bible records Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all practicing deception. Does that mean that we should therefore practice deception? Clearly not, for the Bible clearly forbids deception. These passages could be used to illustrate the direct teaching of the Bible concerning lying.
In other instances, historical sections record people telling the truth and standing for righteousness. Since the bible clearly commands us to live this way, we can use historical narratives to illustrate these truths.
But a third situation gets more fuzzy. The early church in Acts 4:32 pooled their personal belongings, having all things in common. Are all churches then obligated to follow this practice? I would answer "no", because this practice is not taught as required of all Christians in any teaching passage. What they did was good, illustrating for us the commands to be generous and considerate of other�s needs. But to require the pooling money of all "biblical" churches would be to get stricter than the Bible. How can we safeguard ourselves against running into error by unleashing our unbridled imaginations on the story passages of Scripture? Let the direct teaching passages keep us in check.
1) Does the narrative illustrate a clear biblical teaching? Teach it boldly.
2) Is the practice in the passage neither commanded nor condemned for the whole church by teaching passages? Watch out! Some Old Testament prophets were denounced for saying "Thus saith the LORD" when He had not spoken. Don�t >teach boldly where God has chosen to remain silent. For a deeper analysis of teaching historical narrative, see J. Robertson McQuilkin's Understanding and Applying the Bible (Moody, Chicago), pp. 259-272.