Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament Panel Discussion

If preachers and teachers are going to carefully convey the truths of Scripture it is crucial that they pay close attention to what the author has written. All too often messages are developed by taking verses out of context, spiritualizing them, or simply using them as a launching point for sharing ones own opinions. To teach or preach the Bible accurately it is important that the preacher or teacher carefully study the text. This means the history, grammar, structure, life situation, purpose, and themes must be examined in order to try and understand the point the author was trying to make. Only by being careful to understand the historical and grammatical message in the text can preachers guard against the tendency to give a speech rather than explain the scriptures.

There is, however, an inherent tension involved in this approach. If the preacher does not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ then they have failed to acheive the end for which all Scripture was given. We should not read the Old Testament as though we have never heard the Gospel. Consider the implications of the following statements in the New Testament about the Old.

“And he [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
(Luke 24:25-27 ESV)

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
(Romans 15:4 ESV)

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”
(1 Peter 1:10-12 ESV)

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me”
(John 5:39 ESV)

These are just a few of profound verses that show us that Christ is the message of the entire Bible. We see the repeated examples of the Apostles missing the significance of the Scriptures with reference to Jesus and only after His resurrection did they understand fully.

The difficulty then is how to faithfully preach Christ from all of Scripture (knowing that He is the ultimate unifying theme) without engaging in sloppy exegesis or using allegory and typology where it is not supported in the text. We do not want to ignore the New Testament when preaching the Old but on the other hand how do we stay true to the Old Testament text when Christ isn’t alluded to directly? How should preachers demonstrate the Gospel from the entire Bible without imposing a meaning on Old Testament texts that is not immediately evident through historical and grammatical study?

This has been a theme I have dealt with many times on the site and I have reviewed a few books that help to provide a framework for answering the question. Recently I was also blessed to watch this video of some very capable and well respected preachers discussing this very topic. I thought I would share it with you. I pray God will bless you through it. I think the discussion would be interesting to anyone interested in understanding the Bible better even if you are not a preacher or teacher.

(if you do not see the embedded video you can click HERE to view it)

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