I’m greatly encouraged and deeply grateful for the increasing popularity of Christ-centered preaching from the Old Testament. Which Christian doesn’t rejoice in more people hearing more of Christ? But why the recent upsurge of interest? Some contributory factors are:
- An increased understanding of the sovereignty of God. If God is supremely and perfectly sovereign, the Old Testament era was not a mistake (Plan A) that God put right with the coming of Jesus (Plan B). No, it was part of His one perfect plan of salvation (Plan Grace) that He began publicly unfolding in Genesis 3.
- The desire to honor the whole of God’s Word. There’s no point in defending the inspiration and inerrancy of the whole Bible in principle if in practice we only use a small percentage of it. We want to avoid what may look like a practical denial of the divine inspiration of the Bible.
- The powerlessness of mere moralism. Preachers and hearers have realized that the “Be David” and “Don’t be Saul” sermons from the Old Testament leave people without hope or help. Without Christ, no matter how hard we try, we will never be David and we’ll default to Saul.
- The popularity of biblical theology. Many gifted theologians have demonstrated the way multiple biblical themes can be traced all the way through Genesis to Revelation, proving the unity of God’s saving plan in both Testaments.
- Willingness to use the New Testament to interpret the Old. Preachers have taken more seriously Jesus’ and the Apostles’ view of the Old Testament, especially their presentation of it as Christ-promising, Christ-revealing, and Christ-testifying Scripture.
- Christian hunger. God’s people have recognized that they can’t understand many parts of the New Testament without knowing the Old Testament better. But they also long for Old Testament instruction that will increase their knowledge of Christ.
All these factors have given preachers increasing desire, confidence, and enjoyment in preaching Christ from the Old Testament. There are, however, inevitable weaknesses in any new movement, and one of them is the tendency to use the same interpretative method in every Old Testament sermon.
For the rest of this post, click on over to Ed Stetzer’s blog where I’m contributing to an ongoing discussion about Christ-centered interpretation of the Old Testament. Previous posts by Dr Daniel Block (Part 1 and Part 2). Future posts by Dr. Walter Kaiser and Dr. Bryan Chapell.