A Handbook for Preaching Christ from the Old Testament
May 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2327-6
Every good sermon proclaims the gospel—even those from the Old Testament.
From the miracles of the Gospels to the teachings of the Epistles, the New Testament is saturated with the saving work of Jesus Christ. But where is He in the poetry, prophets, and history of the Old Testament?
Your Old Testament Sermon Needs to Get Saved is a practical handbook for preaching Christ from the Old Testament. The book provides a comprehensive but simple hermeneutic for discerning how Jesus is present on every page of the Hebrew Scriptures. You’ll learn why and how to preach Christ from the Old Testament while experiencing the beauty of discovering and teaching how the saving work of Christ permeates the first two-thirds of the Bible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David King has been in pastoral ministry for over 20 years, serving as senior pastor at Concord Baptist in Chattanooga, TN since 2001. He has degrees from Carson-Newman College, Beeson Divinity School, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Natalie, have three children, Casey, Ethan, and Amelia. He enjoys reading, running, and spending time with his family.
What thickheaded preacher would fail to observe Jesus’ own Christ-centered approach to the Scriptures? What obtuse interpreter would overlook how the apostles virtually fasten themselves to the Bible in proclaiming Jesus as the Christ?
HERE I AM!
I was that thickheaded preacher. For nearly a decade of my pastoral ministry, I neglected Jesus in my Old Testament preaching. My neglect wasn’t intentional. In fact, I often concluded my Old Testament sermons by talking about Jesus, feeling the need to preach Christ even when the text didn’t appear to have anything to do with Him. But I hadn’t yet perceived the Christocentric nature of the Old Testament.
Then one day, a perceptive old man put a rock in my shoe. At some point, he said, you must ask yourself, “How does the centrality of Jesus Christ affect the way that I handle the biblical texts? If a thoughtful Muslim or a Jew would be satisfied with my interpretation of the Old Testament, could it really be Christian?” The question bothered me. I couldn’t ignore it. I realized that the issue of preaching Christ from the Old Testament needed to be addressed at the hermeneutical level, not merely at the homiletical level. Surely Jesus has something to do with the text itself! And so it would no longer suffice to exposit the text apart from Christ, only to tack Him on to the end of my sermon.
Many Christian preachers have had this same rock in their shoe. They’ve felt the logical force of the Christocentric question and have concluded that preaching Christ from the Old Testament is necessary. However, the way forward remains unclear. Good intentions don’t automatically yield sound interpretation.
Getting this right is no trifling matter. If a preacher fails to interpret and apply the Old Testament in light of Christ, his Old Testament preaching will inevitably be sub-Christian. Practically speaking, he may exalt God, commend faith, and encourage holy living, but do so without any explicit connection to Jesus and the gospel. Such a sermon is fit for the synagogue. It’s a message for the mosque. More significantly, the preacher will have withheld from his hearers their only means of access to God. God’s pardon of sin, His power for obedience, and His presence through the Holy Spirit come only through Jesus.
On the other hand, if a preacher carelessly applies a Christ-centered hermeneutic to the Old Testament, other problems will result. In his zeal to preach Christ, he may inadvertently slight the triune nature of God, or twist the Scriptures to get to Jesus, or minimize the ethical implications of the text. Rather than sub-Christian, this type of preaching is sub-biblical in that it disregards Scripture as inspired literature.
The Bible isn’t mere literature, as it’s sometimes taught in universities and liberal seminaries. But the Bible is literature. God communicates with us not through vague impressions but through words and sentences and paragraphs. He speaks intelligibly and precisely, marshalling a beautiful array of genres to do so. With the help of His Spirit, we can understand what is written. Appreciating the literary nature of God’s revelation will guard the preacher from neglecting the details of the text in an effort to get to Jesus.
So the stakes are high. Whether the error is no Christocentric interpretation or poor Christocentric interpretation, the preacher will have either obscured the gospel of Jesus Christ or subverted the nature of Scripture. Both errors are unacceptable. Our hearers need us to preach Christ competently for the sake of their spiritual health. Their understanding of the Bible, of the triune God and His gospel, and of living as a Christian will be shaped for good or ill depending on the soundness of our approach. If the Old Testament is to be preached as Christian Scripture, then let us learn to do it well.
Your Old Testament Sermon Needs to Get Saved offers a faithful strategy for moving from reading the Hebrew Bible to heralding the Old Testament as thirty-nine books revealing Jesus as the Christ. Those seeking a means of discerning Christ on every page of Scripture and proclaiming His lordship from all the Law and Prophets will find a strong theological and methodological approach contained herein. Gospel preachers will enjoy this work.
– Eric C. Redmond
Professor of Bible, Moody Bible Institute
Following the pattern of Jesus in Luke 24, Pastor King shows us how to preach the Old Testament with the person and work of Christ constantly in view. As a wise pastor, King shows us why we should preach from the Old Testament, and how to do so. He also helps the reader understand the kinds of problems one should avoid when preaching from the Old Testament, as well as the benefits one derives from preaching this portion of Holy Scripture. I will be handing out Your Old Testament Sermon Needs to Get Saved to many others in hopes that we may saturate churches among the nations with the good news revealed in all of Scripture.
– Tony Merida
Pastor for Preaching, Imago Dei Church, Raleigh, NC; Dean of Grimke Seminary; author, The Christ-Centered Expositor
Christians are people of one book, but sometimes forget that the Bible they love has two testaments. Those who preach can be similarly one-sided, preferring to stick to the more familiar landscape of the New Testament and neglecting the Old. Others find it hard to reconcile the two, so that their Old Testament sermons either connect awkwardly to Jesus Christ or ignore Him altogether. In this book David M. King offers concise and helpful advice to help you to preach Christ from the Old Testament. He will both persuade you of the need and show you how to begin. I highly recommend it.
– John Koessler
General editor of The Moody Handbook of Preaching and author of Folly, Grace, and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching