Results tagged “Preaching Christ” from Reformation21 Blog

When Sitting Under Less Than Biblical Preaching

|

Preachers are weak and imperfectly sanctified men. They hold the treasure of gospel ministry in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin (Eccl. 7:20). Not many should be teachers because we all fail in man things (Jas. 3:1). In light of such facts, Jeremiah and Amos both doubted their abilities to fulfill their prophetic offices (Jer. 1:6; Amos 7:14-15) and Paul asked who could be sufficient for these things (2 Cor. 2:16). Yet the Lord rebuked Jeremiah (Jer. 1:7), Amos spoke God's words (Amos 7:16), and God made Paul sufficient for his task (2 Cor. 3:5). No preacher will fulfill all the ends of preaching perfectly any more than any Christian can obey God perfectly in this life. All believers, including preachers, must press onward toward the upward call of God in Christ (Phil. 3:14).

In light of the previous posts in this series, what should you do if the preaching you sit under every Lord's Day falls short of the biblical definition and model of preaching? This last post provides encouragements to exercise discernment, charity, and patience in dealing with the faults of preachers.

We must exercise discernment in dealing with faults in preaching. If the preacher's flaws are fatal, such denying or neglecting cardinal doctrines of the faith, then it is time to look for a new church. I know people who sat for years under ministers without knowing that their ministers denied Christ's deity because he never spoke to the issue from the pulpit. These preachers sinned by commission by denying Christ doctrinally. However, they sinned in preaching their sermons by omission. Many of these hearers were immature believers who did not know the difference until they heard better sermons elsewhere. Other flaws in preaching are unintentional. Sometimes after preaching, I have told my wife that it was as though I was standing in the pulpit watching a train wreck happen before my eyes. Preachers can have all the right aims in preaching and work hard on their sermons and everything seems to fall apart regardless. This leads to the next point concerning charity.

We must receive the preached word charitably. Preachers need encouragement as much as all believers do. Someone once told me that they loved their pastor and profited from his sermons greatly, but that they would never tell him so because they did not want him to become prideful. I responded that they do not want him to despair and quit either. We all need to know that the Lord is using us for his glory. Jeremiah and Ezekiel despaired when no one seemed to receive their messages (Jer. 4:10; 12:1-4; 20:7-10; Ezek. 9:8; 20:49). Elijah wanted to quit because he thought that he alone remained faithful to the Lord (1 Kings 18:22; 19:10). Paul regarded faithful hearers as his crown and joy in the Lord (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:19). Preachers want to know that Christ is being formed in us (Gal. 4:19) and we should tell our ministers when Christ is using them in our lives. Love also covers a multitude of sins (Prov. 10:12; 1 Pet. 4:8). Bearing one another's burdens includes helping preachers bear theirs (Gal. 6:2). We can do so by adopting a charitable attitude toward our preachers and looking for what is good in their sermons.

We must be patient with our preachers as we sit under their ministries. For that matter, we must be patient with everyone (1 Thess. 5:14). Ministers will grow in their gifts for preaching as they use them and we must give them room to grow. We should pray through the nature and goals of preaching, outlined in previous posts, to the end that the Lord would shape the thoughts, affections, and practices of our pastors in light of them. Some preachers do not believe that they need to preach Christ or apply him directly to their audiences. We should pray that the Lord would convince and convict them. Others need more years to develop their skill in preaching. We need to be patient, looking to the Lord to develop them as preachers. Leaving a church due to faulty preaching should be our last resort rather than our first one. We should first pray for the preacher, then talk to him about his preaching if necessary, and then talk to the elders of the church. We should leave a church only when the situation appears to be beyond remedy. In many cases we may have nowhere else to go and we must remain gracious, patient, and prayerful. We must cultivate a positive attitude towards preaching and preachers, since there is always something praiseworthy in the work of a preacher who truly loves Christ. We must beware of complaining and grumbling about the faults in our ministers. Satan will use such things to create an attitude of bitterness in us. This often results in becoming predisposed to criticize sermons sharply no matter who is preaching.

Using discernment, developing a charitable attitude, and exercising patience under preaching are vital in dealing with the faults of preachers. Such things are important aspects of our sanctification as well. How we respond to sermons affects how we live as Christians in other areas of life. At the same time, recognizing that even the best men in the pulpit are men at best should increase our fervency in prayer for preachers as they preach. In many cases, the church's view of preaching requires a theological overhaul in light of the texts treated in previous posts. As we pray for the spread of the gospel through the church, we must pray for more biblical preaching. The preaching of the Word extends Christ's ministry to the church and to the world. We need to know what preaching is, how it should be done, and what its goals are in order to know what to expect from sermons and how to pray for the spread of Christ's kingdom.

*This is the thirteenth entry in Dr. McGraw's series on Preaching Christ.

The Pulpit Direction

|

Preaching Christ is part of the definition of preaching, but it is not the only task of preachers. Warning every man and teaching every man in order to present every man perfect in Christ (Col. 1:28) requires wise and specific application. What should sermon application look like? If I tell my children to do some cleaning in the house, then their version of cleaning and mine may not coincide. If, by contrast, I tell that I want them to clean their rooms and I show them how to put clothes on hangers, how to make their beds, and how to dust their shelves, then they understand better what I want them to do and how to do it. Sermon application likewise requires specific directions in order to meet its aims.

Application in preaching should direct people to respond in specific ways to the work of the Triune God in redemption. Application must be direct, pointed, specific, searching, and it should address many kinds of hearers.

1. Application in preaching should be direct. Occasionally, Paul was very direct. He cited "Chloe's household" as the source of his knowledge of the divisions in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11). He he implored Euodia and Syntyche "to be of the same mind in the Lord" (Phil. 4:2). Such examples are sparing and we should be sparing in following them. We often lack the skill to do so wisely (though I have had to call my children by name twice from the pulpit while mom was out caring for a baby). Preaching can be more general than this and still be direct. Peter accused his hearers of crucifying Christ and called them to repent (Acts 2:36, 38). He used "you" repeatedly in calling people to repentance (Acts 3:12-26). Paul did the same thing in Acts 13:16-41, 28:17-29 and in virtually all of his recorded sermons. The epistles in the New Testament bear the same character. Sermon application must address people directly in order to qualify as application.

2. Application in preaching should be pointed, aiming at specific responses. It must aim at the heart. According the author of Hebrews, people must receive the Word of God in faith and obedience because it will judge them like a sharp two-edged sword (Heb. 4:11-13). Paul gave lists of appropriate responses to the gospel in passages like Romans 12, 1 Thess. 5:12-19, and others like them. Many people are afraid of such lists because they think that they lead to "legalism." Lists of duties can be abused if we are looking for exhaustive rules for Christian living or if we detach them from their grounding in Christ. Yet Paul assumed that believers needed such lists to make application concrete. Believers need to know what God wants them to do.

3. Application in preaching should include specific directions. Preachers must show people how to respond to pointed application. The New Testament provides many examples of clear directions telling people how to do what God requires them to do. 1 Corinthians 8-10, noted in a previous post, illustrates what this looks like. Paul taught believers the principles that they needed to address the question of eating food offered to idols. However, he also told them how to apply these principles in a variety of circumstances, giving them examples. His teaching on marriage in chapter seven follows the same pattern. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus introduced examples related to some of the Ten Commandments, telling his hearers what they did not mean and showing them how to apply them. "Though shalt not kill" applies to our hearts, to our speech, and to the need to be reconciled to others (Matt. 5:21-26). His application was not exhaustive, but it was pointed and specific. He added applications to principles. Applying the commandments to our hearts, speech, and outward behavior applies to all Ten Commandments by implication (see WLC 99, which derives rules for interpreting the law from Jesus' example). Without explicit examples of how to apply God's Word believers often desire to obey God without knowing how to do so. When we tell people that they need to meditate on God's law day and night (Ps. 1:1-2) we need to teach them how to do such things. Preachers should not try to exhaust specific directions in a sermon. Like Christ and Paul, they should provide sufficient examples to give practical shape to biblical teaching, teaching Christians how to think critically about life. Believers need specific directions in preaching.

4. Application in preaching should be searching. This feature of preaching often comes via questions leading to personal reflection. Paul reduced the legalism of the Galatian church to absurdity through a series of questions directing them to reflect on their actions in light of the gospel (Gal. 3:1-9). The author of Hebrews used questions repeatedly to drive his readers to consider the seriousness of apostasy and to flee from it (e.g, Heb. 2:3, 3:16-19, 9:11-15, 10:26-31, 12:9). Searching questions were his ordinary means of moving his readers to take action. Searching questions can also lead believers to comfort in Christ, as Paul used them in Romans 8:31-38. Such questions mark preaching throughout the book of Acts and the epistles of the New Testament. Questions in preaching should drive people to respond to specific applications and directions.

5. Application in preaching should address all kinds of hearers. Hearers possess different levels of Christian maturity. Some are children in Christ while some are young men and others are fathers (1 Jn. 2:12-14). Some application is relevant to all believers (Eph. 4:17- 5:20). Other application singles out specific groups of hearers, such as husbands and wives (5:22-33), children (6:1-3), fathers (6:4), servants and masters (6:5-9), widows (1 Tim. 5:3-16), wealthy people (6:17-19; Jas. 5:1-6), poor people (Jas. 1:9), women (1 Pet. 3:1-6), and others. The Bible addresses officers in their particular responsibilities (1 Pet. 5:1-4) and members in relation to their officers (Heb. 13:78, 17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13). Ministers should also speak directly to converted and to unconverted people as well as to hypocrites and to faithful and doubting Christians. Examples of addressing hearers in different stations of life, levels of maturity, ages, differences of sex, and many others appear consistently in the preaching of the Old Testament prophets as well. Almost all of these examples use "you" to people. This makes preaching personal. Addressing specific kinds of hearers in sermons brings direct, pointed, specific, and searching application to bear on everyone hearing the sermon more powerfully.

Sermon application must bear such characteristics because those hearing sermons need to hear Christ directly. Some may object that such application usurps the role of the Holy Spirit, who applies the Word of God to our hearts. While preachers should not embarrass individuals from the pulpit, is this criticism fair? If I tell a child to clean his room but I never teach him what cleaning a room looks like, then will I not frustrate the child and myself rather than help him or her? The Spirit works through Scripture and through preaching Scripture. The Spirit gives us many biblical examples of very specific application. While not all biblical examples of application are equally direct, pointed, or searching, sermon application should reflect the general pattern of Scripture. This underscores the fact that preaching requires exercising mature spiritual wisdom coupled with prayerful exegetical labor.

This is Dr. McGraw's eleventh post in a series of posts on "Preaching Christ."

A Pattern for Preaching Christ

|

As children learn by watching their parents, so preachers and hearers learn much by looking at the Apostles. The principles taught in the preceding nine post risk resembling a shapeless cloud instead of a face reflected in a mirror without adding concrete examples. This post provides an example of how Paul preached Christ while the next one applies these examples to preaching other passages of Scripture.

Preachers should imitate Paul in filtering the whole counsel of God through the person and work of Christ. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians illustrates how to do this. Though this book is an epistle and not a sermon, the range of issues treated in it provides great insight into Paul's teaching and ministry. This furnishes us with a plethora of examples for connecting Christ to virtually any biblical doctrine or practice.

Paul grounded this epistle in the relationship between Christ and the saints (1 Cor. 1:1-9). The church belongs to God and it is set apart to God in Christ (v. 2). The Corinthians called upon Christ as Lord together with all believers in every place (v. 3). Grace and peace came to them from the Father and the Son (v. 4). The church received graces and gifts from Christ (v. 5-7). In his faithfulness, God would preserve the saints in Christ to the end by virtue of their fellowship with him (v. 8-9). This introduction mirrors the nature and ends of preaching through its effects in believers' lives.

Paul confronted disunity in the church in light of the church's relation to Christ (chapters 1-4). Instead of dividing over who baptized them (1:10-14), the Corinthians should rally around Christ's cross (v. 15). Believers must stop thinking like worldly people by remembering that God's wisdom in Christ saves and unites them. By contrast, the world is united in treating Christ's gospel as foolishness (1:18-29). Christ's all-sufficiency reminds believers that they must boast in God and not in men (1:30-31). In order to flee division, they must remember that Christ is the heart of the gospel message (2:1-5) and that the Spirit directs them to Christ by divine revelation (2:6-10) and illumination (2:11-16). Christians should not divide over their ministers (3:1-15), but they should look to their common foundation in Christ (3:11). The church as a whole is the temple of the Holy Spirit as well (3:16-17). Therefore, boasting in men reflects worldly wisdom rather than God's wisdom in Christ (3:18-23). Ministers are merely "stewards of the mysteries of God" (4:1) and believers must regard them as such (4:2-6). Ministers, and being baptized by them, are not proper objects of boasting, since believers have all things through Christ alone (4:7-13). While believers should be thankful for their ministers, they must repent of their worldly thinking by remembering the conduct of their ministers in Christ (4:14-21). Christ is the ground of church unity and fellowship with Christ is the remedy for its disunity.

Paul connected church discipline and lawsuits to union with Christ (5:1-6:11). The church must deliver unrepentant sinners to Satan (excommunication) in Christ name and with his power (5:1-5). Christ ratifies the act of excommunication in heaven through his personal presence when even two or three are gathered in his name for that purpose (Matt. 18:18-20). Believers must purge out the leaven of unrepentant sinners from their midst in light of their fellowship with Christ. He is their Passover and who sacrificed himself for them (5:6-8). These directions apply equally to those living in other unrepentant sins (5:9-13). As believers exclude unrepentant Christians from their fellowship, they must avoid going to law against one another before unbelievers because they were "washed," "sanctified," and "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (6:1-11). Union with Christ shapes church discipline.

Paul drew the connection between Christ and sexual matters, which, in turn led into questions about marriage (6:12-7:40). While sexual immorality is wrong inherently, it is doubly wrong for Christians (6:12-20). Their bodies are both members of Christ (6:15) and temples of the Holy Spirit (6:19). Believers must glorify God in body and spirit because Christ "bought" them (6:20). Though Paul did not bring Christ to bear directly in his treatment of marriage, as he did in Ephesians 5:22-33, his teaching on marriage flows from the truths established by the believer's relation to Christ in 6:12-20. Communion with Christ by the Spirit is the primary reason for sexual purity.

Paul treated the question of eating food offered to idols in relation to Christ's role in forming Christian conscience (chapters 8-10). The question treated in these chapters may seem foreign to us. The issue was whether or not believers should eat food that was offered to idols. Such food might be for sale in the market place and unbelievers might invite believers to share a meal in which they served this food. Paul answered that idols are nothing because God created all things through Christ (8:6). Some Christians were slow to recognize this fact (8:7-8). Those who knew that idols were nothing may eat, but they must beware of leading those without this knowledge into eating because, in doing so, they would sin against Christ through misinformed consciences (8:9-13). In chapter nine, Paul enforced his teaching by personal example. He did not use all of his rights in Christ at all times so that he might preach the gospel of Christ more effectively. Chapter ten completes his argument by citing the Old Testament on the dangers of idolatry by relating the Old Testament saints to Christ (10:1-13). The Lord's Supper teaches that believers have communion with Christ and his church (10:14-17). Therefore, we cannot have fellowship with Christ and demonic idols (10:18-22). Even though all food is clean and lawful to eat, we must avoid leading others into idolatry by doing all things to God's glory (10:23-31). Believers should imitate Paul as he imitated Christ (12:1). Communion with Christ determines how we should treat fellow believers.

In chapters eleven through fourteen, Paul incorporated Christ into questions about public worship. Women should wear head coverings in worship in light of God's authority in Christ (11:2-16). Christians must leave aside their divisions at the Lord's Supper, since they must discern Christ's body together at the table (11:17-34). Believers should exercise spiritual gifts for the benefits of others in light of their common Spirit-inspired confession that Christ is Lord (12:1-3) and in light of the common source of their gifts through the Spirit under God in Christ (12:4-11). They must do so as members together of Christ (12:27-31). They must exercise their gifts out of love to the brethren (chapter 13). Regardless of their individual gifts, they must exercise them to edify the church (14:12), which is Christ's body. They must do all things decently and in order because of their relation to God through Christ by the Spirit established in chapter twelve. Union and communion with Christ directs our conduct in public worship.

Chapter fifteen presents Christ as the capstone of sound doctrine. His death and resurrection summarizes the gospel message. Proclaiming these truths in the goal of preaching (15:1-11). The rest of the chapter explains why denying Christ's resurrection annihilates the gospel and affirming it lies at the heart our hope.

The last chapter of 1 Corinthians brings Paul's application of Christology to its final resolution. While the section on "the collection for the saints" (16:1-3) does not mention Christ directly, 2 Corinthians 8-9 motivates believers to give generously in light of God's indescribable gift of Christ to them. After passing on greetings, Paul concluded, "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen" (16:22-24). Christians must pursue sound doctrine and godly practices out of love for Christ and in light of his second coming.

1 Corinthians exemplifies everything treated in previous posts about preaching. Christology is the bridge between the doctrine of God and every area of theology and practice. We must aim for the glory of God in all that we believe and do, but we must remember that the incarnate Christ is the one through whom alone we do so. Paul related Christ to every Christian doctrine and practice in all his other epistles, as Peter, John, and Jude did in theirs. Paul's preaching was a public authoritative proclamation of the gospel that aimed to present every man perfect in Christ. He preached Christ exegetically, redemptive historically, theologically, and practically. Preachers must learn to imitate him. Christian doctrine and life lose their moorings when they are detached their relation to Christ. Christ makes doctrine saving and he makes Christian living possible.

 

Essential Tools for Preaching Christ (Part 3)

|

When a man and a woman are engaged to be married they can hardly talk about anything else. In fact, we might suspect that something is wrong if they don't express excitement about the wedding. The church is espoused to Christ and looks forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9). Christ's love compelled Paul's preaching (2 Cor. 5:14) and he denounced himself with maledictions if he failed to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16). In the end, ministers must preach Christ because they want to preach Christ. Christ should be central to their sermons because both preachers and listeners cannot bear to be without him whom their souls love (Song 3:1).

This post is the third and final one treating the proper methods of preaching Christ. It shows that preaching Christ is more a matter of the heart than the application of method. Preaching Christ is not ultimately a technique. Preaching Christ is a devotionally necessary response to the preacher's relation to Christ. Paul summarized the aims of the gospel in terms of preaching "repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). The nature of saving faith and repentance, through which we exercise hope and love, highlights the reasons behind this devotional necessity.

The nature of saving faith makes preaching Christ necessary devotionally. While saving faith receives the whole Word of God because it is God's Word, "the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace" (WCF 14.1). Christ is the pioneer and the perfector of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Faith involves being confident that God is able to perform whatever he promises (Rom. 4:21). Christ is both the example and object of faith for believers. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Faith trusts that if we pray according to God's will he hears us (1 Jn. 5:14-15). Faith teaches us to pray in Christ's name (Jn. 14:13-14), asking mercy from God for his sake and "drawing our encouragement to pray, and our boldness, strength, and hope of acceptance in prayer, from Christ and his mediation" (WLC 180). Ministers preach hoping that those hearing them will either come to faith in Christ or that they will grow in their faith in Christ (Eph. 4:13). Their own faith in Christ and their desire to foster saving faith in others must always lead them to preach Christ as the object of faith.

The nature of repentance unto life makes preaching Christ necessary devotionally. Repentance requires a true sense of sin in relation to its nature and not merely out of fear to its consequences. Sin is not hateful primarily because it is dangerous to sinners, but because it is offensive to God. We saw in a previous post from John 16:8-11 the relationship between Christ and the conviction of sin. Repentance involves grief and hatred for sin and turning from sin to God. Not all sorrow for sin is godly sorrow and not all sorrow for sin leads to life instead of to death (2 Cor. 7:10). Some people, like Peter, hate sin in its nature because they love Christ. Other people, like Judas, hate sin in its effects because they got caught. Remorse for sin is not repentance from sin. Before purposing and endeavoring after new obedience, we must apprehend God's mercies in Christ (WSC 87). Repentance creates a cycle or a tug of war between indwelling sin on the one side and increasing holiness on the other. Faith in Christ alone gives forward momentum to repentance.

It speaks volumes about the state of Christianity at the present day that preachers and hearers need to be told that preaching Christ should be central in preaching. It is a sadder reality that some construct arguments as to why Christ does not need to be in the sermon. This is like a bride not only lacking vigor and excitement over her betrothed but arguing why such things are not really an important part of marriage. A practical problem in this regard is that many pastors who love Christ struggle with how to preach him to small struggling congregations in which almost all listeners are professing Christians. The corrective to this apparent problem is to remember that how ministers should preach Christ to believing congregations is not radically different from how they should preach him to unconverted people. Preachers must always set Christ's glory and beauty before their hearers as the object of their faith and as the means of their repentance. The Christian life is not radically different than our first conversion, since we live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20). If we live the entire Christian life through faith and repentance, then we must live the entire Christian life out of devotion to Christ. Preaching void of Christ cannot call hearers to faith and repentance in Christ. If preaching cannot call sinners to faith and repentance, then it cannot call them to do anything. If preachers preach Christ from devotional necessity, then the other methods of preaching Christ will fall into place more easily. Their pent up joy and excitement over Christ will look for outlets. We must love Christ more fervently if we would preach him more effectively. We must treasure Christ more greatly if we would hear Christ in the preached Word more expectantly.


*This is the eighth post in a Dr. McGraw's series on Preaching Christ.

Essential Tools for Preaching Christ (Part 1)

|

Owning a home brings blessings and liabilities with it. While a home can be a good investment it requires maintenance. Homeowners generally have two options in maintaining their homes: they can hire someone to do the work, or they need to get the tools that they need to do it themselves. They need to know how to use those tools as well.

Preachers must develop many tools in order to preach Christ biblically and effectively. It is one thing to know what preachers should do and why they should do it. It is another thing to ask how they should preach. Preaching is a public authoritative proclamation of the gospel, through Christ's ordained ambassadors, through which Christ pleads with sinners to be reconciled to God. Preachers and listeners alike need to understand how this general definition applies to preaching biblical texts. Methods for preaching Christ should include exegesis, redemptive history, systematic theology, and personal devotion. This post gives examples of preaching Christ exegetically and redemptive historically while the posts that follow complete the picture of the preacher's tools through typology, systematic theology, and personal devotion to Christ.

Preachers should preach Christ exegetically. Exegesis refers to an explanation or critical interpretation of a text. John 1:18 describes Christ as the one who exegetes the Father. As Christ interpreted and declared the Father to his hearers, so preachers must interpret and declare Christ to theirs. Christ said that the Scriptures testified to him (Jn. 5:39). Matthew's gospel proves repeatedly how Christ's person, actions, and work fulfilled Scripture. The risen Christ chided his disciples for not believing what the prophets said about Christ's sufferings and the glory that would follow, expounding what Moses and the prophets said about him (Lk. 24:25:27). All Scripture is God-breathed and it is able to make people wise for salvation in Christ (1 Tim. 3:15) because all Scripture testifies ultimately to Christ. Exegesis is direct a direct means of preaching Christ.

Preachers must preach Christ exegetically from the Old Testament by explaining prophecies and promises about Christ. He is the Seed of the Woman who crushed the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). He is Abraham's seed in whom all the earth would be blessed (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16). He is the Prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:5; Acts 3:22; 7:37). He is David's Son and David's Lord (Psalm 110:1; Matt. 22:45). He is the shoot from Jesse's root who would rule as King (Is. 11:2) as well as the "root out of dry ground" (Is. 53:2) who would obey and suffer as Priest (Acts 8:30-36). He is the Priest whom God crowned as King (Zech. 3:8-10, 6:12-13; Heb. 7). Preaching Christ from the Old Testament exegetically means locating specific signposts that point to Christ directly.

Preachers must preach Christ exegetically from the New Testament. While this point might seem obvious, it is important to remember how the New Testament reveals Christ. The gospels reveal Christ's person and work through theologically charged history. The rest of the New Testament explains, expands, and applies the truths that the gospels reveal about Christ. The New Testament also provides the interpretive grid for finding Christ in the Old Testament. The New Testament authors used the Scriptures Christologically and they teach us how to do so.

Preachers should preach Christ in light of redemptive history as well. Redemptive history reflects the fact that the Bible has a main point in light of which the biblical story unfolds. Preaching Christ redemptive historically relates every text to Christ insofar as Christ's person and work are the main point of the teaching of the Bible as a whole. Genesis 3:15 serves as a thesis statement for redemptive-history by pitting Christ against Satan and Christ's people against Satan's people. The sacrificial system both before and under Moses explains how Christ would gain victory for his people over sin death and Satan. The Exodus becomes a paradigm for redemption in Christ. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles show the progress of redemptive-history up to that stage.

Typology falls under the category of preaching Christ redemptive-historically as well. A type is a kind of picture that foreshadows something else. It may be ideological or personal. The temple is a type of Christ's body, through which God dwelt among his people (Jn. 2:21). Adam is a type of Christ in his representative character (Rom. 5:14). Melchizedek is a type of Christ's eternal priesthood (Heb. 7). Types move the story of redemptive-history forward by foreshadowing later and greater realities through lesser historical predecessors (Col. 2:17). Every prophet, priest, and king in the Old Testament should direct us to the final Prophet, Priest, and King in the New Testament. Types do not correspond to their antitypes in every respect. Sometimes Christ as antitype excels all types superlatively and sometimes he does so by contrast. Preaching should include redemptive-history to help hearers relate particular passages of Scripture to the broader biblical storyline.

Exegesis and redemptive-history are tools that help us understand Scripture in relation to Christ. Preaching Christ exegetically touches every aspect of Christ's person and work as well as the Spirit's work in applying his benefits to us. Preaching Christ redemptive-historically is more general in scope. It illustrates how Christ's place in God's plan creates the biblical narrative and gives significance to its parts. If we isolate redemptive-historical preaching from other biblical tools for preaching Christ, then it runs the risk of telling a story that believers are not part of immediately. Knowing Christ (and preaching Christ) involves more than imagining that we are part of Christ's story. It involves actual participation in Christ, which comes only through personal union with Christ by faith. Yet exegesis needs redemptive-history. Preaching Christ exegetically alone effectively removes Christ from most of the Old Testament. Exegesis without redemptive-history is like reading road signs without knowing where the road is taking us. However, if preachers limit their methods for preaching Christ to exegesis and redemptive-history, then they will still fall short at points of the biblical definitions and aims of preaching established in the previous posts in this series.