I spent most of my late summer studying the Old Testament, in preparation for our new series Rise and Fall which kicks off this Sunday at LifePoint. We are heading into Genesis for a series that will cover the first 4 chapters of the Bible, in (hopefully) the first 10 weeks of the fall.
As I was praying through our preaching direction at LPC in recent months, and specifically as we kick off this fall, I’ve been increasingly drawn to the Old Testament. Although we’ve gone through a few books studies (Ruth and Jonah) in recent years, and spent some time around the holidays in Isaiah and Psalms, we haven’t had as steady a diet of OT goodness as I think we need. Enter Genesis.
The first book I read on the subject this summer was Preaching Christ from the Old Testament by Sidney Greidanus.
Greidanus kicks off the book emphasizing the need for two things: 1) Preaching Christ, and 2) Preaching the Old Testament. He gives 6 compelling arguments for why we should be preaching the Old Testament in Christian churches. This book got me fired up to begin preaching through Genesis.
Here are the six reasons we need to preach the OT:
1) The Old Testament is part of the Christian canon.
The Old Testament makes up 75% of the Christian Bible, but is only the subject of about 20% of Christian sermons. If we neglect to preach the Old Testament, we’re not giving the full story.
2) The Old Testament discloses the history of redemption leading to Christ.
“We can liken redemptive history to a drama with many acts. The first act shows God creating a beautiful kingdom where he will be honored as King. The second act is about an attempted coup in the kingdom when human beings join Satan and rebel against God. It ends not only with God’s punishment of death but also with God’s assurance that he will not give up on his kingdom, for God breaks the evil alliance and sets enmity between the “seed of the woman” and the seed of the evil one. Act 2 is followed by countless acts in which God saved his people…Since these acts are recorded only in the Old Testament, preaching the Old Testament story is indispensable for the Christian church.”
3) The Old Testament proclaims truths not found in the New Testament.
Whether it is God as sovereign Creator, the image he instills in humanity, the fall into sin, or any other aspect of the worldview that the NT assumes, the OT is packed with a back-story that we can’t neglect. Greidanus continues, “The OT worldview is quite distinct from other worldviews such as polytheism, pantheism, Gnosticism, deism, atheism, and naturalism. The NT does not provide another worldview but simply assumes the one taught in the Old Testament.”
4) The Old Testament helps us to understand the New Testament.
We miss a number of key themes in the NT if we don’t know the OT. From sacrifice to atonement to redemption to election, a myriad of themes have no foundation upon which to stand if we neglect the Old Testament.
5) The Old Testament prevents misunderstanding of the New Testament.
I had a seminary professor who used to harp on the necessity of our faith to have “real world cash value.” We must always answer the question “How does this practically play out in the real world?” A neglect of the roots of our faith in the Old Testament has at times caused the church to fall into errors of asceticism (neglect of the physical world) or dualism (creating a false dichotomy between the spiritual and the visible). J.B. Higgins warns against these errors, “If we present a Christian faith that is of no earthly use, that has no implications for the practice of life in every realm, and that has no demonstration of the power of the gospel to renew life here and now, then we have succumbed to a future-oriented Gnostic reduction of the gospel.” No one wants that, my friends.
6) The Old Testament provides a fuller understanding of Christ.
Remember, it was Jesus who said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…” What “Scriptures” was Jesus referring to in this quote? You guessed it…The Old Testament.
 Herbert Mayer reports, “Fewer than 20 percent of the sermons average church members hear are based on an Old Testament text.”
 Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, p. 27.
 Ibid, p. 28.
 Quote cited by Greidanus, p. 31.
 John 5:39.