We preach the Old Testament at LifePoint. We preach it a lot. And we like it.
I was asked this question recently: “Why do you preach from the Old Testament so much, aren’t Christians only supposed to learn the New Testament, didn’t Jesus say that?”
For context, we have been preaching the OT this year at LPC like it’s our job. We normally bounce back and forth between OT books studies and NT book studies, but this year has been a little different. After beginning the year in the NT (1 Thessalonians for 12 weeks), we spent 16 weeks through Ecclesiastes, 6 in Psalms, and we are now in the middle of an 8-week series in Genesis chapters 4-11. Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water, we’re planning on 5 weeks in Isaiah for Advent. If this forecast holds, by the time the sun sets on 2015, LifePoint Church will have spent 36 Sundays in the Old Testament.
What’s up with that? Why would Jesus-people be into the Old Testament? Isn’t the OT a Judaism thing? Why would a Christian church be so into the OT?
Here are 4 reasons we preach the OT at LifePoint.
1) Because the New Testament tells us to.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)
When Paul wrote the word graphe in that text, which we translate “Scripture,” he was actually talking about the Old Testament. I don’t think it is wrong to apply that verse to the New Testament in our context. But we’re not being biblically faithful if we attempt to apply that verse only to the New Testament.
2) Jesus claimed that He is the main character of the Old Testament.
“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)
If the Old Testament bears witness about Jesus, it would follow that Jesus-followers should be pretty interested in what it has to say.
3) Jesus and his disciples preached from the Old Testament.
Luke 24 is probably one of the coolest examples of this, as Jesus walks through the OT Scriptures on the Road to Emmaus with some unsuspecting disciples. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament continually. The figures vary, depending on how you slice the data. There are direct quotes, allusions, paraphrases, etc. One estimate is that the NT writers quote the OT Scriptures 855 times. I’ve seen some claim well over 1,000 references. If Jesus and the disciples preached the OT so much, I think as we “make disciples teaching them to obey all I (Jesus) have commanded,” the OT demands to be preached.
4) Neglecting it would be turning our backs on roughly 2/3 of God’s written revelation.
Faithful preachers preach the whole counsel of God. Faithful Christian preachers also preach Christ from all of Scripture. The OT canon does not exist for us to moralize, generalize, or allegorize the characters or events therein. It exists, like the rest of God’s revelation in Scripture, to point us to Christ, to teach us the gospel, and to save our souls from death.
If you like this post, check out last year’s post 6 reasons we preach the OT. If none of them overlap, you now have 10 reasons. That’s a good deal.