Recently I heard a sermon on I Samuel 17 (David and Goliath). The preacher was an expository preacher and dealt with the text masterfully. He was humorous without being a comedian, he had great illustrations, and he even mentioned some particularly relevant Hebrew words. His “Big Idea” was, of course, that we should not be daunted by the size of our problem, because the size of our God is incomparable. What a great point to drive home from this familiar text; something we constantly need to be reminded of.
It was a great talk — encouraging and inspiring; but it was not preaching. It lacked something vital. What is the difference between great speaking and true Christian preaching? The difference is content; that is, what is being preached about.
Listening to at least half a dozen different “preachers” per week for the last two years has convinced me that there is a real crisis in preaching. Let me share with you a dangerous trend that I have noticed. First, the preachers I encounter preach almost exclusively from the New Testament. For some reason they feel more comfortable in a world only 2,000 years removed from their own than they do in one 3,000 or 4,000 years removed.
The second thing I have noticed is that we tend to preach predominantly what I call “Be good!” sermons. They choose their passage based on the moral principles they wish to extol to their congregation from week to week. These two trends work together beautifully. If someone actually does break one of the trends, he will almost certainly fall into the other one. In other words, if a preacher decides not to preach a morals-centered sermon, than he will typically preach from the New Testament. If he decides to be bold and preach from the Old Testament, he will almost always make the point of his sermon to emphasize worthy ethical principles that we should seek to follow. In fact, I hear few sermons that seek to go against both of these trends by choosing an Old Testament text and preaching the actual divinely-intended message.
And what is the divinely intended message running through every preaching passage in the Old Testament and the New? The message is Christ.
I hope you were not shocked to read that the goal of the entire Bible is Christ. I assume that you do actually know this already. You remember reading Luke’s words that “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27 NIV).
The problem is not with this basic knowledge; the problem is that many preachers have never have been shown how to actually find Christ in the Old Testament. For this reason, I would like to present one simple approach to finding Christ in virtually every passage in the Old Testament.