In their book Saving Eutychus (Matthias Media), Gary Millar and Phil Campbell have a chapter on “Why preaching the gospel is do hard (especially from the Old Testament).” They begin:
“Just about the worst thing that can happen when we finish preaching is that someone will walk out the door of the church buoyed by their own resolve to try harder. No matter what the passage is, it’s essential that we never bury the gospel of what Jesus has done in an avalanche of great ideas about what we need to do.
“We want to preach the gospel—that is, we want to remind people of the grace that God has shown us in the Lord Jesus Christ; exhort people to take hold of that grace; and encourage them to go and live for and with Christ in the power of that grace. We want to encourage people, not crush them. We want people to be filled with joy, not loaded with guilt. Where we preach the gospel, people are encouraged and filled with grace and joy.
“The problem (which you will know very well if you’ve ever tried it) is that preaching the gospel is much more difficult than it looks. It’s like hitting a straight drive on the golf course. We try to hit it straight, but the ball is always hooking into the trough of legalism or disappearing into the pond of powerless, feel-good license (as John Bunyan might have said if he’d ever played golf).
“This is a challenge when we preach the New Testament. But it is even more difficult when we try to preach the gospel from the Old Testament, because it involves several more steps, and we can start to veer off course at any one of those. First we need to get our OT hermeneutics right (that is, we need to read the OT correctly), then we need to get our biblical theology right (we need to make sure we understand the passage properly in the context of the whole Bible). Finally, we need to preach the gospel (or take people to the work of Jesus) in a way that is true to the text but is not utterly predictable or, you guessed it, deadly boring.” (Click here to learn more about the book Saving Eutychus.)