Home > Biblical Theology, Old Testament, Preaching > Why Preaching From the Old Testament is Important

Why Preaching From the Old Testament is Important

One of the biggest problems in evangelical churches is the lack of good biblical preaching. Even in churches where preaching is placed at a high premium and good preaching exists for the most part, the Old Testament is often neglected in favor of the New Testament. It would make sense that many pastors preach from the New Testament, since we are new covenant believers, but if we claim to preach the whole counsel of God’s word, then we better be sure that we preach from the Old Testament and here are some important reasons why.

1.) Preaching from the Old Testament helps people understand redemptive-history. What I really mean here is that preaching from the Old Testament in light of the New Testament helps people understand the unity and diversity found in the text. Most people don’t understand how the two testaments relate to one another, especially when it comes to things such as the Law or the promises given to Israel. Preaching from the Old Testament in a responsible biblical-theological fashion will help people understand how the promises in the Old Testament are now fulfilled in Christ and his church.

2.) Preaching from the Old Testament helps people understand how to apply it. When pastors preach from the Old Testament they often apply it apart from understanding it through the cross of Christ. Most preaching from the Old Testament is moralistic and man-centered. By responsibly preaching from the Old Testament pastors can show people how the Old Testament is truly relevant to new covenant believers as it finds its fulfillment in Christ. The promises given to Israel are for the church, but we can only fully appreciate these glorious realities when we understand them in a proper sense.

3.) Preaching from the Old Testament helps foster a desire to understand it. Most people understand the importance of the Old Testament (because it is part of the canon), but little have a desire to understand it. Most people don’t read or study the Old Testament because it seems too hard to understand or it seems irrelevant; however, these excuses are unacceptable. Studying God’s word is never easy (especially the Old Testament) and although every believer is ultimately responsible for studying the word, pastors can help foster a desire to understand the Old Testament by responsibly preaching from it with passion and regularity.

4.) Preaching from the Old Testament is important because it is the Bible of Jesus and the Apostles. The apostles (and Jesus) understood that the fulfillment of the promises found in the Old Testament have now to come completion in Christ. The way in which the apostles demonstrated the truth that Christ is the end of God’s plan was from the Old Testament. If this was the way they showed Jesus as the Christ, then it stands to reason that preachers should replicate this understanding by preaching from the Old Testament. It is not an easy task to preach from the Old Testament, but “if we refuse to pattern our exegesis after that of the apostles, we are in practice denying the authoritative character of their scriptural interpretation–and to do so is to strike at the very heart of the Christian faith” (Moises Silva, Scripture and Truth, 164).

I have found that preaching from the Old Testament has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my short preaching career. In many ways, I almost enjoy preaching from the Old Testament more than the New Testament (even though the sermon always ends up in the New Testament because of the promise-fulfillment nature of Scripture). Preaching from the Old Testament has helped me to better understand the Scriptures as a whole and hopefully, by preaching from the Old Testament it has helped others understand the importance of reading and studying the Old Testament.

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  1. alan rogers
    February 6, 2008 at 11:45 am

    I would heartily agree….I have been one who has not preached much from the OT, I work with youth and find that many of them do not know all the importance the OT holds….any suggestions on how to go about preaching through the OT or some books that would offer good insight?

  2. Chad
    February 6, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Good question.

    I think it is important for a person to become very familiar with redemptive-history. In other words, understand what the Bible is about, how it interprets itself, how it fits together, etc, etc. I think looking at how Jesus and the apostles understood the OT is very important too. I would also suggest listening to some good preaching from the OT. I would recommend reading a lot of material on BT and reading books on preaching that come from a BT perspective. See some of the books under my “Recommended Reading” page.

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