How Timothy Keller preaches Christ from all of Scripture

Last week I promised to return to the theme of preaching Christ from all of Scripture. I've learned a lot from the ministry of Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. His preaching lectures from Gordon-Conwell are extremely helpful. Here's how Keller preaches Christ from all of Scripture:
The following may actually be four points in a presentation, or they may be treated very quickly as the last point of a sermon. But more generally, this is a foundational outline for the basic moral reasoning and argument that lies at the heart of the application.The Plot winds up: WHAT YOU MUST DO."This is what you have to do! Here is what the text/narrative tells us that we must do or what we must be." The Plot thickens: WHY YOU CAN'T DO IT."But you can't do it! Here are all the reasons that you will never become like this just by trying very hard." The Plot resolves: HOW HE DID IT."But there's One who did. Perfectly. Wholly. Jesus the---. He has done this for us, in our place." The Plot winds down: HOW, THROUGH HIM, YOU CAN DO IT."Our failure to do it is due to our functional rejection of what he did. Remembering him frees our heart so we can change like this..."
This isn't the only way to preach Christ, but the beauty of this approach is that it steps around some of the hermeneutical traps. For more information, you can order Keller's lectures from Gordon-Conwell.Update: Resurgence has reposted the entire article that is the source of the above quote.

The challenge of preaching Christ from all of Scripture

A few years ago, I commented to a mentor that preaching Christ from all of Scripture is a challenging task. I was relieved when he agreed. It is something that many of us realize we need to be doing, but it's also important to recognize that there are challenges in learning how to do this.If I could choose to listen to anyone exposit Scripture, I would choose Jesus' exposition on the road to Emmaus, in which it's aid of Jesus: "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). That would have been something to hear.Just to highlight the challenges of preaching Christ from all of Scripture, I'm going to list seven ways that a Christocentric interpretation may take shape. These are from Sidney Greidanus in his book Preaching Christ from the Old Testament:
  • To see the passage in the historical progression of God's redemptive plan through history;
  • To focus on promise fulfillment, in which Christ fulfills Old Testament prophecies;
  • Typology, moving from a type in the Old Testament to the anti-type in Christ;
  • Analogy, showing the relationship between God's message for Israel and Christ's message to the church;
  • Longitudinal interpretation, tracing a theme of the Old Testament to Christ in the New Testament;
  • Using a New Testament quote that cites or alludes to an Old Testament passage, and linking these passages to Christ; and
  • Showing the contrast Jesus brings to an Old Testament passage.
Each of these requires some explanation, but for now I want to highlight that preaching Christ from all of Scripture does take some effort. It is challenging - but it's crucial.More to come next week.

The Old Testament and Christ

In Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. argues that preaching the Old Testament helps us see that "the life, ministry, death, and resurrection were clearly anticipated long before the events occurred." The Messiah, he writes, "is at the heart of that neglected portion of the Bible."We do not need to "resort to settling for a double set of meanings in order to squeeze out of the Old Testament some messianic possibilities." The Old Testament writers were aware the nexus between their temporal and historic events, and their "climatic fulfillment in the Messiah...The Old Testament cannot have a more obvious meaning along with a hidden Christian meaning." The texts speak to God's unchanging plan from all of history.Jesus himself said of Old Testament texts: "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).So how can we preach Christ from the Old Testament? Tomorrow we'll look at seven ways. Early next week, we'll talk about how one preacher approaches this task.

Preaching Christ from all of Scripture

One issue that is often discussed in preaching these days is how to preach Christ from the Hebrew Scriptures. You see this debate not only in discussing the redemptive-historical approach, but also in books like Bryan Chapell's Christ-Centered Preaching, Ed Clowney's Preaching Christ from All of Scripture, and Dennis E. Johnson's Him We Proclaim.

I was reminded of the importance of this issue yesterday as I read the account of Jesus' call to Philip to follow him: "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph'" (John 1:45).

As I read this yesterday, I was amazed that Philip was able to see Jesus so clearly in the Law and prophets. It was a good reminder to me to take this issue seriously.

In coming posts, I'll try to highlight some of the dangers we face as we preach Christ from all of Scripture, as well as some ways we can do this well.