On Being Christ-Centered When It’s Easy

While on our most recent furlough with access to unlimited data, I downloaded the messages from the first T4G conference. Slowly, I’ve been working through each of them, and today I arrived at my second chance to hear Ligon Duncan teach us about preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

His message was a textbook example of powerfully convincing the already convinced. He referenced preaching Christ from 2 Samuel 7 with the Davidic Covenant; preaching Christ from Isaiah 6 which is also mentioned in John 12:41; and preaching Christ from the Protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15. Now, I would not critique his interpretation of any of those passages, but I do question who would disagree with those? Rare would be the pastor who cares about the Bible, yet refuses to make the connection with Jesus Christ in those passages.

The Bible is filled with many other difficult passages for someone with a Christ-centered perspective on preaching. How do we accurately draw our people’s affections to Christ when preaching on OT narrative like the Israelites who died for looking in the Ark at Bethshemesh in 1 Samuel 6? Or two chapters later when Samuel’s wicked sons are appointed as judges?

It would have been helpful to have heard Dr. Duncan treat passages like these and offer insights and principles by which a pastor could exalt Christ without lifting stories from their original context. And it would have been great to have heard him address the kind of questions I could just imagine John MacArthur (who was in the crowd when Duncan was speaking) would ask: “If I merely preach what the text says without looking for a road to Christ that is not explicitly there, have I failed as a preacher?”

But he neither asked nor answered these questions. Though he did refer to numerous times that the NT says, “This is that” which was spoken by the prophets. As far as I know, there are only two times time when Scripture says something like this (Acts 2:16 and John 6:58).

For several reasons which I’ve already published, I want to be Christ-centered in my preaching. But that does not mean that I am able to interpret all the kinds of passages in Scripture. How nice to have had Ligon Duncan’s help!

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