Day two of the Together for the Gospel conference began early. We left our hotel room at 7 and went searching for some breakfast. The lineup at Starbucks wrapped around the restaurant, so we sought out a small deli where the lineups were long, but not devastating. The conference began at 8 AM. It is set to continue through most of the day before wrapping up close to 10 PM. With most of the breaks we get today being of the 5 minute variety (where 3000 men head to only one bathroom), it will be a long, full and no-doubt blessedly challenging day.
Following a video introduction to the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Bob Kauflin led us in a time of worship with only a piano, singing “How Sweet and Awful is the Place” and “How Deep The Father’s Love.” Mark Dever then introduced the books we were given this morning: Getting The Gospel Right by R.C. Sproul, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church by Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt and Give Praise To God (a tribute to James Boice) which features a variety of contributors. He introduced and welcomed Ligon Duncan “despite his grevious errors” in being Presbyterian. Ligon Duncan then took the pulpit to deliver a message on “Preaching From The Old Testament” drawn from the familiar words of 2 Timothy 3.
Preach the Old Testament and preach it as a Christian book – Paul urged Timothy to do just that, referring in verse fifteen to these words as “the sacred writings.” When Paul says that all Scripture is profitable, he refers to the Old Testament. Timothy is to teach the truth of justification by grace along through faith alone from the Old Testament. Duncan quoted a theologian who said “we must plant our feet firmly on the rock of the Old Tesatment.” The Old Testament must be harmonized, not contrasted, with what we learn from the New Testament–even those parts that have since been superceded such as the ceremonial laws and worship within the temple.
Preach the Old Testament Expositionally – Pastors are to expound books of the Old Testament. The whole of the Scripture is the final authority in the life of the believer (tota scriptura). A pastor can equip himself to do this by listening to good sermons on the Old Testament and by reading books and commentaries that deal with the Old Testament.
Preach Christ from the Old Testament – In Luke 24 we see men who had had their hopes dashed by the death of the One they had thought was the Savior. Jesus’ response told them that they were slow of heart to refuse to believe in all that the prophets had said. Had they listened to the prophets they would have understood that the prophets spoke of Jesus, foretelling his death and resurrection. Jesus, then, models the necessity and ability of pastors to preach Christ from the Old Testament. This is particularly easy to do when a New Testament author has given us an explanation or interpretation of a passage from the Old. But we ought to be able to preach Christ naturally and exegetically from all of the Old Testament. This does not mean that we force Christ in an odd way into places that He is not, but that we realize that there is always a way to Christ and His cross from every passage in Scripture. There is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ, but there is a dazzling array of ways of getting to Christ through the Old Testament. Duncan led us through a variety of Old Testament texts that, each in a different way, led clearly and directly to Christ, to His cross, and His resurrection.
Preach the One Plan of Redemption History from the Old Testament – There are many helps available to the pastor who wishes to do this. There is a common New Testament exhortation which uses the formulation of “this is that”–“this is that which was prophesied”–and it models how pastors are to preach the plan of redemption even from the Old Testament. Scripture glories in the discontinuities between the Old and the New Covenants. We do not need to downplay these discontinuities but can likewise glory in them without excusing them. We are to seek the plan of redemption even in the earliest verses of the Scriptures. Even when the New Testament is preached, the pastor should point back to the Old Testament to help people understand the continuity of the Bible.
Preach Grace from the Old Testament – Paul says to Timothy that the Old Testament Scriptures are able to give the wisdom that leads to faith by grace. Paul would see no discontinuity between the way men are saved in the New Testament and how they were saved in the Old for to prove salvation by grace through faith he turned to the Old Testament. Gospel logic, even in the Old Testament, always has grace before law.
Preach the Character of God from the Old Testament – R.C. Sproul has helped so much in this regard. This is important because the Old Testament is the primary source for many biblical doctrines including the attributes of God. It is, in many ways, far fuller in its explication of the attributes of God than the New Testament. Without preaching the Old Testament we may raise a generation of Christians deficient in their knowledge of the character of God.
Preach Experientally from the Old Testament – Calvin and the Puritans emphasized that it is the Psalms that give us the language of the Christian experience. The greatest transaction in history is the one that took place on the cross when Christ cried out in His forsakeness. It is drawn from the Psalms. We must not undervalue the experiential teaching that we get from the Old Testament–Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, and others. As we see their struggles, we see and understand our struggles. The experience in the Old Testament is so varied and so deep. It stands in contrast to the trite, shallow experience of God that is celebrated in evangelicalism in our day.
Preach the Christian Life from the Old Testament – We cannot believe that the Old Testament does not teach us how to live as Christians in the twenty-first century. Some claim that we ought not to have moralistic messages drawn from the Old Testament, but this goes directly against the teaching of Paul and Jesus. We learn from the New Testament that the stories of the Old were given to teach us how to live.
We will return in five minutes to hear Dr. Albert Mohler deliver a message. That will be followed by a panel discussion before we break for lunch.