The Duty of Every Preacher to Disclose Christ

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”

I have observed a troubling phenomenon in theological circles. Many people today think that we don’t need to preach how all the passages of Scripture point to the Jesus Christ, who is the center of the Bible. In preaching only the original point of a passage, we deprive God of glory and our preaching of the rich fullness it was intended to have.

Luke 24:27 is the key verse here (quoted above). The context is this: the post-resurrection Christ appears to two of His disciples, shocking them, and proceeds to teach them how all the Old Testament relates to Him. We have no record of this conversation, and thus we do not know exactly what Christ said to the two disciples. But we do know this: the Old Testament testified en masse to Jesus Christ. It was not a compilation of orthodox statements about God and God’s people. It might have appeared to be this, but it was much more than this. Its various components spoke in various ways to the reality that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the deliverer of God’s people, was coming. The Old Testament authors understood little of this; but when Jesus unfolded this truth to His two disciples, He changed the entire Christian hermeneutic (interpretive scheme) in one exhilarating conversation.

This verse is sometimes called the “hermeneutical key.” It teaches us an essential–absolutely necessary!–interpretation in interpreting and understanding the Bible. It all points in some way to Christ. This can be overdone, of course. We can allegorize the Scriptures and make them mean things they do not. This is one error that some of the godliest men of church history made time and time again. Yet if over-preaching Christ in the Bible is an error, so is under-preaching Christ in the Bible. It is my belief that every passage, every unit, of Scripture reveals Christ in some way. Now, some passages are closer to a clear and understandable revelation of Christ than others. It is difficult to know how exactly Christ is found in the genealogies. But it is less difficult to know how He relates to David, or Abraham, or the bad kings of Judges, or Solomon, or the testimony of the Minor Prophets, or Job, or tons of other things in the OT. Yet all too often, our preaching veers into moralism. Or, when it’s done more faithfully, it reveals the character of God. This is good, but it is not enough.

True biblical preaching that follows Luke 24:27 does something more, something that requires great care and reflection: it reveals Jesus Christ. Unless we do this in our preaching, I do not think that we can say that we have preached truly. Or, to flip it around, if we have not preached Christ, have we truly preached?

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  • G. F. McDowell

    This is exactly the reason why I think Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology and most forms of dispensationalism are fatally flawed. Nail hit on head again.

  • Paul Cable

    Great post, Owen. What are some books that have helped you in your thinking about exactly how to go about responsibly preaching Christ from the texts that are less obvious in their presentation of Him?

  • Jed

    Bryan Chapell, president of Convenant Theological Seminary, has written a book on preaching that I’ve found to be very helpful in thinking along these lines: “Christ-Centered Preaching.”