Your Old Testament Needs to Get Saved: A Handbook for Preaching Christ from the Old Testament.
By David M. Smith. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2021. xii + 160 pp. $15.99.
Book Review by Scott Lucky
Published by Southeastern Theological Review: Southeastern Theological Review (STR) is the faculty journal of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Volume 13 Issue 2, Fall 2022
Preaching from the Old Testament has experienced a revival in the last fifty years. David M. King, a seasoned pastor at Concord Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN, seeks to further the Christcentered preaching discussion by giving readers “a practical handbook for preach ing Christ from the Old Testament” (p. 11). King’s book joins two other preaching works in the 9Marks series, Preach: Theology Meets Practice by Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert (2012) and Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God’s Word Today by David Helm (2014), which uniquely champi on the necessity of preaching the gospel in every sermon. King notes that most literature on Christocentric preaching falls into one of three categories: (1) academic books tending toward the abstract, (2) general preaching books offering tips without a method, or (3) study books giving the fruit of Christcentered hermeneutics but lacking an explanation of the necessary process. He says, “The need remains for a simple and practical guide for preaching Christ from the Old Testa ment” (p. 11). While his intended audience is the busy pastor, as well as Sunday School teacher and Bible Study leader, his aim is clear: “The heart of this handbook is practical methodology. I want to help pastors know how to preach Christ from the Old Testament” (p. 18).
To accomplish this task, King’s book is divided into three parts with an introduction and conclusion. In his introduction, he seeks to convey a challenge he received from Sidney Greidanus, Graeme Goldsworthy, and Bryan Chapell, to whom he dedicates the book. That challenge is for each pastor who has not “yet perceived the Christocentric nature of the Old Testament” (p. 9). However, those who accept the challenge and preach from the OT must avoid two errors: First, failing to interpret and apply the OT in the light of Christ is subChristian. Second, carelessly applying a Christocentric hermeneutic that slights the Trinity, twists the Scriptures, or minimizes the Bible’s imperatives, is subbiblical (p. 10).
In Part 1, King answers a crucial question: “Why should I preach Christ from the OT?” Here he identifies a common problem in evangel ical pulpits: “Too many preachers make little or no effort to understand the connection of the text to the person and work of Jesus. The text serves a utilitarian purpose rather than a Christological one. Simply put, these Old Testament sermons need to get saved” (p. 19). He offers an exegetical and theological solution to this problem. Exegetically, he ad vocates an approach like Dennis E. Johnson’s in Him We Proclaim (2007): Interpretive cues are gleaned from how Jesus and the apostles interpreted the OT in a Christfocused way. Then, theologically, King explains the concepts of progressive revelation, the new covenant, the canonical context, Christ’s mediatorial role, and the goal of preaching— which is a congregation’s maturity in Christ.
In Part 2, the author provides practical answers to the question, “How do I preach Christ from the OT?” He offers three simple steps for interpreting every OT text in the light of Christ: text, Christ, us (p. 49). In step one, the preacher selects a text and derives the main point. In step two, the preacher asks how the main point of the OT passage finds its fulfillment in Christ. Here King offers six ways to Christ: (1) prophetic promise, (2) ethical instruction, (3) fallen humanity, (4) typo logical revelation, (5) narrative progression, and (6) theological theme. Provocatively, he asks us to imagine Jesus reading the OT over our shoulders, interpreting the text in light of himself. Step three concludes the interpretive process by applying the Christinformed text to the modern listener.
Part 3 then answers a final question: “What happens when I preach Christ from the OT?” Here King gives three problems to avoid, Chris tomonism (which excludes the Father and the Holy Spirit), moving too quickly from the text to Christ, and ignoring imperatives. However, with those warnings in place, he offers numerous benefits to enjoy.
WHY PASTORS NEED THIS BOOK
The author’s tone is pastoral, and he communicates well to those charged with shepherding God’s flock. His candor and transparency throughout the book are also commendable, especially his confession of his “subChristian” preaching during some of his early ministry. In sum, in the broader Christcentered preaching discussion, there are a variety of advocates of Christocentric preaching, but with little uniformity in methodology. However, King contributes helpfully to the discussion by explaining why and how preachers should preach Christ from the OT. Paired with a book on expository preaching, this concise handbook would be a useful addition to an introductory preaching course or to a pastoral internship program. It is certainly designed to raise up much needed Christcentered expositors for the nurture of the Lord’s body.