Head and Heart

Charles Hodge The more extensive and accurate are our views of literal truth, so much the more numerous and salutary are the forms which it may assume for enlisting the affections. It is a tendency of pietism to undervalue the human intellect for the sake of exalting the affections, as if the reason had fallen deeper than the will. It cannot be a pious act to underrate those powers which were given by him who made the soul in his image. We must speculate. The heart is famished by an idle intellect.
--- Charles Hodge, The Theology of the Intellect and That of the Feelings (emphasis added).

The Wonderful Exchange

This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that, becoming Son of man with us, he has made us sons of God with him; that, by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that, by taking on our mortality, has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that, receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that, taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself (which oppressed us), he has clothed us with his righteousness.
--- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.17.2.

2014 Summer Reading

This summer I'm planning to continue or finish reading a few books I started earlier in the year. I'd also like to work my way through a few additional titles.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

I never tire of The Lord of the Rings. I began reading through it again at the beginning of the year and have made it to The Two Towers. I don't intend to finish the entire series this summer. I'm enjoying Tolkien's writing too much to plow through it quickly. I enjoy getting lost in the world he created.


Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt, David McCullough

This is another one that I began to read earlier in the year. I've enjoyed everything I've read by David McCullough, and Mornings on Horseback is no exception. In this biography, McCullough takes a look at the young Theodore Roosevelt and the family that played such a big role in shaping his character and identity.


The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, David McCullough

Yes, another McCullough book. This one was given to me as a Father's Day present. My wife and children know me very well. In fact, they know me so well that they bought me the 40th anniversary hardback edition instead of the paperback.


In addition to the titles above I'm eyeing Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee by Michael Korda. I'm also in the mood for something by Wendell Berry. I've read Hannah Coulter, Jayber Crow, and A Place on Earth. Any recommendations?

What are you planning to read this summer?

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

Today's post is the fifth and final entry in a series on finding and preaching Christ in the Old Testament. See part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.


The preacher who seeks to proclaim Christ from the OT has a rewarding, but challenging task. He will be helped in his efforts to proclaim Christ in all the Scriptures by keeping in mind the following important guidelines.

Four Practical Guidelines

1. Identifying OT types is not a matter of speculation or imagination, but rather biblical-theological exegesis and reflection. Goldsworthy has helpfully summarized the four primary characteristics of a type identified by John Currid. Remembering these characteristics will help preachers avoid speculation and allegorical interpretations in their attempts to find Christ in the OT.

First, it must be grounded in history; both type and antitype must be actual historical events, persons, or institutions. Second, there must be both a historical and theological correspondence between type and antitype. Third, there must be an intensification of the antitype from the type. Fourth, some evidence that the type is ordained by God to foreshadow the antitype must be present.1

2. Later biblical revelation, particularly the NT, ought to be consulted when studying an OT passage. The preacher must work at understanding an OT passage in its original context through an analysis of the text’s grammar, literary features, and historical situation. However, after exegeting the text in its original context, the preacher ought to allow the rest of the canon to illuminate the ways in which the passage bears witness to the person and work of Christ.

Graeme Goldsworthy writes,

Progressive revelation requires that we must always allow God’s later and fuller words to interpret the meaning of the earlier and less explicit words…Again I must stress that while earlier expressions help us understand the later, it is the later fulfillment which must interpret the real significance of the earlier expressions. This means, of course, that the earlier expressions point to things beyond themselves that are greater than the meaning that would have been perceived by those receiving these earlier expressions.2

Questions such as, “Does the NT quote or allude to the passage under consideration?” and “Are there themes in the passage that are prominent in the NT or elsewhere in the OT?” should be considered.

3. Jesus is the hero of the story. Often preachers focus on how an OT character provides an example for the congregation to follow. For example, a sermon on David’s defeat of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 may exhort the congregation to be like David by facing the giants in their lives. However, the primary application of this OT text is that the congregation, like the fearful army of Israel, needs a champion who will fight their battle and gain the victory for them. The congregation needs to hear that just as “David won the victory over Goliath without the help of Israel’s fearful army, so Jesus Christ went to the cross alone and defeated Satan, sin, and death” for them.3

4. The goal of preaching Christ-centered OT sermons is to edify rather than mesmerize the congregation. The preacher who has discovered Christ in the OT will be tempted to craft a sermon that is a redemptive-historical masterpiece. In his attempts to highlight the patterns of redemption in an OT text he may inadvertently obscure the Redeemer to whom the text points.4 This can be avoided by not only making the connections between the text and Christ, but also demonstrating how the aspects of the person and work of Christ found in the text apply to the hearers.

Conclusion

The OT is a book about Jesus Christ. From the opening chapters of Genesis to the end of Malachi, the OT bears witness to the person and work of Christ through typology and promise. Prophets, priests, and kings were designed by God to foreshadow the greater Prophet, Priest, and King to come. The OT’s animal sacrifices pointed forward to the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, ESV). The promises of a coming Savior are fulfilled in “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1, ESV). Through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension God has accomplished the great salvation that his ancient promises announced (Acts 13:33). Finally, Christian preachers today have the great privilege and responsibility of proclaiming Christ in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27).

  1. Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 111, citing John Currid, “Recognition and Use of Typology in Preaching,” Reformed Theological Review 53, no. 3 (1994): 121. [↩]
  2. Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 123. [↩]
  3. Jim Newheiser, Opening Up 1 Samuel (Leominster, England: Day One, 2011), 102. [↩]
  4. Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007), 17. [↩]

Finding and Preaching Christ in the Old Testament: Promise

In the previous post we began to examine the nature of the Old Testament's witness to Christ by considering the Bible's use of typology.

Promise in the Old Testament

A second key way in which the OT bears witness to the person and work of Christ is through promises of a coming Savior and salvation. God's promises directed the hopes of his people toward a time when his redemptive purposes would be fulfilled (Heb. 10:39-40). Although there were immediate and partial fulfillments of many of the promises in OT times, the OT ends as an incomplete story.1 The promise of a glorious day of salvation had yet to be fulfilled. The good news proclaimed by the NT is that God's promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20).

Jesus Fulfills God's Promises

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 15; 17). He is the promised offspring (Gal. 3:16). Through faith in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles become true children of Abraham thus fulfilling God’s promises to him of innumerable descendants and worldwide blessing (Gal. 3:14, 29).

God’s promises to David are also fulfilled in Christ. He is the son of David (Matt. 1:1; 9:27; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8) whose kingdom is everlasting (2 Sam. 7:12-13; Luke 1:32-33). As God’s Son (Matt. 3:17; 11:25-27), Jesus enjoys the unique relationship with the Father promised to David’s heir (2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7; Heb. 1:5). He is the promised Davidic Messiah (Isa. 7:14; 9:1-7; Jer. 23:5-6; Matt. 1:22-23; 4:15-16) who sits at God’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:3, 13) and faithfully shepherds God’s people (2 Sam. 5:2; Ezek. 34:11-24; 37:15-28; Mic. 5:2; cf. Matt. 2:5-6; John 10:1-18). Yet, as the Servant of the Lord who gives his life as an atonement for the sins of the people (Isa. 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12; Acts 8:29-35; 1 Pet. 2:24-25), Jesus fulfilled these promises in a way that surprised his disciples (Matt. 16:21-23) and his opponents (Matt. 27:39-44).2

Finally, as Dennis Johnson has insightfully observed, Jesus fulfills the OT promises of a future “superior redemptive arrangement.”3 He is the Melchizedekan priest whose priesthood “surpasses Aaron’s in its permanence, grounded in [Jesus’] eternal life and the Father’s unbreakable oath” (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 6:20; 7:11-28).4 In contrast to the Aaronic priests who repeatedly offered sacrifices for the sins of the people, Jesus, as the great high priest, offered a single sacrifice that has secured eternal redemption for his people (Heb. 7:27; 9:11-14, 24-28; 10:1-18). He is mediator of the promised new covenant, a covenant “characterized by internalization of God’s law, expansion of intimate knowledge of God, and forgiveness of sins.”5

God’s ancient promises pointed forward to and have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

  1. For discussions of the concept of multiple levels of fulfillment of OT promises, see David L. Baker. Two Testaments, One Bible: The Theological Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 208-217; Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 70-77. [↩]
  2. Bruce K. Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 888-889; Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grank Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 205-232. [↩]
  3. Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007), 180. [↩]
  4. Ibid., 179. [↩]
  5. Ibid., 182. [↩]