Preaching Christ From the Old Testament

With regard to his ministry at Corinth, Paul said, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). To the Galatian churches, he said, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). I’ve argued that this means all of Paul’s preaching about any topic would be in relation to the death of Jesus, because without the death of Jesus there would not be a single good in all the world that would be a lasting benefit to any believer.

Every good that Paul could offer in any sermon or any text would be offered because it was blood ought. Apart from the blood of Jesus, we receive only God’s wrath, or offers of mercy that turn into wrath through our impenitence (Romans 2:4). But because of the cross, all who are in Christ Jesus receive “all things” (Romans 8:32)—everything we need to do God’s will, glorify His name, and come safely through the final judgment into joyful fellowship with Jesus forever. 

Therefore, preaching Christ crucified does not mean simply rehearsing the events of Good Friday and Easter. It also means preaching on every text and every topic, with rigorous attention to the specific wording and with the explicit understanding that Christ crucified is the ground of every good that comes to God’s people in every moment and every text and that the ultimate good is the all-satisfying Christ himself. 

Doing it Biblically

The question now is this: May we, and should we, do this in all of our preaching from the Old Testament? Or will such a pattern of preaching distort and suppress the meaning of the Old Testament texts as the author intended it? My answer is that we may and we should, and If we do it biblically, Old Testament texts, with all their peculiarity and detail, will shine more brightly with the original intention of their writers—who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).

Part of what I mean by “biblically” is implied in what I just said about how to preach Christ crucified. Treating Christ crucified as the decisive ground, and Christ glorified as the final goal, of every good offered to us in the Old Testament is not an encouragement to preach speculative types and shadows from grapes and twigs. It rests on solid, clear, biblical considerations relating to all Old Testament Scripture. Content taken from Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship by John Piper, ©2018. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187. (

© 2018 Focus on the Family.