Voicing one theme for the entire Bible and structuring all sermons around that idea may seem to be an impossible challenge. For veteran pastor and preaching professor Edmund Clowney it will not do to preach a text from either the Old or New Testaments without fully preaching its ultimate and primary focus-the person and work of Jesus Christ. He writes, “To see the text in relation to Christ is to see it in its larger context, the context of God's purpose in revelation.”
Clowney's rationale for emphasizing Christ's presence in the Old Testament rests on the purpose of the Hebrew Scripture. The Old Testament follows God's one great plan for human history and redemption, and the plan is not only from him but centers on him: his presence in his incarnate Son. The witness of the Scriptures to Christ is the reason they were written, so it is appropriate to emphasize this element in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament.
By offering numerous full-length examples of his own sermons that emphasize Christ as the principle theme of Scripture, Clowney illustrates for those who will never have the privilege of being his students how they can craft sermons which present Christ as the primary consideration of the text. He also offers specific instructions on preparing such a sermon. He discusses the personal habits of prayer and Bible study that prepare pastors to seek out Christ's presence.
Clowney emphasizes the importance of including a specific application in every sermon so that Christ is presented both in what he says and does to reveal himself in the biblical text and in what he says and does to direct Christians' lives today.
Students preparing for the pastorate, pastors desiring to increase their emphasis on Christ in their sermons, and those seeking Christ's presence in all of Scripture will find a help in Clowney's writings.
About the Author
The late Edmund Clowney was Professor Emeritus of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where he served for over thirty years, sixteen of those as president. He authored several books, including The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament.
“Edmund Clowney is this generation's patriarch of redemptive-historical preaching. For decades he was the voice crying in the wilderness to encourage evangelical preachers to make Christ the focus of all their messages, since he is the aim of all the Scriptures. Now, many others have joined Clowney's gospel chorus, but none with greater mastery than he of the harmonies that weave the symphony of grace throughout the Bible. As Clowney shares with us the jewels of his research, message, and heart, we discern ever more clearly how to make the Pearl of Great Price shine through all the treasures of Scripture.”