Evangelistic Preaching from the Old Testament

EVANGELISTIC PREACHING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT: problems, possibilities and pointers

PTC Ministry Conference 2017
Full audio of the Conference for sale at PTCMedia

…beginning at this Scripture, he preached Jesus to him. (Act 8:35)

 Come! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money, come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isa 55:1)

 

  1. Problems with Evangelistic Preaching from the Old Testament

1.1       The Old Testament isn’t about Christ

1.2       The Old Testament is only about wisdom

1.3       The Old Testament isn’t evangelistic.

1.4       The Old Testament doesn’t know the way of salvation.

1.5       The Old Testament is shadowy

1.6       The Old Testament only says what the New Testament says

1.7       Turning it around

  1. Possibilities for Evangelistic Preaching from the Old Testament

2.1       Any OT text can lead to salvation

2.2       Every OT text leads to the Gospel events

2.3       Every OT text is about conversion

2.4       The OT and sin

2.5       Texts for contexts

  1. Pointers for Evangelistic Preaching from the Old Testament

3.1       Expository or topical?

3.2       Short or long text?

3.3       Typology

3.4       Quick tips

  1. Final thoughts

READING

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Two preliminary thoughts came to me as I was preparing this conference address.

1. Practicing evangelism

As I was preparing for this presentation on preaching evangelistically from the Old Testament, my mind wandered, and I turned to Babylon Bee (bablyonbee.com). There was a story that instantly hit home.

Local Calvinist’s Elaborate Theology of Evangelism Entirely Theoretical.

Local Calvinist Bryan Harrison holds to an intricate, well-developed theology of evangelism that exists entirely in the theoretical realm, sources confirmed Saturday.

“God is wholly sovereign in salvation, but He uses the means of gospel proclamation to accomplish that end. We can’t just sit around on the couch and hope people get saved,” explained Bryan thoughtfully as he took a seat on his sofa for his daily four-hour Xbox session. “God brings His elect in through the sacrificial efforts of people like you and me.”

“People totally misunderstand Calvinism, as if the salvation of sinners happens in a vacuum, with no God-ordained means used in bringing them to Christ,” said the Reformed man who, sources confirm, has not witnessed to a single person in the past five years.

“You really should read J.I. Packer’s book on the subject—it totally changed the way I debate the idea of God’s sovereignty in evangelism,” he added. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to tend to the important business of pwning some noobs.”

This hit home, as I sat on my couch at home preparing this talk about evangelism. It struck me that in terms of implementing what this talk is about, it is really the conference attendees who are at the cutting edge. You are the ones who are preaching evangelistically, and who may well be gearing up to preach from an OT passage this Easter. I wondered if it might not be more appropriate if we rather workshopped the topic, and pooled the collective wisdom that will be present in this room.

2. Powerful evangelism

My other thought is one that comes to me whenever I talk about the practicalities of preaching. Talking about doing is fine. The pragmatics of things need discussing. We need to have the best words. We do have the best words. Still, what we fundamentally need, what we continually need, is not just to know how to do things better, but to have a fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God. We need to experience again, and again, that Pentecostal fire, not just so that our listeners get the message, but also so that we ourselves, we the preachers, have that Word of God brought into our hearts.

If God is going to change this nation, it will be through preaching, but it will be through preachers not who know how to be like the society that needs saving, but who know how to be a world apart from the people they seek to reach. We need a moral iron will; we need the outpouring of the Spirit on our preachers, over and over again.

  1. The topic

The topic is an important one, although I would not say that it is the issue of the day—evangelistic preaching from the Old Testament: problems, possibilities and pointers. We will look firstly at the problems that come to mind in terms of using the OT for evangelistic preaching. Then we will look at the positive value of the OT for evangelistic preaching, and then some pointers—some ‘how to’ comments.

What do I mean by ‘evangelistic preaching from the OT’?

  1. ‘OT’: is clear enough. This is the Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures. Notice that this is not a general discussion of evangelistic preaching. The intention is to focus on the particular problems and possibilities that the OT presents for evangelistic preaching.
  2. ‘Preaching’: I am thinking of the formal preaching that takes place particularly in congregational settings at Sunday, Good Friday and Christmas services.
  3. ‘Evangelistic’: the word does bear some further thought. The word, euangelizo, is not used in the NT of bringing the Gospel only to non-Christians. Even Christians receive this Gospel preaching that tells them that ‘Jesus is the Christ’ (Acts 5:42; Rom 1:15. Cf. 1 Thess 3:6; Rev 10:7). Christians need this preaching, to keep them established in the faith. No congregation ever moves beyond the need to hear the kerygma, the preached message of the history and meaning of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. This message should never be deemed ‘too simple’ for the people of God.

    Still, euangelizo is predominantly used of bringing the Gospel to non-Christians, with the intention of discharging one’s duty to God (1 Cor 9:16), and of calling non-Christians to faith in the Lord Jesus and repentance towards God, or calling them to worship the one, true God. ‘We… preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God’ (Acts 14:15). This Gospel preaching can simply be styled as ‘preaching Jesus’ (‘Philip…preached Jesus to him’, Acts 8:35. It is not the most common expression—‘preach the good news’ often does not need a direct object—but see also Acts 5:42, ‘preaching Jesus as the Christ’; 11:20, ‘preaching the Lord Jesus’; 17:18, ‘preaching Jesus and the resurrection’).[1]

1. Problems with Evangelistic Preaching from the Old Testament

Problems come quickly to mind with regards to preaching evangelistically from the Old Testament. Should we use the OT for evangelistic preaching? Is it even possible? There are the perennial problems that confront us, that almost seem to be insurmountable hurdles. Ramesh Richard, writing about evangelistic preaching, says that normally the New Testament should be used, since there are with the OT ‘canonical and hermeneutical limitations.’[2]

1.1 The Old Testament isn’t about Christ

Is Christ spoken about in the Old Testament? How can you use the OT to preach Christ, if Jesus is only spoken about in the New Testament? If we preach the OT, will we end up just talking about ‘God’ rather than ‘Jesus’? Would we not just have a non-Triune God and a Jewish Gospel?[3]

I have spoken about this at length at a previous Ministry Conference (2013, Guidelines for Preaching Christ from the Old Testament), but to demonstrate the significant scale of the problem, listen to what the popular Old Testament scholar, Richard Hays, says in his recent book. Speaking of the way the New Testament perceives the Old Testament witness to Christ, he writes the following.

Figural reading of the Bible need not presume that the Old Testament authors—or the characters they narrate—were conscious of predicting or anticipating Christ. Rather, the discernment of a figural correspondence is necessarily retrospective rather than prospective.[4]

He calls this ‘reading backwards’.[5] There needs to be a ‘conversion of the imagination’.[6]

What is really being said here? The Old Testament is not really about Christ—not in a grammatical-historical way, not at the level of authorial intent. With imagination, though, it can be taken as being about Christ. The Old Testament needs to be re-read. This is not a novel idea amongst Old Testament scholars.

It hardly gives certain ground upon which to proclaim Christ from the Old Testament. How are people meant to place their faith in Him, when the preacher has but produced an imagined Jesus from the text?

One wonders how Peter managed to make any impact with his ‘reading backwards’ on the Day of Pentecost. Of course, that is the point. Hays’ view is significantly at variance with the hermeneutical principle that Peter relied upon in Acts 2. ‘David says concerning Him’ (Acts 2:25). This was no re-reading, but an author-centred interpretation of the literal meaning of Psalm 16. However, it is a reading that requires faith—not faith to see something that is not otherwise there, but faith that puts aside presuppositions about the evolution of religion and the desire to naturalise the supernatural.

The problem of whether the Old Testament is a Christian book was faced in the early Church from the outset, and the Church’s greatest theologians have at every point affirmed that the Old Testament is fully a part of the Christian canon. As Hebrews says, Moses was a servant in the house, but Christ was over the house (Heb 3:5–6). Moses was a servant of Christ in the writing the Law. Thus, Philip did not struggle to ‘preach Jesus’ from Isaiah 53 (Acts 8:35, ‘beginning at this Scripture’).

1.2 The Old Testament is only about wisdom

God ‘now commands all men everywhere to repent’, says Paul as he ‘preached Jesus and the resurrection’ at Athens (Acts 17:18, 30). There are a number of problems here. First, whilst the New Testament apostle commands people to repent, does the Old Testament any longer command anyone to do anything? There is the question of the continuing function of the Old Testament in the New Testament age. Does it bind anyone to obedience? Do we not follow the law of Christ rather than the law of the Old Testament? In effect, does the Old Testament continue to function as Scripture?

This goes hand in hand with discussion about the validity of the tripartite civil-ceremonial-moral division of the law. Since the earliest stages of the Church, almost everyone has agreed that the civil and ceremonial aspects of the Old Testament law were annulled, but the moral aspects of the law remain in force. This has recently been challenged. Superficially, the challenge has rhetorical force and an attractive simplicity. Did the apostles pick bits of the Old Testament to keep and other bits to discard? Suddenly, the traditional approach looks like it says that the apostles had a cavalier approach to the OT. The apostles randomly picked the bits they liked? Would it not be simpler and tidier to say that they in some sense rejected the whole Old Testament? Can we then avoid the never-ending hermeneutical battles over which laws are moral and which are ceremonial?

This leads to the need to give a new explanation for the continuing function of the Old Testament. One recent, well-meaning attempt is to say that it is ‘prophecy’ and ‘wisdom’ for us, but not ‘law’.[7] The Old Testament has a Christological focus (prophecy—it witnesses to Christ), and illustrates the moral principles that the apostles insist upon by the authority of Christ (wisdom).

For evangelism, one could still use the Old Testament as a witness to Christ. However, commanding repentance becomes problematic. The OT now only illustrates what the NT requires. It might be best to avoid the moral dimension of the OT altogether.

There are numerous difficulties with the hypothesis.

  1. It does not rightly portray the attitude the apostles had to the Old Testament. The OT was not merely an illustration of what Christ had taught them. It was their Scriptures, the book that ruled them. When James says, ‘Be doers of the Word’ (Jas 1:22a), that ‘Word’ is the ‘perfect law of liberty’ (Jas 1:25), which law is for James the Old Testament (the ‘royal law’, ‘You shall love your neighbour…’, 2:8; two commands from the Decalogue are quoted, too, 2:11). James twice calls this the Law ‘of liberty’ (1:25; 2:12). Christian freedom is found in keeping the OT law.
  2. It does not rightly portray what the apostles did with the Old Testament. As much as the civil-ceremonial-moral division might cause us difficulty (and the difficulties are quite limited, and essentially come down to the debates about Sabbath and Baptism), the apostles actually made a distinction between moral and ceremonial law. Peter’s dream was only about creepy-crawlies and the like, not stone tablets. There are no statements in the NT that the moral law is annulled, but only statements about continuity with the moral law. In the Spirit, the ‘righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us’ (Rom 8:4).
  3. The hypothesis says that the whole OT speaks about Christ, but He never speaks in the OT. The Old Testament is then simultaneously Christian but sub-Christian, pointing to Christ, but a gagged Christ. Rather, it was Christ who issued the OT law in the first place. He was with Moses in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4). There is no dichotomy between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. As above, Moses was but a servant in the house.
  4. ‘Wisdom’ is an interesting category. ‘Get wisdom…Wisdom is the principal thing’ (Prov 4:5–7). It is not an optional extra; it is commanded. ‘Be wise’ (Matt 10:16). What is the Gospel, but the ‘wisdom of God’ (1 Cor 1:24)? Where can God’s wisdom for salvation be found? It is found not only in Paul’s preaching, but in the Old Testament, according to Paul. The Old Testament makes you ‘wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’ (2 Tim 3:15). In other words, relegating the Old Testament to the status of ‘wisdom’ does not lower its status at all.

We see this new view in play when we come to any OT text that gives clear commands to the people of God, only to hear the response, ‘That is fulfilled in Jesus’, or ‘Jesus has obeyed for me.’ The category of ‘prophecy’ (pointing forward to Christ) undermines the function of the OT as Scripture. It points to Jesus; it does not command me.

Paul needs to be heard one more time. Poke an evangelical with a stick—what Bible verse does he quote? If not John 3:16, then 2 Tim 3:16. Speaking in the first place of the Old Testament, he says, ‘All Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking…’—and it remains ‘Scripture’ (2 Tim 3:16). Its commands to faith and repentance continue to obligate all who hear.

To restate the above, some want a Jesus without OT baggage—a more vanilla-flavoured Jesus with more pleasant toppings. The move is away from a Jesus who comes encumbered with the theology of the OT, the ethics of the OT, the demands of the OT that we do not quite like so much.

Therefore, some Christians speak always about ‘Jesus’—just ‘Jesus’. Titles such as ‘Lord Jesus’ and ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ can be unfashionable. What is the effect of this? It strips Jesus down to being just my saviour and friend, and it leaves aside the baggage of the OT, which is the ‘Christ’ part (Messiah), and the Lord part (kurios being the LXX equivalent of the OT term, Yhwh).

To be sure, the NT uses just ‘Jesus’ hundreds of times, but the vast majority of uses are in the Gospels, when speaking about Jesus in His humiliation. After the resurrection, when the discussion is about the One whom we worship and serve, the NT is three times more likely to use ‘Lord Jesus’ or ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ than just ‘Jesus’.

The comment by Steve Gaines is bewildering, then. ‘We need to speak the name of Jesus frequently. The words, God, Lord, and Christ, are all biblical, but there is something particularly powerful about the name of Jesus.’[8] However, this truncates Jesus. What of the powerful name, ‘I Am’, from the powerful person, Jesus, used in the Garden (John 18:6)? ‘They drew back and fell to the ground’. Even to his half-brother, James, He is ‘Lord’, ‘Lord Jesus Christ’, ‘Lord of glory’, ‘Lord of hosts’, but not once, just ‘Jesus’.

Jesus is the ‘Lord Christ’. He is the Christ, the hope of the OT (prophecy). He is also Lord, the God of the OT, and His call to repentance comes in the Old as much as in the New Testament.

1.3 The Old Testament isn’t evangelistic

There is another difficulty in Paul’s statement that God ‘now commands all men everywhere to repent’ (Acts 17:18, 30). Is the Gospel call to ‘all men’ just a ‘now’ reality, a New Testament reality? Was there an ‘all men’ reality in the OT?

In other words, how can we use the OT for evangelism, when there is no evangelism in the OT, or almost no evangelism? How can you use a non-evangelising book for evangelism?

That brings us to the passive and active evangelism argument. The reality is that the OT enjoins evangelism upon the nation of Israel only in a passive sense. She was not obligated to mount an evangelistic campaign to the nations.

The book of Jonah is the only place where the topic seems to be the focus, but even then, the point is more about the need for Israel to repent than for the need for worldwide evangelism. Ezekiel pleads passionately for repentance (Ezek 14:6; 18:21–23, 30–32), but these calls are directed to the Jews, and come with little expectation of repentance, but are more designed to highlight sin and to exonerate God when He brings judgement.

Does that mean what we do in the NT age is entirely at odds with the OT? Not to all. The OT does not evangelise the nations in any focussed way, but it predicts, foretells, promises, expects and hopes for that new age, when the Gentiles will bring their wealth to Jerusalem, and will know the Lord.

Thus, the early Church’s mission was grounded not only in the Great Commission from Jesus (Matthew 28), but also in the OT. Paul makes this clear in Romans 9–11, drawing on a catena of OT texts.

  • ‘I will call them My people, who were not My people’ (Hos 2:23), prefiguring the incoming of the Gentiles.
  • In a similar way: ‘I was found by those who did not seek Me’ (Isa 65:1).
  • Isaiah spoke of those who preach the Gospel: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace’ (Isa 52:7).

The Old Testament looked forward to the incoming of the Gentiles (Rom 15:7–12).

There is, then, no impediment to using the Old Testament for evangelism. The OT expectation is that the blessings currently laid upon Israel will one day also be lavished upon the Gentiles. Thus, the great call to salvation to the Jews in Isaiah 55 can rightly be used to call in the Gentiles.

For interest, much of the NT itself would not qualify as evangelistic, since so much of it was written for the Church, for believers. We could well be asking whether it is possible to preach evangelistically from the book of James.

1.4 The Old Testament doesn’t know the way of salvation

It would be hard to preach about the Gospel of grace if the Old Testament was only about legalism. Did not Paul say, ‘Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them” ’ (Gal 3:12)?[9]

Some may have thought that the Law taught legalism, but Paul manages to establish the Gospel of grace on the very basis of the Old Testament. ‘But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith” ’ (Gal 3:11, citing Hab 2:4). Paul even says that the ‘righteousness of faith’ (rather than ‘the righteousness that is based on the of law’, as the Jews thought of it) is found in the Mosaic Torah (citing Deut 30:12–14 in Rom 10:5–9).

Certainly, the Old Testament has a focus on Law and a negativity to it, to the extent that it can be easy to misread it. This, though, brings us to the possibilities of using the Old Testament for Gospel preaching: exposing sin, explaining the nature of repentance. This is a counterbalance to the antinomianism that so often plagues evangelism, as though only faith is required for salvation.

1.5 The Old Testament is shadowy

Whilst we have said that the OT speaks about Christ, the further difficulty is that it speaks about Him by shadows. How can we preach Christ from the OT, when the OT is only a looking in the mirror dimly?

This is complicated, but the primary way in which the OT is shadow is not because of some thick haze or fog in the text itself. The primary reason for the shadowy nature of the OT is its incompleteness. It is like a large jigsaw, without the box lid to see the overall picture. You can quickly put the border in place—the parameters of the whole puzzle. The outsides are usually easy. When you pick up an individual piece, it is clear enough. You can see it. There is a bird there, or a piece of a tree. That is clear, but it is hard to know where to put it in the jigsaw. Does it go in the middle? Should you put it off to the side? Is it central or peripheral? 

What can happen, if I can overburden the analogy, is that you can pick up some pieces that are clear enough, and you put them together, and think that that is what it is all about. I have three pieces that have bricks of a house, so the whole thing must be a house. That is what the Pharisees did with it. I can see 10 laws, 100 laws, 613 laws. It must all be about law.

What that means is that whatever piece of the OT you are preaching on, you must make sure that you have grasped the whole context. The whole context ultimately includes the resurrection of Christ—not simply that the OT is to be read in the light of the resurrection, but that it was written in the light of the resurrection (the Spirit in the prophets ‘witnessed beforehand’, 1 Pet 1:11).

1.6 The Old Testament only says what the New Testament says

Accepting that the Old Testament does speak about Christ, is it not the case that it does not say anything more than what the NT says? Why not just stay with the NT?

Actually, the OT has a colour and hue that is not found in the NT. First, it has a manner of expression that is not in the new—a way of speaking and of putting things. Preaching is about finding the right way to communicate, so the richness and variety of the Old Testament should definitely be part of the toolbox.

Still, there is material in the OT that actually is clearer than the NT, even in its own shadowy way. The chief example is that picture that the Psalms give of the heart of the Messiah. In the Psalms, we see not just his actions, but his heart, his struggles, his faith, his inner life.

1.7 Turning it around

The complaints raised above about using the OT for evangelistic preaching need to be turned around. The OT is about Christ. The OT is about wisdom. The OT is evangelistic. The OT knows the way of salvation. The OT has clarity. The OT gives a fuller picture of Christ and the Gospel.

Why use the OT for evangelistic preaching? For all those reasons, and more—see below. Asking the question again, though, there is another answer. We use the OT for evangelistic preaching because Jesus did, and so did the apostles (and so did Whitefield!).

2. Possibilities for Evangelistic Preaching from the Old Testament

The nature of the possibilities for evangelistic preaching from the Old Testament will be somewhat predictable given the way the problems above were resolved.

2.1 Any OT text can lead to salvation

Without even thinking about intentional evangelistic preaching, any OT text, any biblical text, by the mere reading of it, and in the hands of the Holy Spirit, can lead a person to Christ.[10] That is not to say that every text has some full explanation of the Gospel within it, but people approach the OT will all kinds of awarenesses, and it could be that individual text that supplies the missing piece. Could a person be converted by a genealogy? Has that ever happened? It could be the text that brings a person to realise that Scripture is rooted in history; that it does not purport to be mere allegory.

2.2 Every OT text leads to the Gospel events

Every OT text connects to the NT and its good news of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. That is physically true, as it were—it is all in the one book, all part of the one canon. It is thematically true as well. Every individual part of the Old Testament is preceded and followed by the Gospel, with Genesis 3 at the back of it and the cross, resurrection and ascension in front it.

If you cannot bring an OT text to the Gospel events, then you are not reading it rightly. Kaiser, speaking generally about the value of the Old Testament, says that ‘it leads us to Jesus the Messiah’.[11]

How does Acts 8:35 put it? ‘Beginning at this Scripture [Isaiah 53], he preached Jesus to him’. Every text sits in this wider context of the Gospel events. Spurgeon’s words deserve to be cited one more time.

I believe that those sermons which are fullest of Christ are the most likely to be blessed to the conversion of the hearers. Let your sermons be full of Christ, from beginning to end crammed full of the gospel…You remember the story of the old minister who heard a sermon by a young man, and when he was asked by the preacher what he thought of it he was rather slow to answer, but at last he said, “If I must tell you, I did not like it at all; there was no Christ in your sermon.” “No,” answered the young man, “because I did not see that Christ was in the text.” “Oh!” said the old minister, “but do you not know that from every little town and village and tiny hamlet in England there is a road leading to London? Whenever I get hold of a text, I say to myself, ‘There is a road from here to Jesus Christ, and I mean to keep on His track till I get to Him.'” “Well,” said the young man, “but suppose you are preaching from a text that says nothing about Christ?” “Then I will go over hedge and ditch but what I will get at Him.” So must we do, brethren; we must have Christ in all our discourses, whatever else is in or not in them. There ought to be enough of the gospel in every sermon to save a soul.[12]

Gibson puts it this way. ‘Most of the evangelistic sermons recorded in the book of Acts have an evangelistic ring, and, as we would expect, they draw upon the Bible of their day, the Old Testament. See especially the messages recorded in Acts 4:8–12; 5:29–32; 7:1–53; 10:34–48; and 13:16–41.’[13] Notice the way that some of these text recount the OT story, and complete the story by moving to Christ.

2.3 Every OT text is about conversion

Evangelistic preaching deliberately intends to bring non-Christians to exercise faith and repentance. Faith and repentance are the twin demands of the Gospel, the two duties of the covenant. There is not one text in the OT that is not about faith and repentance. Every part of it calls for repentance, certainly—for people to respond in certain ways, to turn their lives around, to be converted, and to submit to Christ’s rule. Since repentance is always grounded in faith, then every text is about faith, and calls for, requires, demands or assumes faith. If you crack open the OT at any point, out flows the call to repentance and faith.

2.4 The OT and sin

Further to the preceding, and comments further above, the OT is an especially excellent tool for bringing conviction of sin. People say, ‘The OT is all about sin’. Excellent. Use it! This is to refer to the so-called second use of the Law. ‘I would not have known sin except through the law’ (Rom 7:7). ‘You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery?’ (Rom 2:21–22). Ray Comfort seems to have turned the use of the Ten Commandments in evangelism into something of an art form. Use the OT, then, to convict people of sin and to show them their need of a Saviour.

2.5 Texts for contexts

We spoke about the need to read OT texts in their wider canonical contexts. They also need to be applied within particular human contexts. According to Whitesell, ‘The Old Testament is evangelistic’,[14] but some texts will suit some evangelistic situations better than others. Some texts are more directly Christ-focussed, or more directly appeal for faith and repentance. The apostles in Acts repeatedly presented their Jewish listeners with the classic Messianic prophecies of the OT. In that regard, Whitesell gave 16 reasons why preachers should use the OT for evangelism, including that we want to reach Jews, too.[15]

Those few who have written on the topic of evangelistic preaching from the Old Testament have tended to draw up lists of OT themes and passages that are useful for the task. Chapman gives three OT texts that he believes are particularly suitable.[16]

To complete the quote from Richard above, who thinks that evangelistic preaching should normally be from the NT, he adds:

If an Old Testament passage can be discernibly related to (1) the need of a Savior from sin, judgment, present futility, and eternal lostness, (2) a New Testament comment on the passage or assumptions about Jesus, or (3) anticipation of the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, then by all means preach expository evangelistic messages from the Old Testament’.[17]

There is more that can be said than that. Texts that touch on particular themes will be easily turned to evangelistic advantage. For example, there are OT texts that speak about

  • God as the giver of life
  • God as the soul’s highest good
  • The love of God
  • Atonement
  • Justification by faith alone
  • Repentance
  • Sin and Judgement

Perry gives an even longer list, and includes texts that speak of the deity of the Messiah, the Holy Spirit, resurrection and temptation.[18]

Texts that speak of God as Creator are useful. Loscalzo writes the following.

The first chapter of our canon is rich with evangelism…At a time when people struggle with the need to make sense out of life…what better news than to discover that we are created in God’s image. Evangelistic preaching shouts from the mountaintop that people don’t have to strive to be somebody…because they are already somebody. They already have a name. They are God’s children.[19]

It should be added that the image of God in humankind is marred and needs restoration in Christ. It should be further added that preaching about God as Creator taps into that inbuilt knowledge that all naturally supress, which when awakened will lead to the awareness of sin.[20]

The literature on the topic also points out that the Old Testament has examples of revivals, even if there is debate as to how many such texts there are.[21]

The influx of non-regular Churchgoers to Easter and Christmas services has dwindled in some quarters. Nevertheless, these are times at which there will be special attention to preaching with an evangelistic focus. There are obvious prophetic texts to choose for Christmas and Easter services, for the ‘fulfilled-prophecy’ kind of sermon, the ‘real reason of the season’ Christmas sermon, the ‘Jesus is the best gift’ sermon, etc.

The texts that foretell the resurrection of the Messiah should not be forgotten, despite the evangelical reluctance to see the resurrection in the OT. Paul is adamant that the resurrection took place ‘according to the Scriptures’ (1 Cor 15:4). This is not merely a Sunday-school reading of the OT text.

As well as pointing to particular texts that can be used, various examples of using the OT for evangelistic preaching can be seen in a number of places, including the following.

  • Perry gives examples of Old Testament evangelistic sermons from Deut 1:19, 1 Sam 15:10–23 and Isaiah 55:1–13.[22]
  • There is a collection of 21 of Lloyd-Jones’ OT evangelistic sermons.[23]
  • One of Whitefield’s classic sermons, somewhat short on contextual sensitivity, is ‘The Lord our Righteousness’, based on Jer 23:6.[24]

3. Pointers for Evangelistic Preaching from the Old Testament

How can I possibly give comprehensive advice on how to preach evangelistically from the 36 books of the OT? In addition, the topic is not ‘preaching evangelistically’ in general, but related to the OT in particular, yet the two topics very quickly merge. Once the above problems are dispatched, preaching an OT evangelistic sermon is much like preaching an NT evangelistic sermon (and, as Chapman has it, ‘Evangelistic sermons are, generally speaking, like any other sermon’[25]). The pointers below very quickly become general advice on evangelistic preaching.

On constructing an evangelistic sermon (not from the OT in particular), see Larsen and Galea.[26] See also Leighton Ford’s analysis of how Peter’s Pentecost sermon was constructed, moving towards the invitation, ‘Repent…’[27] On preaching Christ from the Old Testament, see Greidanus, Goldsworthy and Dennis Johnson (and Adams cited elsewhere in these notes).[28] On the value of evangelistic preaching, see Allison and Anderson.[29] On preparing sermon in general, see any number of books, including Beeke and Benge’s Pulpit Aflame, and MacArthur’s edited work.[30]

3.1 Expository or topical?

Should an evangelistic sermon be expository or topical? It is a bit like asking whether one should only ever use one weapon on the battlefield. Sometimes you need an M16; sometimes you need a tank.

However, if the tank is the better weapon, then the expository sermon is the tank. Expository preaching makes a powerful point just by presenting itself as from Scripture. ‘There is an air of integrity…when we strive to show from where our gospel comes.’[31]

Whilst a topical sermon might be judged to communicate better with the non-Christian, the underlying battle for the non-Christian is one of authority. Will he or she heed the voice of God, or not? The expository sermon most clearly takes its stand on biblical authority, and challenges the non-Christian to do the same. By the end of the sermon, the unbeliever will have to make a decision: ‘I can see it is from Scripture, but do I believe it?’

The topical sermon, on the other hand, follows a pattern of logic that the preacher has in his own mind—even if he thinks he sees it in the story of salvation itself. It will more readily put the preacher at the centre of the sermon. The unbeliever not only has to grapple with the question of God’s authority, but with whether they accept the logic of preacher, too.

The Spirit speaks through the Word, so the sermon should be as Wordy as possible.[32]

I suppose my comments are related to my own experience. I have seldom preached topical sermons. The few times that I have tried to preach topically in a formal, pulpit setting, I have felt like a V8 engine fuelled by hillbilly moonshine. Excusing the lack of modesty there, the point is that it did not feel right. The power of the Word is not there in the same way.

We can preach topically and still be in accordance for Scripture, for a while at least. Exegetical preaching (and consecutive exegetical preaching) is the life-blood of the people of God, though, as the Spirit of God brings that preached word into the hearts of His elect, whether currently saved or unsaved. His sheep know His voice.[33]

3.2 Short or long text?

An expository sermon on a long text can be complex and hard to follow. The saints may well have their Bibles opened in front of them as you preach; the unbeliever is less likely to do so, and having it printed out or up on the projector screen might still not be too exciting for the average Australian.

The topical sermon is one solution. Another solution is a shorter text. A preached one-verse text can leave a powerful and memorable impression (as preachers across the 17th–19th centuries could testify). It can be preached without having to explain intricate details about the chapter that have little to do with the evangelistic concern.

There is the danger of not paying due attention to the context of a verse. This is a hermeneutical issue that the preacher pursues in his study, but does he have to present his argumentation in the sermon too? Do we have to reveal how the meat was minced? Is it a pressing issue for the unbeliever to know about the succession of Persian kings?

This advice does not come without some level of biblical support. When the apostles come to draw on OT texts in their sermons in Acts, they do not engage in exegesis and exposition of whole chapters and whole Psalms. They draw out points from particular verses.

3.3 Typology

The typologised text might not be the best selection for a focussed, evangelistic sermon, given that it requires a level of hermeneutic sophistication to understand. The evangelistic point has to be the obvious point that arises from the text, not one that needs layers of explanation.

The dazzling leap to Christ that has become popular as the last point of OT sermons might impress your weekly congregation, but could leave the uninitiated bewildered. Samson was hairy, Samson was strong, and Samson is just like Christ. Samson snatches victory from the jaws of defeat, just as Christ did. It may well be true, but the text does not actually say it, so it could well appear that you are using the text as an excuse to talk about Christ.

The evangelistic point has to arise from what can be seen in the text by an ordinary reader. Samson found his true purpose in obedience to God. That is not hard to see in the text. If you wanted to preach that text evangelistically, that could well be the point—that point placed into the context of redemption in Christ, of course.

Chapman complains about the evangelistic use of Naaman’s healing (2 Kings 5).

It would be a great surprise to me if the writer of 2 Kings ever though that Naaman’s healing really meant that we could have our sins forgiven through the death of Jesus…There are so many clear statements of the gospel that there is no need for us to resort to creating allegories. Be fresh and varied in your approach, but stick to the text and find one which says exactly what the gospel is.[34]

As raised above, connected with typological preaching is the type of sermon that adds Christ on as the final point of the sermon. This can be a standard operating procedure for typologists. Adams speaks against the tacked-on Christ. One’s speaking, rather, should be permeated with the Gospel. Adams indicates that every topic connects to our sin and the need for a Saviour. The redemption of Christ will have an

effect on whatever it is that one is discussing…One considers how Christ forgives, how He changes our sinful desires and turns our interests to serving God, and how He enables us to live differently in the future…How do you preach Christ from the Old Testament? By showing how every Old Testament topic relates to the gospel.[35]

3.4 Quick tips

The quick tips below apply when preaching from the OT or the NT.

  1. Keep it short. Of course, this can depend upon the attention span of the audience and the homiletical skill of the preacher.
  2. Keep it simple. First, there is widespread agreement that jargon should be avoided when trying to reach the uninitiated. The difficulty is what simplicity looks like in the context of a Lord’s Day service, in which one also seeks to build up the people of God, and need more than milk. The Scriptures themselves are simple enough for anyone to understand, and yet say many difficult things at the same time. Secondly, there is something worse than using jargon—the use of interminably long and complex words and sentences. Jargon can be explained, but there is no saving a long sentence. It is hard to follow a preacher when words have many syllables, when sentences are long, when conjunctions and subordinating clauses start piling up, when passives are used, and so on. Keep it at a low grade reading level. Thirdly, do not explain the obvious. Simplicity can be about not explaining the obvious, but rather connecting the topic with what is already known (such as Paul connecting with the Athenians in Acts 17).
  3. Keep it Scriptural. See elsewhere in the notes. Keep it self-evidently Scriptural. If the text needs copious explanation to see the point, it might not be the best text to be used.
  4. Keep it focussed. Christ and Him crucified is the message.[36] Avoid divisive comments, whether about politics, sport or the weather. Yes, baby Jesus went down to Egypt. No, you do not need to comment about asylum seekers. Even saying this just now is probably going to get you distracted from the topic. Why did Jared say that? What are Jared’s views on the subject? Is he trying to make a political point? Is he saying that’s not an important issue? Is there something that he said that I should get outraged about? Can I put this on Twitter?
  5. Keep it illustrated. Keep it illustrated, without failing to keep it focussed. The topic is Christ, not whatever your audience would more naturally like to think about. Illustrations must always serve the end of, well, illustrating.
  6. Keep it connected. The sermon should speak into the lives of your listeners—not by mentioning the things that they naturally like, but by addressing the big questions they might not want to talk about quite so openly: the existence of God, guilt, death, judgement, life’s highest purpose, hope, joy, and eternal life. Notwithstanding what your listeners were thinking and feeling before you started preaching, the sermon is to bring ‘conviction and concern to the hearers’, as Peter did at Pentecost.[37]
  7. Keep it non-discriminatory. I do not merely mean, use gender-neutral expressions. I do mean that your message needs to be accessible by a cross-section of the community. Unless you are genuinely preaching to a room of University philosophy students, a glittering critique of the post-truth world is not actually where it is at. In a typical congregational setting, it would be quite wrong to repeatedly set your focus on calling only one favoured group to salvation, to the exclusion of the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, the old, the young, the Australian-born, the overseas-born, etc. This might be one of those things that is easier said than done, but the intention has to be there.
  8. Keep it kerygmatic and passionate. Choose a text that readily conveys a sense of passion, whether of horror at sin and judgement, delight in the grace of God, etc. Then, preach it as such.[38] No more passionless preaching—whether evangelistic or not!
  9. Keep it direct. Call for a response. Invite a response. Plead for a response. Command a response. Be specific. What should they do? When should they do it?
  10. Keep your motives and concern about God first, the non-Christian second, the health of your Church third, and your own success a non-starter. Evangelism is not about growing a Church that makes you look good as a pastor. It is about glorifying the God of grace and justice, and the eternal and temporal happiness of those to whom you are speaking. In the secular world, they speak of ‘authenticity’ in leadership. There needs to be authenticity in evangelism, too.

4. Final thoughts

Evangelistic preaching: what Scripture?

Does Covenant Theology kill evangelistic efforts? First, ask George Whitefield. Secondly, here is a direct result of covenant theology. Since there is one covenant of grace throughout the whole of Scripture, the whole is about grace, the whole is Gospel, and the whole is then evangelistic. Therefore, you can use any passage of Scripture to call non-Christians to salvation. Some passages suit the task better than others, but the whole field of Scripture is white for evangelistic harvesting. Those who affirm one covenant of grace have the fullest toolbox with which to work.

Evangelistic preaching: what setting?

Are Sunday services just for teaching? Actually, every time you open up the Scriptures, whatever the passage may be, you are preaching Jesus, to the converted and unconverted; proclaiming the Gospel events of His life, death and resurrection; calling people to repentance and faith. At least, that is what your Sunday text is calling you to do! There is no text, and therefore no sermon, in which this is not part of the concern.

Evangelistic preaching: what intensity?

The Declaratory Statement of the Presbyterian Church of Australia is helpful. It says:

And inasmuch as the Christian faith rests upon, and the Christian consciousness takes hold of certain objective supernatural historic facts, especially the Incarnation, the atoning Life and Death, and the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord, and His bestowment of His Holy Spirit, this Church regards those whom it admits to the office of the Holy Ministry as pledged to give a chief place in their teaching to these cardinal facts, and to the message of redemption and reconciliation implied and manifested in them.

For the Presbyterian minister, evangelistic preaching will take the ‘chief place’.

 

READING

Adams, Jay E., Truth Apparent: Essays on Biblical Preaching, Phillipsburg: P & R, 1982.

Chapell, Bryan, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 2nd edn, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

Galea, Ray, ‘How to Prepare an Evangelistic Talk: The Gospel, the People and the Packaging’, How to Speak at Special Events, ed. David Cook, Fearn: Christian Focus, 2007, 161–172.

Gibson, Scott M., ‘Preaching the Old Testament Evangelistically’, Preaching the Old Testament, ed. Scott M. Gibson, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006, 185-196.

Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn, Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1995.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Adam, Peter, Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching, London: IVP, 1996.

Adams, Jay E., Preaching with Purpose: The Urgent Task of Homiletics, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982.

Adams, Jay E., Truth Apparent: Essays on Biblical Preaching, Phillipsburg: P & R, 1982.

Allison, Lon and Mark Anderson, Going Public with the Gospel: Reviving Evangelistic Proclamation, Downers Grove: IVP, 2003.

Ash, Christopher, The Priority of Preaching, Fearn: Christian Focus, 2010.

Bateman IV, Herbert W., Darrell L. Bock and Gordon H. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012.

Beeke, Joel R., Steven J. Lawson and Dustin W. Benge, Pulpit Aflame: Essays in Honor of Steven J. Lawson, Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2016.

Bonar, Horatius, ‘Preface’, Historical Collections Relating to Remarkable Periods of the Success of the Gospel Compiled by the Rev. John Gillies, London: Quinta Press, 2012 [1845],

Chapell, Bryan, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 2nd edn, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

Chapman, John, Know and Tell the Gospel. 4th edn, Surrey: The Good Book Company, 2005.

Chapman, John, Setting Hearts on Fire: A Guide to Giving Evangelistic Talks, Kingsford, NSW: St Matthias, 1999.

Clowney, Edmund Prosper, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1988.

Estelle, J. V., D. Vandrunen and J. V. Fesko, The Law Is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic, Phillipsburg: P & R, 2009.

Ford, Leighton, The Christian Persuader: A New Look at Evangelism Today, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1966.

Gaines, Steve, ‘The Setting of the Evangelistic Sermon’, Preaching Evangelistically: Proclaiming the Saving Message of Jesus, eds Al Fasol, Roy Fish, Steve Gaines and Ralph Douglas West, Nashville: B & H, 2006, 1-16.

Galea, Ray, ‘How to Prepare an Evangelistic Talk: The Gospel, the People and the Packaging’, How to Speak at Special Events, ed. David Cook, Fearn: Christian Focus, 2007, 161-172.

Gibson, Scott M., ‘Preaching the Old Testament Evangelistically’, Preaching the Old Testament, ed. Scott M. Gibson, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006, 185-196.

Goldsworthy, Graeme, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, Leicester: IVP, 2002.

Greidanus, Sidney, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method, Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1999.

Hays, Richard B., The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.

Hays, Richard B., Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels, Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016.

Hays, Richard B., Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014.

Holland, Rick, ‘Sunday Morning: Evangelism’s Role within the Service’, Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully, ed. John MacArthur, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011, 107-120.

Johnson, Dennis E., Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures, Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2007.

Kaiser, Walter C., The Messiah in the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.

Kaiser, Walter C., Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003.

Kaiser, Walter C., Revive Us Again: Biblical Insights for Encouraging Spiritual Renewal, Fearn: Christian Focus, 2001.

Larsen, David L., The Evangelism Mandate: Recovering the Centrality of Gospel Preaching, Grand Rapids: Crossway Books,

Lillback, Peter A., Vern S. Poythress and Iain M. Duguid, Seeing Christ in All of Scripture: Hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia: Westminster Seminary Press, 2016.

Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn, Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1995.

Loscalzo, Craig A., Evangelistic Preaching That Connects: Guidance in Shaping Fresh and Appealing Sermons, Downers Grove: IVP, 1995.

Macarthur, John F., Rediscovering Expository Preaching, Dallas: Word, 1992.

Millar, Gary and Phil Campbell, Saving Eutychus, Kingsford, NSW: Matthais Media, 2013.

Perry, Lloyd M., Biblical Preaching for Today’s World, Chicago: Moody Press, 1973 repr. 1900.

Perry, Lloyd M. and John R. Strubhar, Evangelistic Preaching, Wipf and Stock: Eugene, 1979.

Pratney, Winkie, Revival, Its Principles and Personalities, Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1994.

Richard, Ramesh, Preparing Evangelistic Sermons: A Seven-Step Method for Preaching Salvation, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015.

Rosner, Brian S., Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God, New Studies in Biblical Theology, Downers Grove: IVP, 2013.

Spurgeon, C. H., The Soul Winner: Sermons Likely to Win Souls, The Spurgeon Archive, n.d. [cited 13 March 2017. Available from http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/soulwinr.php.

Whitefield, George, Sermons, 6 vols, Vol. V, The Works of George Whitefield, Shropshire: Quinta Press, [First published as The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield…containing all his sermons and tracts which have been already published: with a select collection of letters…also, some other pieces on important subjects.…to which is prefixed, an account of his life…, 6 vols, Vol. V, London: Printed for Edward and Charles Dilly, 1771.] 2000.

Whitesell, Faris D., Evangelistic Preaching and the Old Testament, Chicago: Moody Press, 1947.

[1] The line between what Jay Adams calls ‘edificational preaching’ and evangelistic preaching is thin, though Adams’ concern is that the latter not supplant the former. Jay E. Adams, Preaching with Purpose: The Urgent Task of Homiletics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 147. Rick Holland, ‘Sunday Morning: Evangelism’s Role within the Service’, Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully, ed. John MacArthur (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 109, says that ‘preaching simply cannot avoid being evangelistic in tone and nature’. Chapman isolates only three distinguishing features: ‘its content is a summary of the whole Bible message of Jesus as the Saving Messiah’ (which seems like a tall order), it is ‘aimed specifically at unbelievers’, and ‘its style of controlled by the target audience.’ John Chapman, Setting Hearts on Fire: A Guide to Giving Evangelistic Talks (Kingsford, NSW: St Matthias, 1999), 49.

[2] Ramesh Richard, Preparing Evangelistic Sermons: A Seven-Step Method for Preaching Salvation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015).

[3] Jay Adams repeats the line about not preaching sermons that would be acceptable in a synagogue. Adams, Preaching with Purpose, 147.

[4] Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016), 2.

[5] Richard B. Hays, Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014).

[6] Richard B. Hays, The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005).

[7] Brian S. Rosner, Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God, New Studies in Biblical Theology (Downers Grove: IVP, 2013).

[8] Steve Gaines, ‘The Setting of the Evangelistic Sermon’, Preaching Evangelistically: Proclaiming the Saving Message of Jesus, eds Al Fasol, Roy Fish, Steve Gaines and Ralph Douglas West (Nashville: B & H, 2006), 6.

[9] J. V. Estelle, D. VanDrunen and J. V. Fesko, The Law Is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2009).

[10] In a similar vein, recall Spurgeon’s comment that often it is the text, not the sermon, that saves the sinner!

[11] Walter C. Kaiser, Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 20. On preaching Christ from the Old Testament, also see Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon, 2nd edn (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005). More generally on Christ in the Old Testament see Walter C. Kaiser, The Messiah in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995); Edmund Prosper Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament (New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1988); Peter A. Lillback, Vern S. Poythress and Iain M. Duguid, Seeing Christ in All of Scripture: Hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia: Westminster Seminary Press, 2016). However, see Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock and Gordon H. Johnston, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2012).

[12] C. H. Spurgeon, The Soul Winner: Sermons Likely to Win Souls (The Spurgeon Archive, n.d. [cited 13 March 2017. Available from http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/soulwinr.php.

[13] Scott M. Gibson, ‘Preaching the Old Testament Evangelistically’, Preaching the Old Testament, ed. Scott M. Gibson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 218.

[14] Faris D. Whitesell, Evangelistic Preaching and the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1947).

[15] Whitesell, Evangelistic Preaching and the Old Testament.

[16] Chapman, Setting Hearts on Fire, 85, including Jeremiah’s new covenant passage (Jer 31).

[17] Richard, Preparing Evangelistic Sermons: A Seven-Step Method for Preaching Salvation.

[18] Lloyd M. Perry, Biblical Preaching for Today’s World (Chicago: Moody Press, 1973 repr. 1900), 65.

[19] Craig A. Loscalzo, Evangelistic Preaching That Connects: Guidance in Shaping Fresh and Appealing Sermons (Downers Grove: IVP, 1995), 90. Loscalzo gives various stimulating ideas for evangelistic preaching from OT narrative, although he expresses the view that some OT texts contain no kerygma (p. 94). He also discusses evangelism from the Psalms (p. 94), etc. See the chapter, ‘Preaching Good News from the Old Testament’, pp. 74–102.

[20] Consider also the comment by Allison and Anderson, ‘Presenting a clear, culturally relevant presentation on creation is the foundation of any decision for Christ. Today the theory of evolution has overshadowed the basic truth that God created us.’ Lon Allison and Mark Anderson, Going Public with the Gospel: Reviving Evangelistic Proclamation (Downers Grove: IVP, 2003), 101. That this is foundational might be an overstatement, but the magnitude of the creation problem is acknowledged.

[21] See discussion in Horatius Bonar, ‘Preface’, Historical Collections Relating to Remarkable Periods of the Success of the Gospel Compiled by the Rev. John Gillies (London: Quinta Press, 2012 [1845]), i–iii; Walter C. Kaiser, Revive Us Again: Biblical Insights for Encouraging Spiritual Renewal (Fearn: Christian Focus, 2001), defining revival in terms of 2 Chron 7:14; Winkie Pratney, Revival, Its Principles and Personalities (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House, 1994), 13.

[22] Lloyd M. Perry and John R. Strubhar, Evangelistic Preaching (Wipf and Stock: Eugene, 1979), 177–181.

[23] David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1995).

[24] George Whitefield, Sermons, 6 vols, Vol. V, The Works of George Whitefield (Shropshire: Quinta Press, [First published as The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield…containing all his sermons and tracts which have been already published: with a select collection of letters…also, some other pieces on important subjects.…to which is prefixed, an account of his life…, 6 vols, Vol. V, London: Printed for Edward and Charles Dilly, 1771.] 2000), Sermon XIV, 230

[25] John Chapman, Know and Tell the Gospel. 4th edn (Surrey: The Good Book Company, 2005), 219.

[26] David L. Larsen, The Evangelism Mandate: Recovering the Centrality of Gospel Preaching (Grand Rapids: Crossway Books, 78–88; Ray Galea, ‘How to Prepare an Evangelistic Talk: The Gospel, the People and the Packaging’, How to Speak at Special Events, ed. David Cook (Fearn: Christian Focus, 2007), 161–172.

[27] Leighton Ford, The Christian Persuader: A New Look at Evangelism Today (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1966), 94–95.

[28] Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method (Grand Rapids: Eardmans, 1999); Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture (Leicester: IVP, 2002); Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2007). See also Gary Millar and Phil Campbell, Saving Eutychus (Kingsford, NSW: Matthais Media, 2013), 77–99.

[29] Allison and Anderson, Going Public with the Gospel: Reviving Evangelistic Proclamation, 81–84. ‘It assists the church to be obedient to the Great Commission…It pulls loose ends together….It enhances the local church’s sense of purpose…It disciples the church…It creates contagious personal evangelists…It glorifies God.’

[30] Joel R. Beeke, Steven J. Lawson and Dustin W. Benge, Pulpit Aflame: Essays in Honor of Steven J. Lawson (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage, 2016), especially the section, ‘The Method of Preaching’, pp. 145–184; John F. MacArthur, Rediscovering Expository Preaching (Dallas: Word, 1992).

[31] Galea, ‘How to Prepare an Evangelistic Talk: The Gospel, the People and the Packaging’,, 164.

[32] Peter Adam’s comment about the preaching of Scripture being but a means to an end is well-taken, though. Scripture is the means; the end is the message, the preaching and teaching of Christ. Peter Adam, Speaking God’s Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching (London: IVP, 1996), 89.

[33] On the ‘blessings’ of consecutive expository preaching (obviously not speaking of evangelistic preaching), see Christopher Ash’s chapter entitled, ‘Give God the Microphone!’ Christopher Ash, The Priority of Preaching (Fearn: Christian Focus, 2010), 107–122. ‘Consecutive expository preaching safeguards God’s agenda against being hijacked by ours…makes it harder for us to abuse the Bible by reading it out of context…dilutes the selectivity of the preacher…keeps the content of the sermon fresh and surprising…makes for variety in the style of the sermon…models good nourishing Bible reading for the ordinary Christian…helps us preach the whole Christ from the whole of Scripture.’

[34] Chapman, Know and Tell the Gospel, 223–224.

[35] Jay E. Adams, Truth Apparent: Essays on Biblical Preaching (Phillipsburg: P & R, 1982), 24–25, noting that Adams is not here speaking about evangelistic preaching in particular, but the point still applies.

[36] This focus on the story of Christ satisfies Allison and Anderson’s belief that modern society prefers stories to propositions. Allison and Anderson, Going Public with the Gospel: Reviving Evangelistic Proclamation, 114–115.

[37] Ford, The Christian Persuader, 105.

[38] Compare this Leighton Ford’s first concern regarding evangelism that there be a ‘recovery of urgency’, an urgency informed by the Word. Ford, The Christian Persuader, 11–40.