This is part of a podcast featuring Bryan Chapell, preacher and teacher of preachers.
In this question he’s asked about Jesus and preaching from Old Testament texts.
His answer, of course, is applicable to the whole Bible, and how preachers apply the texts from which they’re preaching.
And you have decades of experience preaching, and teaching others how to preach, so as you look at conservative evangelicalism — our neck of the woods — what would you say is the greater danger: is it that we would fall too far on the side of seeing Christ under every rock, so to speak; or is it that we don’t make the connection to Christ sufficiently when we preach the Old Testament?
Honestly, I think the greater danger is the latter one. Often I hear people teaching others to just be a better person, improve their performance, improve their competence, know more, or do better. And the problem with that is it actually just serves the human instinct. People think that they are the answer to their problem with God. If all I am regularly doing is teaching people to improve their competence or improve their performance, then they will inevitably perceive themselves as their own redeemer. And that becomes the problem. People will do better so the ogre in the sky will be nice to them, or do better so that they can compare to other people—either in doctrine or in performance—and that will make them acceptable to God.
Now, nobody would answer it that way in the exam. But when we are constantly communicating that they should do better or know more, people will believe that what makes them acceptable to God this week is that they’ve done better or they know more than the people down the street. The gospel message, which is unfolding through all the Scriptures, is that God must make a way. You do not make your own way, God must make a way. And being true to the Scriptures is asking, If you do not make your own way out of your human predicament, if God has to make the way out, how does he ultimately do that?
I think grace is on display virtually everywhere. If God is giving food to hungry people, if God is giving rest to weary people, if he gives victory to a few people; what is God showing us about himself? He’s the rescuer.