Redemptive-Historical Preaching

It’s also called Christ-centered preaching and or gospel centered preaching.  It emphasizes the importance of preaching Christ in all of Scripture.  For example, Jesus said in Luke 24:44 – 


Εἶπεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς· οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι μου οὓς ἐλάλησα πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἔτι ὢν σὺν ὑμῖν, ὅτι δεῖ πληρωθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ νόμῳ Μωϋσέως καὶ τοῖς προφήταις καὶ ψαλμοῖς περὶ ἐμοῦ.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  (TNIV)


What do y’all think of this approach to preaching?  Must we preach Christ in all of Scripture?  Mention him in every sermon?  Do you do it, not do it, maybe, maybe not, etc?  


19 responses to “Redemptive-Historical Preaching

  1. I’ve read two books; “The Unfolding Mystery – Discovering Christ in The Old Testament” and a book called “Preaching Christ in all of Scripture” by Edmund P. Clowney. They opened my eyes to some new things, and inspired me to focus more on Christ in my sermons and teaching lessons. I actually think now, how can I preach, and not talk about Christ and his work. After reading Ephesians thoroughly, I noticed God’s plan has always been about Christ, and I for myself, want to focus in this when preaching.

  2. I’m for it. Yes, yes, yes.


    Ed Clowney and Tim Keller’s “Preaching in a Post-Modern World” lectures from RTS Online (itunes) were a huge help for me with this. Of course, it helps that I’m heavy on typological reading of the OT, but even someone who isn’t can preach redemptive-historically…all you have to ask yourself is where am I in Redemptive history (in the section of Scripture I’m reading) and work to find out how that section fo scripture is pointing us forward to Christ in redemptive history. E.g. quit preaching about how YOU can overcome your giants, and preach how Christ, the son of David, overcame the greatest giant of Satan, sin, and death, and the grace that he gives now conquers your goliath like hearts, allowing you to slay the rest of them.

  3. While sometimes I think preachers eisegete Christ into many OT texts, I think you can preach any OT text and offer salvation in Christ based on the truths therein. Like any text, you must first get to the meaning in the mind of the author before trying to bring it to the modern world, but I believe you can preach Christ from any OT text.

    Bryan: “quit preaching about how YOU can overcome your giants, and preach how Christ, the son of David, overcame the greatest giant of Satan, sin, and death, and the grace that he gives now conquers your goliath like hearts, allowing you to slay the rest of them.”–YES!

  4. Brian,
    It depends on how this approach is applied to your preaching. If we try to look for Jesus in every OT text, or say that whatever is happening in the OT is actually about Jesus than I think we will ofthen distort the message of Old Testament texts. To use the above example, the David and Goliath story is not about Jesus conquering sin (it is certainly not about people conquering there own giants either), it’s not even really about David killing Goliath, it is about setting up the contrast between God’s chosen king David and the people’s king Saul. Saul was chosen because he was a man of good physical stature and could be a good warrior king, but he won’t fight the giant. David is doing the exact thing that Saul was chosen by the people to do as their king.

    However, if you want to show how David’s supplantation of Saul eventually brought about the eternal Davidic king, that’s great, but it should be done through telling the narrative of redemptive-history, not by claiming that the story is actually about Jesus.

    Yet, I think there is one category of the OT that does not get preached enough as referring to Christ. If we look at the NT use of texts from the prophets a very strong pattern emerges. The NT authors again and again apply texts dealing with the eschatological fate of Israel and the world because of God’s coming act of salvation. Because the NT authors use of the OT prophets very clearly shows that they saw God’s eschatological salvation for Israel and the world as bound up with Jesus, then I think we too have license to apply any of these texts we come across directly to Jesus, not just the ones picked up in the NT.

  5. Daniel, I agree that the David and Goliath story isn’t about conquering giants but a polemic agaisnt the reign of King Saul. I have a JETS article that suggest Goliath wasn’t 8 or 9 feet tall, ore like 6 feet. People who are 8-9 ft often have giantism and are clumsy and suffer many ailments – so it’s nearly impossible for Goliath to have been that tall. Seems to me, then that story is, like you say, and so did the article I mentioned, about the contrast between David and Saul’s leadership and the fact that God looks at the heart not the body. David had the heart, Saul didn’t. I guess this is more of a literary approach to the text – that could lead to a more theological one, that Christ looks at the heart and not one’s physical stature, one doesn’t have to be tall dark and handsome, or even an extrovert to be used by God, and so on.

    I appreciate everone’s comments. Here is another book I am wondering about: Dennis Johnson’s Him We Proclaim, (P&R Publishing, 2007). Its massive at 500 pages on redemptive historical preaching.

  6. The crucial distinction to make is between “Christocentric preaching” and “Christotelic preaching.” The former category sees essentially the whole Bible as about Christ and thus it justifies reading Christ out of every text. The latter view advocates that we must always see Christ on the horizon (so to speak), but also acknowledges that we shouldn’t steamroller what is actually being said in the OT context.

    A crucial question is, if a NT author did not interpret an OT text Christologically, should we being doing that? The text mentioned above does not say that “everything in the Law and Prophets is about me,” but rather that “everything that was written about me in the Law and Prophets.” Not to mention…Christians are Trinitarian. Shouldn’t it be okay if a text is about God the Father? Or the Holy Spirit?

    I’ve recently posted on this topic, so please consider checking out this link:

  7. I like the christotelic approach which seems more appropriate than the christocentric approach. And I especially appreciate the point about trinitarian preaching – perhaps the text highlights the work of the Father and the Spirit too, not just Christ. Excellent points Seth – thanks so muh for commenting.

  8. Seth, I’m just teasing Brian, because he said, “[Must we m]ention him in every sermon?” That assumes we must have sermons.

    It’s nice to meet me, Mehorn. 😉

  9. Brian,

    I am more of the persuasion is the Saul is a picture of Israel (and is Israel’s king) while David is a type of Christ and is (God’s forever King). So I would actually read that christocentrically. When David is mentioned by NT authors he seems to be interpreted that way, not to mention often times the psalms are interpreted from a Christocentric perspective, I think there is a precedent for that type of preaching/homily but that is my opinion. Also I don’t think we minimzie the OT text at all, we give it a redemptive foundation which I think from the announcement of the promise in Genesis 3 is the focal point of scripture. Just like David saved Israel from peril, the true king will come and destroy Israel’s enemies but it will be forever, not temporary.

  10. I can’t pull 5 smooth stones and couquer the Goliath’s in my path? Shoot I guess I will have to find another motivation other than the bible to burn off this exta fat so I can wear my blue speedo this summer!

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