Preaching Christ from Every Text: Thoughts from Tim Keller

Keller, TimTuesday is for Preaching

Great post from Justin Taylor’s Blog that I am reposting here with some comments. [My comments are in blue and brackets]


Cautions on Preaching Christ in All of Scripture

A helpful TGC Asks with answers from Tim Keller, Don Carson, and David Murray to the question, “How would you caution teachers intent on preaching Christ in the Old Testament?”

Here is Keller’s answer:

  1. Don’t “get to Christ” so soon in the sermon that you don’t unfold the meaning and application of the text to the original hearers. If you “jump to Christ” too soon that often means you inspire people but you don’t give them concrete application for how they are supposed to live.

    [The objective is to help the body of believers who are engaged with the sermon to see Christ in the text not just know that the text is about Christ.]

  2. Don’t “get to Christ” so late in the sermon that he seems like an add-on, a mere devotional appendix. If you wait too long to get to Christ listeners won’t see how Jesus’ work is crucial if the listeners are going to obey or heed the text.

    [This is a brilliant comment by Keller. Our people need to understand that they didn’t just need Jesus and the Gospel the day they believed but that they need Christ and the Gospel every moment of every day.]

  3. Don’t get to Christ artificially. This is a big subject of course, but I believe two of the best ways are (a) by identifying in your text one of the many inner-canonical themes that all climax in Christ (Don Carson’s language), and (b) identifying in your text some “Fallen Condition Focus,” some lack in humanity that only Christ can fill (Bryan Chapell’s language).
    [I would pay big money to sit in a class with Keller and learn how to do (a) better.]

2 thoughts on “Preaching Christ from Every Text: Thoughts from Tim Keller

  1. Love your comment, my friend: “We need Christ every moment of every day.” Though it may sound rather trite – it is as fresh as ever and Christ is our only hope every moment, every day.

    Praying that your life is full of Jesus every moment – as I pray the same for myself.


  2. The following comments came in through Linkedin and I have brought them over to enrich the conversation here.

    From Jerett Olson
    • My one concern is that we are jumping gun and trying to put Christ in every verse of the Bible. It also seems like we are only emphasizing what aspect of God which God the Son and ignoring God the Father and the Holy Spirit. I think it also lacks the problem of first observing what scripture says, then interpreting the scripture in light of intended readers, then we can move on application, and then we can move on to how God the Son and any other members of trinity fit in to it. When we do not take the time to correctly interpreting scripture we can easily start making the scripture say things that it does not say. Would caution people not look for Christ in every verse they read but instead interpret the scripture in context of it actually says.

    From Adam Smith
    • That’s a fair critique, Jerett. And I’m sure that Keller and Taylor would agree with your concerns to understand the text on its on terms, rather than forcing our own upon it. They are certainly not condoning eisegesis. Rather, insofar as the Trinity is the ultimate ground, means, and goal of everything, in accord with the whole grand metanarrative of Scripture, there are correct and pious ways of relating every text to this great God. Additionally, they mean not to advocate a Christomonism as you rightly warn against; rather they see that Jesus says no one comes to the Father but by Him, and that the Holy Spirit glorifies God the Son. It’s Christocentric. It’s getting to know God from a center in God, that is–his Logos or Son–rather than a futile attempt to know God from a center in ourselves.

    Rese Hood
    I agree with Keller’s guidelines. I have sat through sermons attempting to make Jesus appear on every page and the words are twisted to breaking point. It detracts from the nature of God’s unfolding revelation through Scripture. (Ephesians 3 and 1 Peter 1 allude to this anticipation – which falls short of annunciation.) In Galatians 3: 23-24, Paul writes “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came…” The epistle details the biblical themes of promise and law – both narratives which lead to Christ as a fulfillment but must be understood on their own terms. In my humble opinion we often forget to try and exegete from the point of view of the original author and subconsciously do so from our blessed place of “knowing the end of the story”, so to speak.


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