Teaching Christ from the Old and New Testaments

By Ed Stetzer

Recently, I posted an interview with Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. I appreciate both of their passion and enjoyed their recent book, “Jesus: A Theograhy.” Len is an evangelical United Methodist theologian. Frank is probably best known for his (sometimes controversial) advocacy of simple church, but now is focusing on deeper life issues. Their book, interestingly, ties into a theme that is becoming more common: to see the big picture of what God is up to throughout the scriptures.

In the comments from yesterday, Frank explained:

The cross — the death and resurrection of Jesus — bleeds through the Old Testament Scriptures in virtually every OT book. Beginning in Genesis Chapter 1, 2, and 3 — it’s there in abundance. We trace these images in detail throughout the book and connect the dots to their NT counterparts.

What is interesting, I think, is that this is not a new idea (though it is getting more press lately). Well-known pastor Herschel Hobbs put it this way:

The Bible speaks of God’s redemptive purpose. It reveals how God proposes to bring sinful man back into His fellowship and to use him in His service. From Genesis to Revelation this message runs like a scarlet thread. Its message begins in eternity with the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, and ends with the triumphant Lamb on His throne ruling over a redeemed universe. The Bible points forward to Christ, backward to Christ, and again forward to Christ in His glorious return and reign. And it reveals God in the person of the Holy Spirit as He empowers and directs the people of Christ in God’s mission of evangelism and missions.

The Bible has one central theme: God’s redemptive purpose. It has one central figure: Christ. It has one central goal: God supreme in a redeemed universe.

Or, you can go further back and look at John Broadus, influential in the founding of LifeWay, who explained it this way over one hundred years ago:

“The holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” That is the way in which they do it through faith which is in Christ Jesus: for the holy Scriptures of the Old Testament are never half understood except as they are seen in the light of Christ Jesus. They all pointed forward to Christ Jesus; they all found their fulfillment, the key of their interpretation, in Christ Jesus. The Old Testament history is not merely a history of some wandering patriarchs and of a strange, wayward people of wonderful powers and wonderful propensities to evil. It is not merely a history of Israel. The Old Testament is a history of redemption, of God’s mightiness and mercies, and of a chosen nation, all along toward the promised, long-looked-for time when God’s Son should come to be the Saviour of mankind. We cannot understand the Old Testament, except we read it in its bearing upon Christ, as fulfilled in him.

All the long story of Israel meant Him; and if you do find many things in the Old Testament that you do not see the meaning of, remember that they all pointed forward toward Him.

How can we get the benefit of Scripture if we do not believe in Him who is the centre and the heart and the essence and the life of Scripture, even Christ Jesus?

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer is President of LifeWay Research, one of the best and most-quoted Christian research organizations in the world. He has planted churches in multiple states; trained pastors across the US and on six continents; and taught at 14 seminaries. Author or co-author of 12 books, Stetzer is a leading voice among evangelicals. He is a contributing editor or columnist for several publications, including Christianity Today, Outreach Magazine, The Christian Post, and Facts and Trends.