Should Christians Read the Old Testament? Should Preachers Preach from the Old Testament?

Posted on January 2, 2010. Filed under: Daily Journey |

Of what benefit is the Old Testament for those of us under the New Covenant? Should members of a New Testament church read and study the Old Testament? Should preachers even bother preaching from the Old Testament?

“The Old Testament is too hard,” the older woman told me. “All of those laws and rituals, the hard names…”

Another complained to me, “You have preached 11 sermons in a row from the Old Testament. We need to hear from the Gospels!”

In a business meeting the accusation rang in my ears as the woman angrily pointed her finger at me and said, “You don’t preach the Gospel preacher! You spend too much time in the Old Testament!”

And when the leading men of the church called me in to fire me after 15 yrs. of service, one of the accusations was, “This past Christmas your advent sermons were all from Old Testament texts!”

In reviewing my sermons constantly over the 15 years of ministry, I averaged just about 1/3 of my sermons being from the Old Testament. I preached 3 times a week as a bivocational preacher while working my other job 40+ hours a week for 15 years. Most of my Old Testament sermons were on Sunday nights.

Tomorrow, my pastor at Redeemer Church in Fort Worth, will begin a sermon series from Job. He has spent most of the past year in the Gospel of Matthew. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to hear this upcoming sermon series from Job! The Gospel is also in Job. Much godly instruction for living the faithful Christian life while suffering is in the book of Job, and I am convinced that all of us, especially the Church, will be facing difficult times in the next few years. Job is especially appropriate for us at this point.

The elders at our church asked me to teach Sunday School two years ago. My subject? The book of Genesis. After two years our class is in chapter 16. There is much of Christ in Genesis.

The Old Testament is the Word of God too. And the Church needs to hear from the whole counsel of God’s Word! The individual Christian needs to read and study from the whole Bible.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13  For I want you to know, brothers,  that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Paul says that the Old Testament is for our instruction, that the Old Testament people’s lives are for our example. If you removed all of the Old Tesament quotes and allusions from the New, you would be missing a huge portion of the New Testament. The books of Hebrews, Revelation, Galatians come to mind.

Luke 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

The greatest teacher gave the greatest lesson from the greatest book about the greatest subject…and it was all Old Testament texts about himself! How exciting that would have been to hear Christ expounding from the Scriptures He Inspired and Authored through his Holy Spirit!

The first couple of generations of Believers relied on the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible and the memorized sayings of Jesus and the epistles, then the first written Gospels. But by the second century a Heretic named Marcion began teaching and writing about the Old Testament being obsolete and of no more use, it was not the Word of God. He went so far as to say the God of the Old Testament was not the God of the New. The scholars and pastors who were sound in doctrine had to defend the Old Testament from this heretic and develop a doctrine of revelation that protected the Old Testament from these kinds of charges.

Before you consign the Marcionite heresy to the 2nd and 3rd centuries as ancient history that has no application for today, let me tell you that a form of that heresy is practically practised today. As you can tell from my personal anecdotes from my years as a pastor I have some personal experience with this. It has been my experience that in some parts of the Church, there are those who openly deny the value of the Old Testament while still professing, when pushed, that it is the Word of God.

In Southern Baptist life I believe what happened is that decades of Revivalistic, Evangelistic preaching set a pattern of behavior within the church that gradually removed the Old Testament to a secondary role. It became fine to teach some of the favorite stories, like David and Goliath, to the children in Sunday School for their moral values and practical application but the grownups needed to hear Gospel based evangelistic sermons in the revival style on every Sunday morning.

In my small, traditional, elderly church, the people demanded that I preach evangelistic sermons in the revivalist mode “because you never know when a lost person might be in the pews.” I believe their very understanding of what the Gospel message is was warped.

Let me close by quoting from Table Talk magazine:

“Because Jesus and His kingdom are foreshadowed in these writings, the church must read and understand the Old Testament in order to better comprehend His person and work. Stressing the unity of God’s revelation, the early church taught that the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament the Old Testament is revealed.”

This year’s study in RC Sproul’s Table Talk will be about the characters, events, and teachings of the Old Testament that point foreward to Christ. I am looking forward to this year’s sermons by my pastor from Job, studies in the Old Testament with Table Talk, and returning to the Sunday School classroom with Genesis.


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25 Responses to “Should Christians Read the Old Testament? Should Preachers Preach from the Old Testament?”

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Considering that every time Paul or one of the gospel writers gets their hands on the Old Testament they rip passages out of context and mangle them, I think its fairly obvious that Marcion’s canon that lacked such OT manglings is the more authentic. Just look at Isaiah 7 and see that the promised child was to be born in Ahaz’ lifetime as a sign of when the two enemy kings alive then would be defeated, and how Mahershalalhashbaz is the fulfillment in ch 8. Or how in Jer 31 when Rachel weeps for her children Yahweh comforts her by saying “your children will return from the land of the enemy” showing that EXILE not death is the cause of the weeping. Or look at how Paul uses the story of Abraham to establish faith only, which is ridiculous on its face since Abraham was justified by works in leaving his homeland (as Hebrews says) when God told him to. Or how Paul mangles the passage from Deut about where Moses says the Law is NOT hard and makes it out as though it says the opposite in Romans 10. Of course, Romans 3 is a litany of misused and abused OT passages to overestablish the absolute sinfulness of mankind by ripping passages specifically about the wicked not all mankind out of context. And Romans 9, who can abide the twisting there? Mixing Jacob and Esau as representatives of nations and their physical blessing with Pharoah’s hardening and Moses being granted to see God’s butt to produce a crazy theory that God sends people to hell on a dice roll? We’d be a lot better off with Marcion’s canon!!!!

Wow. Written like a true heretic. Glad to meet a modern day Marcionite.Thanks for expressing your true beliefs.

It was a long journey to the truth, and the Calvinists constantly pointing me to Paul’s mangling of the OT in Romans 9 was what finally forced me to confront the evidence and when I did I saw (although I didn’t want to admit it at first) that the OT arguments in the NT are a mid-2nd century addition and that Marcionism is the original form of Christianity/Chrestianity.

Seriously Rey, 2000 yrs of godly scholarship has prevailed, God’s Word is sure, the OT is the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God and you ought to reconsider your position.

The title of the entry is indicting to this crooked generation of judgment. As the one true gospel is the Mashiach died for our sins according to the Old Testament, He was buried and He rose again the third day according to the Old Testament, if we remove the Old Testament the gospel is no longer the gospel. Marcion heresy was a falling from grace, the one true gospel, like all heresies. The author says in this entry that he spent two years preaching Christ from Genesis 1-16, and I am sure there is much more of Yeshua the Mashiach that could be declared. It would take life times to declare all that is Christ from the scriptures. How many in this generation we live in reject the one true gospel and say it is not needed to preached. The day of Christ is at hand! The falling away has already occurred and the man of sin, the false prophet has been revealed!


Amen Daniel! thank you!

So Jesus is of no value unless he’s the Jewish Messiah. In other words, your faith isn’t in Jesus himself but in the OT. If you were ever to find that the OT prophecies in their original context are not about Jesus, you will kick Jesus to the curb and go sacrifice goats. That’s essentially what this attitude amounts to. Me, not so.

“Search ye the scriptures (Old Testament) for in them you think you have eternal life; it is they that testify of me”- the words of Yeshua the Mashiach

Personally I think that statement is about as authentic as “it isn’t meet to give the children’s bread to dogs.” The Catholics separated their sect from all other Christian sects in the 2nd century by their slavish allegiance to the OT while everyone else was rejecting it. Surely they made this statement up. Also “Moses wrote about me”–where? It can’t be shown. The only passage the Jews think they see Jesus in is Deuteronomy 13:1-5. It is possible that this even is a prophecy of Jesus and that the OT god foresaw that Jesus would come and perform miracles and teach the truth, and so to keep men in ignorance of the true God he forewarned them against the true God and lied saying he the OT god was sending this prophet as a test and we should ignore him when really the true God was sending him to save us from the OT god.

Jesus is the author and subject of the Old Testament. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the New Testament inspired the Old.

I’m just saying if your first allegiance is to the OT and not Jesus, and you found out that this idea about the OT prophecies being about Jesus wasn’t true, you’d end up in a sad case sacrificing goats. Better to place Jesus first and then view the OT as valid only inasmuch as he validates it, rather than the other way around.

My first allegiance is to Christ. But since I am trusting in Christ I can depend upon His Word as sure and certain, inerrant, infallible, authoritative and sufficient. Jesus says that he came not to abolish the Old Testament but to fulfill it, Matt.5:17-19. In Luke 24:27f he teaches the two disciples from the Moses and the Prophets about himself. And Paul writes in 2Tim3:16 that All Scripture is breathed out by God- referring to the OT Scriptures.
When we trust Christ, we will have a high view of His Word, including the OT.

Rey, you speak foolishness and are barren of the grace of God. The Spirit of God moved holy men of God to speak and then write the Old Testment. And the Spirit of God testifies of Yeshua. You cannot separate the Old Testament from Yeshua, for the one true gospel is the Meshiach (Christ), Yeshua, died for our sins according to the Old Testament, He was buried and He rose again the third day according to the Old Testament. Every time you say “Jesus Christ”, you have tied Yeshua to the Old Testmanet. The Christos or Meshaiach or Anointed One are words right of the Old Testament. If Yeshua is not the Christ, the fulfillment of the Old Testament, then we have no gospel, good news, words of life. If it was not the Mashiach who died for our sins, buried and raised the third day, we are only following a man, and we have no faith. Then eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. But it is the grace of God by His will that causes all the chosen ones of God to accept the one true gospel. And there is faith, the faith of Yeshua, and it is the gift of God.



“If it was not the Mashiach who died for our sins, buried and raised the third day, we are only following a man, and we have no faith.”

This is precisely my problem with your position. If Jesus is not the OT’s Messiah, then Jesus is the Good God who died and shed his blood to purchase us from the OT god and save us from him. If it turns out that Jesus is not the Messiah, then he is actually made more glorious not less. The OT is a burden to his glory, detracting from it by placing the accusation that he was a genocidal maniac on him.

In other words, there is more faith in believing in Jesus apart from the OT than with it, and the fruit of this faith is more glorious, even as the heaven of the Heavenly Father is far above the 7th heaven of the OT god.

Rey, when you read and study the Old Testament you gain a better understanding of Christ. Take 1 and 2 Samuel, just studying those two books alone allows you to grasp a better clarity of Christ. I challenge you to ready those two books and see how many times those scriptures point to Christ and help you gain a closer relationship with him.

You need to understand it is not Christ or the Old Testament we are choosing it is Christ AND the Old Testament. Christ IS the old testament and if you read and study it you would understand that Christ is actually in the Old Testament. The OT helps us realize that we will fail, there is nothing we can do about that, but with Christ we are saved. There is not a single thing you can do that will save you, just ask Saul (Oh wait is that the OT). Here is another one you can do everything right and be the most righteous person around, but when you fail one time you will suffer, just ask Moses(another OT..boy these are really seeking up). There are example all over the OT like this, but they all point to one thing CHRIST!!!!!! the OT is teaches us, it help us realize not to rely on ourselves or this world, but to rely on Christ.

However what concerns me is you statement “If Jesus is not the OT’s Messiah” (and believe me I had a hard time typing that phrase, thankfully those was not my words). The Holy Spirit should be showing you that there is NO doubt that Jesus is the ONLY Messiah. There is NO doubt in my mind that Jesus is the ONLY Messiah and the Son of God, the OT points to that.

Remember these questions and this might help you:
1. Who wrote the OT?
2. What is the basis of the OT?
3. How many times does the OT point to the NT and what is the significance?
4. How many times does Christ refer to the OT?
5. Has the OT help point me into the right direction?

When you find the answers to those questions you should have a better understand as to why Christians should hold both the OT and the NT close to their hearts.

–“The Holy Spirit should be showing you that there is NO doubt that Jesus is the ONLY Messiah.”–

If you had read Samuel, then you would have know that Saul was the Messiah in Samuel, for when David was hunted by him he had opportunity to kill Saul but he said in 1st Samuel 24:6 “Yahweh forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, Yahweh’s Messiah, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the Messiah of Yahweh.” Again in 24:10 “I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is Yahweh’s Messiah.” And when a certain Amalekite claimed to have killed Saul himself (even though Saul had actually committed suicide), David said in 2nd Samuel 1:14 “How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy Yahweh’s Messiah?” and had the man summarily executed. 2nd Samuel 1:16 “And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain Yahweh’s Messiah.”

Then David is called Messiah once he is king. 2nd Samuel 19:21 “But Abishai the son of Zeruiah answered and said, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Yahweh’s Messiah?” For this man spoken of had cursed David. Again, in 2nd Samuel 22:51 “He is the tower of salvation for his king: and showeth mercy to his Messiah, unto David, and to his seed for evermore.” We find then that your claim of Jesus being the “ONLY Messiah” is false, for all the Judean kings are called Messiah.

–“The OT helps us realize that we will fail, there is nothing we can do about that, but with Christ we are saved. There is not a single thing you can do that will save you, just ask Saul (Oh wait is that the OT).”–

But Saul was the Messiah of his time. This does not show me that I fail, but that Jewish Messiahs fail.

–“There is NO doubt in my mind that Jesus is the ONLY Messiah and the Son of God, the OT points to that.”–

1st Chronicles 28:6-7 David says “And [Yahweh] said unto me, Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts: for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever, if he be constant to do my commandments and my judgments, as at this day.”

Then according to 1st Chronicles 29:20 “And David said to all the congregation, Now bless Yahweh your God. And all the congregation blessed Yahweh God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped Yahweh, and the king.”

Not only is Solomon made into Yahweh’s son by declaration (see Psalm 2:7 also “I will declare the decree: Yahweh hath said unto me, Thou art my Son”) but Solomon is also worshipped as if divine. During this coronation ceremony, in fact, many scholars see Solomon as having a throne in the temple itself. Solomon, the Messiah of his time, is the prototype of Paul’s “man of sin” who “sits in the temple declaring himself to be God” and “exalting himself above all that is called God” (2nd Thessalonians 2:4) The final Messiah of the Jews is the yet to come anti-Christ.

“Christ IS the old testament and if you read and study it you would understand that Christ is actually in the Old Testament.”

He is not. Its an illusion. It evaporates with REAL study. The Catholics corrupted the New Testament, at Satan’s behest, to make it appear this way. The above goes some way to showing this.

First of all there is only ONE Messiah and that is Jesus. Where ever you got that these others are a “Messiah” I have no idea you apparently have a hard time understanding what Jesus truly IS. your views of the OT are extremely not of a born again Christian and you are truly mis-interpreting the scriptures. Unfortunately I have had to deal with this type of mis-interpretation before and the only advice I can give you is to read authors such as R.C. Sproul or John MacArthur. I will pray that the Holy Spirit enters your life and will open your eyes to the scriptures.
Again I cannot tell you how much you are mis-interpreting the scriptures!

The Hebrew word in all those passages used as a title for Saul and David is Messiah. Check for yourself.

One other SERIOUS issue that you have. You stated that “The Catholics corrupted the New Testament, at Satan’s behest, to make it appear this way” By you saying that Satan is then more powerful then God since Satan has taken control of God’s Word. Even Satan has to bow down to God, do you really think that Satan could do anything that God did not wish…Read the book of Job.

Parable of the tares. The enemy sows tares at night while men are asleep. Matthew 13. Jesus forewarned us that Satan would sow tares in the Scriptures. The explanation of the parable of the tares given later in the chapter is itself a tare from the obvious fact that it ignores the sneaky aspect of the devil’s sowing and that it teaches the asinine doctrine of predestination.

This is a bit silly. Clearly Rey does not know how honest homiletics work.

Rey does not believe in gradual unfolding revelation in scripture nor of the infallibility of scripture or apostles.

The time it would take to lay out a defense against Rey’s nonsense would be better spent elsewhere.

But to the original question:

1 – The Old Testament is the revealed word of God. The full council of God.

2 – It is the OT that shows men’s innate wickedness. That men even when given direct instructions from God, continue to sin.

3 – It is the OT which clearly describes the full character of God.

4 – The old lady is a baby Christian in her thoughts and actions. Be kind, but tell her is time for her to grow up in her faith and understand the full council of God.

Deo Volente

Thank you Craig! And thank you Randall.

“It is the OT that shows men’s innate wickedness.”

Because the murdered their neighbors and then wrote that God told them too.

“The Old Testament is the…full council of God. It is the OT which clearly describes the full character of God.”

The full character and council of a genocidal God made up by ancient savages in the fictions of their brains.

Sorry, cannot argue this point anymore. You obviously do not understand the scriptures and the Holy Spirit has not opened your eyes.

I hope that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and that you will accept that the Gospel is the TRUE Word of God.

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