A Christ-Centered Bible
Bryan Chapell helped revolutionize my thinking about the Old Testament when I read his Christ-Centered Preaching for a required expository preaching course in seminary. He came up with a great way to name—and spot—the problem of moralism in your preaching. He did it by warning against “Be Like” messages. If the point of your sermon is “Be Like Noah,” or “Be Like Gideon,” you may very likely have forgotten something very important: the grace in the gospel.
It’s possible to overreact to this problem, to refuse ever to appeal to Bible characters as moral examples. But in conservative American Christianity as a whole, it’s pretty clear that moralism is the bigger problem.
But what’s the solution? I used to think that finding some road to Christ from each text was the way—some obscure connection, some tortured analogy if need be. For that reason, except in obvious places like Isaiah 53, I simply didn’t find Christ in the OT. I didn’t know the obscure connections; I couldn’t bring myself to use tortured analogies.
But through Chapell and numerous other teachers and authors I’ve found that those troubling methods aren’t necessary, because the whole story of the Bible already points to Christ. Tracing that story throughout each book in the Old Testament has opened up the Bible for me in a way no other hermeneutical method has.
Announcing The Story of the Old Testament
So when I got the chance, I wrote a book about it. For 8th graders. Bible Truths B: The Story of the Old Testament. The book traces the Creation-Fall-Redemption story line of Scripture through all of the historical books (plus sizeable sub-sections on Wisdom books). Every single word in the Student Text and in the accompanying tests is brand new.
I tried to do careful literary and theological work at the same time, and I expect students to have read the assigned Bible passages before reading what I say about it. Each section is followed with critical thinking questions that scale up Bloom’s taxonomy from Remember through Understand and all the way to Analyze, Evaluate, and Create.
For my study I relied heavily on Stephen Dempster’s Dominion and Dynasty as well as other books and commentaries that take the same approach. For the wisdom books, I particularly enjoyed another little volume in the NSBT series entitled Five Festal Garments. And Craig Bartholomew’s essay “A God for Life and Not Just for Christmas! The Revelation of God in the Old Testament Wisdom Literature” was particularly helpful—as well as a journal article Bartholomew himself kept referencing, one by Raymond C. VanLeeuwen. Vaughan Roberts’ book God’s Big Picture: Tracying the Storyline of the Bible was also an inspiration and, somewhat, a model. Last but not least, I made some good use of Dr. Bob Bell’s book on OT themes, which I found to be easily complementary to my more redemptive-historical approach.
A friend of mine years ago, when he was a gifted high school designer working on his yearbook, told me that his staff purposed to make a book that would look dated quickly. A yearbook, he said, should say “2001” if it’s 2001. Our revision cycle at BJU Press is typically six years; I work from 7th grade through 12th grade and then do it again. And I pursued a similar philosophy: I wrote a book that will need to be updated significantly when 2018 rolls around. If theology is the application of God’s truth to my situation, I tried to apply God’s word to today. Facebook, smartphones, Steve Jobs, YouTube, the royal wedding.
I was particularly pleased with the work of my team’s designer, who together with our art department head created a series of pictures hitting the high points of the Bible’s storyline. The book is full of colorful photos and custom art illustrating the text. And a brand new concept design helps keep the flow of the text going visually.
If you buy this book, they might let me write more of them! I believe the book could work well even for adult Sunday School or Bible study (the applications just wouldn’t point so directly at them). So order now!