I was trained in an Evangelical University and Seminary where I had an excellent Biblical education and training in Systematic Theology. After being a preaching pastor for about five years I realized that the best preachers I was admiring had been trained in Biblical Theology and so I enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry preaching program at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California.
I vividly remember one of my professors talking about how the story of David and Goliath wasn’t just about “David and Goliath” but pointed to the greater David – Jesus. It’s taken me years to learn how to preach Christ and not just moralistic sermons. However, one of the masters of preaching Christ from all of the Bible is Edmund P. Clowney. As a matter of fact a lot of preachers today are excited about the teaching ministry of Tim Keller in New York – who really learned most of what he knows (that’s what he will tell you) from the author of the sermons of this book – Dr. Edmund Clowney.
One of the first things I learned about at WTS was Redemptive Historical Preaching – which essentially follows the “big story line” of the Bible with an eye on Jesus and His Person and redemptive work in history. In my opinion, what Clowney does teaches and models in this book is the greatest need of the 21st century – getting back to preaching Christ from all of Scripture.
If you are a pastor who like me – has had trouble with “getting to Christ” from the passage – especially in the Old Testament – you will find some great examples of how to do this from the various genres in the Old and New Testaments from a brilliant and humble preacher who knew the Bible and the “big story” well.
Edmund Clowney’s book is an outstanding contribution in helping preachers do what the prophets and the apostles did – preach Christ. Clowney begins with a chapter demonstrating how all of the Scriptures point to Christ – and he makes a wonderful case for this reality. In the second chapter he gives his methodology for “preparing a sermon that presents Christ.”
The remaining chapters are sample sermons from different genres in the Old and New Testaments showing the application of the principles articulated in the first two chapters. The sermons are as follows:
“Sharing the Father’s Welcome” based on Luke 15:11-32
“See What It Costs” based on Genesis 22:1-19
“When God Came Down” based on Genesis 28:10-22
“The Champion’s Strange Victory” based on Genesis 32
“Can God Be Among Us?” based on Exodus 34:1-9
“Meet the Captain” based on Joshua 5:13-15
“Surprised by Devotion” based on 2 Samuel 23:13-17
“The Lord of the Manger”
“Jesus Preaches Liberty” based on Luke 4:16-22
“The Cry of the God-Forsaken Savior” based on Psalm 22:1
“Our International Anthem” based on Psalm 936:3
“Jesus Christ and the Lostness of Man”
“Hearing Is Believing: The Lord of the Word”
As of the writing of this review you can still hear Edmund P. Clowney and Tim Keller co- teach a class for free called “Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World.” It has 37 lectures and question and answers sessions from RTS and covers the full gamut of issues related to Christ–centered preaching. I highly recommend that you download this course and listen to it until you get it. It will make a huge difference in your teaching and preaching – and you will see real life change in yourself and your hearers as a result.
If you are a preacher, or teacher of the Bible you will definitely benefit from this book. More importantly, I hope that you will be influenced and impacted by this book so that your sermons and Bible lessons will be filled with Christ, lead to Christ, and bring glory to Christ in a way that articulates with passion and excitement – the greatest story ever told. I have been blessed in my own worship of Christ, understanding of Christo-centric preaching, and have become a better preacher and teacher as a result – going from teaching moralistically to Biblically and thus leading others to worship Christ the Lord.