More on preaching the Old Testament from Gary Millar

Reading back on my post about Gary Millar’s tips for preaching the Old Testament I realised I’d missed a couple of pages of notes. Here are some more nuggets of wisdom from the mouth of the Irishman…

  • If you have the text at your right hand and a pile of commentaries at your left the biggest mistake you can make when preparing a sermon is to reach out first with your left hand.
  • The OT is often preached with scant regard to the text – it’s almost always “be like the Old Testament Character”…
  • Narrative doesn’t commentate on the action “this is a bad idea”… we have to be sensitive to what’s going on. We have to get into the flow of the story in order to pick up these little things.
  • The biggest problem that we have when approaching Old Testament narratives is reading the text. If you don’t read the text you won’t get it right. You have to work on the text, then work out how it fits with Biblical Theology, this needs to be done before you start the talk.
  • Having done the work on the text we need to start figuring out how we present the work as Christians.
  • We don’t just need to pull Jesus from the hat in every text. Christ-centred preaching does not seek to find where Christ is mentioned in every text – but to show how each text manifests God’s grace in order to prepare people in relation to Christ. This is not quite so tenuous as Spurgeon suggests in the following quote (from this sermon here). He’s right to want to relate every part of the text to Christ – but sometimes his connections are tenuous.

“Don’t you know young man that from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London?” “Yes,” said the young man. “Ah!” said the old divine “and so form every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ. And my dear brother, your business in when you get to a text, to say, ‘Now what is the road to Christ?’ and then preach a sermon, running along the road towards the great metropolis—Christ. And,” said he, “I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it.”