Chapel live blog: Preaching as telling the story of God’s mighty acts of redemption

Communications Staff — March 3, 2009

E.Y. Mullins lecture series

Speaker: Hughes Oliphant Old

Text: Exodus 13:3-16

Old sought to address the question: What are we supposed to be doing at 11 o‘clock on Sunday morning?

Old said he often experienced times on Saturday evening of trying to figure out how a text related to his contemporary audience. Particularly when he was working to get that new church plant going and it didn’t seem to be going.

He learned how to crack jokes and tell human interest stories … but is that what we are supposed to be doing on Sunday morning?

Lectures on preaching

In his lectures, Old said he would talk about preaching by examining the Passover, the Ten Commandments and the initiation of the people of Israel into the covenant in the Old Testament. Old said he would also share from his own personal experience and seek to address issues people don’t normally discuss.

Exodus 13:3-16 is a fundamental passage on worship (text on the Passover). The meal is to be eaten annually. The meal, or feast, has several symbolic elements, such as it is to be eaten in haste.

The feast of Passover marks the event of God bringing His people out of slavery in Egypt. Old highlighted the fact that the father was supposed to read to his family the account of God’s mighty acts of redemption, as part of the Passover feast.

Recounting God’s story of salvation glorifies God and makes us a part of the story that began 4,000 years ago and continues to today in Louisville, Ky., and wherever God’s story is told and embraced.

It shall be a day of remembrance

Remembering God’s salvation history is an act of worship. In the upper room, Jesus told the apostles to practice the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him. When we do this, we ourselves become a part of God’s salvation history.

Feast of Tabernacles: Deuteronomy

At the center of Christian preaching is always this retelling of what God did for me. Retelling the story: as Paul did before Agrippa, of how he was in rebellion against God and was persecuting the church and was then surprised on the road to Damascus by the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah.

Much of what we do in preaching is passing on our experience of God’s redemption. At the very center of our preaching should be this personal affirmation that I, too, have experienced this history of salvation and I thank God that I have received it up to this point and I thank Him that I will continue to receive it. And this is faith: looking forward to the fulfillment of the promises of God.

Luke 4:16-21: Jesus teaching in the Synagogue

This passage tells us that it was a regular procedure in the Synagogue to open up the law and read from the law. It was also typical to read a passage from the prophets and then explain the passage in the law based on the passage in the prophets.

Jesus took a passage from Isaiah and said, ‘Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears.’

In preaching, we open up this dialectic between promise and fulfillment. We show that God has given us promises that He then has fulfilled or will fulfill. Old always seeks to have a passage from the Old Testament and the New Testament in worship services that he leads.

Doing this allowed him to highlight God’s promises in the Old Testament that are then fulfilled in the New Testament. Being able to teach on God’s promises is one key reason why we should preach from the Old Testament.

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