‘Narrative Preaching from the Old Testament’ by R.C. Sproul

In the third session today, Dr. Sproul spoke on narrative preaching from the Old Testament. The first half of his talk was dedicated to encouraging the use of the Old Testament in our preaching. The second half of his talk illustrated this method of preaching by telling the story of 1 Samuel 6 (one of his favorite narratives in the Old Testament). That passage describes the capture of the “ark of the Covenant” by the Philistines. In this post I will summarize only the first part of this lecture on the reasons for preaching from the Old Testament.

Sproul began by illustrating the relative size of the Old Testament to the New. Most of the Bible is the Old Testament! Sproul regrets that many have allowed the Bible to reduced to only the New Testament.

Dr. Sproul then recounted an experience had by he and his wife in Atlanta when after shopping in a mall close to their hotel they exited on the wrong side of the mall. With their hotel no where is sight, a lady driving a security vehicle pulled up to ask them if they needed any help. After they explained their situation the lady offered them a ride to the other side of the mall nearest their hotel. While in the vehicle, the lady commented on the heat and the dryness of Atlanta (they were in the midst of a drought). She said, “What we need is an Elijah to call down rain from heaven.” Later R.C. said to his wife, “I wonder how many of our church members in Florida would have had any idea what she was talking about if they were in our situation today!” Most people do not know their Old Testaments!

Next R.C. recounted his own first exposure to the Word of God. He went to a Christian college on a sports scholarship and was converted his first week there. He had never read one word of the Old Testament before. Now he stayed up all hours of the night reading the Bible. He read through the entire Bible in two weeks! He recalled walking up and down the halls of his dormitory at nights after reading portions of the Old Testament. He had never heard of this God before. “This God,” he said to himself, “plays for keeps!”

Sproul then gave two reasons for preaching from the Old Testament:

  1. The Old Testament reveals the character of God.
  2. The Old Testament is filled with revelatory narrative.

These stories in the Old Testament reveal to us the character of God and other aspects of New Testament truth. The method of teaching with stories was exemplified by the teaching of Jesus. He told parables which illustrated spiritual truths. When teaching about justification, He did not reply with a technical, theological definition. Instead He said, “Two men went up into the temple to pray . . .” When asked “Who is my neighbor?” He said, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves . . .” Thus, Jesus illustrates the importance of using narratives in our preaching.

One comment

  1. It’s a shame the Old Testament is so ignored. It is one book. We need to remember that.
    And with my pastor preaching through Job right now we’re getting OT too.

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