This post comes from John Percival, pastor of Ambassador International Church in Hong Kong.
Many of us are used to a Bible Overview being taught through reading books, seminars, or Christian education classes. However, how about preaching a Bible Overview from the pulpit? We decided to do this recently. Here are some tips and reflections from our experience:
- We used an idea that originated with Andrew Reid (currently principal of the Evangelical Theological College of Asia) of eleven “Big Moments in God’s Story.” We preached one per week, looking at: creation, fall, promise, exodus, conquest, kingship, exile, return, cross, gospel and new creation. Of course, you could choose your own. However, this felt like enough of an overview without sacrificing too much detail. You can find the sermons and passages here.
- This was hard work. Sermon preparation time was more than normal. The main challenge was the amount of material to grasp before formulating an outline. I found it helpful to read as much of the Bible as I could for the relevant sections – easy for creation or the fall – less possible for the prophets!
- We wrote small group material to accompany the series. This gave our people an extra opportunity to interact with the sermons and gave the whole church a feeling of learning together. To ensure continuity, we cancelled two of our monthly prayer meetings to make sure all our small groups got a clear run at the material. Uploading the sermons promptly meant that anyone who missed the sermon could listen online before their group met.
- One challenge was the constant need to look both backwards and forwards in each sermon – i.e. backwards towards God’s promises to Abraham, and also forwards towards their fulfillment. This was even true for the life of Christ – which not only fulfills the Old Testament promises but also, of course, anticipates the new creation. Keeping the overview in view is important, especially for those who are visitors or might have missed the preceding week.
- This series was a good opportunity to hit “big picture” applications. These included:
- See your little story as part of God’s big story
- Learn to view God’s story as one story focused on Christ
- Grow in reading your Bible in context – especially the Old Testament
- Redefine your priorities now in the light of the future new creation
- Remember that an application can be a “knowledge” application that changes our thinking – it doesn’t have to focus on our actions.
- We needed to make some tough choices in order to keep the story side of things moving. In the end, wisdom literature, much of the prophets, and in-depth teaching on the application of the Law were all casualties.
- There are some great resources available: Vaughan Roberts’ “God’s Big Picture” and Graham Goldsworthy’s “Gospel and Kingdom” are standard issue. Less well-known are Tim Chester’s “From Creation to New Creation” and Michael Lawrence’s “Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church.” We also encouraged families to engage with the series through “The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones.
- We prayed for “light bulb moments” among our people as they saw how the Bible fitted together. For some, it helped them to get the main events of salvation history in the right order. For others, they came to realize that the Bible is fundamentally a book about God.
I was nervous about preaching this series, especially as I couldn’t find many examples of others tackling a Bible Overview on a Sunday morning. However, I’m really glad we did. I saw many connections I had never seen before, and believe it enriched the spiritual lives of many. At the moment, many of us will be planning our preaching schedule for next year. If so, how about including a Bible Overview?Tweet
The 2 Timothy 4 Trust wants to help us in this task. They are running two repeat seminars on Saturday mornings in November 2017, one in Glasgow the other in Edinburgh.
Peter Grainger, former pastor of Charlotte Chapel, will provide a seminar on planning a healthy preaching diet. I will then have the privilege of sharing some lessons learned from preaching a series on Leviticus. There will also be an opportunity for group discussion to cross-fertilise ideas in the field of sermon-series planning.
So the dates are…
- Saturday 11th November – Greenview Evangelical Church, Glasgow (9.30-12.30)
- Saturday 25th November – Charlotte Baptist Chapel, Edinburgh (9.30-12.30)
To book your place, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is free of charge.
The Bible’s epicentre is the person and work of Jesus Christ. We could unpack that a little by saying that in the Old Testament Jesus’ person and work are predicted, while in the New his person is revealed and his work accomplished.
In terms of Jesus’ work, the cross of course is key. Calvary was the supreme place where our redemption was accomplished. It was on the accursed tree that Jesus blood was shed, the blood that “obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).
Hebrews also makes it clear that Jesus sin offering was “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). The offering was unique; one-of-a-kind.
However just because of an offering a single, doesn’t imply that it is simple. Christ’s offering is multi-faceted in terms of its glory! So much is this the case that the Jewish sacrificial system had to forecast the one offering by way of five previews! No one Old Testament offering could alone encapsulate the brilliance of Christ’s atonement.
The Burnt Offering
The basic offering that made atonement. The whole offering was burned on the altar and totally consumed. Everything goes to God.
Relation to Christ:
Christ is our burnt offering. His death made atonement for our sin. On the cross, Christ offered himself up completely. He was totally consumed but his sacrifice was pleasing to the Father.
RELATION TO THE CHRISTIAN:
Praise! “This the power of the cross, Christ became sin for us; took the blame, bore the wrath, we stand forgiven at the cross.” In view of God’s mercies, our lives are now to be wholly consecrated to God.
The Grain Offering
The only bloodless offering. Small amount of grain burned on the altar; most of the grain eaten by the priests and their families. Emphasises the bountiful provision of God to us and our response of thanksgiving and worship.
Relation to Christ:
Jesus is the perfect grain offering. He is the bread who has come down from heaven. He is the fine flour that is offered to God: a picture of his sinless life.
RELATION TO THE CHRISTIAN:
We give thanks to God not only for the death of Christ but the life of Christ. We express thankfulness to God, not only as our Creator but as our redeemer. Note that this offering usually followed the burnt offering (ie. it was a response to the atonement that had been made). We’re in Romans 12:1-2 territory again.
The Fellowship Offering
The only offering where the sacrifice was split three ways. Part goes to the LORD, part to the priest, and part to the worshipper. An emphasis on fellowship with God following on from atonement (burnt offering).
Relation to Christ:
Christ died in order to reconcile sinners to God. He brings us into fellowship with Himself, the Father and the Spirit.
Relation to the Christian
Fellowship with God is the goal of our salvation. Our sins having been forgiven, we have the prospect of feasting with our priest (Jesus) in the presence of the LORD. Communion is a foretaste of what is to come. The new heavens and earth is pictured as a great wedding feast.
The Sin Offering
An offering that emphasised the need for cleansing and purification. Used for unintentional sins and also in the case of ritual uncleanness. In some cases of the sin offering, the tabernacle had to be cleansed because the priest’s sins had defiled it. This offering also involved taking part of the animal “outside the camp” to burn it.
Relation to Christ:
Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness. To make us clean, Jesus was taken outside the camp (Jerusalem) to be crucified.
Relation to the Christian:
Sin is an objective category (even unintentional sins need to be forgiven). We can only be cleansed through the blood of Christ. We are loved to the very core of our being (cleansed consciences).
The Guilt Offering:
Sometimes called the ‘reparation’ offering, this offering carried a commercial notion. Where God’s “holy things” had been wrongly taken or misused, this offering had to be made; and in any cases where an individual defrauded another financially. A ram had to be offered, the money had to be repaid in full, and a 20% additional charge had to be given on top.
Relation to Christ:
Christ is the one who pays the price for our sins. He pays not just over and above; his blood has infinite value.
Relation to the Christian:
In salvation terms, there is no more to pay…The invoice from heaven reads “paid in full.” Nevertheless, the one who has been forgiven much, loves much. A heart set free from sin will turn from sin and joyfully demonstrate both repentance and generosity. The story of Zacchaeus is exhibit A in this regard.
* Which, by the way, is how one should read Leviticus. To interpret the book properly, we need to firstly draw the line of interpretation to Christ and ask “how does he fulfil this passage?” And then, having done that, we draw the line through Christ to ourselves. On this latter point we will pay particular attention to how the NT seems to apply the Levitical ideas to the New Testament Christian.Tweet
An apt encouragement for today, brothers:Tweet
Calling all preachers!
Are you longing for soul-stirring teaching geared specifically to preachers? Are you feeling the need to sharpen your own pulpit skills, but don’t want to read just another preaching book? Are you seeking the encouragement of fellow preachers who share the sacred task of delivering God’s Word to God’s people every week?
If you are, then we’re sure you will be blessed by ‘Partners in the Gospel’, an annual conference in North East Scotland, designed to encourage and enthuse preachers from all backgrounds and denominations in handling God’s Word with accuracy, relevance and passion.
The conference aims to mould and deepen convictions about the centrality of biblical preaching, and to promote faithful, authoritative preaching in Scotland. You can book here.
Conference 2016 – Wednesday 16th March
This is the theme of our conference this year – ‘Understanding the Times’.
Our keynote speaker is John Stevens, Director of the FIEC. John has a grasp of culture today like few others (you can follow his blogs on www.johnstevens.com), and that, allied with his commitment to thoroughly biblical preaching, makes him the perfect guide for this crucial subject.
John was Educated at Cambridge University, where he became a Christian in his final year, John worked as a law lecturer for 16 years. In 2007 he combined his lecturing with his responsibilities as one of the three pastors of City Church in Birmingham, which he helped to found in 1999. He left City Church in January 2010 to work for the FIEC, and became its first full-time National Director in September 2010. Alongside his other ministries, John is co-chairman of the A Passion for Life steering group and sits on the Steering Committee for New Word Alive. He is also one of the elders of Christchurch Market Harborough. John is married to Ursula and they have four young children. He loves books.
Workshop / Seminar
We are delighted that our good friends Ian Shaw and Edward Lobb will be back to help with history and preaching seminars once again. So come and join us to be inspired, challenged and have great fellowship.
Ian is currently the Director of Langham Scholarship programme in the UK. He previously served as lecturer in church History at International Christian College, Glasgow. Prior to this, he was a pastor of an Independent Evangelical Church in an area of urban deprivation in Manchester. He completed a Ph.D in Church History at Manchester University.
Edward is the Director of Cornhill Training Crouse, Scotland. Based in Glasgow, Cornhill aims to train preachers to understand the Bible accurately, teach it effectively and apply it appropriately. Edward has been in full-time ministry since 1976 and has served a number of parishes, most recently St Peter’s Stapenhill at Burton-on-Trent.
All this, together with an opportunity for Questions and Answers, the chance to share lunch and encourage each other in our preaching, as well as a preacher-specific bookstall, and we are sure that there will be much in this day to inspire and bless your ministry. As ever, we welcome all those who teach the Word in a wide variety of contexts, from Sunday pulpit to small group Bible studies, so don’t hesitate to sign up, and spread the word to ministry colleagues.Tweet
“Preaching is essentially teaching plus application, and where that plus is lacking something less than preaching takes place.” (JI Packer)Tweet
Last week, along with hundreds of other pastors from around the globe, I enjoyed the immense privilege of listening to the preaching of Stuart Olyott. Not only were the contents of his sermons an encouragement, but the manner of his preaching was an example to be emulated. Though it was not the purpose of the conference, I did wish that we could have heard from Stuart something of how he prepares to preach. There is so much, particularly for us younger men, to learn from those senior figures who are still preaching so incisively.
Since returning to Northern Ireland, I have dug out Stuart’s book Preaching Pure and Simple, which I read near the start of my ministry with profit. I have also since discovered some online material which you will find below. I have enjoyed listening through these lectures (originally given in Singapore) under the title “Preaching Like the Master.” It will do your preaching good to download this material.
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