Posted on : Thursday August 15, 2019

By Sharon Mager

On a warm Friday evening in June, after fellowshipping over a delicious meal, Dr. David Prince asked a group of pastors and Bible teachers gathered at the Baptist Convention of Maryland/ Delaware (BCM/D) offices in Columbia the rhetorical question of how Jesus would have replied if someone walked up to Him and asked, “Why do you keep referring to the Old Testament?”

Dr. David Prince says, “The Bible is as much the Word of God as if we felt the breath of God speak it to us.”

“He would have said, ‘The old what? What are you talking about? Are you referring to Scripture?’” Jesus used two terms to refer to his references to the Old Testament — one was the scriptures, and one was the Word of God.

Prince, a professor of Christian Preaching at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), sharing about “Preaching Christ in the Old Testament,” was the second speaker in the BCM/D’s Preaching Roundtable Series. The Roundtables are designed to offer teaching, counsel, and resources to pastors and lay leaders.

In April, Allan Moseley, a professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), spoke about preaching the Bible’s wisdom literature. SBTS Professor of Christian Preaching Michael Pohlman will speak on preaching the narrative sections of Scripture in August. In addition to teaching, each speaker serves in pastoral ministry.

Prince, who became more animated as he continued, told listeners, “Jesus explained his whole life in ministry in light of the Old Testament.”

“If you go through and watch the way Jesus presents himself, all of the images aren’t just picked out of thin air. They are images that mark Him out as the Messiah.” Jesus explained who He was in light of what the Old Testament said the Messiah was to be. We would not even know who the Messiah is apart from the preparatory work of the Old Testament.

Dr. Kevin Smith welcomes Dr. David Prince to the podium.

“He also went out of the way to tell us that He’s not going to tell us everything because there was the coming apostolic witness. Jesus goes in both directions and endorses as Scripture the Old Testament and the apostolic witness.

“We need the whole counsel of the Word of God,” Prince said. “Not only do we need the Old Testament to understand the New Testament, but we also need the New Testament to understand the Old.” Prince shared about the “dual authorship” of the Bible. The personality of the human writers is evident but carried by the Holy Spirit. God is the divine author.

“The Bible is as much the Word of God as if we felt the breath of God speak it to us,” he said.

BCM/D Executive Director Kevin Smith, agrees, pointing to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Smith shared, “Paul, leading the Ephesian elders, says this phrase that stuck with me in college – ‘For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.’” (Acts 20:27 (NKJV).

As a seminary professor and one who travels around Baptist churches nationally, as well as in broader evangelical circles, Smith said he finds much preaching focused on the epistles. Holding the small section of the epistles up between his fingers for emphasis, he said, “Every semester I remind my students, ‘If you’re preaching is centered in the epistles, how much of the Scripture are you not preaching?’’’

During a general question and answer time, one pastor asked Prince, regarding preaching, how to balance the effort in preparation, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit? Prince answered saying, “There’s always a part that we have control over and a part we don’t. The time that you forget — that is a time when you’re going to be on a dangerous path. Our goal is to preach a good sermon. What I mean by that is a faithful sermon. A sermon that handles the text the right way and pushes people in the right direction.

“You should not try to preach a great sermon because you don’t have the control to do that. Only God can do that. Only God can use a particular sermon in a way that is exceptional. There are many times I preached a sermon, and I know I did a poor job in some aspects of it and God used it far more than when I preached a sermon that I know from an analytical standpoint was better. This ought to be encouraging to us but not an excuse for us, and it ought to humble us.”

Another question was, how many Sundays does the average pastor preach each year? The answer depended on variables, but on average 45-46.

Other questions were about specific Old Testament passages such as those referring to Deborah in the book of Judges, and how to teach some of the harsher sections of the Bible to children.

The BCM/D has Preaching Roundtables scheduled in various locations throughout Maryland and Delaware. Each includes a meal, teaching, helpful resources, and a question and answer time. While designed for pastors, the Roundtables are also appropriate for teachers and small group leaders.

Smith said the Preaching Roundtables are a result of his discussion with pastors seeking more understanding in teaching and preaching, and various approaches to sermon and lesson preparation. At last year’s BCM/D Annual Meeting, Smith announced the Roundtables as an opportunity to gather together and seek to be faithful teachers and proclaimers of the Word of God.

Preaching Roundtables are one of the many opportunities provided by your generous giving to the Cooperative Program. See the BCM/D events page for more information.