When the church does tackle the OT nowadays it’s most often to do some kind of character study so that we can learn from the life of Noah, David, Samson, etc. The teaching rarely rises above the level of what our children get on Sesame Street. Be nice. Be good. Share. Be courageous. Don’t be bad. Don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s moralism. This kind of teaching sees the OT as merely giving us examples of how to live or not live instead of a storyline that is pointing us to a rescuer who will save us. We don’t need an example first and foremost, but we do need a Savior!
This means when we preach Noah we won’t talk about being nice to pets, but will instead preach about God’s mercy to save people from the judgment to come. When we preach the blessings and cursings of Deuteronomy 28 we won’t teach prosperity for the “good” and torment for the “bad,” but instead how the covenant keeper Jesus receives the cursings in place of the covenant breakers and offers the blessings to them if they’ll repent and believe.
The OT is about Jesus (cf. Luke 24). It presents to us our sin and our need for a Savior. It promises him, anticipates him, foreshadows him, gives types of him, and prepares us for Him.
3. Misusing the text for our own purposes
Churches will often misuse the OT for their own ends. The classic example is using some story in the OT (like Nehemiah) to promote the building campaign or finance some project. Recently, churches have actually used prophecies about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple to justify millions of dollars worth of construction projects.
This kind of misuse and abuse models a false way of reading the OT for our people. It also invites them to use whatever fanciful interpretation they can find to justify their actions. This is concerning.
We need to recover the OT as the Church’s Scripture. We need to reject the strong division that has been placed between it and the NT. We need to reject moralistic applications to be bold like David, to pray like Daniel, and to be nice to our in-laws like Ruth. We need to stop abusing the OT to confuse our people and pursue our own ends. We need to recover the Scriptures that call us to Jesus. May we heed the call of Jesus that we have Moses and the Prophets; let us hear them (Luke 16:29)!
“Well, that’s in the Old Testament” was a phrase that I kept hearing early in my ministry. It was a way for a person to dismiss a concept or a command in the Bible. Certainly there are things that need to be wrestled with when it comes to rightly interpreting and applying the OT in light of the revelation of Jesus in the NT. That task goes well beyond the scope of this post.
But, what I find disconcerting is the dismissive attitude toward the OT in the Church. The Church is neglecting and misusing its Scripture. This is because the Church is scared of and confused by the Bible of Jesus and the Apostles. But, in 2 Timothy 3 Paul tells us some very important things about the Scriptures, and this is as true for the OT as it is the NT:
This means that the Church needs the OT. We need it to lead the lost to faith in Jesus. We need it to lead believers to believe the gospel more deeply. We need it to teach us and correct us. We need it to bring us to maturity and godliness. Because of these concerns I’m deeply troubled by the neglect and abuse of the OT that I see in the church. Here are some of the things that need correction:
1. Practical Marcionism
Marcion, who lived in the 2nd century, wanted to rid the church of the OT because he felt the OT God was an angry god and not the God of the NT, the God of Jesus. So, he argued that the OT is not the church’s scripture and set up a canon without the OT.
In many ways the church today has adopted what I want to call “practical Marcionism.” We do this by assuming that God is grumpier in the OT than He is in the NT. We do this by phrases like “I’m gonna go OT on you.” Christian Football coaches will say that they want their team to be OT on Saturdays and NT on Sundays.
Many think the OT is “law” and the NT is “grace.” This is a complete mischaracterization. The God of the OT is presented as a merciful God. When Yahweh proclaims his name in Exodus 34 he says, “The Lord, The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” (34:6-7). Yes, God is just and will punish sin, but He is also gracious and patient and forgiving.
The message of the OT is that God is a rescuer. He judges the world but rescues Noah’s family. He judges Sodom but rescues Lot’s family. He is consistently patient with Israel and giving them opportunity to repent.
Also, God seems “grumpy” in the NT as well. Ananias and Sapphira drop dead because they lied about what they put in the offering plate (Acts 5). Not to mention the things Jesus says about Hell and the torment that will take place there.
This practical Marcionism is sadly seen in the sermon series of some of the best expositors in evangelicalism. They often ignore the OT and preach exclusively from the NT. This needs to change.
In part 2 Jon Akin will continue to examine misues of the OT…
As the Unashamed Tour finishes up in Raleigh (more info about that at the bottom), I have been reflecting on the evolution of Christian Hip-Hop. When I was growing up, Christian Hip-Hop was to put it kindly, not the best. I couldn’t decide in the previous sentence whether to put quotations around the word “Christian” or around the words “Hip-Hop” or both. It seemed that the music genre that would have been characterized as Christian Hip-Hop as I was coming of age was most of the time neither Christian in its lyrics/message, nor was it Hip-Hop in its craft. The lyrics were usually very watered down and contained no substantive theology. The craft was even worse, as it was usually a cheap knock-off of better musical genius seen in the Hip Hop “Secular” World.
That is why this new era of Christian Hip-Hop is so remarkable. I don’t feel the need to put quotations around any of the words. The content is rich, God Glorifying, Christ Honoring, Scripture-Saturated, Theologically Driven, and Gospel-Centered. There are not enough good things to say about the lyrics (more on that later). In addition to superior content from the past generation, the craft is superior as well. Pastor Jerome Gay, of Vision Church, says of the lyrics, “it is a beautiful display of redemptive lyricism.” The talent and musical ability of this new wave of Hip-Hop is a joy to observe. I wrote a piece several months ago where I examined trends in the Evangelical World that seem to display that God is at work and a possible movement is coming (in that article entitled “A Look at a Model GCR Church,” I say clearly that I am not a pneumatologist, if that even is a word, but these are mere observations). I argue that there seems to be a movement that encompasses these major criteria: obsession for the glory of God in all things, gospel-centeredness, Local Church Primacy, and Missional living. This new generation of Hip-Hop artists in the Christian world seems to be right at the forefront of this movement. I am willing to bet that every major movement of God in history had musicians writing songs that were rich in teaching theology that accompanied the movement. I would not say it is only Hip-Hop that seems to be taking on these characteristics, but this is a major music stream that is pushing these types of conversations about Gospel-Centrality and the other characteristics mentioned above. So, if you are not familiar with these artists get familiar with them (I will look at some of them below with some samples of their work).
Several Reasons to Become Familiar with these Artists
- They rap the Gospel – in this genre there are clear expressions of the gospel that will encourage and edify the believer, but also provide an evangelistic means for the non-believer
- They teach rich theology – in these songs you will hear concepts such as the hypostatic union, expiation, and substitution just to name a few. In fact, many of my friends are using these songs in catechistic way for their children because the beats make the words so easy to remember and again the content is so rich. One example is a song on Shai Linne’s CD “The Atonement” where Stephen the Levite asks questions about important theological topics and Shai Linne raps the answers. Check it out
- They are talented – the music is very well done and has a way of sticking with you, making a great means for preaching the gospel to oneself and being edified through musical means.
A Few Songs by these Artists to Check Out:
This is not an exhaustive list, merely a sampling
Lecrae – “Don’t Waste Your Life” and “Beautiful Feet” – Purchase his music here
Trip Lee – “Hero” – Purchase his music here
Sho Baraka – “Higher Love” and “Shut Us Down” – Purchase his music here
Tedashii – “I Work” and “Make War” – Purchase his music here
Flame – “Goodness” – Also, check out an interview that Baptist21 conducted with Flame
Shai Linne – “Through My Eyes” – Purchase his music here
Also, check out a Hip-Hop Song featuring former SBC President Johnny Hunt by the group, Hazakim
Upcoming Concert in Raleigh
What: Unashamed Tour – The Movement
Where: Dorton Arena (1025 Blue Ridge Rd. Raleigh, NC 27607)
Who: Lecrae, Trip Lee, Sho Baraka, Tedashii, DJ Official, and special guest Pro
When: November 19th from 7-10pm
Tickets: If you use the promotional code “baptist21” you will receive a $5 discount for a ticket price of $10 – REGISTER HERE
Check out Part One of this Interview – Theological Education
Check out Part Two of this Interview – Challenges in Church Planting
4.) Why are you baptist and A29?
I am thoroughly Baptist. I have been Baptist my entire life. I was born into a Baptist family, saved in a Baptist church, baptized in a Baptist church, raised in a Baptist church, attended at Baptist college and graduated from a Baptist seminary, and always worked in Baptist churches. It was in college where I realized that theologically I’m in the Baptist camp. It was in the fall of 1998, after I graduated from college, before I went to seminary, where I began to embrace what is known as “Reformed Theology”. During the fall I read a book called “Chosen By God” by R.C. Sproul and then “Desiring God” by John Piper. The rest as they say is history. Reformed Theology does not supersede biblical theology for me. I strive to believe, teach and preach what the Scriptures say, not a theological system. But, in 1998 I found a “theological home” in Reformed Theology (at least soteriologically). So, in 2009 when I was planting, I was very much interested in planting with Acts 29. There are a lot of reasons.
- First is being at home theologically with them. However, there are many other great reasons.
- Acts 29 loves church planting and wants to plant a lot of churches. Remedy Church has this as a goal as well. So, there is much to learn from them.
- The assessment of Acts 29 is very thorough and causes every planter to truly assess themselves. I learned a lot about myself.
- The friends I’ve already made in A29 has been great. It truly is a “brotherhood”. They are so helpful and give great advice for every possible question you could think of when it comes to church planting.
- There is an emphasis on raising up and training men. I am passionate about this and want to do it well. A29 is a great resource in helping assist for this.
5.) What is the role of preaching in church planting? How does planting affect what series, books, topics, etc you address?
Preaching is not the main role in church planting. There are a lot of other things that can be just as important. However, that being said, that does not minimize the importance and necessity of preaching. Preaching is the God-ordained way that the people of God will continually week to week learn to hope in Christ and His Gospel. Preaching is something that I am most passionate about as a pastor/planter. Of all the things a pastor does, preaching is BY FAR my favorite thing to do. I do long for the day where (if the Lord wills) that I won’t be the “Lead Pastor”, but just the “Preaching Pastor”. This is not to say that I’m any good at it. I just enjoy it.
When planting Remedy Church, because we were a new church, this greatly affected what I would be preaching. I believe in expositional preaching. The large majority of the year I preach through books of the Bible. We began the church plant we started with the book of Galatians. I wanted to make sure as we began we had a firm grasp on the Gospel and its necessity not just for justification, but in sanctification as well. It was crucial we had this right as we began. So, we took the first 20 or so weeks of the church plant and went through book of Galatians. As we neared the summer, there were some “topics” that needed some clarification, so I preached about worship, baptism, and being in the world but not of the world. Those were 3 different topical series, but all were still expositional in nature. In the fall, because we were still young, we needed a stronger understanding of ecclesiology and ecclesiological structures, so I preached through 1 Timothy calling men to aspire as Elders, talked about addressing false doctrine, etc… Now I am teaching through 1 John. Because the church is “reformed” we can tend to love doctrine and study and not finding ourselves being very loving to our brothers and our neighbors. Since I don’t want us to ever be the “chosen and froze” church, I am preaching from 1 John and challenging us to be more loving . God is challenging us to constantly reach out to those around us and show His love to the brothers and whoever is in need (1 John 3: 16-18). 1 John’s main point is assurance of salvation, with 3 tests; righteousness, truth and love. I want the people of Remedy and me to have all three of these and “reassure our hearts” (1 John 3:19) that we are in Christ.
Clearly now, I am preaching thru the end of chapter 3 of 1 John.
B21 would like to make our readers (especially NC readers) aware of an event to be held at this year’s North Carolina Baptist Convention. This event will take place immediately after the Pastor’s Conference ends and B21’s Nathan Akin will take part in it. (You will want to be a part of the Pastor’s Conference as well, it features Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, Al Gilbert, Kevin Ezell, and many more – check out the schedule here)
What: The title of the event is Engaged: Embracing Christ Through Missional Discipleship. The format will be a round-table discussion on Missonal-Discipleship.
When: Monday, November 8th at 4:00pm
Where: Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, NC following the Pastor’s Conference
Rick is also the organizer of this event and here is what he has to say about it:
The Engaged roundtable is really about having a discussion from people who are practitioners of doing missional discipleship. People that would be interested in attending would be the pastors who have a great deal of interest in discipling from a missional community; but also pastors who are involved in churches that in the past have been doing just simply program discipleship and are realizing that that is not really making disciples, (and) that they are not really carrying out the Great Commission
To register for this FREE event CLICK HERE
B21 would like to urge our readers to attend state conventions and make your voice heard. Many of these conventions are putting together events, like this one, that will foster networking. This should be an incentive to go and connect with guys going through similar stages of life and ministry, but also go and be a part of the process of helping us partner together for the propagation of the gospel, especially to the areas of greatest need.
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