Tag Archives: gospel

According to the Scriptures – C.H. Dodd

(Old Facebook Post)

Have you ever wondered which are the most important Old Testament passages? Or at least which ones tell us the most about Christ?

There’s a fascinating old book I recently read, According to the Scriptures: The Substructure of New Testament Theology, by C. H. Dodd. It analyses the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament to try to determine which OT passages were most central in shaping the apostles’ understanding of the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. Which passages did they quote most often when explaining the gospel message? Which most powerfully explain the significance of Christ’s coming?

Dodd’s list could be refined a little, but it’s a great start. Here are some of the most important OT passages you will ever read!

Genesis 12:3; 22:18
Deuteronomy 18:15, 19
2 Samuel 7:13-14
Psalms 2; 8; 16; 22; 31; 34; 38; 41; 42; 43; 69; 80; 88; 110; 118; 132
Isaiah 6:1–9:7; 11:1-10; 28:16; 29:9-14; 40:1-11; 42:1–46:5; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13–53:12; 55:3; 58:6-10; 61
Jeremiah 7:1-15; 31:10-34
Hosea (especially Hosea 2-3; 5:8–6:3; 13)
Joel 2-3
Amos 9:11-12
Habakkuk 1-2
Zechariah 9-14
Daniel 7; 12
Malachi 3:1-6

Each of these passages were referenced by multiple NT authors, often in ways that show they assumed their readers were already familiar with them. Learn them well, and watch for how the NT quotes and alludes to them. Find a good cross-reference Bible to see where these verses are used in the NT, and ponder how the apostles understood them. Then see the gospel with new eyes, and read the OT with new eyes.

I think one of the most exciting ways this list could be used would be as a guide for selecting OT memory passages! It would also serve as a good guide for public Scripture readings in church services.

Dodd groups these passages according to key themes of the gospel message: 1) apocalyptic-eschatological–prophesies about the Day of the Lord, with judgement and redemption; 2) scriptures of the new Israel–judgement upon rebellious national Israel, the calling of the remnant, the inauguration of the New Covenant and the emergence of the Church; 3) scriptures of the Servant of the Lord and the Righteous Sufferer; and 4) unclassified–which interestingly includes a few explicitly messianic passages–very few of the others on the list actually speak of a coming “anointed” one!

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“The Expulsive Power of a New Affection”

(Old Facebook Post – Revised)

Do you long for victory over sin–for yourself, or for those you love? Here is some great reading from an old Scotsman. Read it slowly, enjoying every drop. Enjoy the presentation of the gospel of Christ–for what you love, you will serve.

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,” by Thomas Chalmers. (Thanks to Tim Keller for alerting me to this old essay.)

My reflections after reading the essay:

How do we try to motivate people to live holy lives? Often the motivations we use, while they are true and even useful, fall short of the gospel. Sometimes the motivations we use actually reinforce sinful patterns in our hearts.

For example, how might we motivate a person to live honestly? We might warn him that lying to his wife may cost him his marriage, that shady business practices can lead to lost profits, that lying under oath can lead to prison time, and that little white lies will cost you your reputation in the community. All these warnings are true, and all of them are useful and valid when used wisely. But when cut loose from the gospel, they only reinforce the idolatry of our hearts, strengthening sinful motivations of fear and pride—the very motivations that cause us to deceive in the first place! These warnings may help some people choose good behavior (though see Chalmer’s essay), but when they become our primary motivations for good behavior, they will not form a Christ-like character in us or in those we love.

A grace and gospel-based motivation might look more like this: We will remind ourselves that it is impossible to hide anything from God, but that God has extended his love toward us even while knowing the worst about us—while knowing the fear and pride that cause us to deceive. We might ponder the absolute honesty of Christ, both in his own relationships with the Father and with others, and in his manner of dealing justly and lovingly with our sin. We would meditate on the wonderful assurance provided by the certainty that it is impossible for God to lie. Our hearts would become so captivated by the integrity of God that fear and pride would drain out of our hearts, removing all motivation for dishonesty and reshaping us in the image of Christ.


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“Why become ‘all things to all people’?”

(Old Facebook Post)

I think this is the best sermon I’ve heard on the following passage. Thank you D. A. Carson!

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:20-23 ESV).

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