How do we get from any given text to the gospel?
Set the text within the context of the whole book it’s in. The unique themes of the book will point the way to Christ. The themes of creation and promise in Genesis, redemption in Exodus, holiness and sacrifice in Leviticus, and so on, all ultimately point to Christ, and individual passages within those books generally highlight those themes in some way.
Point out how the theological themes of a passage relate to gospel themes. Does the passage have anything to do with sin, righteousness, judgment, law, sacrifice, redemption, faith? Tie any of these theological themes to the gospel as their explanation and culmination.
Point out where the passage occurs in the overall storyline of redemptive history and tie the passage to the gospel along salvation-historical lines. Creation is the paradigm for salvation. The fall and its effects are the reason we need for salvation. The history of Israel is a preparation for the coming of Christ and a foreshadowing and prototype of God’s saving kingdom. The exile demonstrates God’s judgment on sin and our need for a Savior. And we live in between the first coming of Christ (which the New Testament records and interprets) and the second coming of Christ (which it predicts). By situating a text within the grand history of redemption you can point out how it relates to the gospel, and you can then preach the gospel.
(This material has been adapted from D.A. Carson’s chapter “Biblical-Theological Ruminations on Psalm 1” in Resurrection and Eschatology: Theology in Service of the Church, edited by Lane G. Tipton and Jeffrey C. Waddington, [Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2008] pages 120-134)
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