27 September 2011

Ashford Bible Conference 2011: Christ in the Old Testament

by Dan Phillips

As you know, I had the great joy of bringing two of the four sessions in the 2011 Ashford Bible Conference, of which the topic was Christ in the Old Testament. Brother/pastors Anthony Forsyth (about whom more, later) and Tom Drion (who serves God in His Word in London) brought the Word in the other two sessions.

Pastor Anthony Forsyth invited me and, what's more, hosted my dear wife, two youngest sons and myself. We all absolutely loved the Forsyth family (wife Jenny and children Joseph, Lydia, Phoebe, Timothy and Chloƫ), and loved our time with them in their stately mansion. Had a terrific time with them, trading accent-teases, as well as meeting first another American house-guest (Jeremy, music-guy), and then an Irish brother (Jonathan, media-guy).

Anthony even graciously encouraged my efforts to speak, you know, English. Nonetheless, I felt it wiser to teach and preach in American, with Anthony standing by to translate as necessary.

I'd been very anxious in my preparations over the many months since Anthony invited me to speak, poring over reams of volumes and articles on Messianic prophecy, as well as reviewing the Scriptures themselves. How to approach it? How even to touch such a massive, vital topic, over which my betters have labored for millennia with such varying results and degrees of success?

Through it all, my fundamental driving conviction came from passages such as John 5:39-40, 45-46 —
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ...45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
You could say this is a subsection of my overall conviction, based on passages such as Hebrews 1:1-2, that the Bible is not a secret codebook. It is a communication, from God, to His people, commencing (always) with the original authors and hearers.

These and other passages give me the very strong impression that our Lord believed that the OT, in and of itself, bore witness to Him so directly and overwhelmingly that to reject that witness is to damn oneself. Never does He say anything even approaching, "You know, boys, I can't really blame you for not recognizing Me. Nobody could! The OT is a book of impenetrable mystery. In fact, nobody could fairly be expected to see Me in it. But just you wait: after Pentecost, the Spirit will help My guys read Me into it. Then we'll have a whole different ballgame."

Rather, in saying that Moses himself would condemn His rejectors, He is clearly asserting that Moses knowingly wrote of Him. Not wrote-of-something-else-that-later-was-deflected-to-Him, but of Him, Jesus.

So my challenge was multifold:
  1. How to read the Scripture as it should be read; which is the same as saying...
  2. How to read the Scripture as Jesus read it.
  3. How to show that the Scripture in its entirety pointed to Him.
  4. How to set this forth intelligibly in two sessions of finite length.
  5. How to do all this freshly, persuasively, accessibly, helpfully, and memorably.
Whether or not I succeeded, God is judge, and you can judge for yourself. But trying was a joy and an education.

In the first talk, I introduce the entire subject of Messiah and of Messianic prophecy, and endeavor to show (in one talk!) how the whole OT points to Jesus Christ. My dear wife says I talked too fast, and I'm sure she's right. My excuse is that I had a truckload to say, and leaned on the fact that folks could (if they wished) listen to the recording or watch the video. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

In keeping with my conviction, I approached the session not by expounding NT passages with talked about Messianic prophecy, but by going straight to the OT text itself, literally beginning at the beginning.

Here 'tis:

The second talk was really a continuation of the first, and a specific demonstration of ways in which one particular book (Genesis) points to Christ.

My third message in Ashford was a Sunday morning sermon focusing on Colossians 3:16 and speaking of the church's vital center. Then in the evening service, I returned to Christ in the OT, particularly speaking (surprise!) of Christ and Proverbs — because Pastor Forsyth had asked me to.

An aside: when Anthony and I met at his house, he asked "Have you ever seen this?" — and held up my Proverbs book. I hadn't! It was quite a surprise. Last I heard, the book would not be out in time for the conference. But Anthony had been persistent, publisher Eric Kress had done some magic, and the book had preceded me.

That book does contain material and an appendix that relates to Christ in Proverbs, and how to teach and preach Proverbs. However, this sermon takes a somewhat independent approach from the focus of the book.

Anthony also had ordered a large quantity of The World-Tilting Gospel, which he handed out to each family in attendance. Say, what a great conference idea. He also sees the book as a ministry-tool, extending Gospel preaching and grounding to all of the families under his care, and I believe he'd commend it to others for the same purposes.

Staying with that subject: Anthony is involved in two ministries now, an ongoing ministry Sunday afternoons in Medway, and a new church-plant in Ashford. You can see some more about it here, with more planned in approaching weeks. He would appreciate all of your prayers, and I would commend him to you. England is a land of thrilling history and a dark spiritual present. Any emphatically Gospel-preaching, Bible-teaching ministry will face trials and Satanic opposition, and Anthony's is no exception. Pray for his own walk and ministry, and for his family; and pray for the unity, growth, and evangelistic outreach of his church.

There. That should keep you busy and out of trouble for awhile.

Dan Phillips's signature


Pierre Saikaley said...

You did excellently in these conference talks.

Those two videos revamped my bible knowledge and really helped me see Christ afresh. What could be more important???

Thanks Dan, we are so well served by your God empowered teaching.

100 Mile Pants said...

That website is out of date, but should be back in date in a few hours. If it mentions two churches when you look it is updated! :)

The plan with TWTG is to give a free copy to anyone who joins the church - it is a great foundation and ensures (to some degree) that we are all building on the same foundation, so to speak.

Kregel do bulk discounts and I imagine any church that is so inclined could afford to purchase a copy for all existing members and have spares for new members and for people to buy as gifts for others. This is what we have done and I am excited to see the fruit from this "TWTG ministry"!

I would urge other pastors to do the same for their flocks.

Mike Riccardi said...

...the Bible is not a secret codebook. It is a communication, from God, to His people, commencing (always) with the original authors and hearers.

Amen! Thanks, Dan, for consistently sounding this note. It has been a great help to me in my own understanding of the subject.

Rob said...

I'm enjoying this teaching greatly. As an MP3-junkie, is there any possibility of getting these messages on that format to listen to during my nightly dish-washing?

DJP said...

Rob, you can get the audio here.

Si Hollett said...

The Angel of Yahweh! With most of the current focus on Christ in the OT (eg TGC's stuff), he's been rather neglected, if not totally ignored, so it's great that you spend some time looking at the one in the OT who is God from God.

Chris H said...

So you talked the Queen's english as good as they does? It ain't no big deal, I figure.... Just remember your book-learnin' and you'll do good.

DJP said...

In their front room, just with Anthony, I had the gall to begin delivering a sermon in English-English. Anthony graciously allowed that it was the first time I'd been completely intelligible since we'd arrived.

But that performance was not repeated in public

Chris said...

Dan, I'm extremely grateful that you've shared these videos. I just finished watching the first one and I'm about to start with the second part. I'm also going to strongly encourage others to watch. Thanks again.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...
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Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

It's sure nice to see the real person (you) moving and talking. It beats the little pixel we're used to seeing.

Loved the first video, have yet to finish the second.

James S said...

Don't feel bad about it if you think you talked fast. That's not limited to Americans only. My favorite preacher is the british former longtime rector of London's St Helens Bishopsgate church, Dick Lucas, and that has long been an attribute of Lucas's preaching.

It's never bothered me one bit. I love for things to keep moving along quickly anyway. And he's always had all the tapes (now mp3's) for people to re-listen to as well, just as you corrrectly reasoned.

It's good trait as far as I'm concerned, a mark of a speaker knowing his subject well and being enthusiastic to preach it.

I'm looking forward watching these tonight. I've enjoyed all of your past sermons and lectures. I hope this is only the beginning of many more to come.

DJP said...

Thank you. If I had to pick between Pendulum Side 1 ("Whoa, bro, let me catch a breath!") and Pendulum Side 2 ("For pity's sake, come ON, come ON, will you LAUNCH already!"), I'd pick erring twoards the former every time.

Rob said...

Thanks for the MP3 link Dan. I just listened to "Messiah in the Old Testament" sermon and, other than the reference to the show 'Lost', really enjoyed the message... ;)

Patrick said...


I've read a lot of your writings in your two blogs, purchased your book, and this is the first time I've heard you speak.

First thought.. Has anybody told you that you kinda talk like John Malkovich?

Anyway I'm 5 min in and just had to share since you're such a cool guy.

Steve said...

Did get the mp3 files for these, thanks for the link - so far only heard first 15 minutes (also have the mp3's for for your talks on the Soverignty of God). But there is one more thing that would be really cool to have. That would be the notes. Might they be available somehow?

Thanks, SC

Patrick said...


Thank you for sharing these messages! I love your treasure hunt of Christ in the Old Testament.

I need to hear more messages like this where Christ is displayed clearly in the Old Testament.

Ghost Writer said...

The outline you refer to in the first video (have not had time for the 2nd) - might it be available download? Thanks for a great resource. Good food for thought for Sunday School this week.

Aaron Snell said...


Excellent talk. And I didn't think you spoke too fast at all. Thanks for posting them here so we could all be edified.

Thomas Louw said...

Wow. Dan
That was fabulous

I loved both. You claim that u also preached Sunday night, do u have a link to that mp3?

Which resources did you use for your study of Genesis?
I'm in need of a good Genesis Commentary,(I love technical stuff and devotional, is there a difference?)

I really liked your speed and delivery it just seemed that you had more to say, wished you had the time.

100 Mile Pants said...
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100 Mile Pants said...


You can get the audio of Dan's two Sunday sermons at www.keeponwalking.org.uk. I hope to have the video of those messages available before too long as well.

Thomas Louw said...

Pasor Pants.

Seems your server is down will try again.

DJP said...

Thomas, the two messages I brought on Sunday are both linked directly in the paragraph beginning "My third message in Ashford..."