Before I begin this post, please permit me first to say that I have been blessed to not only have been the son of a pastor, but to know that my parents are good, God fearing people who raised me to trust in God's Word. I grew up in the church knowing quite plainly that it is God that matters above all else. I was raised to know that God's Word is true and that it is ALL useful to us. Also, I will endeavour to keep this brief since it is late and I am writing solely because I cannot sleep.
Now that I've said that, let me begin by saying that I have noticed something disturbing in my time on this earth. Technically, I've noticed plenty of disturbing things during the course of my life, but I have noticed something which particularly disturbs me. That thing is a trend within the church world to ignore the Old Testament. It seems as though much of recent teaching and preaching has been focused solely on the New Testament, and when you mention something from the Old Testament, people are taken completely aback. Thankfully, this was not an issue with my father due to the fact that he teaches from all of Scripture.
My point though, is that much of the Christian world ignores the Old Testament for one reason or another. Most claim that it is, "too hard" to read the Old Testament and that they do not understand it. Occasionally though, you'll find those people who will say that "it's boring" or worse, that they "don't need to read it because they've got the New Testament."
This saddens and disturbs me because there is so much truth that people are missing out on because of their refusal to pay attention to, or read from the entire Word of God. Now, there are likely some who will read this and think, "What's it to you if people only read the New Testament?" To you, I say simply this: I'm a pastor in the Biblical sense of the term. That means it is my responsibility to declare the entire Word of the Lord without fear or favour, and it also means that before I can teach proper doctrine, I often have to correct wrong doctrine which comes about by an incomplete understanding of Scripture.
In what has become a familiar portion of Scripture to many of us, Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17:
“14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Did you catch that? ALL of the Holy Scriptures are “able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” and are “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Paul doesn’t write that some of Scripture is good and the rest isn’t. He doesn’t claim that only the New Testament is profitable. He most certainly doesn’t claim, “New is better.” No, Paul, speaking to his son in the faith, said that ALL Scripture is God breathed (or Divinely Inspired). That Scripture which Timothy had been raised on (the Old Testament) is able to make him, “wise unto salvation.”
Something else I want to point out is that the purpose of Scripture is to point the way to God and to give us hope. Romans 15:4 says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
Again, notice what is said! Thus far, I have been using New Testament examples and references for a reason; namely that the New Testament points backward to the Old Testament, claiming that it is profitable and written that we may learn and have hope!
For those who believe that there is no need for the Old Testament because of the New Testament and the revelation of Christ, let me note Jesus’ words:
“17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18)
According to John Parsons, “The word translated ‘jot’ (iota in the Greek New Testament) refers to the smallest Hebrew letter (‘Yod’), and the word translated ‘tittle’ (keraia in Greek) refers to the ‘horn,’ or smallest stroke of a Hebrew letter…”
According to Jesus, then, not even the smallest part of the Word will pass away! God’s Word is eternal and is not open for us to pick and choose what we believe. As Christians, we are to believe the Word of God in its entirety.
After all, God is unchanging and His words are eternal. Numbers 23:19 records what Balaam claimed under direction of God:
“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”
The entirety of Scripture is useful for us, reveals the Lord to us, teaches us His ways, and can give us hope. Now, undoubtedly some will ask about sacrifices in the Old Testament. We know that Christ was the sacrifice for sins, once for all (Hebrews 10 speaks of this).
Still, reading of sacrifices in the Old Testament demonstrates for us the truth that, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)
That verse seems to reference Leviticus 17:11 which makes the claim, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
So, it teaches us, and it is also proves the point that Jesus’ sacrifice was needed! We know that we do not still have to offer sacrifices because of the sacrifice of Jesus (though we are “slaves to righteousness” and are to be “living sacrifices to God”), so what we do when considering the authority of the Old Testament for us today?
Daniel Block makes an interesting point:
At the same time we look to the New Testament for guidance on which Old Testament laws have been rendered obsolete in Christ. Most American evangelical Christians assume that unless the New Testament expressly affirms the continued relevance of an Old Testament ordinance we may assume it has been abrogated in Christ. One should probably rather adopt the opposite stance: unless the New Testament expressly declares the end of an Old Testament ordinance (e.g., the sacrifices), we assume its authority for believers today continues.
It is far too late to even begin listing the many benefits of the Old Testament or to further discuss the fact that we are not to simply toss the Old Testament on the garbage heap because we have the New. So, let me just say this: the ENTIRE Bible is good for us to read, to learn, to understand, and to believe.
We are “under the law of Grace” as Christians, but that does not mean that the Old Testament is useless or without benefit. Do we still sacrifice animals as laid out in the Old Testament? No, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we do not need to. Do the teachings of and surrounding sacrifices still have benefit? Absolutely, they do!
Again, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Perhaps this is more of a personal post or rant, but that is why I began this blog in the first place. My point to this all is that the Christians who refuses to acknowledge the Old Testament will only harm their own growth. It is when we consider ALL of Scripture that we may be “thoroughly equipped.”
I encourage you to look to the truth of the Old Testament. Learn from it; hold it tightly as a precious gem and as further revelation of our Great God. Please, do not miss out on the wonderful truths and teachings of the Scriptures.
God bless, and thanks for reading,