Updated June 29, 2021
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Let me ask a question: Does faith in Jesus as Messiah depend on the New Testament or the Old Testament? I would guess that most people would say either the New Testament or both. But that’s not really correct. The answer is the Old Testament. I’ll tell you why.
Before I explain, there is nothing in what I have to say that in anyway undermines the truth, authority, and power of the books of the New Testament. On the contrary, what I share here will hopefully increase your respect for it.
The prime purpose of the New Testament is the proclamation of the good news of the Messiah and its implications. However, this message is not dependent on itself, but rather upon the Old Testament. This is what Paul writes in First Corinthians:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
He goes on to refer to eyewitnesses of Jesus’s resurrection but notice what they witnessed to was an event that derives its significance from the Old Testament.
The New Testament’s reliance upon the Old Testament is not limited to its anticipation of the coming Messiah. Its entire view of life, including its understand of God and other theological and moral matters, is derived from the Old Testament. There are almost three hundred quotes of the Old Testament in the New, not to mention the hundreds of additional allusions. In almost every case, Old Testament references are used explicitly or implicitly as the basis of whatever the New Testament asserts.
You may think, however, just because the New Testament relies so heavily upon the Old Testament, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Old Testament is still relevant today. Since Old Testament expectation is fulfilled in Jesus, what value does it have apart from pointing to him? Let’s look at what Paul wrote to Timothy:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
When Paul penned these words, he was referring to the Old Testament, as there was no New Testament yet. Paul makes it clear that the Old Testament is sufficient to equip believers to become mature and effective in life. This doesn’t devalue the New Testament. Rather it’s through Jesus and what he has done for us that the richness of the Old Testament comes to the full. The Old Testament is the basis of the New, while the New unlocks the fulness of the Old.
The New Testament assumes an Old Testament scriptural context. While we are under the New Covenant (that’s what “New Testament” means), which is not like the Old Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31-33; compare Luke 22:20), the New Covenant Writings (aka the New Testament) don’t address anywhere close to the amount of material found in the Old Testament. It doesn’t need to, since it assumes its ongoing relevancy. Further, the New illuminates the Old, so that the New Covenant believer may discern the will of God as revealed through the whole Bible in every aspect of life.
Yet, for many Jesus followers, except for a few passages, the Old Testament remains a closed book
That is until now! Introducing “Unleashing the Old Testament,” an online journey designed to make the Old Testament accessible to everyone.
Over a course of twenty, one-hour, weekly sessions, I will take you on a tour of the entire Old Testament. By completing this course, you will
- Grasp how the Old Testament reveals God and his plan for the world.
- Appreciate the importance of the Old Testament for your life today.
- Learn how to effectively interact with the different parts of the Old Testament.
- Encounter key Old Testament concepts and their enduring value.
- Discover how the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament weave a cohesive storyline that draws us into God’s plan for our lives
- See how the Old Testament anticipates the New and the coming of the Messiah.
By the time we are done, the Old Testament will no longer be foreign and dry. Rather, as you learn to embrace the whole Bible, you will possess the tools to embark on a most wonderful scriptural adventure.
Apart from the weekly readings, there are no assignments or tests. Each one-hour presentation will be followed by a half-hour Q&A.
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