Sunday, January 31, 2016

Don't believe the title page...

"Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." —Luke 24:27 (italics  and bold mine)

Jesus thinks the Old Testament is about Him.

Do you?

"For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding 'Yes!'” —2 Corinthians 1:20

The Apostle Paul thinks all the Old Testament promises are fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.

Do you?

How might Jesus and Paul (and the other New Testament writers) help you to see the Old Testament in a new, fresh way?

Let's face it: Twenty-first century Western Christians don't seem to naturally gravitate toward the Old Testament.

Yet, the New Testament writers themselves deeply loved and deeply valued the Old Testament.

The Apostle Paul writes, "All Scripture is inspired by God [literally, God-breathed] and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." —2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Ironically, when Paul talks about "All Scripture" in the above passage, he's talking about what we know as the Old Testament. Don't believe me? Check out 2 Timothy 3:15—the preceding verse to the above quoted passage: "You [Timothy] have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus." Exactly what "Scriptures" existed when Timothy was a child? That would be what we know as the Old Testament.

Where is this kind of passion and appreciation for the Old Testament today?

I dare you to answer that question.

Here's why most people who claim to be Christians will never read the whole Bible...
When one sets out to read the whole Bible, he/she will spend most of the time in the Old Testament. Hence this is often the first big hurdle in reading the whole Holy Bible.

But we unnecessarily run into a mental road block before we even start to read.

It's that word "Old" in front of the the word "Testament" on the title page (see picture above). Too often the connotations of the word "old" are things like "passé" and "not relevant" and "boring." Even before we begin reading the Bible, the word "old" puts a very unhelpful lens on the way we read and interact with the God of the Old Testament (who, by the way, is also the exact same God of the New Testament).

(FYI: The Bible is the God-breathed Word of God. The title page is an invention of man—like chapter and verse numbers and the various paragraph headings throughout the Bible. I'm not necessarily saying any of these are wrong. I am saying that they are often not very helpful. And this brings us back to the title page with the words, "Old Testament.")

So what? Why is all of this important?

I contend that you will never fully understand the New Testament without a working knowledge of the Old Testament.

In other words, the greatest commentary on the Bible IS the Bible.

As followers of Jesus, the Old Testament must inform our understanding of the New Testament and the New Testament must inform our understanding of the Old Testament. This is sound hermeneutics.

So here's a crazy idea...

Instead of calling it the "Old Testament," what if we called it the "First Testament"? (Can you come up with a better idea? Please share it!)

At least this would be one less mental road block to engaging God via ALL of the Bible.

No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the First Testament is critically important to understanding Jesus and the rest of the New Testament. Need more proof? The resurrected Jesus Christ said this to his disciples: "Then he said, 'When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures." —Luke 24:44-45 (italics mine)

Wait for it.
Yep. You guessed it. When Luke speaks of Jesus opening their eyes to the "Scriptures," he talking about the whole Old Testament.

May Jesus open our minds to understand both the First Testament and New Testament Scriptures—so that we might know and love God more.

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