The whole Old Testament was recorded to prepare the way for the Savior to come into the world.
In our last post, we began to show how the Old and the New Testaments cannot be correctly understood apart from each other. It helps to know there were 400 years of silence between the Testaments. God wanted to make absolutely sure no one could ever claim that the Bible was a man-made conspiracy. The whole thing is about Jesus Christ.
There are more than 1200 verses in the New Testament that would not make any sense apart from the Old Testament. What is the significance of Christ dying on Passover and being raised on First Fruits were it not for the book of Exodus? What sense would John have made when he said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” or Jesus when He said, “This is the new covenant in My blood,” were it not for the doctrine of the blood atonement in Leviticus?
Most of us think of Matthew as the first book of the New Testament, and it is. Matthew is also the 40th book of the 66 that make up the Bible. The number 40 is significant since throughout scripture, it represents the number of completion.
Furthermore, the Old Testament contains truths that are essential for a proper worldview that are found in no other source. For example, only in the book of Genesis (which means origin) do we discover the origin of the universe, of man and his fall into sin, the doctrine of marriage and the family, the establishment of the nations, languages, and the prophetic significance of Israel! Only in the Old Testament are we told of the rebellion in Heaven that turned Lucifer into Satan, and thus the origin of evil, and the promise of a Redeemer.
“The Old Testament worldview is clearly distinct from other worldviews, such as polytheism, pantheism, gnosticism, deism, atheism, and naturalism. The New Testament does not provide another worldview but simply assumes the one taught in the Old Testament.”
MANY PEOPLE EQUATE LAW WITH LEGALISM, AND SEE GRACE AS A WILDCARD YOU CAN PLAY ANYTIME YOU DON’T LIKE THE RULES!
In 1855, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the finest minds in the history of the church said this:
“There is no point upon which men make greater mistakes, than upon the relation that exists between the law and the Gospel.”
Part of the reason for all the confusion about law and grace (salvation by good works or by God’s grace alone) is because the New Testament “appears” to contradict itself on this issue. The confusion is easily cleared up when we pay close attention to context.
Altogether, there are 613 laws that constitute Old Testament Judaism. Under this system, there was no “separation between church and state.” That is, there was no distinction between secular and sacred law. To clarify our understanding of how the Law applies to the church, we must define our terms. We must distinguish between the civil, the ceremonial, and the moral Law. This is what people fail to do and hence the confusion about “law” in the New Testament. There are three basic kinds of law in the Old Testament.
a. The civil law, such as not driving your chariot over 35 mph through Jerusalem on the Sabbath when children are present.
b. The ceremonial Law, which had to do with the Jewish religion of feasts, fasts, and the sacrificial system.
c. And, the moral Law, as contained in the Ten Commandments.
- The civil law has no application for the 21st century Christians, since we are not citizens living under the government of ancient Israel.
- The ceremonial Laws (which included the sacrificing of animals) were, and still are, prophetic road-signs pointing us to Christ. They were “fulfilled” legally, prophetically, spiritually, and literally, when Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, was sacrificed, “once and for all” (Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 1 Pet. 3:18). As a result, we are no longer living under the dispensation of the Old Testament Law.
- However, the definition of sin (something God is still opposed to) has never changed. In order to prove this point to “New Testament Christians,” we must refer to the book written by the “Apostle to the Gentiles” to the Christians at Rome. Since Romans was written after the church age began (in Acts chapter two), and, since it was written to Gentiles as well as to Jews, no one can claim we are teaching from the dispensation of the Old Testament. Isn’t God good?
More on this fascinating subject in our next post (God willing).
This article was taken from my book, Jesus Christ the Master Evangelist-How to Present the Gospel the way Jesus Did. It’s available on our website.
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Grace and peace,