Study ALL Scripture, The Old Also

May 12, 2016

A prevalent belief: That we as Christians are to take our instruction from the New Testament but not from the Old Testament. However, this view should concern us, for it is not what God’s Word tells us.

Rom. 15:4 says, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us…” This is referring to the past writings of the Old Testament Scriptures, and we should note that it says, “everything that was written… was written to teach us.” Yes, “everything”, and to teach us –those receiving the Book of Romans then and now. The verse goes on to say that the Scriptures give us encouragement and hope, while the verse prior (v. 3) gives a quote from Psalm 69:9. Why would the New Testament quote the Old if the Old Testament’s doctrine is nothing we are to now regard?

Actually, the Holy Spirit-inspired New Testament has scores of verses that it quotes from the Holy Spirit-inspired Old Testament, for indeed, all of God’s Word is pertinent for us today. Jesus confirms this when, in Mt. 4:4, He quotes Dt. 8:3, saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Again we should note that “every” word God utters, and has uttered, is to be that which we must live by. But to do so, we must study it.

In 2 Tim. 3:16,17 we read, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul was writing this to Timothy and he tells him in the proceeding verses to continue in what he has been taught, for “from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (v. 15) These Scriptures, which Timothy had grown up learning, were the Old Testament Scriptures, and from this passage we, along with Timothy, can understand that ALL Scripture, being it is God’s breathed-out words, is to be used for training us in the Truth.

“But we are not under the Mosaic Law,” someone may counter. This is true, for even the Israelites, whom God covenanted with by using the Law (Ex. 19:3-6 // Lev. 26:46 // Heb. 8:7-9), and this so as to show them their inability to walk righteously without the Savior (Rom. 7:13,24,25), have been freed from that Law (1 Pe. 1:18-21) so that they, along with all who love the Truth, may “serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom. 7:6) By serving under the Spirit’s control we are able to meet, as all who have a conscience know we must (2:13,14), the requirements of God’s Moral Law (8:1-4), please God (v. 8,9), and be made permanent members of His family. (v. 13,14 // John 8:31-36) We do have to obey God’s Law. Not the Mosaic Law, but instead “the Royal Law found in Scripture” (Ja. 2:8) which is, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (same verse // Mark 12:31) and, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” (See Mark 12:30) Jesus has told us that, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt. 22:40) Therefore, when He says, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments” (19:17), we must recognize that obedience to the Law of Love is, most definitely, required for eternal life. (See also Mt. 25:45,46 and 1 John 3:10.) So by carrying out God’s commands, we reveal whether or not we truly follow Love’s Law. (1 John 5:2,3)

Jesus says in Mt. 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Jesus is explaining that He came to execute what was prophesied about Him in the Old Testament and to provide the Way for us to be cleansed, pardoned, and reconciled to God –and to remain in that state. He explains in verses 18-20, as well as in the rest of the chapter, that God’s commandments in the Old Testament are not only to be upheld, but that perfection to Love’s Law is now the rule. Yes, perfection. As Ja. 2:10 warns, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” True, “if anybody does sin, we have an Advocate [Jesus] who speaks to the Father in our defense.” (1 John 2:1) However, we must repent and walk in the Light to be forgiven and purified. (1:5-9) In other words, we must walk obedient to God’s commands (2:3-5) just as Jesus did. (v. 6)

Can we have a proper understanding of God’s character, promises, commands, and ways if we ignore the Old Testament? Certainly from the New Testament alone we can have a basic knowledge of the Gospel, but our understanding will be stunted. If the angels long to look into the Old Testament prophesies concerning Christ’s sufferings and future glories (1 Pe. 1:11,12), and if the prophets, realizing they were speaking of future things (v. 10,12), “searched intently and with the greatest of care” (v. 10) as “the Spirit of Christ in them” (v. 11) instructed them, should we neglect to study their writings and how Christ has and will fulfill them? Understanding “that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Pe. 1:20) but were instead God’s own words (v. 21), should we not heed the admonishment to pay attention to the writings of the prophets (v. 19) so that the Light shines ever brighter in us and through us? (See same verse) We should!

To not discern events prophesied in Scripture can incur our Master’s rebuke, such as those did to whom Jesus exclaimed, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25) Two verses later we read, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (v. 27) “ALL the Prophets… ALL the Scriptures…” And in verse 44: “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Being that Acts 3:21 tells us that Jesus “must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets”, should Old Testament study not remain applicable for sufficient spiritual insight? It should!

But it is not only prophecy that we learn about in the Old Testament. We learn about Love’s Law, the Way of holiness, and about God’s workings in the past –all of which train us in our walk of faith. By referring to God’s dealings in the Old Testament, the New Testament uses it to encourage us as well. One such example is in Ja. 5:10 which says, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord”, and then continues in verse 11 to speak of the blessing of persevering as it reminds us of Job’s perseverance and what the Lord finally brought about for him. Another example is when, in referring to Old Testament saints who exhibited faith, Heb. ch. 11 devotes itself to these so as to remind us of how God rewards faith.

The New Testament uses the Old Testament to warn us too, and lest we be tempted to sin, to fear God and His judgements. For example: The Israelites rebellion in the desert (1 Cor. 10:1-13) which was “written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (v. 11); the fallen angels, the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Pe. 2:4-10); Cain, Balaam, and Korah (Jude 1:11), as well as Enoch’s prophesy about the ungodly (v. 14,15), and numerous doctrinal verses such as “God ‘will give to each person according to what he has done.'” (Rom. 2:6 quoting Ps. 62:12 and Pr. 24:12) Certainly we should familiarize ourselves with the whole counsel of God’s Word!

As we go back to Rom. 15:4 and read the whole verse, we read, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Truly, meditating on Scripture –all of it– keeps God’s requirements at the forefront of our minds and fills us with Christ’s Spirit of Life so that we can walk in the Truth, obeying God with power, conviction, confidence, faith, wisdom, purity, love, and perseverance. (Dt. 6:6,7 // Josh. 1:8 // John 6:53-63 // Rom. 10:17 // Eph. 5:1,2 // Col. 3:2,16 // Ja. 1:21-25 // 1 Pe. 1:22-25)

So where is Love’s Law taught? Is it taught only in the New Testament? No. It is also taught in the Old Testament. All of Scripture gives us examples that warn us, teach us, comfort us, strengthen us, convict us, reveal Doctrine and the character of God to us, point us to Jesus who is Israel’s promised Messiah and Returning King, and explain to us how to best worship God, please Him, and serve and love both Him and others. All of it is our spiritual food. All of it brings us knowledge of God and His ways. All of it is what we live by so as to be filled with God’s divine power and nature. (2 Pe. 1:3,4) All of Scripture –both Old and New Testaments– are to be read, studied, followed, obeyed, honored, and trusted. ALL Scripture is God’s own breathed-out, divine words; and along with His Name, He has exalted His Word above all other things. (Ps. 138:2) So then should we.

with love,

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