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Whatever Happened to the Old Testament?

Bible Topics

Whatever Happened to the Old Testament?

Bob Yandian

And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. (Jeremiah 36:23)

 Have you ever heard a minister say, "that's the Old Testament? It has been replaced with the New Testament, so the Old Testament is not for us today."  Dividing the Word of God to exclude certain passages from our daily walk is ungodly and reckless. It has deprived the Body of Christ from great portions of our daily bread and also created an arrogant, self-superiority in it's teachers. These teachers do not want to hear from anyone, especially  from God's word, that they are wrong. After awhile, little by little, these teachers will one day dismiss all the Word as the king did to the biblical scrolls of Jehudi. If you divide and keep getting rid of scriptures, one day nothing will be left.

Today’s Two False Teachings About the Old Testament

The Old Testament is another name for the Law. So, we are not under it.  The law has been fulfilled and does not apply to us today, because law and grace cannot coexist.    

There was one method of salvation and living a life pleasing to God under the Old Testament, works.  There is another method of salvation and pleasing God in the New Testament, faith.

But, neither God Himself, Jesus Christ, or any writer of scripture has given us a single word verifying either of these points in the Old or New Testaments. Jesus said to the Father, "Your Word (the whole, not a part) is truth".   

The problem comes when we view the Old and New Testaments as competing with each other. God gave both and they were never meant to compete but complete and compliment each other. Jesus said, "I have not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill it" (Matthew 5:17). Summer fulfills Spring, it does not destroy it. Manhood fulfills childhood, it does not destroy it. The New Testament fulfills the Old, and Grace fulfills the law, but does not destroy it.

If you believe these two false teachings, then God has changed from Old Testament to New. This is a popular teaching today, that God was angry in the Old Testament and the work of the cross has settled His anger. In the Old Testament we saw a God of vengeance. But, the New Testament makes today the day of God's love and grace. Yet, "I am the Lord, I do not change" is an Old Testament promise found in Malachi 3:6. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, forever" is a New Testament promise found in Hebrews 13:8. God lets us know under both covenants that He cannot and will not change.

The goodness and severity of the Lord are part of His character. The Old Testament might have emphasized God's severity and the New His goodness, but God is still the same. The earth has yet to see the fullness of the severity of God's judgment.

God’s Eternal Plan of Salvation and Spirituality

Because a characteristic of God is emphasized in one section of the Word, is not a reason to think that it is His attitude on all subjects.

God's grace was and always has been His emphasis and strongest characteristic. And faith always has been and will be the means of salvation and pleasing Him in the daily walk of the believer. Noah found grace in God's sight. Abraham believed in the Lord and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Both of these lived before the Law. Moses, Joshua and David found grace in God's sight and were justified before God by faith. These three heroes lived during the Law. The prophets too, including Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke of their faith in the Lord and they also lived during the Law. If keeping the Law was God's plan for salvation in the Old Testament, then no one was saved. "By the deeds of the Law no flesh shall be justified in His sight" (Romans 3:20,28). Peter said, "why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers (Old Testament) nor we (New Testament) were able to bear?" (Acts 15:10).

The message Israel took to the world was not the law, but faith in the Lord which began by repentance. Jonah took the gospel to Ninevah and the people all, from the king down to the peasants in the streets, repented before the Lord (Matthew 12:41), and were justified and spared from destruction. I repeat what I said, Jonah took the gospel to Ninevah and they believed the gospel (Jonah 3:5). The gospel existed before the Church and has always been the message of salvation emphasizing faith toward the Lord. From Genesis to Revelation there is one glorious gospel.

Isaiah, in the redemption chapter, began his message with "who has believed our report?" (Isaiah 53:1). The report is even called the gospel which is to be believed in Romans 10:16. Again, it is the gospel we believe in that was preached in the Old Testament as well as the New. "Indeed the gospel was preached to us (New Testament) as well as them (Old Testament)" (Hebrews 4:2). "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand (in the Old Testament)" (Galatians 3:8). The word gospel means "good news". Isaiah called the message of salvation, that believers carried to the world in his day, "good news" and "glad tidings" (Isaiah 52:7).

As far as God's plan for the believer to please Him, it has always been by faith. Hebrews 11, describing the life that pleased the Lord throughout the Old Testament, says in verse 6, "without faith it is impossible to please God". Then the heroes of faith are mentioned who existed before and during the law. Faith saves and faith in the life of the believer is the only means of pleasing God after we are saved. He has never been a God who saved the heathen by works or was pleased only with the works of the believer. Faith and faith only pleases God.

 Can Grace and Law Coexist?

The emphatic answer to this question is "yes".  The work of Jesus on the cross and the introduction of the Church, the dispensation of grace, did not destroy the law, but fulfilled it. if the Law was not destroyed, it must still exist and coexist with grace. Grace is never an excuse for lawlessness. The daily operation of grace continues to fulfill the law in our lives as it did in the life of Jesus.

Even before there was sin in the Garden, there was law.  There were millions of "yes" trees but one "no" tree. God said of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "thou shalt not eat of it". This is the same wording found in the law concerning swearing, lying, committing adultery and stealing, "thou shalt not".

Grace and law were both given by God and cannot be wrong, evil or destroyed. The Law was given to be fulfilled. It was first fulfilled by Jesus in His life, death and resurrection. It is then fulfilled in the life of the believer who walks in the Spirit.

Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not destroy it, so we can also fulfill the Law. "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: we establish the law" (Romans 3:31). Through obedience to the Holy Spirit, we have a heart free from guilt and condemnation. "I delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man" (Romans 7:22). Even our thoughts are purified by the walk of faith and we fulfill the Law. "with my mind I myself serve the law" (Romans 7:25).  

Grace and Law are seen in the two seraphim, whose wings touched over the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant.  One angel, grace, emphasizes the love of God.  The other angel, Law, emphasizes the righteousness of God. Both are needed for salvation and a sanctified walk that pleases God. But you are to come to God by His love so you can fulfill His righteousness. It does not work the other way around. You cannot discover God's love by trying to be righteous. And you cannot become righteous by trying to be righteous.  You can only become righteous by accepting God's grace, His display of love, through your faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). Love for God becomes our motivation for accepting Jesus as our Savior and living a life of holiness.

Can God save us from sin? Of course He can. After we are saved, can God also save us from sinning? Yes. At His Ascension into heaven, God praised His Son, Jesus, in the same way He wants to praise us, "You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity" (Hebrews 1:9).

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