By Mark Mayberry
Man’s failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth has led to numerous denominational errors. Many do not distinguish between the Old and New Testaments. This has contributed to much confusion in the religious world.
Acknowledging the abiding value of the Old Testament, we also recognize that it is no longer binding, and that the Gospel of Christ is our sole rule of faith in the Christian era. May we come to realize the relationship shared between the Old and New Covenants, and better appreciate their place in God’s scheme of redemption.
The Significance of the Old Testament
As an Inspired Historical Record
The Old Testament provides an inspired historical record. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Sam. 23:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). This includes the 39 books of the Old Testament, as well as the 27 books of the New. The Old Testament records with infallible accuracy events like the creation, the fall of man, the flood, the scattering of the nations, the rise of civilization, etc. It chronicles the establishment of the Israelite nation. It provides a history of its association with the surrounding peoples. Although skeptics have railed against the Bible, its accuracy has been validated time and time again.
As Evidence of the Deity of Jesus Christ
The Old Testament provides evidence of the deity of Jesus Christ. His life and redemptive work were foreshadowed in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24:44; John 1:45). Fulfilled prophecy was central to Peter’s message on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:15-16, 22-25, 29-32) and subsequent gospel preaching (Acts 3:18-19; 13:26-41; etc.).
As a Conveyer of Moral and Spiritual Values
The Old Testament serves as a conveyer of moral and spiritual values. It reveals the holy character of an omnipotent God (Isa. 40:18-26; 57:15-21). It provides numerous examples of courage and faithfulness in mortal man (Heb. 11:32-40). It serves as a warning against disobedience (1 Cor. 10:1-12), and also as a source of hope (Heb. 2:1-4).
The Abrogation of the Old Testament
The Mosaic Law was Nailed to the Cross
Christians are not accountable to the Law of Moses because it was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross (Eph. 2:13-16; Col. 2:13-17). Accordingly, the Ten Commandments, as such, are no longer binding. This is not to say that we can lie, cheat or steal. Nine of the ten commandments are carried forward and incorporated in the Gospel. While the Jews were obligated to “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy…,” disciples of Christ assemble for worship on the first day of the week (Exod. 20:8-11; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2).
Jesus is the Mediator of a New Covenant
The Law, delivered by Moses, serving as a shadow of good things to come, has been superseded by a new and better covenant instituted by Jesus Christ (Col. 2:16-19; Heb. 8:6-13; 10:1-10). Tabernacle and Temple worship foreshadowed Christian worship. Animal sacrifices foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the demand that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. The Aaronic priesthood anticipated the intercessory mediatorship of Jesus.
The New Testament is our Sole Rule of Faith
God the Father now speaks through His Son Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2) who has been given all authority (Matt. 28:18-20). Therefore His will and word must be respected (John 12:47-50). Moreover, the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit to speak the Lord’s will (John 14:26; 15:26-27; 1 Cor. 2:10-13). Accordingly, the New Testament is God’s final revelation to mankind (Rom. 1:16-17; Jude 3). Let us not add to or diminish from the gospel message (Gal. 1:8-9; 2 John 1:9; Rev. 22:18-19).
As we have seen, the Old Testament has various benefits, and also certain limitations. Positively, it provides a reliable record of the past. It contains irrefutable evidence that Jesus is the Christ. It communicates much needed moral and spiritual guidance. Yet, by itself, it cannot save. Dying on the cross, Jesus fulfilled the demands of divine justice, brought the Law of Moses to an appropriate end, and instituted a new and better covenant. Accordingly, in the current Christian age, we look to the gospel of Christ as our only source of authority.