by Pastor Clancy Nixon
Very soon, we will begin at the beginning – our sermons and Sunday school lessons for all ages will focus on going through the book of Genesis. Not only that, my plan is to spend the next 3 years going through the highlights of the whole Bible using the suggested readings of Lifeway’s Gospel Project . I’ve heard someone ask, “Why will we spend so much time in the Old Testament?” Great question! Here are some answers.
The Old Testament (“OT”) was Jesus’ Bible, and Jesus believes it to be true. In response to critics, Jesus often replied by quoting the OT: “It is written …,” which for Him, settled the matter. The OT is the inspired, trustworthy, infallible Word of God, and it teaches us many things that we would not otherwise know from the New Testament (“NT”) alone. The NT was written by Jews, and assumes an understanding of the OT in every reference. It is impossible to fully understand either who Jesus is, or what Jesus and his apostles taught, without a basic knowledge of the OT.
The NT teaches that many of God’s promises made in the OT – about the coming Messiah King, the suffering servant, the Prophet like Moses, etc., were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law of Moses and the writings of the Prophets, not to abolish them (Matthew 5:17).
Spiritual principles taught in the OT still guide us in our daily living – particularly the Ten Commandments. And what great stories it tells for our learning – the escape from Egypt by a million slaves through walls of water; Jonah fleeing God’s call, then swallowed by a fish, then preaching revival, then despondent; even Elisha sending a bear to maul mocking teenagers.
The NT tells us that Christ and His Church represent a continuation of God’s covenant people in the OT. The Jews are our spiritual ancestors. Israel is God’s first vineyard; we Gentiles were grafted in to them later (Romans 11:11-24). Since Christians are the heirs of a better covenant, founded on better promises (Hebrews 8:6), gratitude ought to lead us to search out how and why that is so.
I’m asking each of us at Church of the Holy Spirit to read, every day for a week, the assigned Scripture that will be preached in the upcoming Sunday message (for a schedule of upcoming readings, look below, or go to our website). I’d also love it if you discussed your reading in adult Sunday School or in a home group that is following our schedule. In our media-saturated culture, we’re so overloaded with different messages each day, that it can be difficult to remember any of them. Read the Old Testament by following the assigned readings and discuss them with friends; and you will go deeper with God as you learn about him and yourself.+