Sunday, June 10, 2012

Two Testaments

It is evident to every person who reads the Bible , that it is divided into two sections - the Old Testament and the New Testament. This may at first seem only to be a historical division, but no. The old is distinctly divided from the new, by the appearance on earth of Jesus the Christ and the sending forth of the Holy Spirit. It would be better understood as two covenants. Although there are more than two covenants in the Bible, the division represents the distinction between the covenant instituted by Moses and the last one instituted through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Let me summarize some of the relationships between the two. An understanding of this is fundamental to understanding the Bible.
     1 The Old Covenant describes a gracious God reaching out to reconcile rebellious and lost people. This covenant includes the law, which is holy and good in itself, was designed to expose sin and the inability of humanity to attain the righteousness for acceptance with God. Yet this same law that condemns also provides a remedy in redemption   i.e.  the means to overcome failure and return to God the judge and saviour.
           It is good to observe throughout the old testament that God is seeking the hearts of the people i.e. true devoted worship of himself as the true God. To many nations the call of the prophets rang out - 'Repent - turn back to God'
            For the Israelites, many ceremonies were given to show the deeper meaning of the offence  of sin ( the slaying of an animal instead of the guilty), and the deep meaning of substitution whereby the guilty could be set free by the value and suffering of another (animal). A few people of the old covenant days comprehended and believed this message from God, but the greater part chose unbelief and carried on in ritual only, or in distinct rebellion.

      2  When Jesus arrived, this is just what he found. The ritualistic religion of the Jews and the idolatry of the Gentiles. He himself made it clear that he had no intention of destroying the old covenant purpose, but rather to fulfill it - that is - God reconciling the world unto himself.
         The great difference in the new testament is this: God now revealed as 'Father', calls the people, not to enact ceremonies but rather to believe in a person as the full and final expression of his holiness , grace , and love. This person is Jesus. And so the new testament is all about  this person. Four gospel writers record the history of his  life on earth. The Apostles by the Holy Spirit give the detail of his deity, death, resurrection ascension and present place in heaven. The last book presents this person as triumphant over all evil and the blessed hope of him as head over a new creation. 

    And so we discover that the Old Testament pointed forward to the messiah, Christ Jesus, and the New Testament reveals the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!

     What is the point of this? It is life changing to know that God is reaching out to us, not in the terms of Law Covenant, but reaching out to us in the person of His Son. Acceptance and reconciliation with God is based on our faith in a person, not how well we may perform under rules and regulations.

One could go much further making comparisons, contrasts and give many Bible references, but may the enlightening Spirit of God bless you all with understanding of things that differ.

John McKee

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