Updated: Feb 25, 2022
It seems as if the church culture of our day has endured so much unsound teaching and doctrine regarding The New Covenant that when someone comes along that teaches the truths of Jesus, plus nothing, what follows is a virtual hanging of that individual.
It is interesting to me that when many believers hear the word grace they automatically say, "That's nice, but you shouldn't abuse it by sinning". Truthfully, grace is the cure for sin, not the cause of it. In fact, Romans 5:20 says that rules, standards, and specifically the 613 laws in the Torah, or The Law of Moses, cause more sin. Whereas, grace through our trust in Jesus fixes the sin issue. So, we can see that we have this thing backward.
There is one misconception when it comes to teaching grace and The New Covenant that I will address right here in this blog article. The message of Jesus is inherently controversial, and we will discuss one of the main points of that controversy, as well as others later on in other articles of this series, from the lens of nothing other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Is The Old Testament Relevant Today?
First, I would like to address the fact that this is a massively loaded question that, to the wrong reader, will be offensive for even being asked. However, if the target of understanding the aforementioned question were as big as the side of a barn, most casual Bible readers have missed it. It took a compass to navigate the unknown world back in the days when it was still being pioneered. As you and I explore the pages of scripture we will find that we need a compass to guide us. This compass is, and forever will be The Holy Spirit of Jesus. Jesus is the compass that points us to a correct interpretation of scripture. Let's answer the title question of this blog with Him, and His accomplishments in mind.
To answer this we must first address the question with a question. What is the Old Testament?
Many people have been misled to believe that the titular pages in the Bible that are blank with the exception of the words "The Old Testament", and "The New Testament" are scripture. Those were inserted by publishers and have no place being where they are. Totally misleading, and doctrinally incorrect. Am I starting a war against modern-day Bible publishers? Absolutely not, but I am trying to make a doctrinal point that changes the way we interpret scripture in light of what Jesus has done.
The Old Testament is a covenantal deal God made with the children of Israel. The terms and conditions of this covenant can be found in Exodus 19-22.
The Old Testament is NOT a collection of books of the Bible. Nowhere in the scripture does God ever call the writings of the law and the prophets a testament. Yet, we have taken the liberty of getting upset and practically screaming at one another over The Old Testament being our favorite "books" of the Bible. How dare we say that The Old Testament is obsolete!? Well, the writings aren't, but the covenant itself is a different story. The writings are still intact, and the law didn't pass away or die.
The writings of everything prior to the beginning of The New Covenant are valuable for many reasons! We definitely shouldn't throw them out! They show us a shadow of who Jesus is, and they also show us how we got here, as well as a multitude of other great things! It might be interesting to note that if The Old Testament is actually a Covenant and not a collection of books, then we can ascertain that basically everything recorded prior to Exodus 19 falls under a different covenant.
So what is Obsolete, and is The Old Covenant still relevant today?
The New Covenant Replaced The Old Covenant
Yes, The Old Testament was fulfilled (completed) AND replaced by The New (Hebrews 10:9-10; Galatians 4:30; 2 Corinthians 3- the whole chapter). Jeremiah says this (Jeremiah 31:31-32) as well as Paul (2 Corinthians 3:10-15), and the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 8:7-9).
In fact, just the names of The Covenants in scripture indicate that the new one made the first covenant an old, outdated covenant (Hebrews 8:13). You can't argue that.
When it is stated accurately, from scripture, that the New Testament makes The Old Testament Obsolete the statement is not referring to the validity of the writings and the historical value, the amount of wisdom, and the testimonial value that the writings prior to the cross bring to the table as it pertains to who Jesus is and how God put us here. What is being referred to is The Old Covenant.
The New Covenant put into force by the death of Jesus found in Hebrews 8:10-13 absolutely and completely put The Old Covenant that God made exclusively with the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai into obsoletion. It is by its very definition now decaying a waxing old. God does not operate by that Covenant anymore and hasn't for thousands of years. It's time we catch up!
The major misconception behind this astounding claim of scripture is twofold: God changed His mind, and what most people hear is -- the writings are obsolete.
The terms and Conditions of The Old Covenant were contingent upon the people's obedience to the Law of Moses. Not for Salvation, God has always operated that by grace through faith. We are speaking of inherent blessing or cursing based on performance.
Allow me to remind everyone here that God made a covenant with Abraham that promised The New Covenant before the covenant with Moses came along, and the covenant with Moses did not disannul the one made with Abraham. Tricky, I know!
Paul addresses this here:
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. "And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." Gal 3:16-18 KJV
So, God never changed His mind. He changed the covenant, which was His plan all along. The Old Covenant was added because of the need to show the people their transgression in not trusting God. (Galatians 3
Also, the scriptures still serve their purpose. It was the covenant that was made obsolete, not a collection of books. We can still gain instruction and wisdom about Jesus from the writings. They were inspired by God and all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. After all, many of the writings after the cross are references the scriptures prior to the cross explaining how they apply to Jesus.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." -Romans 15:4
In conclusion: The writings prior to the cross are not The Old Testament. Let's not assert that God called His messages written on paper to ancient Israel is what the Bible defines as The Old Testament. God never said that they were, and we shouldn't either. Jesus referred to many of these writings as the law and the prophets, but never as "The Old Testament". He called them what they were. The law, and the writings of the prophets.
The Old Testament was definitely made obsolete by The New Testament and thank God for it. You should be thankful you aren't going to be taken out of your house forcefully by religious leaders, stripped, and beaten with rocks until dead for sending out an email at 7:00 pm this Saturday. This is what would have happened to you under the law of the Old Covenant. The law of Moses was a condition of The Old Covenant. You are not, and never were invited to that Covenant. Therefore, you are not under the law.
The writings of the law and the prophets are valuable in showing us many things, but we need to read them from the right perspective. That perspective is the finished work of Jesus Christ in The Gospel. Put your New Covenant glasses on when you read scriptures that describe life under The Old Covenant, and life without Jesus living within you, as a believer.