On Sunday, September 8, we are launching a four-month study into the Old Testament called CBE: Community Bible Experience. Each week, we will have a prescribed reading list starting from Genesis 1:1 that will continue until Christmas. Every Sunday, the preacher will take one of those stories and go deeper with the sermon. For those who want to plumb the depths of these readings, we will have classes on Sunday mornings, at Wednesdays Together and with many small groups throughout the week. But it still doesn’t answer the question, “Why study the Old Testament?”
That question is usually addressed in a variety of ways:
“I believe in the God of the New Testament.”
“The God of the Old Testament is vengeful while the God of the New Testament is loving.”
“As Christians, we have the New Covenant found in the New Testament.”
“Isn’t the Old Testament more Jewish while the New Testament is Christian?”
There are many reasons why we as Christians who embrace the grace and forgiveness of the covenant found in the New Testament should also steep ourselves in the teachings of the Old Testament.
It forms the historical and theology framework upon which Jesus built his ministry.
It outlines the problem of sin that necessitated the coming of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
It is built upon a sacrificial model of atonement that is made complete by Jesus’ death once and for all.
Even today, the Psalms still provide inspiration, Proverbs still provide wisdom and the prophets still provide hope for believers.
The over 300 messianic prophecies all converge on the one person of Jesus.
It is simply naïve to think the Old Testament depicts a God of wrath while the New Testament depicts a God of love. The Old Testament speaks of God’s love for his wayward people while the New Testament speaks of God’s eternal punishment. It goes both ways.
Before becoming a Reformer, Martin Luther’s doctorate on biblical studies was in the Old Testament. From these studies, Luther gained a deep understanding of God’s law and sovereign righteousness. At first, this led him to despair as he considered his own sinful condition. But eventually, this same despair catapulted him into joy as he experienced the profound grace of God in Jesus Christ. Had he not had such a keen awareness of the righteousness of God, one wonders whether or not he would have led the world into a keen awareness of God’s grace.
So, I invite you to join us these next couple of months to dive deeper into the richness of the Old Testament. You will discover our Christians roots, you will hear stories you’ve long forgotten and you will come to a greater appreciation of Jesus, coming at the fullness of time, to take away the sins of the world, once and for all time.