I once heard a preacher say “The most important page in the entire Bible is the blank page that separates the Old and New Testament”. There is a lot of truth to that. So much of the confusion in religion comes from people not respecting that great division in the Bible. Paul would say in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. It is easy to see from this verse that there is a right way to divide the Bible. If there is a right way of doing something, it is necessary to conclude that there are also wrong ways. Rightly dividing the word of God m-u-s-t must include putting the Old and the New Testaments in their proper place.
The word testament in the Bible carries two main ideas. It can bring forth the idea of a will. If someone dies, they distribute their possessions based on their “last will and testament”. Another way testament is used in the bible is as a covenant. A covenant is a legal agreement between two parties. There are terms necessary to remain in the covenant and there are terms necessary to receive the distribution’s laid out in a will. The Old and the New Testament’s represent both of these ideas. These are the terms and rules that will determine the ultimate distribution of the promised possessions. The Testaments are the binding law that God has given mankind to obey.
What makes this so important is these are two different testaments. By reason, they cannot be binding upon mankind at the same time. Paul would use the illustration of a marriage in Romans 7:1ff by making the comparison that at the death of the first husband the woman is free to remarry, but if her husband is living, she is an adulteress. The point being you can’t be bound by the old and the new law at the same time.
Paul said in Galatians 3:24-25 “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian”. Please note that when he says we are not under the law; he is removing our ability to be justified by it. We can not point to the Old Testament for our authority because the promises are not attached to that will anymore. He will go on to say that if we do point to the Old Testament for our practices, we cut ourselves off from Christ and fall from grace (5:4). Falling from grace is equal to losing your salvation. This point is extremely important.
It is not even a matter of debate as to whether the Old Testament allowed instruments of music to be played for worship. There are no less than twelve of the Psalms that reference the playing of instruments along with many other verses that include that mode of worship. But you will not find any authority to worship God that way in the New Testament. The only instrument that is authorized to accompany our voice is our hearts. “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” Eph 5:19. The only justification for worshipping with the instrument is from the Old Testament and as Paul said, if we begin turning back to the Old Testament for our practices we fall from grace.
There are groups of people that still meet on the sabbath day and keep it holy. I am all for this rule on a practical level. I do not want to lose Saturday as a day of rest, but Saturday being a holy day is of the Old Testament. The moment people start replacing the Lord’s Day (Sunday- Acts 20:8, Rev 1:10) with Saturday they are looking to a covenant that has no more promises attached to it. They sever themselves from Christ.
If you go to church regularly, I would be safe in assuming you have heard your fair share of “end times” sermons. People are convinced that everything is a sign of the times (with a 100% inaccuracy rate). This comes from a form of dispensational premillennialism. One of the foundations of this doctrine is that God is going to restore the literal throne of David in Jerusalem and that Jesus is going to reign as king for 1000 years on this earth. There are many deep problems with this doctrine but I want to point out one in regards to the Old Testament.
In order to restore the literal throne of David, the old law has to be restored. If that is true, God would either be allowing two covenants to be binding at the same time, or he would need to abolish the New Testament and bring back the Old. Neither of those options work. As we already noted Romans 7 doesn’t allow for two laws to be in effect at the same time. Furthermore, Hebrews 8:6-7 says, “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” God is not going to replace something better (New Testament) with something that has faults (Old Testament). The need to reject that doctrine is crystal clear when you have rightly divided the Old and New Testament.
The Old Testament is the word of God and has a wonderful use and purpose (Rom 7:7, 15:4, 2 Tim 3:16). But when it is not properly divided and put in its proper place, it can cause us to fall into all sorts problems.
We are continuing our class on How to Study the Bible on Wednesdays @7. Would love you to have you!