Posts Tagged ‘New Testament’

Centennial, the 1970s mini-series, is viewed in our house every ten years or so.  It is the movie version of James Michener’s novel and the re-telling of history as he thought it might have happened.   Many of the events are historically accurate, but the characters are fictional.  The loosely woven story has a strong message.  Knowing who we are and from where we come matters.  Each character in history plays a vital role in shaping the present and the future.  Remembering mistakes of the past help us to not repeat them

My brother and I have a special interest in the movie because three of our cousins played bit parts with actors Richard Chamberlain, Robert Conrad, and Lynn Redgrave.   There is humor in Centennial.  One easily identifies with this character or that.  There are heroes and villians.  Some powerful emotions are evoked by actions clearly defined as right or wrong.  Hopeful or deadly consequences result.

Centennial is more than just a good movie.  It’s evidence that modern people want a connection with their past.  Their heritage.  Their roots.  Then why, I wonder, do so many modern people reject their history as documented in the Bible? 

The events recorded in Scripture are documented by Jewish and non-Jewish historians.  The characters are real.  The tightly woven historical account has a strong message.  Knowing who we are and from where we come matters.  Adam told of his creation to his sons and grandsons and great-grandsons.  Living long in those days before the flood, a 500-year-old person would have a lot to tell!   Characters in the Old Testament played a vital role in shaping the present and the future.  The brothers of Joseph were so jealous they sold him into slavery, but Joseph became the most powerful man next to Pharoah in Egypt and rescued his family and a nation from famine.  Remembering mistakes of the past help us to not repeat them.  King David murdered so that he might take a fellow soldier’s wife as his own but, before confessing his sin, his bones wasted away and his strength was drained.

There is humor in the Old Testament.  One easily identifies with this character or that.  There are heroes and villians.  Some powerful emotions are evoked by actions that are clearly defined as right or wrong.  Life or death consequences result.

Some people say, “The New Testament speaks to me, but the Old is, well, just old.”  They may say, “I like the story about Jesus.  I like knowing I am loved and, if I sin, have the promise of forgiveness.  I like  knowing that Jesus was a friend of the poor.  That He healed the sick.”   But, every bit of recorded history in the Old Testament leads to and prepares for Jesus Christ.  Without the Old, there is no New.  

Most of us long for a connection to the past.  To know from where we come.  Why we are the way we are and do what we do.  To know hope in each new generation.  That is the reality of the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture.  It is the eye-witness account of men and women who knew the Promised Savior before and after His death and resurrection.  They told their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren… who told us. 

The Bible is His-story:  History.  Real people in history.  Their stories connected to ours.  As real characters connected to His story, we choose to pass it on —  or not.  To connect others to their history — or not.  To tell them who they are and why they matter — or not.

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Sometimes, Christians are called people of the New Testament.  What does this say about the Old Testament?  What do we really know of Jesus without both Old and New Testaments?  In John 1, we are told that Jesus is The Word.  But, is that Word of Jesus only the red print of our New Testaments?

Think of all the New Testaments that have been published for a variety of reasons.  But, is the New Testament complete without the Old?  The New Testament is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But, for what reason do we need the Gospel?

Is the Old Testament just, well, old?  Didn’t Jesus come to do away with the old and bring in the new?

John 1 tells us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (vv. 1-4, 14).

Hmmm.  This New Testament Word seems to identify Jesus as the Creator of all things.  But, where do we learn the details?  Upon what is “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” founded?  We are comforted by the salvation story of the New Testament, but upon what does it stand?  Is our hope in a feeling?

Every younger generation thinks itself more progressive and enlightened than the previous generation.  Technologically advanced, it’s easy to proclaim, “Out with the old!  In with the new!”  But, relegating the Old Testament of God’s Word to dusty shelves of folklore leaves Christianity without a foundation.  Ignoring historical relevance and archeological evidence leaves Sunday school children ill-equipped to defend their faith in the marketplace of ideas.

Genesis is the foundation of Christianity.  But, describe Genesis as a fairy tale for “neanderthals” and one can begin to undermine the authority of God’s Word: Jesus Christ.

The message of sin and the Cross was foolishness to the Greeks of St. Paul’s day.  That’s because the Greeks (Acts 17) had no knowledge or understanding of the first book of the Old Testament.  Without belief in Genesis, they were, shall we say, pre-Darwin people.  Evolutionists of a sort.  Captive to their own imaginings.  For this reason, the Apostle Paul had to define his terms and lay the foundation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ by starting at the beginning with the Genesis creation.  It was only then that some people could understand and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

In contrast, the Jews (Acts 2) were familiar with the Old Testament.  They understood and believed the history of Genesis.  They acknowledged the origin of sin.  Therefore, some of them could better understand the Gospel when the Apostle Paul presented it to them.

Before we can be new people — transformed people, we need to see the old for what it is.  God presents His-Story by starting at the beginning.  We should do the same.

Jesus becomes more than an “experiential moment” for people of the Old and New Testaments.  The One who calls Himself “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” is authority.   Jesus is The Word of creation.  He is the God who created male and female.  Defined marriage and family.  Ordered society.  Determined everything right.  Moral.  Good.  The first man and woman rebelled against The Word and fell from perfect creation.  We’ve been rebelling ever since.   But, for our sake, The Word did something unthinkable.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”   The Word — Jesus — became our Savior.

The glory of Christ — from Old Testament through New — is “full of grace and truth.”

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