One Gospel, one Book

The Bible is the most precious book of all time.  Why?  It reveals the hope of eternal life,  

‘…This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.’  2 Timothy 1:9b-10 

The Gospel testifies that eternal life came through our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We might think that the ‘Gospel’ is only the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Amazingly the ‘Gospel’ includes the Old Testament.

‘Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God — the Gospel He promised beforehand in the Holy Scriptures regarding His Son, who as to His human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His Resurrection from the dead….’  Romans 1:1-4

Therefore Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells us that the Old Testament is also the Gospel.   Jesus Christ, the omniscient Son of God, agreed,

“He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?’  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.”  Luke 24:25-27

‘Moses and all the Prophets’ was a direct reference to the ‘Scriptures.’  That is the Old Testament.  At the time Jesus spoke, the New Testament was not yet written.  The Epistles also form part of the Gospel, 

‘His [Paul’s] letters also contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.’  2 Peter 3:16    

Thus the Old and New Testament are the Scriptures, the Gospel.  We have 66 books that together reveal God’s plan for man through Jesus.  Which ends in immortality for the elect, chosen, loyal followers of Jesus.  Revelation 17:14b  

What about violence in the New Testament?

Some people think that the Old Testament God is very aggressive and violent, while the New Testament God and Jesus are peaceful, loving and kind.  

#  Superficially it looks like it.  

  • The fourth chapter of Genesis began with a murder and from there it deteriorated to such an extent that, ‘The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.’ 1 
  • Contrary to that, in the New Testament we meet a host of angels that sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests.’ 2  That was when the Messiah, Jesus our Lord was born in Bethlehem.  However, initial observations can be misleading. 

#  Incidents of violence in the New Testament 

  • Herod killed the boys under two in Bethlehem and vicinity. 3
  • Pilate mixed the blood of the Galileans with their sacrifices. 4  It refers to Passover pilgrims who were butchered by Roman troops in the temple while they sacrificed. 
  • Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul, the apostle) persecuted and killed Christians. 5

#  Death by crucifixion in the New Testament 

The treatment Jesus received before He was crucified typifies the violent times.  

  • He was cruelly subjected to flogging. 6  A crown of thorns was put on His head and struck into His skull with a staff. 7   They pulled out His beard and spit in His face, 8  mocked Him, 9 blindfolded and hit Him. 10  
  • Isaiah 53:14 explains, ‘Just as there were many who were appalled at Him [Jesus on the Cross] – His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness….’   

#  The slave revolt under Spartacus 11

  • It is an incident that is not recorded in the Bible.  By the time Jesus was born, the Roman Empire ran almost on slave labor.  The Romans did not always treat their slaves with the respect a human being deserves.  Because of all the wars, the captives were used to construct buildings and other projects.  Most families had many slaves to serve them.  
  • Spartacus was a gladiator and escaped with others.  They had quite a few victories against the Roman armies, but were eventually defeated.  Although the whereabouts of Spartacus remains shrouded in mystery – whether he died in battle or not – 6,000 of the captured slaves were crucified.  
  • That explains why Jesus did not organise a revolt against the Roman Empire to free the slaves.  Thousand would have been killed.  Jesus came to save, not to destroy. 

#  The book of Revelation describes violence never seen before in human history.  

  • Jesus warned about the signs at the end of the age.  There will be wars, famines, earthquakes, blazing stars that fall on earth and destroy man and beast.  The book of Revelation graphically describes that destruction.  One can even call it, ‘The Book of Blood.’  
  • Although the calamities will be on an unprecedented scale, God will still desire to see men saved.  His mercy and grace to sinners is available to the very end: ‘Then I saw another angel flying in mid-air, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people.’ 12

Conclusion

Will peace ever come?  Yes, when this age ends the eternal age will finally come.  Then the reign of the devil will end.  He will go in to his eternal jail.  All unbelievers and people who hated God will be removed and peace will ensue.  For the first time in human history there will be peace – for eternity.  God will have achieved His goal.

References

  1. Genesis 6:5  
  2. Luke 2:14  
  3. Matthew 2:16-18  
  4. Luke 13:1  
  5. Acts 22:4-5  
  6. Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15  
  7. Mark 15:17-19  
  8. Isaiah 50:6  
  9. Psalm 22:1-21  
  10. Mathew 26:67
  11. Spartacus, Wikipedia  
  12. Revelation 14:6

Why the Old Testament is necessary for faith

People often wonder why the Old Testament is such a large part of the Bible?  Does it have any function, besides all the wars, intrigues and the ‘incomprehensible’ prophetic books?  The answer has to do with the Good News of God’s Kingdom. 

#  What is the Good News of the Bible?  

  • It is simply that we can become part of God’s Family through Jesus’ blood.  That means we become God’s blood relatives and will receive ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.’ 1
  • What will we inherit?  Eternal life, with God who loves us, on the new heaven and earth. 2  It will be a wonderful life of joy, peace and love with food, health, friendship, lodging, safety, et cetera.      
  • The issue is: how do we know that this glorious fantastic future will become a reality?  The answer is in the Old Testament.

#  The history of the Old  Testament explains the Good News. 

  • For example, we understand that Jesus was the Lamb of God who died on behalf of our sins, because the Old Testament tells us that a lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the people.  
  • We understand that Jesus, the last Adam, takes us back into God’s presence, because the Old Testament tells us the first Adam caused us all to be expelled from God’s presence.  
  • There are many more such explanations and also specific promises in the Old Testament that build our faith in God.

# Three Old Testament promises

  • God gave Adam and Eve a promise.  The Seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. 3  It refers to Jesus who was born of the virgin, Mary and who defeated the devil on the Cross. 4
  • God gave Abraham a promise.  Through him all people on earth will be blessed.5   It refers to one of Abraham’s specific descendants, Jesus.  He would be a blessing to all people. 6 
  • God gave David a promise.  His throne will endure forever. 7  It refers to King Jesus who sits on the throne at the right hand of the Father. 8  

#  The Old Testament shows God is faithful. 

  • God’s promises to Adam,  Abraham and David were fulfilled in the New Testament.  Without the Old Testament we wouldn’t know that God is completely trustworthy.  
  • He gave the promises, and despite the devil’s efforts to thwart those promises, they happened: Jesus was born, He was sacrificed on the Cross, He was resurrected.  Now He sits at the right hand of God the Father. 9  
  • The history of the Old Testament covers around 4,000 years.  Yet it all converged on Jesus, the focus of God’s plan.  If there was no Old Testament record, there was no reason to believe in Jesus or the Kingdom.

Conclusion

The Old Testament proves that God is dependable to the tee.  What He promises, will come to pass.  When God speaks in Scripture, it will happen.  That is why the Old Testament is such a large part of Scripture.  It gives us faith in God’s promises.

References

  1. 1 Peter 1:4  
  2. Revelation 21:1  
  3. Genesis 3:15  
  4. Matthew 1:21-22; Luke 2:6-7  
  5. Genesis 12:3  
  6. Matthew 28:18-19  
  7. 2 Samuel 7:16  
  8. Acts 2:29-33  
  9. Philippians 2: 5-11
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