Are You An “Old Testament” Christian?

Not Old Testament

Recently I heard someone describe themselves as a “New Testament Christian.” I laughed inwardly when I heard it because I didn’t think there was any other kind of Christian a person could be! I had the same reaction when I first heard someone say that they were a: “Born-Again Christian!” I mean, aren’t all Christians born again? Now, I wasn’t too critical of them because I understood what they were really trying to say. They used the term: “New Testament Christian,” but what they really meant was: “New Testament saint,” because there were no “Old Testament Christians” in the Bible! Every Christian, who is truly a Christian is a “New Testament” Christian because there were no “Old Testament Christians” in the Old Testament! People who were saved during the Old Testament era were technically not “Christians” at all because at that time Christ had not come!
However, in a practical sense, I think there are many in the church today who are indeed attempting to be “Old Testament Christians!” Let me show you what I am talking about! In the Old Testament era, people were saved based their trust or faith in what God was “going to do.” The Bible says that Abraham believed God (concerning what God had told him in regard to the future promises) and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Romans 4:3; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23). Therefore, Abraham had a saving-faith-relationship with God based on Abraham’s faith that God was “going to do” what God said God would do. Abraham, along with all the other Old Testament saints, was saved based on faith in what God was going to do. He and they looked forward to the time when God would send a Redeemer to come and redeemed mankind.
Now, while the Old Testament saints were saved based on faith in what God was going to do; the New Testament saints are saved based on faith in what God has already done! You and I, that is, those of us who are saved today, are saved based on our faith, trust and belief in what God did through the sacrificial atoning work of Jesus upon the cross and the resurrection. The Christian is saved by grace based on faith in what God has already done through His Son; the Lord Jesus the Christ on the cross.
Now, not only is the Christian saved by faith in what God has already done, our salvation is also complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10-14). In other words, there is nothing that God needs to do as far as our salvation is concerned, that God hasn’t already done in Christ! Now this brings up an interesting point, which is the basis for my assertion that many today are attempting to practice “Old Testament Christianity.” If we are saved based on our belief, faith, and trust in what God has already done through Christ and we are indeed complete in Christ, then why do I constantly hear people who claim to be Christians today praying and believing God for what God is “going” to do? When Jesus was on the cross, before he died, he said: “It is finished!” In reference to our salvation, there is nothing more that God needs to do! Now, the blessings of God are part of the salvation of God. Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:3-7; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. . .” (ESV). Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:2-3: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (NASB) Do you see what I see? Paul said that we have been blessed (already) in Christ with every spiritual blessing! You might be saying at this point: “Yes, we have all the spiritual blessings, but I need a physical blessing!” But the physical or material blessings are derivatives of the spiritual blessings! Whatever is now physical or material had its inception in the spiritual! It is the spiritual that produces the physical! There is nothing physical or material now that was not spiritual first! Now, Peter said that He (that is God) has (that’s already, note that it’s in the past tense) granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Do you see that? According to Peter and Paul, God has “already given us” every blessings and everything we need for life and godliness! Now, if God has already given us everything; what is there left for God to give? And if God has already given everything, then God cannot give what God has already given!
So, the real problem today is not that we lack the blessings of God. The real problem is that we’ve been blessed but we don’t know how to access the blessings! We have the blessings in our account, but we don’t know the account and PIN numbers; we don’t know how to gain access! And in most cases, we don’t know how to translate the spiritual blessings from the spiritual into the physical! As a consequence, we’re are praying and waiting for God to bless us, while at the same time God is waiting on us to appropriately act on and respond to the blessings we already have! In a practical sense, many Christians today are acting and living as if Christ never came! They relate to God in the same way (with the exception of offering the burnt offerings!) as did the saints in the Old Testament who had not yet received the blessings of the Promise! It is because of this ignorance and spiritual immaturity in reference to the fact that God has already blessed that many Christians are constantly and insistently asking God to give them what God has already given them! But bless God today! Jesus did come and die over two thousand years ago! The coming of Jesus was so influential that it changed the way we count time! His coming change the way we tell time from reckon time from B. C., to A. D. However, those who are still praying and waiting of God to bless them are still living in B. C., and are in a practical sense; Old Testament Christians!
Now, you can listen to some of the so-called modern-day-prophets and keep fasting and praying for God to bless you if you want, but to constantly ask God for what God has already given is a vain attempt to be an Old Testament Christian. And when you stop to think about it, it really is theological nonsense to keep asking God to give what God has already given! But, as for me, I’ve read the Bible and the Bible says that, in Christ, I have already been blessed with every blessing I will ever need! Therefore, the real issue for me today is not in trying to get blessings from the Lord; the real issue is learning how to manifest (translate from the spiritual to the physical) blessings I already have!

A Layman’s Guide to Biblical Reading and Interpretation (Part 1)

English: Readin the Bible.

Reading the Bible is not as simple as it may seem! I think the reason there are so many false teachings is because people read the Bible without realizing that there are certain factors that must be dealt with in approaching the biblical text. The primary factor being that the Bible is the Word of God and God is Spirit, therefore the Bible is a spiritual book. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (NIV)  But even with the Spirit, there are some principles the reader must adhere to if he or she is to correctly read and interpret the biblical text. So with that in mind, I want to share this simple layman’s (a person with no formal theological or seminary training in hermeneutics and exegesis) guide to biblical reading and interpretation. I am going to present this in two parts because before we can even get to the biblical text, there are some things we must consider:

The primary thing we must consider as we approach the biblical text is to understand that there are some barriers, bridges, or rivers we must cross before we can even get to a correct reading and interpretation of the Bible. Part one of this presentation is a brief discussion of four such barriers.

  1. Time – We must first of all consider the fact that the Bible was written many years ago in a time much different from our own. God has always dealt with his people in what I call: progressive revelation. For instance, when Moses delivered the Children of Israel out of Egypt and they crossed the sea, the Bible says that they walked over on dry land. However, some forty years later, when they crossed over the Jordan, the waters didn’t receded until the priests got their feet wet! It could be that one of the reasons God deals with us differently today is because we have been given much more revelation because of the passing of time. Therefore, it is an exegetical mistake to force our time back upon the biblical characters or to bring them to forward to our time and judge their actions according to our time.
  2. Culture – We, those of us who live in America, live in a modern Western culture, but the Bible was written by and to people who lived in an ancient Eastern culture. Some of the things written in the Bible have more to do with culture and custom than spiritual or Godly principles. We must remember that when the original authors wrote, it was not in the fore-front of their minds that their words would be read by people of a different culture hundreds of years later. They were writing about particular situations in their particular time and culture. When Paul wrote about women keeping their heads covered, it was more of a cultural thing because generally the women of that culture who didn’t cover their heads were immoral women. So Paul told the women in the church to keep their heads covered, not only to honor their husbands but also to keep them from looking like a lady of the streets! When we read the Bible, we must always remember that it was written by and to people from a time and culture much different from our own. So it is an error to say that those people were “just like us” because they weren’t. They didn’t even think like us! For instance, in America today the primary focus is on the individual, but in the days and culture of the Bible, the primary focus was on the group! They didn’t think like us!
  3. Language – The next barrier is language. No one in the Bible ever spoke a word in English! As far as we know, the English language wasn’t even developed at that time! Consequently, we must understand that the Bible we hold in our hands is a version of a translation that came from manuscripts (copies of the original documents) that were written from the autographs (the original documents) of the original writer. The Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew and the New Testament was written primarily in Greek. And just as we use figures of speech, such as sarcasm, exaggeration, hyperbole, and irony in our language today, so did the ancients in biblical days. We should be aware of that fact as we read the Bible.
  4.  Geography – There some others, but the fourth and last barrier we must deal with before we can get to a correct reading and interpretation of the biblical text that we are going to address is geography. It is important as you read the text that you be aware of the factor of geography. It helps when you know that although there was only about 18 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho; Jerusalem was about 2500 feet above sea level while Jericho was about 825 feet below sea level! That’s a difference in elevation of over 3,000 feet in just 18 miles! Therefore, the road between the two was steep, rocky, winding, and was notorious for being a haunt for highway robbers. We would be more understanding of why the priest and the Levite passed the man on the other side in Luke 10:30, if we understood the geography and culture of the time.

These are just a few of the perquisite factors we must keep in mind as we approach the biblical text. I will comment on what we need to consider as we actually read the biblical text in Part 2 of this study.