The Scriptures, Old and New
By Allan Brown
Jesus said “Scripture cannot be broken.” It is a common mistake among Gentiles and Jews to apply Scripture to suit one’s own belief which results in Scripture being broken. Both Old and New Testaments state that to add to or take away from their contents is to treat God’s Word with contempt. This brings condemnation upon those guilty of such treatment of God’s Word, for as God’s Word is treated, so God considers it the same as being treated personally.
Partial inspiration is another name for dividing (rightly handling and skillfully treating) Scripture to suit one’s own bias. It then follows that one can be guilty of being his own arbiter by choosing Scripture to agree to one’s own prejudice. In the religious world, the Scriptures today are dishonoured as the Jew limits God’s word primarily to the Law of Moses, and Gentiles, on the other hand, are willingly ignorant of the Old Testament and primarily read only the New Testament. Both groups negate the power of God’s voice and commit the offence of not being hearers of the Word, let alone doers.
Jesus said to his contemporaries (which also applies today) that if any hear not Moses, how should one believe the words he spoke? In Hebrews 1:1 we read “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.”
Through history, God has chosen to speak through holy men revealing His will as a light in a dark place. Paul said “all Scripture is given by inspiration” i.e. the Old Testament in conjunction with the Apostolic testimony in the New of Jesus their fulfiller.
Paul also mentions the value of written Scripture “whatsoever is written aforetime has been written for our instruction that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
The truth demands that we accept the authority and reliability of all Scripture, despising not one jot nor tittle, for all will be fulfilled. God’s voice will not return to Him void. The connection between Old and New Testaments is so evident to even a casual intelligent reader that they cannot be separated and then understood intelligently. Paul describes the Law of Moses as holy, just and good, that being the groundwork as a “school master” preparing the way for Jesus; the Law and the Prophets declaring the testimony of Jesus. Interestingly, Robert Roberts once wrote that the Mosaic Law was God’s alphabet that the New Testament put into words.
Now as God doesn’t change, the principles and therefore lessons of the Law and Prophets become the exhortations found throughout the New Testament which we find has numerous references to Old Testament history. Jesus, although under the Law before his death, quoted from the Law in obedience to God, which also applies to us today. In his wilderness temptation, three times Jesus uses the Law to oppose sin. Jesus, many times in his mission, being totally familiar with the Law and Prophets concerning himself, referred to what was then known as ‘the Scriptures’ by saying “Have ye not read?” “What sayeth the Scripture?” “How readest thou?” Furthermore, Jesus referred to events of history as lessons to man, individually and nationally, eg, Noah’s Flood, Lot and his wife, incidents of David’s life, signs of the prophet Jonas, and the hope of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding a future resurrection. To be ignorant of recorded history is inexcusable, for Jesus said on one occasion to his followers “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken (and to understand what has been written for our enlightenment)”
After Jesus ascended to heaven, he commanded his Apostles to go forth and preach the Gospel and establish ecclesias. Now, although those ecclesias were established in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship being the Law of Grace, we find the Apostolic letters abundant with references to Old Testament history with powerful exhortations. Peter, in his letter, brings forward the history of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt, how they were initially saved but afterward were destroyed through lack of faith. Again, Peter brings to the attention of all, the history of Korah’s rebellion in the wilderness as a lesson to submit to God’s arrangements and appointments. In the letter of Jude, similar lessons from history are powerfully brought forward for edification. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 10) illustrates with power the lesson the danger of being a friend of the world around us by quoting Israel as having been seduced into idolatry and fornication and thereby suffering severe punishment from God. James, in his letter, graphically explains this as having love affairs with things literally with the world, thereby committing spiritual adultery and breaking our baptismal vows that we have made in our betrothal to Jesus.
In the last book, the Revelation, we have a message from Jesus himself to all his servants who have ears to hear, what he saith to the ecclesias then and now. It is significant that Jesus makes direct reference to Old Testament history to illustrate a lesson in fellowship. In Pergamos, Jesus issues a clear warning to the ecclesia to address their laxity concerning their accommodation of those who followed the attitude of the Old Testament false prophet Balaam, who preached for gain and caused Israel to commit adultery and fornication. Again, in the letter to the ecclesia in Thyatira, Jesus rebukes their suffering or toleration of those in their midst like Jezebel, who in Old Testament times, brought worldly practices into the nation of Israel, which was then the ecclesia of God on earth.
In conclusion then, all Scripture is the voice of the Eternal Mind of God and is able to make us “wise unto salvation.” Blessed is he that reads and understands intelligently for he will save himself and those who hear him. Jesus said, “Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of me.”