In this series of articles on Bible study, important differences between the New Testament and the Old Testament need to be understood to discern the plan that God has had since before time began. The OT was a covenant agreement between God and a single nation, the Jews. It was based on laws and ratified by the blood of men (circumcision) and animals (sacrifices). The laws given were laws governing morality (what is right and wrong), civil affairs and ceremonial responsibilities. The 10 commandments were written on stone and these laws blanketed all moral issues such as lying, stealing, adultery, murder and honoring God. The laws which govern the community dealt with weights and measures, property boundaries, accidental death, arguments, jealousy, hospitality and the like. Ceremonial laws governed the worship of God through the outward display of religious duties. These included preparations of sacrifices, the priesthood, and the use of musical instruments, incense, candles, clothing, the washing of hands before eating and many other incidentals that were peculiar to the culture of the time.
The Bible is clear that this covenant would one day be completed. It would come to an end when the Anointed One arrived to satisfy the requirements of the law, bringing reconciliation between God and mankind, once and for all time. If a law could have given eternal life then there would have been no need for
a Savior. The restoration of the relationship that was broken in the Garden would be completed through the Christ, not any law. He would war against the enemies of the Jews. He would conquer their fears and shame and remove their guilt. He would be the king of kings and rule the world for the chosen people through an everlasting covenant. What was not so clear in the OT was made crystal clear in the NT; that the Christ would save the Jews and people of every nation from their sins. This, Jesus said, was the real enemy of the Jews. Sin was the thing that had broken the relationship between God and man. Through the Jews and the OT God planned to bring about redemption. This he did by choosing Christ as the one who lived without sin and this under the rule of the law. He lived a perfect human life. This sinless life qualified Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. By giving himself over to death he satisfied the just demands of the law; a perfect man had sinned (Adam) and only a sinless man (Jesus) could pay the penalty for such transgression. This thing Jesus did through his death and by his resurrection he became the justifier of all those at the time who through faith in his sacrifice would be forgiven from sin, free from the condemnation of the law and clear from the wrath of God that was coming upon that world. Those who believed were given eternal life as a gift.
To take the law out of the way Jesus became the essence of sin. This sin was nailed to the tree and died. To all who accepted this plan of God, Jesus was the end of the law for righteousness for all those who believed; to the Jew first and to the rest of mankind. Through belief in the efficacy of Christ’s death, many sinners were made clean and are given eternal life. Through this acknowledgment, all people could appeal to God for a clear conscious by immersion in water (baptism) with the understanding that it was the resurrected Christ that empowers this event. This one act
confirmed the fulfillment of the covenant that God had with all the Jews. In this a new covenant people are freed from the requirements of the law and so cannot be condemned by its legal demands. Sin no longer has power over the world.
During the first 40 years after the New Testament was ratified by the death of Christ, both the Jews and the Gentiles (all other nations) were taught this good news of a spiritual kingdom of God that was coming. Jews who were taught that the promises made in the OT were fulfilled in Christ were zealous to return to the OT scriptures; they were enamored by the law because it taught them of salvation in their Messiah. Gentiles who did not have the law were taught that their knowledge of right and wrong was sufficient to condemn them by the law but not sufficient to save them from its condemnation. For this reason, all people were
accountable to God. People were willing to repent of sinful living and accept the knowledge of God’s law in their hearts and minds. As disciples, no longer condemned by the law, his followers are given eternal life.
As that age came to a conclusion and the judgment on the world unraveled in the wars between Romans and Jews, the kingdom of heaven was about to take back the kingdom of the world. When the temple fell, heaven was made open to all of mankind, not based upon ritual worship or religious preference but upon the mercy and grace of God our Savior. The effect is that we can live with joy in the world knowing that our Redeemer lives never to die again. And we are restored to God, free of guilt, shame, and condemnation. The favor of God (grace) in Christ has reckoned us as right while we learn to perfect our earthly life after the teachings of the Bible.
The OT was completely taken out of the way when in 70 AD when God used the Roman army to end the nation of Israel, destroy the holy city of Jerusalem and bring down the Jewish temple through fire. What has remained is a
new way of living with God and men through the establishment of a spiritual kingdom that has been brought near to earth. A kingdom that is not seen by the eye but can be known in the mind of those who care. We can know we are destined for eternal life. Death has no dominion over mankind. These spiritual ideas are the plan of God that have been fully realized by the obedience of Jesus who emptied himself in human form and became like us in every way. He became obedient to God even to the point of dying to fulfill the plan and definite foreknowledge of God for mankind.
Ideally, people in the know are to disciple themselves after Christ. We are to imitate the life of Christ in living responsibly, avoiding evil, doing good to all people, working hard, playing hard and rejoicing that human life has a new purpose and an eternal future. Through the NT God has given to us everything pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of godliness. If living right and having eternal hope were a harder thing to do, who wouldn’t do it? How much more so since God has made it this simple?
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