Old & New Testament 'Theologies'
Differences of the New Testament
Significance of the Differences
The Law Superseded
the background of the Christian preacher's mind must remain that truth,
that he is a preacher of Christianity and the truths contained within
it. To use and base his message on this truth, he will need to be aware
of the differences between or distinctions of, the Old and New Testaments.
Failure to do this will mean an emphasis placed in the wrong place or
bringing confused teaching in respect of a number of issues pertaining
to the Christian life.
what follows we wish to note:
The differences between the two Testaments
by observing the distinctions of the New Testament that are unique to
The fact that in the New Testament there
is a transition taking place which means that the context and background
of the teaching needs to be carefully observed and understood.
reader may work through this page and, initially at least, comment that
these things are so obvious that they hardly need mentioning. Our response
to that is that these things DO need noting in preparation for the vitally
important page that will follow on the outworking of this in respect of
teaching behaviour for the Christian, which will form so much of the Christian's
Differences of the New Testament
New Testament brings us four distinct differences from the Old, features
which should impact all we believe, and they are simply the things that
take place that are so radically different from anything found in the
The Coming, Life & Ministry
Jesus modelled the coming of the kingdom,
led by the Spirit, following the Father bringing blessing to all who
would receive him.
Although the ministry of Jesus is difficult
to apply to our everyday living – he travelled by foot, was constantly
involved in ministry and had little home life – yet the spirit and purpose
behind all he did must surely be the same for our lives.
He came bringing a new emphasis and a
new dynamic (see later)
The Gospels are so important because they
reveal Jesus as The Son of God who has come to reveal the Father. Jesus
who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Through Jesus we understand the character
of the Father more fully because Jesus said, “My
Father is always at his work to this very day,” (Jn 5:17)
and “the Son can do nothing by himself;
he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father
does the Son also does.” (Jn 5:19)
Through Jesus we learn that we, the church,
will continue doing what he had been doing: “anyone
who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” (Jn
As we observe Jesus expressing love and
goodness, we realise this is the character of God and the purpose of
God being expressed, and this in itself sets the standard for us as
The Death of Jesus on the Cross
This dealt with all our sin and guilt
All we are as Christians today hangs on
his finished work – we can add nothing to it.
We cannot impress God by our good works;
He knows the truth about us and because of that sent Jesus to die for
All we can do is gratefully and thankfully
receive His forgiveness and then the sonship and purposeful new life
that flows out of being released from guilt, fear and shame.
Because the old sinful nature likes to
be in control and likes to feel it is worth something, we need to emphasise
again and again that nothing but nothing we do can add to what Jesus
has achieved on the Cross.
We are accepted utterly by the Father
the moment we are born again (see below) and all teaching about our
behaviour or activity cannot make us ‘more a Christian' or ‘more acceptable
to God' for the Cross achieved our total acceptance.
The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
In the Old Testament period, the Holy
Spirit came down on the occasional individual to empower them for service.
On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit
came down and indwelt EVERY believer and every believer since has been
indwelt by the Holy Spirit (often referred to as the ‘Spirit of God'
or the ‘Spirit of Jesus').
Thus every believer is equipped to live
with an element of Jesus within them, empowering them to change, and
communicating with them to teach them and guide them.
The church is now one body, people ‘alive'
by the Spirit, all empowered by the Spirit, to continue the ongoing
work of Jesus (as seen in Acts).
There is a new reliance upon one another
within this body made up of people with different gifts, different callings,
different ministries etc.
We are what we are ‘as church' because
of the Holy Spirit's equipping and enabling – and we are all different.
The New Birth Experience
This requires a one-off repentance and
acceptance of Christ as Saviour and Lord.
This utterly changes the dynamics of living
– surrendered beings, beings Spirit taught and led, being changed (sanctified)
as an ongoing thing.
This was a unique work of the Holy Spirit
– we couldn't do it – and His life now flows within us and has a unique
purpose for each one of us.
one of these four things goes to produce a radically new people of God,
utterly different from that people seen in the form of the nation of Israel
and those who joined themselves to Israel in the Old Testament period:
- The life and ministry of Jesus reveals
the Father and models the kingdom on earth
- The death & resurrection of Jesus
provides the ‘legal' basis for our salvation – our forgiveness, our
sonship and our being worthy to receive His Spirit
- The coming of the Holy Spirit meant
we are all Spirit empowered, taught and led people
- The new birth experience of the Spirit
opens up and creates an entirely new life of sonship, powered and
led by God that brings change in us to make us more Christ-like in
character and in behaviour and in purpose.
should note in passing, the New Testament as history is a period
- The four things above came in stages
– Jesus had to come, live, minister, die, rise from the dead and ascend
before the Holy Spirit could come. The coming of the Spirit and subsequent
new birth for all new believers followed on.
- The church was initially in a Jewish
context which needs to be understood e.g. all of the Sermon on the
Mount is set against the Old Testament Law and develops from it. Thus
we often find Jesus speaking to people – Jewish people – who have
the experience of living in a Jewish culture with Jewish teaching
and following (theoretically at least) the Law of Moses.
- It becomes more and more Gentile context,
easing away from the specific practices of the Law. Thus the leading
apostles in the Council in Jerusalem lay nothing of the Law on the
new Gentile believers except avoiding certain meats and sexual immorality!
(Acts 15:20,29) An interesting combination which recognised that the
Jewish believers still held to those parts of the Law and the apostles
were thus asking the new Gentile believers to be sensitive to their
sensitivity over these matters.
- The transition is also from Law to
Spirit: initially it was follow the Law, but this gives way to follow
the Spirit. This is of major significance for the New Testament Christian
which we will examine in detail in the following paper.
Significance of the Differences
significance of the awareness of these differences, is that
- in respect of revelation,
we may use the Old Testament to catch understanding of who God is
but His revelation is incomplete in the Old and is only completed
by the New,
- in respect of relationship,
we may catch understanding of the possibilities of relationship with
God in the Old Testament but the fullness does not come until ‘sonship'
is made possible in the New Testament,
- in respect of empowering,
when God used people in the Old Testament we see the Holy Spirit 'coming
down on' people and empowering them, but in the New Testament that
is true of every believer who becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit,
- in respect of right living,
in the Old Testament this was seen as obeying God (on the relatively
rare occasions He spoke) and responding to Him, accepting what He
said, but mostly by obeying the Law. In the New Testament, all believers
are declared righteous because they have received Jesus as the Son
of God and as their Saviour and Lord. Personal daily living is led
by the Holy Spirit and by the teaching of the New Testament (Jesus
and the apostles).
in the Old Testament
is seen as holiness by being a part of Israel and complying with the
Law. In the New Testament, it is the individual set apart to God by
the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and then the ongoing work of the
Holy Spirit in the life of the individual changing them into Jesus'
The Law Superseded
subject is so important that it requires a special point being made. To
understand the role of the Law of Moses in the Bible and how it is superseded
in the New Testament, we need to see its role in the light of the who
of the history covered by the Bible:
God's Perfect Design
God created the world He made everything to work perfectly in specific
was no less true of human beings.
Sin meant diverging from that design
the entry of sin into the world, from then on men and women moved
away from God's perfect design and lived lives contrary to it, resulting
in spiritual, physical and social changes.
= the propensity to be godless and self-centred resulting in unrighteousness;
sins are individual acts of unrighteousness emanating from godlessness
The Purpose of the Law
purpose of the Law of Moses was twofold:
to provide a framework for behaviour for living within the newly established
community of God's people at that time in history. This sought to
establish a peaceful, harmonious and caring community answerable to
to provide guidance for when people failed to follow the laws, the
means of dealing with the wrong behaviour by bringing correction,
restitution etc. as well as a means of restoring the broken relationship
with God that had brought about by the wrong. This second purpose
was an expression of God's mercy and grace and its intent was to restore
the community and avoid worse repercussions.
Directions from the Old & New Testaments
and direction in the
Old Testament period came mainly from Law and when
the people failed to obey that, from the prophets
sent by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
the New Testament era this is reversed: we are guided and led by the
indwelling Holy Spirit and when we fail to respond to Him, our ‘fall-back'
is the teaching and instructions found in the New Testament,
readily available to us and taught and administered by ministries
within the church. (We will explain this more fully in the context
of the next paper). Where necessary, correction is brought by the
elders of a local church, aided on occasion by apostolic and prophetic
Motivations in Old & New Testaments
the Old Testament, the motivation to keep the Law was the threat of
the community leaders taking action against the sinner, or where they
failed to act, either through prophets sent to bring a rebuke and
warning, or God acting directly to bring chastisement. The Law was
there to be obeyed.
the New Testament, the motivation for conforming to God's design,
His will for us, is supposed to be the indwelling Holy Spirit. God
will reinforce this through the Eph 4:12 ministries who teach and
reveal God's design in the ‘body of Christ', and through local elders.
He does also act directly to bring chastisement (see 1 Cor 11:28-32)
cannot emphasise enough the radical difference brought about by the four
things we have noted in section 1 above. Put very simply, there is a new
has come to the earth and revealed Himself through His Son
has revealed His love and goodness and purpose
has died for our sins and our guilt to set us free from them
has sent His Holy Spirit to indwell us
our lives are God directed, God motivated and God energised.
following paper will note how the old sinful nature likes to ‘do it itself'
and thus ignore these vital truths. It is incumbent on the preacher (and
indeed the individual Christian) to hold on to and understand and live
out these truths. Failure to do so means we slide back into a form of
Old Testament religion which nullifies all that the Father has planned,
all that Jesus did on earth, and all that the Spirit seeks to do today.
It is that important!