Monday, August 29, 2011
The Old Testament's Converting Power
Paul writes to his young protégé, Timothy, in 2 Timothy 3:15: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ.” The Greek text of this verse is rich in Old Testament imagery. It reveals quite literally, these texts “have the inherent ability to make me comprehend the wisdom of salvation” (author’s translation).
I remember one time hearing of theologian R.C Sproul’s testimony of how he was brought to Christ.[i] It was of all passages Ecclesiastes 11:3: “If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.” Sproul comments about how suddenly God showed him that he was that tree, dead, and lying on the ground, in need of salvation. Sproul wryly points out that he is probably the only person in the history of the church that was saved as a result of that passage.
Clearly the mark of Divine Inspiration lies in the scripture’s ability to affect someone’s salvation. The Old Testament has this quality. In the famous passage John 3:16, John appeals to the holding up of the serpent in Numbers 21 to highlight the significance of Christ’s impending crucifixion that is recorded at the end of the Gospel of John.
Perhaps the most dramatic example of the effectual (the ability to affect) nature of the Old Testament’s ability to bring about salvation is by noting the Apostle Peter’s Preaching on the day of Pentecost. Peter quotes at length no less than 6 Old Testament passages in unfolding the promised coming of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s resurrection and the need for salvation. 3,000 people get saved, and the church is officially born. Truly this demonstrates a sample of how effective the Old Testament can be in God calling men and women to Jesus Christ.