Saturday, August 27, 2011

Practical uses for the Old Testament

      Practical usages of the Old Testament


Who has not heard Psalm 23 quoted or referenced at a funeral service?  What do you do when you or someone you know loses a child?  You turn to 2 Samuel 12:23 where David, in grief over the death of his son, states: “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”  Most throughout church history have appealed to this text to conclude that a child who suddenly passes away before the age of accountability is ushered safely into the presence of God.  Jesus of course maintains this consistency of this truth by noting the unique grace that children have before ditinguishing between righteousness and unrighteousness (the age of accountability) in passages such as Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that (J)their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven."

What happens when you are facing anxiety, or uncertainty?  Passages such as Zephaniah 3:17 reminds us that God rejoices over us with singing, and quiets us with His love.  Psalm 55:22 tells us: "Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."  In the New Testament, Peter mentions this antidote to worry - "casting one's cares upon the Lord", in 1 Peter 5:7. 
How about guidance for making decisions or knowing God’s will on a given matter? Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all of your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 24:6 tells us that: “For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counselors there is safety.” 
Appealing to the wisdom of scripture in our decision making is re-echoed in passages such as Philippians 2:15-16 "so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain."  These are but a few examples of the Old (and New) Testament’s ability to capture the wide spectrum of human emotion responding to life situations. 
Principles to effective application of the Old Testament
1. Every New Testament Doctrine has an Old Testament Testament Example
As you grow more familiar with the contents of the Bible in your study and reading, you will begin to see how the Old Testament gives concrete illustrations of truth that becomes fully developed in the New Testament.  For instance, I know that the life of Abraham gives a concrete illustration of the walk of faith which is fully unfolded in the New Testament book of Romans (especially Romans chapter 4).
2. Whenever you are studying anywhere in the Old Testament, find the connection to Christ
Though I may not find Christ in every verse of scripture, yet from every verse of scripture I can find my way to Jesus Christ.  The aim of the Old Testament is to point us to the One it anticipated.  As in the study of the New Testament, the Old Testament carries that same quality of being used by the Spirit of God to bring us to a meeting point with Jesus Christ.  (Please compare John 5:39).
3. Be aware of the distinctions between the Old Testament and New Testament
As much as I advocate the unity of all scripture, there are some differences that you as a Bible student need to keep in mind when determining how to apply Od Testament truth.  First, is the concept repeated or reinforced in the New Testament?  Animal sacrifices for instance ceased in the New Testament because of Christ's work on the cross.  Though they can be valuable in illustrating what He's done, yet it would be quite inappropriate for the Christian to perform them.
Second, be sure that your application of Old Testament truth does not conflict with explicit New Testament teaching.  Understanding that the nature of God's revelation of His truth is progressive in the Bible, I need to make sure that when using an Old Testament text, that I have connected it to a New Testament verse that speaks on the same subject.
More points could be brought out, but I hope this aids you, dear Christian, in your walk with the Lord. 

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