Firm Foundation #2

    THE OLD TESTAMENT AND NEW

    As you take up your Bible, you will notice that there is a blank page about two-thirds of the way through it. That blank page comes at the end of what is commonly called the Old Testament. It comes immediately before what is termed the New Testament.

    These two major divisions of your Bible are important. You must thoroughly understand the significance of each of them before you can hope to understand your Bible.

    The Old Testament was God’s law to the Jew. It was never intended to be kept by Gentiles. It details God’s dealing with the race from Adam down to Christ. The New Testament records God’s law for all men, both Jew and Gentile, since Jesus’ death on the cross. It is most important for us to realize that God’s will for us is found in the New Testament – not in the Old.

    Here are three reasons why we cannot today go to the Old Testament to find what God requires of us: (1) The Old Testament was God’s law to the Jew. You were never under it. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jew only – never to the Gentile. (Read Exodus, chapters 19 and 20). You cannot break the Ten Commandments any more than you can break the law of China. You are not and never were under them. (2) The Old Testament never contained a plan of salvation, not even for the Jew. At best, all he could do with his sacrifices was to postpone the punishment for his sins for a year. His sacrifices could not take away sin. (3) You are not under the Old Testament because Jesus took the law of Moses out of the way at his death. “He taketh away the old (covenant) that he might establish the new (covenant) by the which will we are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10)

    The Old Testament is divided into five natural divisions: (1) the books of law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. (2) The books of history: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. (3) The books of poetry: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Songs of Solomon. (4) The Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel; and (5) the Minor Prophets: the last 12 books.

    Luke gives a slightly different arrangement, noting only three divisions: the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms (Luke 24:44).

    The first division, the Pentateuch as it is generally called, is generally accepted as the works of Moses. It relates the history of the human race from the time God created Adam until the nation of Israel was ready to enter Canaan. In this division we find the story of Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the call of Abraham, the birth of Isaac, and of Jacob, the story of Joseph, the going down into Egypt, the bondage, the exodus, the giving of the law and the wandering in the wilderness.

    During the early part of this period (from the creation to Mount Sinai), there was no written law. Each head of a family acted as the priest or patriarch of the tribe, and directed its worship. This gave rise to the term “patriarchal dispensations.” All the world, except the Jews, worshipped under this pattern until Jesus came.

    The Jews were given a special law (recorded in Exodus 20). This law was in addition to what all the people had and was “added because of transgression”. This law, embodied in the Ten Commandments, was given only to the Jew. No other except the Jew ever had any part of it. This written law was given to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham to make his seed a mighty nation. Through the keeping of the Law of Moses the Israelites did become a mighty nation.

    The second division, the books of history, gives a brief history of the Jewish nation. After their entry into Canaan, the Israelites dwelt in the land governed by “Judges,” or leaders who arose to meet each crisis in Israel’s history. Later, the people “desired to be like their neighbors” and wanted a king. God gave them a king in the person of Saul. He was followed by David, and David was succeeded by his son, Solomon. Then the kingdom was divided into a northern and a southern kingdom. The northern kingdom was called Israel and the southern kingdom was called Judea. After relatively brief periods of history, Israel was conquered by Syria, and Judea was conquered by Babylon. The Israelites were dispersed among other nations and their identity lost forever. The men of Judea were carried away to Babylon, where they were enslaved 70 years. At the end of that time, a remnant, led by Nehemiah, returned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. That was some 450 years B.C.

    The books of poetry are simply the hymns of praise and devotion, and the epic poems of the Jews. Through translation they have lost much of their poetic form, but they still hold for us a wealth of beautiful sentiment and powerful expression.

    The fourth and fifth divisions: the prophets give us the preaching, the warning, and the observations of God’s servants who lived among His people, the Jews, at different periods of their eventful history. Through the works of the prophets especially, God gives us a complete and perfect picture of the coming Messiah, and of what he would mean to the world.

    The New Testament has four natural divisions. They are: (1) the Parallel Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; (2) the history of the beginning of the church; Acts of Apostles; (3) the Epistles, Romans through Jude; and (4) Prophecy, Revelation.

    The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John begin, generally speaking, with an account of the events surrounding the birth of Christ. They are four parallel accounts of four different men of the life of Christ. These biographies of our Lord each contain peculiar points of their own, but in the points wherein any two or more of them touch on the same event they are in perfect harmony. The facts of the gospel are given in this division of the New Testament. Enough material is presented to make any honest reader believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. If one does not believe in Jesus, this is the division of the New Testament that he should study.

    The book of Acts is a book of history. Jesus gave the great commission to his apostles. He told them to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16). Almost with these words he left them. As we open the book of Acts the apostles are in Jerusalem where Jesus had told them to wait until they were endued with power from on high. Then the power came on the day of Pentecost. The apostles started out. What were they going to do? They were going to obey the Lord. What had the Lord told them to do? He had told them to go make disciples. So they were going out to make some disciples.

    And Luke went along. He wrote down a diary of what they did and how they did it. When they made a disciple he wrote down how they did it. Today if one wishes to make a disciple he can turn to the book of Acts and find out exactly how to make one. The record of at least eight different instances where disciples were made by the apostles can be found in the book of Acts. They may be found in Acts 2,8,9,10,16 and 18:8.

    Then, following this history of the beginning of the church we have 21 letters written to churches and to individuals who had become Christians. These letters were written to them to instruct them in how to live the Christian life; how to worship acceptably; and to give them courage to face the struggles the early saints had to face.

    Then in the last book in the New Testament the eye of faith is turned heavenward and the saint can see the pearly gates standing ajar, and the redeemed of the ages gathering home.

    Section 1- Yes or No

    Question 1
    There are two major divisions of your Bible, the Old Testament and the New.
    yesno

    Question 2
    The Old Testament has five major divisions.
    yesno

    Question 3
    The New Testament has three major divisions.
    yesno

    Question 4
    You can find what God requires of us in the Old Testament.
    yesno

    Question 5
    You must keep the ten commandments.
    yesno

    Question 6
    The nation of Judea was captured by Syria.
    yesno

    Question 7
    One would expect to find the story of the birth of Christ in Acts.
    yesno

    Question 8
    Instruction in Christian living is found in the letters to the churches.
    yesno

    Question 9
    The beginning of the church is recorded in Acts.
    yesno

    Question 10
    There were 19 letters written to churches and individuals who had become Christians.
    yesno

    Section 2-Fill in the blanks

    Question 1
    The Old Testament was God’s law to the __________.

    Question 2
    New Testament records God’s law for __________.

    Question 3
    New Testament records God’s law for __________.

    Question 4
    The apostles received the power by which they carried out the Great Commission on the day of __________.

    Question 5
    The eight detailed cases of conversion are listed in the book of __________.

    Question 6
    __________ wrote down the details of how the apostles made saints out of sinners.

    Question 7
    The book of __________ describes heaven

    Section 3-Complete the Scriptures

    Question 1
    Go ye into all the world and ___________ to every creature. He that __________ and is ___________ shall be saved (Mark 16:15-16).

    Question 2
    But when they ___________ Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were ___________ both men and women (Acts 8:12).

    Question 3
    And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord and his house; and many of the Corinthians ___________, ___________ and were ___________ (Acts 18:8).

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