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At one of my Radical Grace seminars I was teaching on what it means to live in the glory of the new covenant and someone asked me, “What about the Old Testament? Should we not read the Old Testament anymore?”
That’s a good question. First, let’s be clear that we are living in the era of the new covenant. The old covenant has passed away and has become obsolete. Sadly, some Christians are still trying to relate to God on the basis of a covenant which no longer exists. And others attempt to mix covenants, or have one foot in each. If we place ourselves under the old covenant we will experience an ongoing struggle in our Christian lives.
Under the old covenant, God gave a law and promised to bless Israel as long as they obeyed its commandments. It was a conditional covenant, and because of this it became a broken covenant. It is now null and void. The new covenant was made between the Father and the Son. Jesus has fulfilled it in its entirety and, because we are in Christ, we are now reaping the blessings of His obedience. That’s grace. Our response to grace is faith. We believe in His finished work and are qualified for every good thing. This is how God wants us to live.
The Surpassing Glory Of The New Covenant
The old covenant had a glory, and this is seen when Moses received the law. His face shone so brightly that he had to wear a veil to cover his face. This represents the glory of the old covenant. Its glory is that it brought to us the knowledge of God’s holiness and our sin. Through the law people would be conscious of their need of a Saviour. The new covenant has a glory that surpasses that of the old covenant, and brings a fuller revelation of God’s character. “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn.1:17).
If Moses’ face shone so brightly that people could not look upon it, and yet the covenant he brought ministered condemnation, how much more glorious will the new covenant that brings righteousness be? If there was glory in that which brought death, how much more glory is there in that which ministers righteousness and life?
What About The Old Testament?
But that brings us back to the question of the place that the Old Testament occupies in the life of a Christian. First, we need to understand that the Old Testament is the only Bible that the early Christians had. And yet they taught Christ from those Scriptures. Read the sermons that were preached in the book of Acts, especially to the Jews. You will discover that they all quote the Old Testament, and they were all about Jesus. That’s the key. The Pharisees knew the Old Testament better than anyone. The problem is that they knew what it said, but not what it meant. Jesus said to them, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). All their Bible knowledge never brought them to Jesus. They rejected Him and ended up crucifying Him.
The Veil Is Taken Away In Christ
In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul contrasts the two covenants and points out that a veil was over the minds of the Jews, and still is, each time they read the Old Testament. The veil is only taken away when one sees that Christ is the central message of the Scriptures.
This is what Paul said: “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless, when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Cor.3:14-16 – emphasis mine).
This applies to the New Testament also. If we fail to see that Christ is the main theme there will be a veil over our minds. Do you know someone who tends to be legalistic? Most likely they are reading the Bible with a veil over their eyes. Their minds are blinded to the true meaning of God’s Word. But whenever one turns to the Lord, i.e. sees that God’s message is the finished work of Jesus, the veil is taken away.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor.3:18).
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