How We Read Scripture Influences Our View of God and Our Relationship with Him
In a prior post I said that not all Scripture is the same. I placed the books of the Bible into eight groups. This formed a hierarchy of importance, starting with the Gospels. Though this is a most helpful guide in studying God’s Word, a more basic view is considering how to regard the Old and New Testaments. We do this to provide a balanced bible perspective of Scripture.
Focus on the New Testament
Some people place their sole attention on the New Testament of the Bible, while ignoring the Old. They correctly state that Jesus came to fulfill the laws and writings of the prophets (Matthew 5:17). They reason, therefore, that Jesus’s fulfillment renders Old Testament Scripture as irrelevant.
Because of this, they only read and study the 26 books of the New Testament, while snubbing their nose at the Old Testament’s 39. In doing so they miss out on so much that could deepen their understanding of God and their relationship to him.
It’s like watching a sequel to a movie, while ignoring the first one. Though the sequel might be good as a standalone production, we can appreciate it so much more if we watch the first movie.
Esteeming the Old Testament
The opposite view of dismissing Old Testament Scripture is to treat it as equal to the New Testament text, sometimes even errantly elevating the Old over the New. For their justification, these people cite Paul’s letter to Timothy that affirms the usefulness of all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).
This, of course, ignores the fact that the New Testament didn’t exist when Paul wrote to Timothy. This means that Paul’s use of all Scripture refers to the Old Testament.
The error of treating both sections of the Bible as equal results in people forming a theology that’s colored with an Old Testament perspective—approaching God from a legalistic, rule-following outlook. In doing so they diminish Jesus’s way of salvation by grace through faith.
A Balanced Bible Perspective
These are both extreme viewpoints.
Just as we shouldn’t ignore the Old Testament and its rich, faith-forming writing, we also shouldn’t put it on an equal standing with the New Testament. The solution is to concentrate on the New Testament text and let the Old Testament inform and illuminate what we read.
The result is a balanced perspective of Scripture.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.