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Peter DeHaan News

New Book: Old Testament Sinners and Saints

How Are the Old Testament Characters Applicable to Your Life Today? 

Find out in this devotional Bible study on 100 compelling Biblical men and women from the Old Testament.

The Old Testament is filled with inspiring stories, influential heroes, and impressive triumphs. But it’s also woven with the stories of broken people who make mistakes and suffer disappointments. Through an array of colorful and awe-inspiring stories, we can learn much about ourselves and our powerful God in this devotional Bible study on 100 Biblical men and women.

Old Testament Sinners and Saints: Discover What These 100 Colorful Bible Characters Can Teach Us Today

Filled with familiar and eclectic names of sinners and saints, you’ll uncover how their stories from thousands of years ago apply to our personal struggles today. Pour through 100 characters who compel you to live differently and help you see your life and faith from an entirely new perspective.

In Old Testament Sinners and Saints, you will:

  • Uncover how the Old Testament can transform your life
  • Learn from the mistakes and triumphs of these characters
  • Gain a fresh perspective on familiar Biblical stories
  • Discover how to deepen your faith
  • Embrace the timeless message of hope found in the Old Testament

Join Peter DeHaan, Bible teacher and author, in this study on 100 Old Testament men and women whose stories offer us hope, assurance, and abundant lessons on who God is and his limitless power over history.

This devotional for women and men is ideal for individuals, small groups, and Bible studies. Each day’s study includes a short reading, a thought-provoking question and additional Bible readings to go deeper with the lesson.

If you’ve ever wondered if the Old Testament stories apply to your life, then start with the Old Testament Sinners and Saints and discover what 100 intriguing Bible men and women can teach you today. 

The succinct readings give a brief but impactful overview of the Old Testament characters while showing you how to trust in God’s plan even when you don’t know what the future holds. These lessons will not only take you on a journey through the Old Testament with Bible heroes like Abraham, Moses, Ruth and David, but will also strengthen your faith.

Get Old Testament Sinners and Saints and see how these rich, amazing stories can transform your life today and draw you closer to Jesus.

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Peter DeHaan News

Read the Bible in 2022

Daily Scripture Reading Guides Available Now from ABibleADay

Every year I intentionally explore the Bible, reading a few chapters each day. Some years I focus on the New Testament and other years, the Old Testament, but usually I read the entire Bible in a year.

Will you join me this year?

To guide us, the 2022 Bible reading guides are now available. Get your 2022 Bible reading plan today.

Chronological Bible Reading Guide

New last year was a chronological Bible reading plan. This year it’s tweaked and improved, based on feedback from the inaugural offering.

Though a comprehensive chronological reading of the Bible requires a lot of details that won’t fit on a concise handout, it is possible to make an approximate chronological reading guide by putting the books of the Bible in order.

Following this Bible reading plan only takes 12 to 15 minutes a day. And each Tuesday throughout 2022, I’ll blog about a passage from that day’s reading.

Download your own chronological 2021 Bible reading guide.

Other Reading Options

If reading the entire Bible in a year seems too big of a task, scale back to a more manageable goal. I have a series of other Bible reading plans to guide you. Pick the one that works for you:

Form a habit to read the Bible. Download your 2022 Bible reading plan today and be ready to start reading this January.

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

We Need a Balanced Bible Perspective

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.

Concentrate on the New Testament text and let the Old Testament inform and illuminate what we read. Click To Tweet

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Six Eras in the Bible

Though God Doesn’t Change, but the Way He Relates to Us Has

We divide the Bible in two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament focuses on the relationship of Father God to his people and looks forward to the coming Savior. The New Testament centers on Jesus and the work of his followers. Each testament has its own focus, and we must not lose sight of it.

To further enhance my understanding of Scripture, I look at the Bible in three parts, each one focusing on one aspect of the Trinity. God the Father is central throughout the Old Testament. God the Savior—Jesus—is central in the Gospels. God the Spirit takes center stage in the rest of the New Testament, Acts through Revelation. Jesus, of course, stands as the foundational part of the godhead that saves us and draws us into right relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We can break this down even more, however, to better guide us as we study Scripture and apply it to our daily lives.

In this regard, it helps to consider six eras in the Bible. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He never changes. (Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8) Yet the way he relates to his people does change throughout Scripture. We will do well to keep this in mind as we read and study the Bible, taking care to not take one passage from the past and misapply it to our situation today.

Consider these six eras in the Bible.

1. Paradise

God creates the world in which we live and places people in it. Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden. They walk with God in the cool of the evening. But they break the one rule he gave them. They eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

So that they don’t also eat from the tree of life, and live forever in their sin, God forces them out of this idyllic paradise.

This takes place in Genesis 1–3 and moves us into the second of six eras in the Bible.

2. No Law

Though most people think of the Old Testament’s focus as being on God’s law, this doesn’t occur yet, not until the third era. The second era is what happens after Adam and Eve leave the garden and prior to God giving the Law to Moses.

During this time, God continues to speak to his people (Adam, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others). Throughout this time, God is patient. He does not hold people accountable for their sins. This is because there are no laws to let the people know that they are doing wrong (Romans 5:13).

During this era, God wipes out the depravity of the people he created by killing most all of them through a flood. Only Noah and his family survive. It’s creation 2.0, a restart of humanity, a do over. Then God calls Abraham and later Moses.

God tells his people he wants them to become a nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), but the people are afraid of God and don’t want him to talk to them. They request that Moses stand in for them. This ends the second of six eras in the Bible, covering Genesis 3 through Exodus 18.

3. The Law

Then God gives the people his laws and shares his expectations. This begins the third era, which covers the rest of the Old Testament of the Bible, Exodus 19 through Malachi.

This era has three phases, but they all fall under Old Testament law. In the first phase God rules as their sovereign Lord, and judges lead the people from time to time. The people, however, go through cycles of following God—usually under various judges—and turn away from him after each judge dies.

For the second phase under the law, the people ask for a king, which effectively rejects God as their king. He starts with Saul. David then replaces Saul, and God establishes David’s line forever, from whom the Messiah will come. In this phase, kings rule instead of God. Most do so badly, and the people rebel against their Lord. Most of the prophets do their work during this era.

For the third phase under the era of the law, God’s people are conquered and deported. They have no ruler, and they have no nation. Though some eventually return to the promised land, they subsist without leadership, except for some of the latter prophets. The people wait for the coming Savior to rescue them. This is the third of the six eras in the Bible.

The New Testament is critical to guide our behavior as Jesus’s church. Click To Tweet

4. Jesus

Jesus comes to earth, calls people to follow him, and dies as the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sacrifices. But he overcomes death, proving his power to serve as the once-and-for-all sacrifice. This is the fourth of six eras in the Bible and is the pivotal point around which all Scripture—and all humanity—revolves. The four biographies of Jesus cover this: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

5. The Church

After giving his followers final instructions, resurrected Jesus returns to heaven. The Holy Spirit arrives to guide the church and remind them of Jesus. Acts through to Revelation 3 cover this fifth era of the Bible. We currently live in this era today, which is why the New Testament is critical to guide our actions as Jesus’s church. And the Old Testament supports this because it looks forward to this era.

Yet to conclude the six eras in the Bible, there is one era remaining, a time we anticipate for our future.

6. A New Heaven and New Earth

Starting in Revelation 4 we read of John’s vision of the future. Though the details confuse most and trip up many, the main point is that there will be an epic spiritual battle between good and evil. God wins. Satan is defeated.

After this we will see a new heaven and a new earth. This is paradise restored. Everyone who follows Jesus will spend eternity with him there.

This is the sixth era of the Bible and the one we anticipate as Jesus’s disciples.

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

See How Jesus Fulfills the Law and the Prophets

Jesus does three things to complete what the Old Testament started

Jesus draws people to him. The words he speaks and the hope he communicates attract them. Some people assume he had come to replace the Old Testament Law and the work of the prophets. Instead, Jesus fulfills it.

Jesus doesn’t come to do away with what the Old Testament teaches. Instead his mission is to bring the Old Testament into fruition, according to God’s plan from the beginning.

Jesus makes this clear. He says, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). How does Jesus do this?

Jesus Becomes the Ultimate Sacrifice

The Old Testament is packed with instructions for making sacrificial offerings, commands that showed the people’s relationship with God. These sacrifices had various meanings, but one key sacrifice occurred to redress sin.

An animal had to die because the people had sinned. Because the people continued to sin, animal sacrifices continued to be required. These sin sacrifices happened over and over, year after year, century after century.

Jesus, in his sacrificial death on the cross, becomes the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sin sacrifices. In his once-and-for-all sacrifice, he dies to make us right with God, to reconcile us into right relationship with the Almighty.

Jesus Turns Law into Love

Despite Jesus’s fresh way of looking at the understandings of his people, most of his followers struggle to fully comprehend what he means. They wrestle to reconcile his teachings with their traditions.

One such person asks Jesus to identify the greatest commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus’s answer is love. He says to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.”

This stands as the greatest commandment, but then he adds one more. He says to “love others as much as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:36-40). These two simple principles summarize all the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets.

Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love.

Jesus Changes Our Perspectives

Jesus likes to review what the Hebrew Bible says, and then he expands on it. He often makes this transition by saying “but I tell you…” Then he gives his enlightened explanation about what God meant.

We’ll do well to carefully study what Jesus says immediately after his words “but I tell you…” Read about what he says in this post.

Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets. Click To Tweet

What’s important to understand when we consider that Jesus fulfills the Old Testament law and the writings of the prophets is that we must put the Old Testament in proper perspective.

This doesn’t mean to ignore the Old Testament because Jesus fulfills it, but it does mean we need to consider the Old Testament in the context to which it was given. In addition to teaching people how to live back then, the Law and the prophets also points them to the coming Savior, Jesus.

As we read the Old Testament we see allusions to Jesus and the freedom he represents. And if we read the Old Testament with care, we will also see that this future revelation about Jesus applies to all people, not just God’s chosen nation of Israel.

Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament Law and Prophets

Yes, Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets. And we are the benefactor of that.

Thank you Jesus.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

12 Actions Scripture Says We Must Do to Live with God

Balance Old Testament Commands with New Testament Freedom

Psalm 15 opens with one essential question, phrased in two ways, that most everyone asks, either out loud or to themselves. In this Psalm, David asks God, “What must I do to live with you?”

The next four verses give us the answer. Actually, it’s a series of answers, a list of twelve things we must do if we are to live with God. Here they are:

  1. Walk Blamelessly: we should live a life above reproach.
  2. Be Righteous: we should do what is right in all things.
  3. Speak Truth: we must say what is true, not from a technical standpoint, but from our heart.
  4. Don’t Slander: we shouldn’t tell lies about other people.
  5. Don’t Do Wrong: we shouldn’t hurt others, not physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
  6. Don’t Slur: our words should not insult or speak poorly of others.
  7. Despise the Vile: we should oppose evil in every form.
  8. Honor Those Who Fear God: we should respect God-fearing people and implicitly follow their example.
  9. Keep Promises: regardless of the cost, we should do what we say we will do.
  10. Don’t Change Our Mind: we shouldn’t waffle with our words or what we decide.
  11. Lend to Those in Need: we should loan money to those in need and do so without interest.
  12. Don’t Accept Bribes: we shouldn’t allow others to improperly influence us in how we treat innocent people.

These are the twelve things we must do to live with God. Is this, then, the answer? True, the list contains admirable traits that we should all pursue, but I hope God doesn’t hold us to this.

Why? Because we can’t. We’re going to fall short at one time or another. We could miss the mark every day. Each of us. You, me, everyone.

We fall short of the Old Testament law. But there’s a better way. His name is Jesus. Click To Tweet

A Better Way to Live with God

The Old Testament commands weigh us down, begging for a better solution. The New Testament offers us a better way. His name is Jesus. He is the light of the world that gives life (John 8:12). All we need to do is follow him (Matthew 9:9), and then we can live with God.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 11-15, and today’s post is on Psalm 15:1.]

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Should You Pay Your Minister?

Pastor Compensation

For the most part, the church of today is an institution. Institutions require structure and leadership; self-perpetuation is essential—regardless of cost. For an institution to work, it needs paid staff.

That’s why local pastors receive a salary: to keep the institution of church functioning and viable. To pay your minister follows the Old Testament model of church.

But we don’t live in the Old Testament or under its covenant. We live in the New Testament and under its covenant—at least in theory.

In the New Testament, we (that is, those who follow Jesus) are his church. Each one of us is a priest (that is, a minister) to care for one another. We should not have to pay someone to do what we’re already supposed to be doing.

Further, our bodies are God’s temple. We don’t need to go to a building to go to church; we take church with us. In short, the institution of church is over—at least in theory. Without a physical building or an institution to maintain, there is no need to pay someone to run the whole mess.

However, there seems to be one exception to this idea of no compensation. In his letter to the people in Corinth, Paul builds a case to pay preachers. But he’s not talking about the folks who run local churches. He’s talking about those who go around telling others about Jesus.

Today, we might call these people evangelists or missionaries. Based on Paul’s teaching it’s right to pay them.

Yet once Paul builds his case to appropriately pay missionaries, he points to an even better way: for missionaries to earn their own money and not require outside support. Paul often covers his expenses and those who travel with him by working his trade; he is a tentmaker.

Springing from this is the idea of a tentmaker-minister, someone who pays their own way as they care for others.

So if you are part of an institution and want it to perpetuate, then buy a building, hire staff, and pay your minister their due.

However, if you want to pursue a different path, as seen in the New Testament, take the church with you wherever you go and help others wherever you can, paying your own way as you do.

[1 Corinthians 9:7-18]

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Why Does Today’s Church Follow an Old Testament Model?

Don’t Do Church Wrong

I think we’re doing church wrong. At first I assumed it was just me, but today’s church is stuck in a rut, an Old Testament rut. We follow an Old Testament model for church.

Moses’s Method: The Old Testament Model

When God gave Moses the Law, he established some key expectations for worship.

First, he set specific parameters for the tabernacle, which later became the temple. It housed various articles and activities of worship. With little exception, the people had to go to the temple to worship God. They understood the temple as God’s dwelling place here on earth.

But the people wouldn’t connect with God directly; they were afraid of him. They wanted an intermediary, someone to reveal the Almighty to them and to represent them to him.

To address this, God established the priesthood. These priests would serve God in his temple and be his representatives to his people.

Of course, this religious structure required financial support to maintain, so God instituted a temple tax, the tithe, an obligation to pay 10 percent to provide for the needs of the building and to support the staff.

Today’s Approach

Today, we still follow this Old Testament model: we have a church building where we go to worship God, hire a minister who represents God to us, and take a collection to support this hungry and growing infrastructure.

This is not what Jesus had in mind. In one single action, he did away with the building, the staff, and the offering. We should do the same.

Jesus’s Way

When Jesus overcame death, the veil in the temple ripped apart, exposing the inner sanctum of the most holy place and symbolically allowing everyone direct access to God. No longer was God distant and removed; he became approachable by everyone.

The New Temple

God ceased living in the temple and began living in us. Our bodies became the temple of God. No longer is a physical building needed; we became his temple.

God ceased living in the temple and began living in us Click To Tweet

The New Priesthood

No longer did priests need to serve as a liaison between the creator and the created. Instead, all who follow Jesus became his priests. The laity, serving as priests to each other, should minister to one another, not hire someone else to do it for them.

No longer is there a need for paid staff to be the link between God and his people. We can now all approach God directly, hearing from him and acting on his behalf. The Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to us sees to that—if we are but willing to listen, hear, and obey what he says.

The New Finances

Finally is that pesky temple tax, which we call a tithe. A church’s building and staff take up 90 to 100 percent of a typical church’s budget. But once we remove the facility and the paid staff, there is no longer a need to give 10 percent.

Nowhere in the New Testament are we commanded to tithe, not to God, not to the local church—as many ministers insist—and not for ministry. The only time New Testament writers talk about tithing is in reference to Old Testament practices, which Jesus fulfilled.

Instead of tithing to church, we see a principle where everything we have belongs to God. We are to be good stewards of his blessings, in turn using them to bless others.

We must use our resources to help those in need and advance God’s kingdom, not to support and perpetuate a religious institution.

Which Model to Follow?

So why do we persist in following the Old Testament model of going to church each Sunday to seek God, being served by a minister, and tithing when Jesus died to give us something new, something much better?

Jesus turned us into his temple, promoted us to priests, and changed the 10 percent temple tax into a principle of generosity.

Yes, it’s easy to do what we have always done; it’s comfortable to cling to the status quo, but Jesus offers us so much more—and he yearns for us to take hold of it. There is a new way to worship God, to worship him in spirit and in truth—and it doesn’t involve attending church each Sunday.

So stop following the Old Testament model of church: going to a building to meet God, revering the clergy, and tithing out of guilt or obligation. Instead, be God’s temple, act like priests, and share generously.

This is the new model that Jesus gave us.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Reading the Bible: Not All Scripture is the Same

Consider Each Book’s Genre and Purpose When Reading the Bible

Paul writes to his protégé Timothy that all Scripture comes from God. We can use it to teach, rebuke, correct, and train us in right living (2 Timothy 3:16). That is, everything in Scripture is useful. We must keep this in mind when reading the Bible. This includes some of our less-favorite books, such as Leviticus.

Despite this, we will do well to recognize that not every verse carries the same weight as others. That doesn’t mean that some verses are not useful, just that other verses are more useful. When reading and studying Scripture, we should consider this biblical hierarchy.

Reading the New Testament of the Bible

The New Testament focuses on the new covenant that we have through Jesus. We should direct our attention to the books of the New Testament, though not at the exclusion of the Old Testament.

Here is a breakdown of the New Testament books:

Gospels

The four biographies of Jesus—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—tell us what Jesus said and what he did. He serves as our teacher, clarifying our view of the Father and guiding us into right living (righteousness) that honors and worships God.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and life. He provides the pathway to Papa (John 14:6). After Jesus, everything else is secondary.

For this reason, the good news of Jesus’s life rises as the most important books of the Bible. We will do well to focus on them.

Acts

All the Gospels, and especially Luke, prepare us for what happens next. This unfolds in the book of Acts. Acts chronicles the events of the early church. It tells us what Jesus’s first followers did. Their actions and their attitudes can guide us in what we do today in our churches—and in our life—as we serve and worship God.

After Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Acts stands as a critical book of the Bible when it comes to understanding our faith and putting it into action. These first five books of the New Testament are its historical documents, and we can learn much from them.

Letters to All the Church

Third in importance in the Bible are the letters that Jesus’s followers wrote to the universal church. Unlike letters to specific groups or individuals, these letters rise above them because they have a general-purpose that we can rightly apply to us today and that pertain to all situations.

These are 1 and 2 Peter, James, Jude, and 1 John. We’ll also include Hebrews in this list, even though its audience was implicitly Hebrew people and not all Christians.

Because these books, unfortunately, appear towards the end of the New Testament, many people don’t know as much about them, read them as often, or study them as deeply as they could—or should.

We need to change that. We must elevate the importance of these books because there teaching is universal and provides us with much value—if only we will tap into it.

Letters to Specific Churches

Following these general letters written to Jesus’s church, we consider those messages written to specific churches or individuals. Why do we make this distinction? It’s because the content of these letters is intended for a specific audience and may not readily apply to everyone else.

They’re content may answer questions asked by the recipients or address struggles by the recipients that come to the authors’ attention.

If the passages in these letters are answers to questions, we don’t know what the questions are. Therefore, it’s hard for us to know how to understand the response. And if passages address issues relevant to the recipient, we need to exercise care before applying them to us today.

Of greater value, however, is if we see the same theme, command, or advice repeated in multiple letters. Then we can rightly receive those as a general passage that is more relevant to us today.

One such example, albeit perplexing, is Paul’s recurring command to greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26).

Placing too high of an emphasis on these letters that have a specific purpose can cause confusion. We must take care and not place undue emphasis on these letters with a specific audience to inform our doctrine.

Revelation

The final book in the New Testament is Revelation. Its content applies to all Christians, but we must take care to properly understand its meaning, without overreaching.

It’s a vision from God, and just like the prophetic books in the Old Testament with their many future-focused pronouncements, we must discern how to rightly interpret the passages in Revelation.

Most people in the Old Testament, even those living at the time of Jesus, misinterpreted much of the prophetic words contained in Scripture. We run the same risk today when looking at Revelation.

We will do well to read those words figuratively and use them to draw one singular conclusion: In the end times there will be an epic battle between good and evil which will affect everyone on earth. God wins. The enemy loses. The end.

Reading the Old Testament of the Bible

As we read the Old Testament—and we should—we must keep its words in a proper perspective. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament law and prophecies (Matthew 5:17). We must, therefore, exercise caution in building a modern-day theology on the Old Testament covenant, which Jesus replaced.

One overreaching conclusion, which some Christians adhere to, is to dismiss the Old Testament. The opposite extreme is to put its words on the same level as the New Testament.

Again, forming doctrine based solely on what we find in the Old Testament puts us on a dangerous footing because we may be espousing a perspective that Jesus fulfilled. The primary value of the Old Testament is to help us understand how Jesus fulfills it in the New Testament.

Here’s a breakdown of the Old Testament books:

Historical Books

The Old Testament opens with a history of God’s people. These books start with Genesis and go through to Esther. Their value is that they help us understand Scripture’s story arc, pointing us to Jesus.

As the saying goes, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And the Old Testament has a lot of mistakes for us to learn from. Knowing God’s expectations under his old covenant, helps us to better understand and accept his mercy and grace under his new covenant.

Prophetic Books

Closely following the value of the historical books in the Old Testament are the prophetic books. These cover Isaiah through Malachi.

They address the then-current state of God’s people and look toward the future. Some of their prophecies have been fulfilled—primarily through Jesus—and others we still await.

The prophetic books of the Old Testament help us anticipate Jesus’s arrival in the New Testament. And like the historical books, they enable us to see the sins of our forefathers so that we can avoid repeating their mistakes.

Poetic Books

The final group of books in the Bible is the poetic books. They are Job through Song of Songs, with Psalms being the most favorite, beloved by many. These are ideal books for us to read to spark our emotion. They can encourage us when we struggle.

They can lead us into powerful worship of God, our Creator. And they can supply motivational passages to inspire us and draw us to Papa.

The poetic books of the Bible are great when it comes to encouragement, inspiration, and informing our worship. We must remember, however, that this is a genre of poetry. We must exercise care and not use a poetic verse to form a theological statement—unless we can find support for it in another part of Scripture.

All Scripture is useful to guide us in our faith journey. Click To Tweet

Bible Reading Summary

All Scripture is useful to guide us in our faith journey. Based on the various books’ genre, audience, and timeframe, we can better understand how to apply it.

When reading the Bible, may you read and study all 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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament by Becoming the Ultimate Sin Sacrifice

Consider What Jesus Did for Us

Today’s church still follows the Old Testament model for church: we have a church building where we go to worship God, hire a minister who represents the Almighty to us, and take a collection to support the whole thing.

This is not what Jesus has in mind. Instead Jesus fulfills the Old Testament, not to perpetuate it or to eliminate it. Here’s how: Through his sacrificial death, in one single action, Jesus does away with the need to go to a building, hire staff, and take an offering. (More on what Jesus did here.) We should do the same.

This all hinges on Jesus.

Jesus draws people to him—both then and now. The words he speaks and the hope he communicates attract them. Two thousand years ago, people assume Jesus comes to replace the Old Testament Law and the work of the prophets, but this isn’t his calling.

Jesus doesn’t come to do away with what the Old Testament teaches. Instead his mission is to bring the Old Testament into fruition, according to God’s plan, set in place from the beginning. Jesus makes this clear. He says, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the prophets but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17).

How does Jesus do this?

Jesus Becomes the Ultimate Sacrifice

The Old Testament is packed with instructions for making sacrificial offerings, commands that show the people’s relationship with God. These sacrifices have various meanings, but one key sacrifice occurs—and recurs—to redress sin. An animal must die because the people have sinned. Since the people continue to sin, animal sacrifices persist as a requirement. These sin sacrifices must happen over and over, day after day, year after year, century after century.

Jesus, in his sacrificial death on the cross, becomes the ultimate sacrifice for sin to end all sin sacrifices. This is the main way Jesus fulfills the Old Testament. In his once-and-for-all sacrifice, he dies to make us right with God, to reconcile us into right relationship with the Almighty.

Jesus Turns Law into Love

Despite Jesus’s fresh way of looking at the assumptions of his people, his disciples struggle to understand what he means. They wrestle to reconcile his teachings with their traditions.

Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love. Click To Tweet

One such person asks Jesus to cite the greatest commandment in the Old Testament. Jesus’s answer is love. He says to “love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.” This stands as the greatest commandment, but then he adds one more. He says to “love others as much as we love ourselves” (Matthew 22:36-40). These two simple principles summarize the purpose and intent of the entire Old Testament Law and the writings of the prophets.

Jesus removes a set of impossible-to-please laws and replaces them with one principle: love. This is another way Jesus fulfills the Old Testament.

May we love others because Jesus loves us.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

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. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.