In the previous instalments, we looked at some reasons why both the Old Testament and the New Testament combine to make up the complete Word of God. We continue, in this final instalment, with some further reasons and conclude that anything less than the full Bible is insufficient for a true Christian.
- Only the Old Testament was available when Jesus was on earth.
The New Testament hadn’t been written until the end of the first century, which was after Jesus’ death. In the Old Testament, we find a number of Scriptures that prophesy of Jesus’ first coming. If we only relied on the New Testament, we wouldn’t have the prophecies to review and see how they were fulfilled. Let us review just a few of these Old Testament prophecies.
In Isaiah 7:14 we read: “Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
This was written about 700 years before the birth of Jesus and was brought to fruition as we read in the New Testament – please see Matthew 1:22-23.
In the 53rd chapter of Isaiah are remarkable prophecies:
Verse 5: “But He was wounded [pierced] for our transgressions, He was bruised [crushed] for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Compare Matthew 8:16-17.)
Verse 7: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” (Compare Matthew 26:63, 27:12-14, Acts 8:32-33.)
Verse 9: “And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.” (Compare Matthew 27:57-60, 1 Peter 2:22.)
We read in Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
This was written over 800 years before Jesus was born and pinpoints the town where He was to be born – see Matthew 2:6 for the fulfilment of this prophecy.
The accuracy is unerring.
There are more references, but to repeat what was written in the previous point, there are at least a minimum of 414 references in the Old Testament referring to Jesus’ first coming. And there are many Old Testament Scriptures speaking about Christ’s second coming.
- The Old Testament is vital to understand many biblical teachings.
It is in the Old Testament that we find God giving Abraham promises. In Genesis 12:2-3 we read: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
We in the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and other English-speaking nations are still, today, reaping the benefit of Abraham’s obedience to God; although the blessings now seem to be ebbing away due to man’s behaviour and lack of trust in Him. Please see our free booklet “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America” where on pages 6 and 7 we read about the “Birthright Blessings of Abraham Were Passed On” and “Blessings Withheld for Disobedience”. On page 9 is a section headed, “Throne of David to Continue Until the Return of Christ”. How would we have understood all of this vital information if we just had the New Testament?
On the first Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the New Testament Church as recorded in Acts 2, Peter stood up and gave an address which referred to the prophet Joel (2:28-32) and to David in Psalm 16:8-11.
When Stephen, amongst others, was chosen as one of the seven deacons to serve, he was described as “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). He was accused of blasphemy (Acts 6:11) and when he was challenged, he gave an address (Acts 7:2-53) which covered many Old Testaments events and which culminated in his death by stoning (Acts 7:57-60). This address would not have taken place, nor the reigning religious elite chided about his behaviour, had the Old Testament been unimportant and not necessary for the early Christian Church.
In Acts 8:26-38, we read that Philip preached Christ to the Ethiopian eunuch and referred to Isaiah 53:7-8.
In Acts 13:13-41, we read that the apostle Paul was reading from the Law and the Prophets.
Old Testament examples were given in 1 Corinthians 10. In verse 4 we read that “that spiritual Rock that followed them… was Christ”. Verse 6 of this chapter reads: “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” The apostle Paul gave the clear indication that the Old Testament was necessary for the fledgling Corinthian Church to learn lessons from.
- The Church of God must preach “the whole counsel of God.”
In 2 Timothy 3:16 we learn an important lesson about the entire Bible: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers observes the following: “Every scripture inspired by God is also profitable for doctrine, for reproof… by making… ‘all Scripture’ the subject, and ‘given by inspiration of God’ the predicate, [Paul] declares positively the inspiration of all the Old Testament Scriptures, for this is what the Apostle must have referred to…”
It follows, therefore, that those who profess Christianity must have, and use, the Old Testament as part of their faith.
We learn further from Romans 15:4: “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
We read in Acts 19:8: “And he (Paul) went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God.” This was also the subject of His teaching in Acts 20:25 and 28:30-31. In 28:23 we read: “So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. (See also Acts 26:22-23.)
We read in Acts 22:3 that Paul (previously Saul of Tarsus) said: “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.” It is, therefore, safe to assume that Paul, with his background and training, knew the Old Testament and applied this to Jesus Christ. He would be able to preach the whole counsel of God (compare Acts 20:27).
While the Old Testament was written thousands of years ago, we are still the recipients of that body of knowledge and, combined with the New Testament, is the information that God wants us to have.
Jude wrote in his short epistle in verse 3: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” This is part of the whole counsel of God.
In our booklet “The Authority of the Bible,” we read the following on pages 4 and 5 under the heading “The Bible Proves Itself”:
“The answer to that question is simply, THE BIBLE PROVES ITSELF! Human interpretation is not the final authority when it comes to the Word of God! But that is exactly how those who selectively pick and choose what they want to believe, view the Bible. It is also the position taken by so many who simply reject the Bible.
“So, again, how can we know what is true and what is false?
“Jesus Christ made an utterly profound statement in answer to Pilate’s questioning: ‘Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice”’ (John 18:37). Jesus Christ Himself bore witness of the Word of God, and that included the Holy Scriptures—the Old Testament at that time. The prophecies of His birth, death and resurrection proved to be true!”
Jesus also quoted the Old Testament passages of the Bible when tempted by Satan three times in the New Testament (see Matthew 4:1-11). He responded to Satan each time with the phrase “It is written…” and then followed by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3 and Deuteronomy 6:13. If we didn’t have and use the Old Testament, we wouldn’t realise that the references came from that source. By using these verses, Jesus confirmed the validity and necessity of the Old Testament.
Unfortunately, there are those who acknowledge and use the Old Testament but they “believe that we don’t necessarily have to take everything in there as literal and factual history, and we can consider other options to interpret the Old Testament.” As we have said so many times, if there are errors in the Bible, then it cannot be trusted, and then we cannot believe that God’s Word is infallible.
With such a weight of evidence showing how the whole Bible is necessary to understand the creation of man, promises made to Abraham right down to the present time, prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament, being fulfilled in the New Testament, and the whole plan of God – and much more – there can surely be no disputing that the Old Testament is vital and necessary.
The evidence that we have reviewed in this series is but a small selection to prove the point that the whole Word of God must be used to understand, as much as we are able and what has been revealed to us, what God has in store for those who are obedient to His Will and live a life pleasing in His sight and which will lead to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)