Another challenge in the area of biblical perplexities is how we handle the time gap, the language gap, and the culture gap between the New Testament and our present experience. This is where our theological humility comes into the picture. Our western and modern mindset wants to put everything about God and His communication with man into neat, logical pigeonholes. Insisting on a specific theological bent forces us into apparent contradictions and complicated efforts to explain them away rather than just accepting and celebrating the mystery. There will always be a certain amount of mystery in Scripture. That is just the way God is.
So while the Bible includes plenty of chronological detail, it is not a western-style history book. And in our efforts to understand it as one, we are frustrated by what appear to be significant events with little mention (maybe one verse), important events that seem left out altogether, other events repeated (often from a new angle), and all kinds of things foreign to our western mindset. But not all of Scripture is that way. Romans chapters 1 through 8, for example, is one of the most compelling arguments of western style logic explaining in a linear method man’s need for salvation, God’s solution in Christ, and how we are to live in light of all Christ accomplished on our behalf. Again, the overall approach is varied as we must assume God intended.
So if the Bible is not a western-style history book or a western-style science book or a geometry book with theorems and their proofs, what is it? The Bible is a book of theology that describes the actions and attributes of the One True God and His interaction with man. It culminates in God’s most specific interaction in the coming to earth of His Son, the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth as set forth in the writings of the New Testament. In fact, Jesus’ arrival, earthly ministry, death, and resurrection was such a dramatic intervention by God that our entire arrangement with the Sovereign of the Universe was changed. In Christ, a term used over and over in the New Testament, everything changed in our relationship with God. A change we do not understand and emphasize and preach nearly enough.
The Old Testament is God-breathed. The Old Testament is inspired Scripture. But the operative word in that endorsement is the word “Old.” We need to help our young people understand that the Old Covenant has ended (see II Cor 3:11 where the Old Covenant is described as katargeo [Greek], literally “brought to an end”). The law’s requirements, punishments, complications, and expectations are gone with no application to the New Covenant believer which we are. Of course, most Christians would argue that they are not following the Old Testament law. But what I observe in practice is the heart is still referred to as “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (even though it has been replaced in the believer by a new heart that is soft toward God), sin is our default mode (even though our sin nature died with Christ and holiness is now our default mode), and we expect God’s material blessing for obedience (a message not found in the New Testament where challenges and adversity are more likely the outcome of devoted obedience).
If you have followed this blog for some time, you recognize I am back on my New Covenant soapbox. If you are new to these posts and interested in just a taste of what the New Covenant has to offer the believer may I refer you to some of our earlier thoughts such as “Something New”, “A New Heart”, and “The Sin Cow” as a good place to start.