Friday, August 21, 2015

The Standing Use and Authority of the Old Testament (Part 2)

(continued from 8/18/2015)

1st Instead of finding fault with the Jews for reading the Old Testament, the very reverse was the case. They are reproved by the Savior for their carelessness in not receiving and acting upon the statements laid down therein. Said he to the chief priests and elders of the people, "Did ye never read in the Scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?” Matt. 21: 42. To the multitude, "Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words." John 5: 46-47. Whence may we not see the very way in which the Jews are yet to be brought to a knowledge of the truth; not, indeed, by a laying aside or neglect of the Old Testament, but by a reverential study of it, and the blessing of the Spirit accompanying it; and that thus the veil of ignorance shall be removed, and they brought to bow at the feet of the Great Teacher himself? Then shall he say to them like as he did to the two disciples that journeyed with him to Emmaus: "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" Luke 24: 25. Such references plainly intimate not only the necessity and importance of these writings, but stimulate to a continued and close examination of their bearing in order to a cordial reception of the truths which he taught.

2nd When Jesus was tempted of the devil, though he could, by the arm of his omnipotence, have at once hurled him and his legions back whence they came, defeated; yet, strange to say, he suffered the deceiver to confront him - the Innocent One - and taking upon him our infirmities, he employed against Satan the weapons he would have us to wield. He set us an example that we should follow in his steps. By the words of the Old Testament Scriptures did Christ oppose his arch insinuations, thereby inculcating their use, and teaching us not only to resist the devil and he will flee from us; but that these same Scriptures are the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, the weapon of attack in the armor of righteousness provided by the Captain of our salvation.

3rd Not only have we Christ's example, which we should follow, but his plain and pointed command: "Search the Scriptures." John 5: 39. This, of course, at the time in which it was spoken, referred to the Old Testament, and thereby its authority and use are established to all generations.

4th In the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles, we have 'its perusal commended and enjoined, and its statements introduced to corroborate the truths published. Of the Christians in Thessalonica, it is recorded as exemplary and praiseworthy; they "searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17: 11. Again, "the righteousness of God without the law" is said to be now " manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;" and this is explained in the next verse to be "the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe," - a righteousness "without the law" in this sense, that our personal obedience has no influence in procuring the sinner's justification, "by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight." Rom . 3: 20, 21, 22. And this righteousness of faith then is "witnessed by the law and the prophets" - the usual expression among the writers of the New Testament, for the Old. How important the testimony, both by reason of the witness, which is the Spirit himself, and because of the object, which is Christ with all new covenant benefits for our salvation. We have the Old Testament so interwoven with the apostles' instructions that to separate the two would be to rend and destroy the whole. Their connection is so completely established in the Epistles, their harmony so clearly maintained, that, by neglecting the Old, we render the New , as far as we are concerned, in many places, useless and unmeaning. The Epistle to the Hebrews would be unintelligible without Leviticus—the perpetual reference to the former dispensation renders necessary the continuance of this book for our instruction. Moreover, how could we aright understand the Epistle to the Romans, and the words "atonement," "reconciliation," "blood," &c , without the Pentateuch? Is it not by a constant reference to the Old, and by comparing Scripture with Scripture, that our ideas are properly formed and enlarged? In truth, the distinguishing doctrines of the Church of Christ regarding his substitutionary sufferings, his resurrection, his exaltation, and the exercise of his mediatorial power over the nations, can only be fully proved by having recourse to the Old Testament in connection with the New. 

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