Why the Old Testament?

Lesson notes from a course I have taught a couple times.

See "most important notes" at bottom before leaving this page.

The Road to Emmaus

Question 1: Is Jesus God?

Question 2: If Jesus is God, then what did he say about the Old Testament?

It is clear from the words of Jesus that he believed the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi to be the word of God. You may have doubts about what consitutes scripture after Malachi. You may believe that there are 5 or more books between the OT and the NT (The Apochrapha). You may question whether the NT is scripture, or perhaps you only question some parts - for example there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the last few verses of Mark in the King James are not the original last words of Mark, however:

Jesus makes it clear that the full OT can be treated unequivocally as the word of God.

Matt 5:17 " Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfil....not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished...Whoever annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven"

Matt 4: 4,7,10, 15-16, 5:21. Throughout 5: showing extensions not removal.

Luke 24:44 "Everything about me in the OT to be fulfilled" 45 "The he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures"

Paul frequently quoted from he Old Testament. 2:Ti 3:16 All scripture... but wait, just what is this "all scripture" he is talking about?

Consider Hebrews, a book written to the Jews. Proof: Hebrews 1:1

Filled with quotes from the OT, consider 1:5,6,7,8-9,10-12, 13, 2:6-8, 13 and throughout the rest. Nearly a third of the book is quotes, most of the rest is discussion about the OT and how it proves God.

Consider Hebrews 5:11-14 and 6:1 - Therefore ... since the OT teaches us ... leave the elementary teachings about Christ.

The Old Testament is the foundation on which the New Testament is written.

"I came to fullfill the law" and the frequent NT quotes of the OT show that the NT writers assume, build on and teach from the Old Testament theology.

God is always the same. The THEOLOGY of the OT is therefore just as relevant today as it was the day it was written. The Facts and some of the Rules may change. Peter was told to eat "unclean" meat in a dream. Yes the dream was primarily about Gentiles, but the point is that the non-moral rules changed. However God did not change. Heaven, hell, sin, right, wrong did not change.

So, IS Jesus God?

"The B-I-B-L-E says so" But is that good enough? As a young child, our parents tell us to trust the Bible. We trust it because we trust our parents. But at some point, many people consider their beliefs carefully. "why do I believe." John 5:31 "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid." John 5:36 - What Jesus says is proper testimony about his diety.

I can tell you my reasons. I considered the claims of the Bible. I considered the claims of Mormons, Islam, Buddists, Animists, Jews, New Age and others.

One of the conclusions I came to was that, the only FACT that matters to Christianity is "Is Jesus God" If Jesus is God then Mormons, Islamites, Buddists, Animists, Jews, New Agers and others, though fervent and convinced are simply, categorically WRONG. If Jesus is NOT God, if Jesus is anything else, no matter how good or how significant, Christianity is uterally WRONG.

After 2 or 3 years of study, I concluded that Jesus Christ IS God.  For detailed study, I strongly recommend Josh McDowells "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" If you really want to extremely carefully check out Josh's claims, study Greek so you can read the original documents (I did), however, to be reasonable, most people will find reading translations to be good enough. If you question one - take it to someone who can read Greek (even modern Greek) and have them check it out for you.

He claimed to be God.

He is God or Evil. He was NOT a "good man" or "just a prophet". Good men do not lie through their teeth and claim to be God. Only God and evil men claim to be God.. Matt 27:11, Mark 15:2, *Luke 22 66-70, Luke 24:49 - I'm going to my father. John 4:26 - I am the messiah. John 5: 16-23 made himself equal with God.

There is no question he claimed to be God. The Jewish (his enemies) writings of the time (and even today) agree that he claimed to be God. The Roman writings at the time agree that he claimed to be God. His friends (mostly Jews too remember) agreed that he claimed to be God including those that have become what we now call the "New Testament."

He rose from the dead.

This could take hours to discuss and expand, but I leave that to Josh and others. There is more proof that Jesus rose from the dead then there is proof that I went to the University of Calgary. Here are some of the proofs that I find convincing:

It is only in the last generation or two that soldiers were not killed for falling asleep on the job. So how did a whole group of them all fall asleep on the job. And if they did, why were they allowed to live unless there was political meddling.

But for a moment, lets assume that they did fall asleep. Isn't it amazing that trained soldiers in the most powerful army of the time didn't hear someone (the diciples are blamed for it) moving away the rock and then taking the body!

But for a moment, lets assume that they didn't hear the noise. Isn't it amazing that many people claimed to have seen him alive afterwards?

Oh, but people lie. Yes you are correct. But consider this:

How many people will die for something they believe in? Lets charitably say "many" or "most."

But... how many people will die for something they KNOW absolutely to be a lie? And how many of those will allow their children to die for something they Know to be a lie?

So why did so many Christians go to their death, refusing to admit that they never saw Jesus after he died?

Now, I have not covered all the issues I admit. I have not covered the fainting theory. claiming that Jesus didn't die, he just fainted, then in Power and Might - having almost died - rose up an army of believers. Yeah right! And I haven't covered the "Jesus was an extraterrestrial" theory.

But I can tell you that, after the evidence is weighed, it becomes crystal clear that the easiest to accept conclusion was that Jesus was exactly who he said he was,

GOD

So. If Jesus quoted from the OT, taught from the OT, explained the OT, proved himself using the OT.

Then it is clear that we must have a solid understanding of OT theology if we hope to reasonably understand the subtlties and details of the NT Teachings.

The most important things to take from this whole series of classes, if you can only take two things are:

  1. it is a clear, absolute FACT that Jesus is God
  2. it is a clear, absolute FACT that Jesus proclamed the OT as we know it, to be accurate and reliable and trustworth.

Welcome to Old Testament Theology where we will learn to understand God and our relationship to him.