Sermon – “The Two Testaments”

Sermon for Sunday, December 13th, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)

Old Testament reading:

[Dan 9:24-27 ESV] 24 “Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

New Testament reading:

[Heb 1:1-4 ESV] 1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Gospel reading:

[Mar 1:1-8 ESV] 1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

INTRODUCTION

By the end of the 5th century B.C. the book of Malachi had been written and with it the Old Testament was completed. Of course, at the time, nobody knew that they were living in a time that we call “B.C.” nor did they call the Scriptures “the Old Testament” as there were yet no other inspired writings.

With the writing of Malachi and the completion of the Old Testament the Lord had finished revealing through those “prophets of old” all that he saw fit to tell His people at that time.

A period of silence of 400 years then ensued. Towards the end of that period, perhaps in part because of Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks, suspense grew with ever increasing expectation of the coming of the messiah.

Then, in a very brief window of time following Jesus’s ministry, death, and resurrection, the New Testament was written. While it took some 1200 years for all of the Old Testament to be written, the New Testament was written in as little as 20 years. It was very much a surge in God’s revelation to man.

Now, having in previous weeks broadly discussed sections of the New Testament (the Gospels) and of the Old Testament (the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings), this week we’ll look at the relationship of the two testaments. The relationship of the Old Testament and the New Testament.

And we’ll see that our understanding of this relationship of the Testaments is important for our understanding of doctrines taught therein.

I. The Relationship of the Old and New

a. Continuity

As we look at the two testaments, it is important emphasize first of all the continuity between them. Each of the Testaments are Scripture, inspired writings; the very Word of God. The New Testament is NOT a redo of the Old Testament. Nor should should the Old Testament be discarded.

There is continuity between the testaments. The New Testament quotes the Old over and over again – some 283 times – and considers it to be the Word of God. The New Testament has the highest of views of the Old Testament.

The Old Testament, like the New, is true in all that it says but it is not the finished product. Only with the addition of the New Testament do we have “the whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory and man’s salvation, faith and life.”

b. Progressive Revelation

While all of the Scriptures are “perspicuous” or essentially clear for our understanding, there is with every additional revelation from God the giving of a greater and greater understanding of Him and His truth. As more is revealed we progress in our understanding of God.

This is called “progressive revelation.”[REPEAT: progressive revelation] As the Word of God is revealed through the Scriptures, the later writings have a fuller revelation.

And it is not simply that more content is revealed in the New Testament, but that there is a sense in which it is a greater revelation. God had spoken through his prophets; NOW he has spoken through His own Son!

c. Types and Shadows

Progressive revelation can be seen in the fulfillment of the types and shadows.

In the Old Testament there were “types” of things to come, fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the “anti-type.”

And as the types and shadows are fulfilled, we are given a fuller revelation of God.

Adam was a type of Christ in that he was the representative of all humanity.

Job was a type of Christ in that he suffered though he was righteous.

Moses was a type of Christ in that he was a mediator between man and God.

And the Judges were all types of Christ in that they were deliverers of the people of God.

Then also, it isn’t just people that are types of Christ, but things in the Old Testament are shadows of the fulfillment found in Christ.

The manna, the bread from heaven, is a shadow of Christ, the bread of life come down from heaven.

The sacrificial spotless lamb is a shadow of the sinless Christ, sacrificed for the sins of man.

And the bronze serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness is a shadow of Jesus Christ on the cross.

There are many things in the Old Testament that, like a shadow, show the outline of the true thing, but without the full image.

What is concealed in the Old, is revealed in the New.

What is Hidden in the Old, is seen in the New.

The whispers have become shouts.

The promised Messiah has come in the flesh. And the Scriptures have been fulfilled in him.

So we see that there is continuity between the Testaments, and that the revelation from God increases such that the shadows are now realities. Following then from these considerations, we have the following interpretative principle.

And I think this is one of the most important principles for how we are to understand the Scriptures.

d. An Interpretive principle.

The principles is this: We must keep to all of the teachings of the Old Testament expect where they are abrogated in the New Testament. [REPEAT: We must keep to all of the teachings of the Old Testament expect where they are abrogated in the New Testament.]

To be abrogated is to do away with. To cancel.

So if something is taught in the Old Testament, we do not need for it to be repeated in the New in order for it to be valid. We accept the Old Testament as fully the word of God. And its teaching is valid until God has announced some modification.

Let’s look then at some implications of this principle.

II. Implications

a. The end of the ceremonial laws.

The moral law of the Old Testament, exemplified in the 10 commandments remains valid for us. It is not done away with in the New Testament.

But the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament are abrogated. We no longer need to follow the rules of the temple worship, the sacrifices, and the rules on the cleanliness of food. All because in the New Testament these are done away with.

Particularly relevant here is the 9th chapter of the book of Hebrews where we find that Christ’s sacrifice does away with animal sacrifices, and Acts chapter 10 and 11 where Peter is told in a dream “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

b. Change of the Sabbath to Sunday

The New Testament also changes the day of worship from a Saturday (7th day) Sabbath), to a Sunday (1st day) Sabbath in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thus the disciples gathered on the first day of the week (John 20:19, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2).

Regarding the Sabbath, the Westminster Confession (21:7) explains both that which remains unchanged from the Old Testament and what has changed in light of the New Testament.

From the Old Testament it is set “As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath. to be kept holy unto him.”

That precept has not changed in the New Testament. One day in seven is to be set aside particularly for the Lord.

But what has changed is the day of the week which is set aside. The confession explains that the Sabbath “from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.”

In Revelation 1:10 the apostle John says “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” Since the Lord Jesus rose on Sunday, and the disciples met on that day, it is apparent that John is referring to Sunday when he speaks of “the Lord’s day.”

c. Covenant Baptism

Let’s then apply this principle also the baptism. Again, the principle is “We must keep to all of the teachings of the Old Testament expect where they are abrogated in the New Testament.”

Now I have a number minister-friends who are Baptists, and they make an interesting argument – that nowhere in the Scriptures is there an explicit reference to the Baptism of infants. There are of course various “family baptisms” in the New Testament.

But, consider our principle. We are to keep to all of the teachings of the Old Testament except where they are abrogated in the New.

There is an explicit change in the New Testament regarding the sign of the covenant. Circumcision had been the sign of the covenant, but now it is baptism. This has been changed. But, barring any explicit change in the recipient of the sign of the covenant, we are to continue the Old Testament practice. And that practice was to circumcise even infants as a sign of the covenant.

Thus we continue and baptize even infants as a sign of the covenant, not a declaration of their own faith, but a declaration of the promises of God, so that no one can boast.

So Paul is even able to call baptism, in Colossians 2:11 “the circumcision of Christ.” The sign and seal of the covenant has changed, it’s recipients have not. In fact, if any, the scope of recipients has increased by circumcision was only for males, while baptism is for everyone.

And Peter said [Act 2:38-39 ESV] “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

CONCLUSION

So we have that understood relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and some implications that arise through that understanding – that the Old Testament is the Word of God while through types and shadows points to Jesus Christ.

And truly, when we look at the Scriptures both Old and New we find that the major focus is on Jesus Christ. We’ll conclude with this point. There is continuity and progressive revelation of the savior, Jesus Christ.

Luke says of Jesus:

[Luk 24:27 ESV] 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

And in John’s Gospel we have Jesus himself saying:

[Jhn 5:39 ESV] 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

The Scriptures do indeed bear witness to Jesus Christ. It is the focus of the Word and it is where our focus should be as well. There are indeed important applications in doctrine that are found in understanding the right relationship between the testaments, but nothing is more important than knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior.

The promised messiah of the Old Testament has come, and there is no denying that truth. And since He came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died for the sins of His people, we who believe in Him have eternal life assured through his death and resurrection. This is the message of the whole Scriptures, both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Praise be to God for that message; the good news of the Gospel. Amen.