On NOT Unhitching from the Old Testament, But RATHER Approaching It With Christ-Centered Confidence

The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the sermon that Mitch Chase preached yesterday morning (10/28/18) at Kosmosdale Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. I’m posting this here because it is in opposition to the “strange fire” (which I fear may gain some traction in some Baptist circles) of unhitching the Christian faith from the Old Testament. (The rest of Mitch’s sermon, from Exodus 21:1-11, is an excellent example of how to faithfully think through what may be considered a difficult Old Testament passage; I highly recommend it, and it can be heard here: https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1028182014355 .)

“In a recent book from a pastor in Georgia, he seeks to persuade readers that we’re probably paying far too much attention to the Old Testament. [According to this book,] we need to back off from dealing with it, preaching it: back off significantly, because it has so many hot points [of contention/potential confusion]… he lists things like arguments about creation, miracles in the Old Testament, certain commandments and laws, which seem ethically objectionable. This writer suggests, and I quote, ‘When it comes to stumbling blocks to the faith, the Old Testament is at the top of the list.’ Now, that might be true for some people; it’s not surprising that people have serious questions about the Old Testament: serious concerns. It’s nothing new, though. Consider that Jesus, who was NOT wrong, LOVED the Old Testament. He said He came to fulfill it, spoke of Scripture as the Word of God, which had been given by God. The Apostle Paul says that the Old Testament is inspired and profitable for teaching, and for reproof, and for correction, and for training in righteousness [2 Timothy 3:16]. The New Testament doesn’t reject the Old Testament, so we should follow the way of Christ and His apostles; we should uphold it, value it, use it, proclaim it: the apostles did to their new covenant believers!

….

“If people come to the Bible with hearts troubled by parts of the Old Testament, the answer is NOT to ignore the Old Testament. The proper response to confusion is NOT neglect. Rather, the answer is to engage the Old Testament: to pursue understanding of its texts with humility and trust. When that happens, I think we’ll see several things over and over again:

  1. Many objections to the Old Testament are based on misunderstandings, caricatures, false ideas, that we SHOULD reject. (When we engage the Old Testament as Christians, we actually have the opportunity to expose misunderstandings about the Old Testament and correct caricatures. After all, we’re dealing with 39 biblical books; we should not be quickly dismissive at all.)
  2. Some objections to the Old Testament are rooted in the interpreter’s personal moral rebellion. People might object to the very notion that God forbids something. Take the subject of sexual ethics in our culture: looking into the Bible, and seeing God’s words about human sexuality, an interpreter might object to what God’s Word says to something because they themselves strongly desire it! And so that objection to an Old Testament passage is rooted in their own moral rebellion.
  3. Other objections to the Old Testament are rooted in the interpreter’s rejection of the supernatural. An objector might reject that there’s even a God and [proclaim] that the universe instead is a closed system where everything that happens inside has explanations that are purely natural from beginning to end.
  4. There’s no new objection to the Old Testament that has not already been raised in church history and sufficiently, competently answered.
  5. [But NOTE:] the Old Testament, to the surprise of some initial readers, perhaps even, shows God’s holy character and redemptive plan. It displays His power, His goodness, His wisdom, His justice, His love, His patience, His mercy: I’m talking about the Old Testament! When we consider the laws, and the narratives, and the prophecies of these 39 books, and consider them in light of their original contexts, and in light of the overall plan of God’s Word: God’s holiness and redemptive plan is the uncompromising story; it is the unity of God’s Word heading somewhere—to Christ. So we need not shy away from any Old Testament passage; we should approach them unhesitatingly, with eager, humble confidence in God’s Word, which is inspired and profitable.
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