This morning I read two essays that stressed the importance of Christians reading both the Old and New Testaments.
From Joshua Heavin on The Danger of Ignoring Old Testament Scripture:
Even amongst the most Bible-oriented churches, many of us spend the bulk of our time teaching and preaching from the New Testament rather than the Old. Moreover, when preaching and teaching from the New Testament, preachers and teachers often rely mainly on personal anecdotes or pop cultures references for illustrations rather than the Old Testament…. [which] arguably hinders disciples from becoming trained to make connections across our canon of sacred writings.
…we need to reaffirm or rearticulate how the Old and New Testaments are related. Jesus is not the fulfillment of Israel’s story such that Israel’s story is now obsolete because of God’s new action, nor because a new God has acted to supersede Israel with the Church as a ‘New Israel.’ Rather, Jesus of Nazareth’s particular history as Israel’s Messiah is the fulfillment of Israel’s story in his own person through his incarnation, appearance, kingdom-inaugurating words and deeds, crucifixion, death, resurrection, ascension, present rule, and intercession.
In other words, there would be no gospel and no Christian hope without Israel, through whom the one God freely determined to bind Godself in covenant relation. The Messiah, who gifts the Holy Spirit to gentiles for adoption as sons and daughters of Abraham, makes us co-participants as gentiles in the cosmos-renewing story of Israel’s God. Paul indicates that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4) and that events in the Old Testament such as the wilderness testing “happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Hence, those who are ‘in Christ’ become re-readers of Israel’s Scriptures in light of Christ’s death and resurrection at the end of the ages.
From the other article
, some of this Baptist pastor’s points in extolling the benefits of using the Revised Common Lectionary
(RCL) to guide church’s worship and teaching:
- The Breadth of Scripture: [F]ollowing the RCL helps the congregation hear the entirety of Scripture over the course of three years.
- Affirming the Church universal: Every Sunday, while our people at our local congregation are hearing the words of John 2.13-22 so also are myriads of congregations hearing these same passages. We are one congregation in the midst of the Great Congregation. Not only across space, but across time.
- Shaping the congregation: The seasons of the Church Calendar provide us opportunity to pause at intervals to consider various aspects of our discipleship.
He states another important benefit:
Because the RCL has us read from four passages of Scripture each Sunday, we see the value of poetry, history, prose, prophecy, and epistle. We see them as equally important to our devotion.