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What is the Value in Reading both the Old Testament and the New Testament in the Bible? One of the questions that have often been asked when it comes to understanding the Bible is, why is there an Old Testament (OT) and a New Testament (NT)?
This usually leads to a series of questions: What is the difference between the old testament and new testament? Which one is more important and what is the purpose of each of them.
This question has sparked so much debate among believers that many just simply avoid finding out the answers. In writing this article, my purpose is to give you, the reader, a little insight into why each Testament is important and what blends the two into one cohesive guideline for all that choose to follow it.
The Value in the Old Testament
When you first open up the Bible and see that the Old Testament is more than double the size of the New Testament, it may be tempting to just move on to the New and forget about reading the Old. To be honest, there’s not really anything wrong with that at first because the New Testament is easier to understand for many.
In fact, many Pastors suggest that new believers begin by reading the New Testament gospels Mark or John first so that they can really grasp what Christianity is all about.
While this is good advice, the Old Testament has much to offer once a new believer has found their footing. What you see in the OT books of the Bible is the background information that leads to what we have in the NT books.
The value in the OT is more about building the foundation of who God is and what He desires of all of us. There are stories of great importance in the OT that really lay out the history of God’s chosen vessels that we, as believers in today’s world, can really relate to.
The book of Psalms is filled with prayers of love and other strong emotions that can really open our eyes and help us see God for who he really is in our lives (Psalm 119:18). When you find yourself reading an OT book you’ve never really heard of, such as Habakkuk or Micah, you see God standing by the faithful few and are reminded that even in the midst of utter darkness, God is still with you (Habakkuk 1:12, Micah 7:20).
As you read the historical narratives, such as Isaiah or Jeremiah, you will see examples of God’s undeniable love working itself into the broken-hearted giving them hope and a future to hold on to (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Then, as you begin to read the New Testament books, there are little glimmers of the OT woven throughout each and every book, from Matthew to Revelation.
The Old Testament is part of the Bible for a reason and while some may say that it became irrelevant when the NT was established, the fact remains that it reveals a great deal about why we have the NT and still gives us valuable insight into this God that we follow. Please read - Finding Jesus in the OT.
The Value in the New Testament
When one first accepts Jesus Christ, the OT may not be the best place to start because it is filled with so much history and law that it can overwhelm the reader. However, it is still important to the history of Christianity and of God.
Each book brings to life another aspect of our faith in an entirely new light. Where the OT gives us the foundation of what the Christian faith was built upon, the NT takes it a step further and gives us the opportunity to see who Jesus is and how we can apply that faith to our daily lives.
If the OT teaches us through history and song, the NT teaches us through example and understanding. As we read through the NT, we are gaining hands-on teaching that can help guide us in our journey.
One thing about the NT that has always been instrumental in the Christian faith is that it is the fulfillment of all of the promises made in the OT. It provides us with the story of Jesus and his ministry.
We experience his life and the importance of his role in our faith. Then, as you move into the book of Acts, we begin to see that ministry come to life and grow. As we read the letters of Paul, we see how the power of Jesus can transform our lives and bring God’s promises to fruition.
The practical teaching that we get from the general epistles, such as James and Jude, show us what it means to embrace the glory of God (Jude 1:24) and an active faith (James 1:22-24.). All of it comes together in John and Peter’s love letters, showing us how to embrace the light of God (1 John 5:1-8) and a new way of life (1 Peter 1:23).
The value in reading the content of the New Testament is more than you see on the surface. What you see is God’s promised restoration coming to life. It is a powerful metaphor for our own life and to what we can apply to the way we live, but what tends to be forgotten is those glimmers of the Old Testament that bring the NT together. The book of Hebrews alone proves that the two are connected (Hebrews 11).
One Cohesive Guideline
If you’ve ever received one of those New Testaments from an evangelist, they always have the book of Psalms as well. There is a sense of a relationship between the Old and New Testament as if the Bible would not be complete if there were just one or the other.
One of the best books I’ve ever seen that speaks to this is “Sewn Together by God” by Randy Schuneman. It reminded me that both testaments work together to bring us one cohesive story, one cohesive guideline to turn to when we are in need of some direction and understanding.
From the OT to the NT, we learn the history of the Christian faith and where it came from, and that history can apply to the modern world. Just like this message reached the hearts of those who received it then, so we can embrace it in our own hearts today.
Here is a short 7-minute video from a group called “ask your preacher” that presents the basic differences between the OT and the NT.
While this video and the book mentioned above may be helpful, I’d like to encourage you to search for the answer yourself as to what the value of the Old Testament and New Testament truly are. However, if you have any questions, please feel free to post them on our social media pages.
What Value Is the Old Testament to the Christian Life? Read.
Why is the old testament important today? Read.
Is the new testament more important than the old? Read.
By M.J. Elliott
Mind On Jesus