All rights reserved by the author Homer Dewayne Shappley
Esteemed reader, do you enjoy the precious "freedom” that the New Testament offers through Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1, 13), or do you find yourself bound to the Old Testament (Galatians 4:21-31), subject to tithes, Sabbaths, holy days, unclean foods, or priesthoods similar to the Levitical one of the Israelites? Do you get confused when you read the Bible? Doubtless, any person who reads it without distinguishing correctly between the Old Testament and the New risks grave and dangerous spiritual confusion.
It is as if he/she had a veil over his/her eyes, mind, heart, and soul. That is just the way the apostle Paul expresses himself with reference to those who, "reading the 0ld Testament,” subject themselves to its commandments. He says that “their minds were blinded.” He adds: "Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." 2 Corinthians 3:14-16
For the correct understanding of the Sacred Scriptures, the word "Old” in the phrase "the 0ld Testament” is of great importance. "Old" means: "Dating from the remote past. Persisting from an earlier time. Of, relating to, or originating in a past era." https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/old.
Such is the case of the "OLD Testament:" It belongs to ages already passed. When you read it, valued friend, you are reading a “law,” that is, a “testament” or code of laws that God gave in another time to his chosen people during that time.
It is "history," and as such has great value, because it is inspired history. Nevertheless, today the Old Testament is not in force. It was abolished when Christ died on the cross. The New Testament now governs. You live in the time of the New Testament, and not in the age of the Old! Therefore, does it not seem altogether reasonable to you that your study of the Bible should begin with the New Testament and not with the Old?
Now then, in spiritual terms, the history of our human race may be divided into three ages, as follows:
1. The "Age of the Patriarchs," some of whom are: Adam, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Job, and Abraham.
2. The "Mosaic Age," with outstanding personages such as Moses, King David, Solomon, Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Daniel.
3. The "Christian Age.” Today, also known as the “Common Era.”
The Old Testament, comprised of 39 books, covers the first two ages. In the New Testament, The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John relate the important events of the last days of the Mosaic Age. They also contain that portion of the New Law that Christ himself proclaimed. The remaining 23 books of the New Testament belong to the Common Era (Called the "Christian Age" by Christians). YOU, dear reader, live in the third age, that is, in the "Common Era." Consequently, the spiritual-moral 'testament" that God has given to you is the NEW and not the Old.
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ lived under the Old Testament. Their ministries constitute a short time (less than four years) of transition. The New Testament came into force on the day of Pentecost of the year 30 of the Common Era, 40 days after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and 10 days after his ascension. In accordance with the dictum: “Where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.” Hebrews 9:16-17. Thus, Jesus had to die before his “new will” could take effect.
The Old Testament was abolished on the Cross! All of it! There was only ONE Old, not two.
Such an important declaration requires irrefutable proof. So then, let us go to the Bible.
Please study carefully and objectively Hebrews 8:6-7. It says: "But now (in this Christian Age) he has obtained a more excellent ministry (that of Christ is more excellent than that of Moses),
inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant (the New Testament is better than the Old), which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant (the Old Law, ''that covenant" and not the New) had been faultless, (According to Hebrews 10:4, its major defect was that the blood of sacrificed animals could not "take away sin.”) then no place would have been found for a second" (the New Testament).
"That first;" "a second." The second Testament is BETTER than the first. The second Testament supplants the first. All of it! The ''first" is the Old Testament. The "second" is the New. The SECOND is BETTER. Which do you prefer? Logically, all believers should accept the second law, the better one, the new one, keeping its commandments. Common sense dictates it, don't you think?
Let us analyze Hebrews 8:13. It reads: "In that he says, 'A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." The “he says” is a reference to the prophet Jeremiah, who lived 700 years before Christ and prophesied back in his time that God would give a New Law. Jeremiah 31:31-34. By affirming it, he clearly let it be known that the Old would vanish away. Is it at all possible you would actually prefer an “obsolete” covenant to a New one duly RATIFIED by God and Christ? Galatians 3:15-17
Let us proceed to consider the very clear teaching of Hebrews 1:1-2. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke (past tense) in time past (during the Patriarchal and Mosaic Ages, and not in our time) to the fathers (to them and not to us) by the prophets, has in these last days (Note the strong contrast: In these last days, now, in the present, in the Christian Age), spoken to us by His Son" (by Christ, and not by the prophets of old).
We go now to Galatians 3:24-25 for additional clarification. "Therefore the law (the Old Testament) was our tutor (guide) to bring us to Christ (through the prophecies about Christ), that we might be justified by faith (not by the old law, but by faith, by the gospel of Jesus Christ). But after faith has come (the gospel, the New Testament), we are no longer under a tutor" (we are no longer under the law of Moses). As an old Spanish saying goes, translating: A rooster does not crow more clearly!
Colossians 2 :14 is another key text for this subject. It is advisable to look at it soberly and unhurriedly. "Having wiped out (Christ wiped out something. What was wiped out? Immediately the answer comes.) the handwriting of requirements (the old law of Moses. “Handwriting:” Surely a reference to the two tablets
Moses received on Mount Sinai “written with the finger of God.” Exodus 24:12; 31:18.) that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." Wipe out, take away, nail to the cross: three verbs declaring what Christ did with the Old Testament. He abolished it on the cross!
Pursuing our study, we find that Ephesians 2:14-15 is very relevant. "For He Himself (Jesus Christ) is our peace, who has made both (Jews and Gentiles) one (one people, Christians), and has broken down (something broken down. What was it? It was...) the middle wall of separation (the Old Law which separated Jews from Gentiles), having abolished in his flesh (in his body immolated on the cross something was abolished. What was it? It was...) the enmity, (that which separates. What was it?) that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances (the Old Law. The entire law, including the Ten Commandments, given by God on Mount Sinai to the people of Israel), so as to create in Himself one new man (the church, here presented through the metaphorical figure of a “new man.”) from the two" (from Jews and Gentiles).
The inspired words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:6-18 merit the closest, most unprejudiced analysis. Please read slowly the whole passage in your Bible underlining particularly the following phrases:
2 Corinthians 3:6. “Who also made us (Christ made us) sufficient as ministers of the new covenant” (of the New and not of the Old).
2 Corinthians 3:7. “The ministry of death (of death and not of life) written and engraved on stones was (past tense) glorious..."
Obviously, the "ministry" of the "Ten Commandments" is under consideration for, as also already noted, they were the ones written on stones. The New Covenant has its own “better” moral-spiritual code definitely superior to that of the Old Covenant.
The TRANSITION from that old code to the new one is highlighted by Christ himself in his expression, repeated several times: “You have heard it said… but I say to you…” Matthew 5:21-48. More examples of the new moral code are found in Romans 12 and abound throughout the New Covenant. Logically, then, none of us should stumble over the apostle Paul’s explanation that the Ten Commandments were a “ministry of death” and that they were replaced by the “more excellent ministry” of the “better covenant.”
2 Corinthians 3:8 "How will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?" (The ministry of the Spirit, the New Testament, is more glorious.)
2 Corinthians 3:11. "For if what is passing away (The Old Covenant, including the code of ten commandments written on stones) was (past tense) glorious, what remains is much more glorious” (The New Testament, more glorious than the Old, remains, a moral code superior to the code of the ten commandments being proclaimed in its pages, according to Matthew 5:23-48 and many relevant texts of the whole New Testament).
2 Corinthians 3:13. "The end of what (the Old Testament) was passing away. (According to 3:14-18, those who subject themselves to the Old Covenant have on a veil, that is to say, they do not understand that Christ abolished the Old Covenant. But ''when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”)
Do you see that it is not really so difficult at all to understand the vital teachings of the Bible? We have studied only a few of the many Bible texts on the subject under analysis and already it has been proven in a convincing and irrefutable way that the Old Covenant, in its entirety, was nailed to the cross. Do you agree? In the place of the Old, God has given the New. Therefore, we are not without law ''but under law toward Christ” (1 Corinthians 9:21), Christ's law being "the perfect law,” the law of “liberty." James 1:25. The correct understanding of this fundamental doctrine of the Bible is indispensable for enjoying the precious liberty that Christ brought, and for attaining an accurate knowledge of many spiritual subjects that have to do with our salvation. Let us apply what we have learned to three subjects.
Do we have to keep the Sabbath to be saved?
To which of the two Covenants (Testaments, Laws) does the commandment about keeping the Sabbath belong? To the OLD. Exodus 16:23-30; 20:8-11; 31:12-17; Levíticus 23:1-8
What does the New say about Sabbaths? Colossians 2: 16 teaches: "So let no one
judge you… regarding… Sabbaths" (rest days). All of the sabbaths (Leviticus 23:38) were abolished when the Old Testament was nailed to the cross. For that reason, every Bible instructor who teaches that the Sabbath should be kept violates God’s will. He who does it is a minister of the Old Testament and not of the New. 2 Corinthians 3:6-17
Beloved friend, you do not have to keep the Sabbath in order to be saved. You do not live during the Mosaic Age under the Old Law, but in the Common Era under the New Covenant. Not a few believers of the first century erred with reference to this doctrine, obstinately insisting on the necessity of keeping the holy days of the Old Covenant. Paul rebuked them saying: "You observe days and months and seasons and years. l am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain." Galatians 4.10-11. Despite his teaching and reproach, great numbers of people today who identify themselves as Christians, do exactly what he censured, for their religious life is centered on observing days, months, and seasons that were abolished on the cross or are of purely human origin. May it be that God not work "in vain" for us! May we have the spiritual knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom to distinguish between the two covenants! Colossians 1:9
According to the New Covenant, Christians meet "on the first day of the week" (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16: 1-2), that is, each Sunday. With all, we do not keep Sunday as if it were holier than the rest of the days. For the mature Christian, all days are equally sacred! Romans 14:5-6. Sunday is definitely not “the Christian Sabbath."
The Old Testament teaches the necessity of keeping the Sabbath. On the other hand, the New Testament teaches that Christians should meet on Sunday. Do they contradict each other? By no means! In reality, the New Testament cannot contradict the OId, for the simple reason that the Old is no longer in force. Do you see how quickly apparent contradictions in the Bible disappear when it is understood that the Old Testament was abolished and that only the New Testament is in force?
Is it necessary to tithe to be saved?
To which of the two Testaments does the law of tithing belong? It belongs to the Old. Deuteronomy 26; Malachi 3:6-10. Is the commandment to tithe included in the New Testament? It is not included in the New, neither by commandment nor by example.
To answer the question posed in the graphic, tithing was biblical under the Old Covenant. It is not biblical during the Christian Age for it was abolished on the cross of Christ, together with the rest of the Old Covenant. Today, we are under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
The provision of the New is that the church underwrites its expenses through voluntary offerings. Paul writes: "On the first day of the week (not every day but only the first) each one of you (not the unconverted but only Christians) lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper (not the tithe but “something.”). 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. "God loves a cheerful giver, who sows (gives) bountifully (not the stingy one). 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Once you become a member of the church governed by the New Testament, you will not be obligated to give, under threat of condemnation, the tenth part of your income. Your duty will be to give generously and voluntarily, as you have prospered, taking into account the great needs of God's Cause on planet Earth, regarding worldwide evangelism and abundant benevolent works. As a matter of fact, when it comes to being truly "generous," not a few Christians of times past and of the present surpass the Israelites, giving even more than a tenth part of their income. Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37; 5:1-11
Is it necessary to abstain from unclean foods?
In which of the two Testaments are certain foods classified as unclean? In the Old. In Leviticus 11. And the New? It says: "There is nothing unclean of itself.” Romans 14:14. "All things indeed are pure.” Romans 14:20. "For every creature of God is good,
and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5. Mark 7:19 says that Christ himself purified "all foods.”
Respected reader, you may eat pork, if you like it and it does not hurt you, for the Old Testament laws about unclean meats were also nailed to the cross. Therefore, Paul writes: "So let no one judge you in food.” Colossians 2:16. There is no contradiction in the Bible on the subject of food. The Old Testament has been abrogated. The New, a different covenant better than the Old, more spiritual, of greater liberty, is in force during all of the Christian Age.
Though “all things are indeed pure” under this New Covenant, “surfeiting” is condemned. Luke 21:34; Titus 1:12. The verb “surfeit” means: “An intemperate or immoderate indulgence in something (such as food or drink). https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/surfeiting
Do you observe that not all preachers teach these sound doctrines? That almost all require the tithe? That many preach the Sabbath and abstinence today from meats that were, for the Israelites under the Old Covenant, "unclean?" You are, of course, right. Lamentably, many Bible teachers today have not yet learned the simple truth about the abolition of the Old Testament and the institution of the New.
They argue that Christ kept the Sabbath and commanded to tithe. To be sure, he did. However, they do not take into account that Christ was born (Galatians 4: 4) and lived under the Old Law. They do not yet understand that said Law was abolished, not when Christ was born, but when he was crucified! Christ did not abrogate the Old Law during his ministry, but rather fulfilled it perfectly. Once fulfilled perfectly, it was taken out of the way and nailed to the cross. Matthew 5:17-20; Colossians 2:14. Sincere souls who learn and follow these elemental truths will find the true freedom which Christ offers through his "blood of the new covenant which is shed for many, for the remission of sins." Matthew 26: 28
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 3:32.
“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence.” Galatians 5:1, 13
We kindly urge you to continue diligently your studies of the Bible, dedicating much time to the New Testament. On the day you are judged by Jesus Christ, you will be judged by it, not being allowed to appeal to the Old, for you live under the New.
Salvation is obtained by obeying the commandments of the New Testament. This New Covenant teaches that all who believe, repent, and are baptized (immersed) receive forgiveness of sins and are added to the church Christ built. Acts 2:37-47. If you have not yet done so, why not take these steps as soon as possible, 'that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord?” Acts 3:19. Thus, you will find salvation, freedom, peace, and the hope of eternal life that God offers. May the Lord illuminate your heart, filling it with heavenly light and wisdom.
Text and document composition by Homer Dewayne Shappley
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