The primary purpose of the Old Testament: leading us to Christ. Paul said, “The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ” (Gal 3:24). After we’ve come to Christ, the New Testament contains a number of verses discussing the new relationship believers have to the Law. We are “free from the Law” (Rom 7:3), “dead to the Law” (Rom 7:4 & Gal 2:19), “delivered from the Law” (Rom 7:6) and “no longer under the Law” (Gal 3:25 & 5:18). In Romans 10:4 Paul said, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” and in Galatians 3:19 he said the Law was only “until the Seed (Jesus) should come.”
The Old Testament primarily accomplishes this two ways. First, there were prophecies of Christ. Second, there are clear pictures and types of Him.
You could read all these verses and wonder what this means for us as believers: “What should we think of the Old Testament? What should be our relationship to it as New Testament believers? Is the Old Testament as beneficial as the New Testament?”
Considering how much I’ve taught from the Old Testament, I’d like to hope it’s obvious to my congregation how much I love it, value it, and recognize its equality with the New Testament. The fact is, Scripture nowhere presents any books or verses – say nothing about Testaments – as being superior to another. The blessings God’s Word afford are afforded from anywhere in Scripture. Every verse accomplishes the following blessings…
- Equips: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16, 17).
- Cleanses: Christ…cleanses [the church] with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. (Eph 5:26, 27).
- Convicts: For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb 4:12).
- Sanctifies: Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17).
- Imparts faith: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17).
One of the other blessings of the Old Testament is it provides examples for us to learn from:
- Romans 15:4—For whatever things were written before [referring to the Old Testament] were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
- 1 Corinthians 10:11—Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
The Old Testament provides a backdrop for New Testament instruction. Certain accounts and individuals in the Old Testament help us make practical application of New Testament commands. Sometimes the individuals will serve as positive examples through their obedience, while other times they will serve as negative examples through their disobedience.