As followers of Jesus, should we “unhitch” ourselves from the Old Testament, as Pastor Andy Stanley recently claimed? God forbid. To do so is to make a grave mistake. It would be like “unhitching” our torsos from our legs. Or demolishing the first story of a house once the second story was completed.
Now, to be clear, Pastor Stanley has expressed his strong belief in the inspiration of the entire Bible. And he has preached lengthy series based on Old Testament books. And the purpose of his recent, controversial message is to reach those who have been turned off by religion, or who find it difficult to relate to certain Old Testament texts.
His message for them is simple: Start with Jesus! He came to introduce something totally new.
But in his zeal to reach the lost, he has dangerously overstated his case.
According to Pastor Stanley, “[First century] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures.
“Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well.”
Actually, Peter, James (actually, Jacob), and Paul would be mortified by such claims.
Pastor Stanely even argued that, “Jesus’ new covenant, His covenant with the nations, His covenant with you, His covenant with us, can stand on its own two nail-scarred resurrection feet. It does not need propping up by the Jewish scriptures.”
This is so wrong on so many levels that it would take a whole book to refute. But here, at least, is a brief response. (Those wanting to dig deeper could start with Chapters 11 and 12 of my book Hyper-Grace.)
First, in Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the Law or Prophets but to fulfill. In other words, He did not cancel, He confirmed (see Romans 15:8-9). He did not remove the foundations, He strengthened the foundations. Accordingly, Paul wrote, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31).
In stark contrast, Pastor Stanley interpreted Jesus to be saying, “I am in fact replacing. I’m not going to change what you’ve always been taught. I’m going to challenge you to abandon what you have been taught.”
Had Jesus done this, He would rightly have been rejected as a false prophet and false teacher and false Messiah.
Did He challenge His people to reject man-made traditions? Absolutely, many times. Did He challenge them to abandon wrong things they had learned about their sacred Scriptures? Yes, he did. Did He challenge them to abandon the sacred Scriptures themselves? Heaven forbid.
In his message, Pastor Stanley said that “the Law and the Prophets, the old covenant, had an expiration date.” But it is this imprecision that is so dangerous, since “the old covenant,” meaning the Sinai Covenant, did have an expiration date on it (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). The Law and the Prophets – the Jewish Scriptures – did not.
Second, contrary to Pastor Stanley’s claim that the early Church leaders made it easier for Gentile converts by unhitching their faith from “the Jewish Scriptures,” the New Testament writers called Gentile believers to follow the moral ethic of these very Scriptures.
Paul used Old Testament texts to warn the Corinthian believers to live holy lives, writing, “Now these things happened to them [the Israelites] as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:1-11, citing v. 11 here; see also 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, among many other passages). He also referenced the Ten Commandments when giving family instructions to the Ephesians (see Ephesians 6:1-3).
What the early Church leaders made clear in Acts 15 was that Gentile believers were not required to become Jews and take on the yoke of the Torah in order to be saved. They were not required to keep the dietary laws or the laws of ritual purity. And they were not to seek to be justified by the Law. As Peter explained, they, like the Jewish believers, were all saved by grace (Acts 15:7-11).
But throughout the New Testament, Gentiles believers were called to live holy lives, based on Old Testament teaching (see also 1 Peter 1:13-17, quoting from Leviticus; it is possible that 1 Peter was written first for Jewish believers, but it was shared with the whole Body).
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Source: Christian Post