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Studying the Old Testament: S. Lewis Johnson Quote


From a message in S. Lewis Johnson’s series through Joel,   the following great words concerning study of the Old Testament:

One of the saddest things in our Evangelical church today is the fact that we do not study the Old Testament.  We are inclined to think – and there are some groups that believe this as a type of doctrine – that the Old Testament is no longer a valid book for us to study: it has been fulfilled.  I know one large denomination that causes a lot of difficultly among Evangelical Christians that says simply that: the Old Testament has been fulfilled.  And so we don’t study the Old Testament.

Now you can tell that they are not very good students of the New Testament because when you read through the New Testament and think of the language, if you are familiar enough with the Old Testament, you will see that a great part of the New Testament is written in the language of the Old Testament.  Not only are texts cited over and over and over again.  Texts are eluded to, even chance expressions, and then they are expounded in the New Testament.  In fact, we would not understand the New Testament at all if we did not have the Old Testament.  It would be a totally unintelligible book without the Old Testament.  That’s one of the reasons we don’t really appreciate the New Testament as we should.  We don’t study the Old Testament sufficiently.  So I challenge you to read and re-read and re-read the Old Testament.  … you really ought to because you will find it will illuminate the New Testament for you.  You cannot understand the Book of Revelation as well as you should if you have not read the Book of Joel and studied it a little bit.

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  1. Sonja
    March 8, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Hi Lynda! What a timely post. At dinner tonight I was telling my newly saved mom that I have encountered people who (almost proudly) proclaim they never have nor will read anthing in the OT. She asked me why and I had no good answer because I don’t understand that. I would think if one sings an old hymn on a Sunday that the Psalm that it came from would pique one’s interest. Mom has begun to read her Bible, praise be to Him and she wants to read a book from the OT while reading John’s Gospel. Start at the beginning was my suggestion.

    A good thought from John Stott:

    “It was the consistent teaching of Jesus that Old Testament Scripture was God’s Word bearing witness to him. For example, he said ‘Abraham rejoiced … to see my day’ (Jn. 8:56). Or in John 5:46 he say ‘Moses … wrote of me’, and again, ‘the scriptures … bear witness to me’ (v. 39). At the beginning of his ministry, when he went to worship in the synagogue at Nazareth, you will remember, he read from Isaiah 61 about the Messiah’s mission and message of liberation, and added ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’ (Lk. 4:21). In other words, ‘If you want to know whom the prophet was writing about, he was writing about me’. Jesus continued to say this kind of thing throughout his ministry. Even after the resurrection he had not changed his mind, for ‘he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself’ (Lk. 24:27). Thus from the beginning to the end of his ministry Jesus declared that the whole prophetic testimony of the Old Testament, in all its rich diversity, converged upon him. ‘The scriptures … bear witness to me.'”

    Sorry for the long quote, but it’s germane. The disciple is not above the teacher. To have a lower view of OT scripture than the Teacher held would give us no claim to call Him Teacher, let alone Lord.

    Excellent post. 🙂

  2. March 9, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Thanks for the comments, Sonja! Yes, the Old Testament is still important, regardless of what some misguided people (such as you mentioned) may think.

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