If you haven’t yet read the basic facts about the Bible or the Old Testament run down, go check them out here.
Remember, the Bible is on big story and today we are going to tie the entire story together
How the New Testament Begins
Hundreds of years pass between when the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins. This “silence” from God during this period creates a longing to hear from God among the people of God. It also creates a man-made emphasis on behavior modification as a way to be godly.
As we jump into the New Testament, you will immediately see certain people described as Pharisees. These are the people of God we see in the Old Testament who have taken the Old Testament laws, added more requirements to them, and have come to believe that their outward behavior is how to have relationship with God.
We must understand the emphasis on outward behavior during this time period in order to truly understand why Jesus’ words and life were so controversial during this time in history.
How the New Testament Begins
The New Testament begins with the birth of Christ, the long-awaited Savior who had been prophesied about throughout the Old Testament. With the birth of Christ, we see hundreds of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled. (check out Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, Isaiah 9:6, and Isaiah 40:3-5 to read just a few of the prophecies)
Christ not only fulfills the Old Testament prophecies, he also fully explains God’s plan of redemption. Where once the people of God thought human effort, following rules and regulations, and sacrifice could save them, Jesus revealed only through faith in him can they be saved.
The New Testament is broken down into the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation.
If you remember from this post, the Gospels tell us the story of the life of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts describes the coming of the Holy Spirit to dwell in believers as well as the beginning of the early church. The Epistles are theological in nature and are written to specific churches addressing specific issues within that church. Revelation is a prophecy book written to describe the 2nd coming of Christ.
Why is the New Testament important to Understand?
As we long to understand the Bible what we are really longing for is to understand God better. The entire Bible shows us attributes and characteristics of God, but the New Testament gives us a visible demonstration of God.
Hebrews 1:3 tells us “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word”. Jesus in his earthly form is the exact expression of God because Jesus is God! As we read through the Gospels, we see how Jesus responds, what is important to him, how he invests in people, and so much more. By studying Jesus, we are seeing and getting to know God.
What is important about the book of Acts?
The book of Acts shows us several important things as Christians. The first is how important the Holy Spirit is to our lives.
In Acts 1:7-9, we read the last words Jesus spoke to his disciples were “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he asked his disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit. With this statement, we see how important the Holy Spirit is for us as well. The book of Acts shows us how the Holy Spirit came upon believers and what it looks like to be led by the Spirit of God.
The second thing the book of Acts also shows us what the early church looked like. Before Jesus ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit arrived, Christian churches didn’t exist. But suddenly Christianity spreads and small gatherings of new Christians form. Acts describe this movement as well as helps us understand the importance of the church and what it originally looked like.
Why are the Epistles Important?
The Epistles are your practical guidelines to following Christ. Remember, following Christ and not Judaism or some other god was still relatively new. Most new believers did not really know how to follow Christ. I think we can all relate a bit to that!
The Epistles consist of the books Romans, 1 & 11 Corinthians, Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; I and II Thessalonians; I and II Timothy; Titus; Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1,2,3 John, and Jude. These were all written to help Christians understand the Gospel, how to follow Christ, refute false teaching, and point people back to the Gospel.
What About Revelation?
The book of Revelation is the most difficult book to interpret. This book is an apocalypse book. Apocalypse simply means it has to do with the end of the world and the events that will take place. The book has two main sections in it. Chapters 1-3 are letters written to seven churches. Chapters 4-22 contain specific visions concerning the end of history and the final triumph of the kingdom of God. While it is impossible to completely understand everything in this book, we can be sure of one thing. Jesus will return and all believers will enjoy his Kingdom for all eternity.
Throughout the entire New Testament, we begin to see God’s Kingdom that was ushered in with the death and resurrection of Christ begin to spread throughout the world. We read the New Testament and see the power of God, the wisdom of the cross, the humility he desires, and the ultimate authority he has on earth.
Where the Old Testament opens our eyes for our need for a savior, the New Testament shows us the way to follow this savior. This story of God is an incredible story.
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