Old Testament Christianity

I have had the privilege over the past 35 years of being involved to various degrees in a variety of Christian churches - both 'Protestant' and Roman Catholic, 'Evangelical', 'Pentecostal', and several home fellowship groups.

Looking back prayerfully, I noticed that the vast majority of teachings that I have seen and heard come either from the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, or from the Epistles of the New Testament, but hardly ever from the Gospels of Jesus.  I am indebted to Hamilton and Helena Filmalter, who visited my hometown several years ago, for pointing this phenomenon out, and for suggesting that followers of Jesus should be learning primarily what Jesus taught and did as recorded in the Christian Gospels rather than learning secondary information from the Old Testament and the New Testament Epistles.

I believe that the reason that Christian leaders tend toward the Old Testament and Epistles and avoid the Gospels is because the Gospels cut to the heart of God's message and are spiritually discerned, while the Old Testament and Epistles contain only secondary information which needs to be interpreted from the Gospel perspective in order to be validly used.  The Bible can be academically learned, but the truth and heart of God's message to us can only be spiritually discerned.  That, I believe, is why the Lord chose a bunch of fishermen rather than academics as His first disciples.

I find an interesting passage in Hebrews 5:11-14:

Heb 5:11-14  Concerning this [Melchisidek or Jesus] we have much to say and it is difficult to explain, since you have become sluggish in hearing. For indeed, although you ought to be teachers [by this time], you have need of someone to teach you again the beginning elements of the oracles of God, and [you have need of] milk, not solid food. For everyone who partakes of milk is unacquainted with the message of righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have trained their faculties for the distinguishing of both good and evil.

I believe that the truth that we tend to become dull of hearing  applies to every person, and can only be avoided by trusting Jesus to keep us in tune with our Heavenly Father by reminding us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and accompanying Him wherever He wants to take us.  I do not believe that any of us has the capacity to accomplish this without relying on Jesus, by abiding in Him, and by learning to live out of our hearts rather than by our understanding.

One of the benefits I obtained when I was told at the time of my conversion to Jesus was that my whole life was one big sin because I was living for myself and not for God was that I was brought to brokenness and contrition right away, and did not have any confidence in my own abilities at all, so I was able to begin learning to rely on Jesus alone as soon as I received Him as Savior and Lord.  Others who have not had the benefit of what I call 'having my crutches kicked out from under me so that I came crashing down under the weight of my sins and self-righeousness' tend to try to rely on their own abilities, and end up a little better off than if they were unrepentant sinners, but not experiencing the life of God which only flows through those who abide in Jesus and do not trust in their own abilities or righteousness or understanding.

Eventually I read the following passage, and although it reflected the frustration of what we experience, it did not give a concrete remedy for the confusion and frustration which many experience:

Rom 7:18-25  For I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my flesh. For the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but the evil that I do not want to do, this I do. But if what I do not want to do, this I am doing, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that lives in me. Consequently, I find the principle with me, the one who wants to do good, that evil is present with me. For I joyfully agree with the law of God in my inner person, but I observe another law in my members, at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that exists in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself with my mind am enslaved to the law of God, but with my flesh I am enslaved to the law of sin.

Yes, God is able to deliver us from our 'body of death' - which I understand to be our life outside of Christ based on our self-will, self-righteousness and self-control.  But how does one get Him to do this?

It was only when the Lord told me to pray that He would release the power of His Cross and Resurrection in my life that I got the breakthrough I needed.  Then I was able to join the apostle Paul in thanking God through Jesus Christ our Lord for His inexpressible gift!!!

His work in me continues in ways that I cannot foresee, and there are no doubt more breakthroughs needed, but I hope that I can encourage you, dear reader, by my testimony of life in Christ so far!