The Bible: Old or New Testament?


We are in this series, Sharing Your Faith and Your Bible. Our goal is to explore the various scenarios that might arise as you are engaged with people in a dialog about their faith. The key word is “dialog”. Praise God that you may have an opportunity to listen, help others think through their position and yours, and ultimately share your faith.

In the last post we dealt with a situation where a person might be “a bit bristly” or even hostile, towards you.

We noted that we should not be surprised, or fearful, or angry. We simply highlighted the need to be prepared and “prayed up”.

Now perhaps you feel as if I am beating this drum too often but:

  • We are not merely engaging a person’s intellect that is singularly captured by human reason. No, we are engaging, in fact trying to dislodge and destroy, spiritual strongholds (Romans 1).
  • This is why, even if people are being polite, below the surface there is this intense fight taking place. The enemy knows if they lose their stronghold over a human’s mind regards the Bible, they have lost.

The enemy is working tirelessly to keep a person from not only ignoring the Bible but mocking it. If they succeed, then they have strategically isolated that person from the most powerful source of truth to ever invade this world—save for the person of Jesus. The enemy has many ways to achieve this isolation. One of the many ways the enemy isolates a person from considering the Bible is by picking at the Bible; chopping off bits and pieces that are either hard to understand or shocking to the 21st century mind.

I regularly meet people who say things like:

  • I love the God of the New Testament, but not the God of the Old.
  • The God of the Old Testament is mean and angry and…
  • I love Jesus, but not the Bible.

I could list more reasons, but I trust you get the idea.

You and me, as we know our Bible, understand the logical inconsistency in such statements.

This confusion is nothing new. One of the earliest heresies of the church was labeled Marcionism. It was led by a man named Marcion (wow, that is a little obvious). You can google the name, but quite briefly he taught:

  • Yahweh is a heavenly being but occupies a lower plane of being than the pure spirit from which all things come. Yahweh created the physical world. The physical world is not perfect. Therefore, Yahweh cannot have “begotten” Jesus’. Yahweh is not Jesus’ father. To add insult to injury, he taught, Yahweh is an evil god.
  • In sum, Yahweh is connected to this lower physical world, and all that is wrong with it.
  • Whereas Christ is the son of the loving, pure spirit and source of all, and He rescues us from the capricious Yahweh.

How strongly did Marcion believe this? He removed all Old Testament references from Luke and ten of Paul’s letters, using this abbreviated canon to promote his aberrant views.

I find a few things stunning about this episode in the life of the church.

First Marcion came to Rome in AD 139. The enemy raised up this false teaching very early. Second, he was an insider. His teaching in fact helped the church formally recognize the books that belong to the New Testament. Many people naturally thought he was part of this new movement of Jesus followers – sound familiar?

Yet it is obvious that he was a Gnostic – we see that he believed the purest form of a human is one separated from our bodies. The perfect human is exclusively pure spirit – not biblical at all.

So, when you come into contact with people rejecting the Old Testament, please realize, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us, there is nothing new under the sun (and yes that is from the Old Testament – sorry could not help myself).

That trip down memory lane was to flag up:

  • That the enemy, for centuries, has been trying to have people throw out the Old Testament.
  • That people, such as Marcion, have been extremely effective doing exactly that, leading people astray – leading them to an eternity separated from God.
  • That Satan has multiple tactics to eradicate God’s Word from the human mind.
  • And finally, to let you know that solid followers of Jesus for centuries have dealt with this situation—and so you and I will have to as well.

As this series is about those times when we are blessed to have longer engagement, even ongoing conversations, with a person, let’s dig into the question, “How do I speak with someone who is challenging the Old Testament?”


Our suggestion is that you always start a dialog with a question.

We want to get to the person of Jesus—that is why we are such strong advocates for using the Gospel John – but we think the idea of asking a question of the person you are engaged with, when you have a genuine interest in their answer, is most productive.

When you ask, “Why don’t you like or believe the Old Testament (or God of the Old Testament), and can you give me some examples?”, what you are doing is considering their point of view seriously (vice setting them up for the answers you already have).

Now, I expect people:

  • May have no real examples, as they have not read the Bible, or
  • They may talk about how God emotionally tortured Abraham in the story of the “almost sacrifice of Isaac”, or
  • They may talk about how God destroyed cities, and had many people killed, or
  • They may talk about all the blood, all the sacrifices of animals, or
  • They may talk about how they don’t believe the ridiculous stories about, for example, the parting of the Red Sea.
  • Theirs could be a long list!

As discussed in the last post, you will learn much about them, their experiences, and who/what has influenced them. I pray you are truly interested in learning about them. Again, you will hear many reasons. Perhaps the list above might fall into three broad categories:

  • They like Jesus, just not the Bible (or church, or religion).
  • They may have no experience of the Bible, they just “heard this somewhere”.
  • They have been beat over the head about sin and judgment (by the way, often they are living in sin, they know it is wrong, no one in fact has “beat them over the head”, and what is happening is the Holy Spirit is convicting them of their sin.)

Maybe you have heard these, or other, responses. I have.

After they have shared with you, I would suggest you say / ask, “Would it be okay if I shared with you why I love the Old Testament?

Which, of course, means you do love the Old Testament. Do you? If you do not, then I would suggest before you engage others, you spend some time getting yourself settled with this part of God’s Word.

Here are a few reasons why I love the Old Testament.

  • It is full of wonderful songs about God. People pouring their hearts out to God, e.g. the Psalms.
  • It is full of sage and timeless counsel, e.g. Proverbs.
  • It shares with me the deep “why’s” around my, and others, purpose.
  • It allows me to meet God!
    • God who loves mercy, loves justice, is crazy faithful (when we over and over are not), is committed to people, shows up at just the right time…
    • God who is HOLY!
  •  It allows me to look in the mirror and see me – a human.
    • It does not sugarcoat what we are like. We see us. Remarkably while we have trouble believing the picture of the God the Old Testament presents, I meet very few people who have trouble with the Old Testament’s view of humanity (unless they want to embrace sin).
    • It goes so far as presenting not just any people, but “God’s people, and not just his people, but his kings” as unfaithful, as murderers, and worse—and yet God still loves his people.
  • It allows me to have perspective on the long arc of history. As centuries roll by, God is shown to be in control. God is steering humanity to the ultimate outcome of Jesus saving us—and returning to put everything right (yes that is in the Old Testament).
  • In fact, the Old Testament points to Jesus over and over again.
  • And if that is not enough—it is Jesus’ Bible!!!

The Old Testament does many other things. It shows us that God wants a relationship with us, but we sin and break that relationship. It then shows that our relationship is restored through a “offering” to demonstrate our commitment. It shows why a blood sacrifice is necessary. It provides instruction for how God’s followers are to be a light to the world. There is so much in provides.

I dare say, without it, our idea of God could easily be…well Marcion’s.

I could write much more, but the real issue is, “How do you respond?”

My comments are to “prime the pump” of your mind so you might sketch out, in your own words, why you believe the entire Bible is God’s Word.


I thought, rather than leave you hanging to sort out why you believe the Old Testament, I would be just a little more systematic.

I believe the Old Testament clearly establishes 4 important broad, timeless, and true principles (maybe you have a fifth).

1. It tells me my purpose. To be with God. To participate with God as a Steward. To join with God as He reconciles the world to Himself. Countless Old Testament stories show simple humans like me, like David, like Rahab, like many others, privileged to participate with God in His purpose.

2. It shows me there is a God, and the depth of God’s love; the degree He will go to so that I know that He is real, and so that I am not separated from him eternally.

3. It proves to me that we, humans cannot save ourselves.

4. It reveals to me that God has known all this from the beginning, and in the fullness of time sent his only son, Jesus, God-come-to-earth, to save me and all who will receive him. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life. Jesus has always been the plan.

Maybe your brain doesn’t think like mine (this actually may be a good thing for you – LOL).

Yet, in all seriousness, in an effort to help you build your reasons for why you believe the Old Testament, let me unpack those four broad reasons.


It all starts with the Bible. I love to open the Bible.

1. It tells me my purpose.

For example, take Genesis 1, I love to read it with a person.

In a later post we will think through the Creation Narrative.

However, I simply love to read the part where God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

I love the “us” as it is a shout out to the yet unseen Trinity. I love “so he created them” – both male and female, together are needed for an image of God. I love he said that after he created humans, he looked at everything he created and declared it very good!

I love in Genesis 1- 2 the special place he gave us, the unique role we have as stewards of HIS creation.

All of this introduces me to my purpose: to be connected to God and involved in God’s work in his world – all to bring him glory.

2. It shows me there is a God, a God who loves me, and the depth of God’s love for me (and you) through many stories.

I love to read the story of Abram / Abraham. Let’s face it, a 75-year-old deciding he is selling everything and moving because God told him to leave town, well in this day and age that fella is not getting out of town, he is getting committed!

I love the story where Abraham is asked to sacrifice Isaac. I do. Here is why I love this story. God, Abraham, and Isaac walk up the mountain. Isaac most likely did not know what happening. Abraham and God did.

But of the two (Abraham and God) only one knew the outcome: God.

God was not gambling with Isaac’s life. The sovereign God of the universe went up the mountain that day knowing exactly what the outcome would be. Why? He wanted Abraham, when he was walking down the mountain, to know at least two things:

  • He truly loved God more than anything or anyone, and
  • He could trust God with those he loved.

The result? The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Abraham was “a friend of God” – WOW!

Imagine the depth of God’s love. His love is so deep that he would put Abraham through this trial, knowing all along how it would turn out, all so Abraham would know in the deepest way possible, that he could trust God.

There are many stories such as this one.

There is another dimension to the depth of God’s love.

I wince at some of the Old Testament. I wince at God’s command to kill everyone when his people are entering the Promise Land.

Yet I also would at times “more than wince” when I would have to discipline my children.

Not always. However, there were times it was maddening to get them to understand right from wrong.

It was “more than frustrating” to try and communicate the consequences of sin.

One of the extreme examples was a car accident, an accident that took place, in part, because a child did not obey.

It was almost unbearable to look at the mangled car, realizing how he was inches away from death—all because he did not listen and obey.

What length would you go to in an effort to spare those you love? What degree of discipline might you measure out?

When I read the Old Testament, I cannot imagine the pain God the Father endured, as he attempted to get the world to appreciate:

  • There is only ONE God.
  • That the ONE TRUE God is Holy.
  • That disobedience to this Holy God has real consequences.

I could go on, but the violence in the Old Testament actually reveals to me the depth of God’s love for the world.

3. It demonstrates, over-and-over, that we cannot save ourselves.

After reading the Old Testament, and then thinking about the history of this world, and then considering the mess we are in today, and finally, if I am honest, looking in the mirror at myself—all of this—would make it easy to lose hope.

I don’t think I have to unpack this at all.

We cannot save ourselves.

If we stop here, we will be lost. Which is again why I love, really love, the Old Testament.

4. Jesus is the only hope.

I love, for example, to read Isaiah 53. God, before he laid the foundations of the world, knew all this about the human race which he loves. It is why I love to read Isaiah 53 with people. I ask, “Who is the prophet speaking of?” Answer – Jesus.

That is simply one place in the Old Testament that points to Jesus.

The entire sacrificial system, the idea of a “Passover Lamb”, the biblical principal of a scapegoat, the myriad of prophecies about Jesus, all in the Old Testament, point to Jesus. Often you will hear people share how the Old Testament is replete with the foreshadowing of Jesus.

Quite bluntly, the purpose of the Old Testament, all its history and prophecy and more, is to point to Jesus. Jesus has always been the plan.

Without Jesus, the Old Testament makes no sense.

Without the Old Testament, Jesus makes no sense.

I pray my four reasons helped. But, let me stop and return to the important challenge of this little missive, “Why do you love the Old Testament?”


Please allow yourself some time to craft your answer. If I might, can I suggest you craft your answer in a way that opens it to the person whose mind is captured (as compared to the mind of a mature follower of Christ).

Praise God, the Bible, in all its fullness reveals the mystery of God fully in Jesus Christ.