Pastor Ocean Hamandishe
CHRISTIANS from different backgrounds interpret scriptures based on their denominational doctrines. It seems impossible to come to a common agreement on what the scriptures say.Despite this confusion and differences on bible interpretations, the truth is always bare to those who diligently seek the scriptures with a spirit to learn in-order to understand what God meant through His inspired scriptures.
The challenge we have today is that one can take a scripture and interpret it his or her own way.
In instead of being an exegete of the scripture one ends up putting a meaning in the scripture with a possibility of preaching heresy.
People are building up doctrines that are removing the eyes of people from the message of the cross − ‘Salvation through Christ”. When reading the Bible, people should empty whatever they think is correct and open up to the teaching and guidance of the Holy Spirit without being biased to any denominational doctrine. Correct Biblical exegesis is needed to point our generation to Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world.
Before the so-called “new revelations” that are controversial, there is a long standing question about the link between the Old Testament and New Testament. This is a broad subject that also caused controversy in Christian circles.
Debates were raised whether the Church should hold on or follow the Old Testament. A bone of contention is on the Decalogue and other Ceremonial laws.
The book of Genesis right through to the Prophet Malachi is considered the Old Testament. However, not every book under the cover of (O.T) can spell out the Old Testament.
The Bible was canonized in such a way that some are Historical books, Poetic, Major and Minor Prophets. Genesis to Deuteronomy is the Pentateuch. In the heart of the Pentateuch is where we find the Old Testament (Old Covenant).
Old Testament is centered on the Law, (the Torah). Often times I hear people saying “So should we throw away all the Old Testament books because people are now believing in the New Testament” Off course not,( O.T) books are still helpful today in giving us the whole picture about God.
We have a lot to learn and build our faith from the Old Testament books. We need all that historical and prophetic background.
The redemption plan was worked beginning from the Old Testament until the birth of Jesus Christ who came to fulfill the Law. However, our salvation is no longer about following certain religious rituals and ceremonies.( Eph 2:8 )“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ NIV.
The saved ones should do good works because God expects the saved (Christians) to reflect Christ, not performing of works to obtain salvation.
The Old Testament required people to do a lot of religious rituals in order to be forgiven.
This is no longer necessary as far as salvation is concerned. Christ became our Passover lamb. One needs to simply believe in the finished work of the cross.
Rom 3:20 “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”NIV
The Old Testament was a shadow of the New Testament. Gal 3:23 “But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
Now the real figure who is Christ arrived, we no longer look on the shadow. Those who are trying to get saved by observing the law are actually crucifying Christ again and denouncing his sacrificial death as an offering for our sins. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.” (Galatians 5:4).
There are those who are trying to live by the law but breaking another law in the process. They risk attracting a curse for not binding by each law should they want to live by the law.
The bible says: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10).
The Bible is clear that we are no longer under an obligation of performing religious rituals in-order to sanctify ourselves because Christ did it for us.
Colossians 2:16 So, don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or a religious festival, or the new moon holiday, or Sabbaths.17 These are only a shadow of the future; Christ is real.18 Don’t let anyone who likes to act “humble” and to worship angels disqualify you from the race.
He talks in detail about what he has “seen.” His unspiritual mind makes him boastful − for no real reason.19 He is not holding onto the Head. The whole body grows the way God made it grow, held together by its joints and ligaments, getting its support from the Head.20 If you truly died with Christ, leaving behind the standards of the world, why are you living as if you were still in the world? You are making strict rules: 21 “Don’t handle it!” “Don’t taste this!” “Don’t touch that!” 22 None of these things will last after they have been used for a while.
They are human commands and teachings.23 These things look like there is wisdom behind them. They have forced worship, false humility, and harsh treatment of the human body, but, they don’t help control physical desires (lust) at all!”1EB
It appears religiously correct to follow these legalisms of (Church) denominations, These legalism like touch not, eat not, handle not, this day, that holiday etc are not in the equation of your salvation.
Some people are following laws and systems of denominations not Christ. They are satisfied in doing that sincerely, yet sincerely wrong.
The New Testament introduced a new covenant that came through the sacrificial blood of Christ. This New Covenant also introduced a new Commandment that embraced all the Ten Commandments.
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” NKJV
Matt 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” NIV
Combining the two verses, we get a solid commandment of Love. The law was nailed on this commandment of Love.
The law was centred on vertical relationship (God) and horizontal relationship (man).
This is why Jesus said the second like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ If you love your neighbour you cannot sin against him or her .When one loves and fears God he/she cannot worship any other gods. This is why Jesus Christ said “this is the first and greatest commandment”.
Jesus emphasized Love because all the prophets and the law (including the Ten Commandments) are sealed in the Commandment of Love.
You cannot sin against God and man if you live with the commandment of Love. By loving God whole heartedly you are bound to stop sinning.
The danger of trying to serve God through certain regulations, you are bound to break the other law. By fulfilling the commandment of love, you are fulfilling the whole Law .
Jesus Christ who is the centre of the new covenant ( by shedding his blood thus putting to an end the sacrificing of bulls , goats and sheep) commands us to Love. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
One cannot confess to be a Christian and reject the sacrificial work of Christ done on the Cross.
“The person who accepts my commands and obeys them is the one who truly loves me.
My Father will love the person who loves me, and I will love him and make myself known to him.” (John14:21) Which commandment was he talking about? This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you (John 15:12) .
These things I command you, that ye love one another. .(John 15:17) God can manifest himself when one loves Christ and obeys his commandments of Love: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10)
In conclusion the Old Covenant cannot remain effective when God introduced a new covenant.
Heb 8:7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said:”The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant NIV
Although the old covenant was written for Israel, We are also grafted in Israel hence all principles of worship God affect us as well.
You need to know that Jesus came under Law but soon after his vicarious death, the new covenant begun.
Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
The Old Testament cannot over-rule the New Testament.
The Law is fulfilled in one Commandment LOVE. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Galatians 5:14)
Even God had to Love in-order to save mankind from their sin.“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 ) The world should look to Christ in-order to be saved.
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16)
If one understands what is good for him, he /she should consider Christ today and stop following the dogmas and religious rituals that does to save his soul from the wrath of God. It is also important for the Church to present the correct gospel.
However, when everything is said and done, Christ the author and finisher of our Faith shall judge correctly whether the Church / denominations had done justice to his word.
Blessed are those who love God and their neighbor! Amen
Pastor Ocean Hamandishe is an entrepreneur & Senior Pastor of Christian Walk Ministries. He oversees Churches in Zimbabwe & Mozambique. He holds a Diploma, B A in Theology and Master of Christian Counseling. He Can be contacted on +263 -772 602 471/ or [email protected] [email protected] Word Foundations (Knowledge Series)