“Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus Christ.” Acts 8:35
We have to remember that at the time of the early church, the New Testament had not yet been written. So when Jesus and His disciples refer to the good news about Jesus in Scripture, they are talking about the Old Testament. The disciples knew the promised “good news” of salvation through Jesus Christ originated in the Old Testament (John 4:22), but it became real or true, good news as Jesus’ life, death and resurrection fulfilled God’s promises and prophecies. God’s Word is not meant to be separated—the Old Testament for the Jews and the New Testament for the Gentiles. Through the gospel we are meant to be heirs with Israel and members of one body that share in the promise of Jesus (Ephesians 3:6). Jesus and the good news inhabit and require both the Old and New Testaments. But how often as Christians do we focus on just the New Testament? The Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized and saved because Philip was able to explain how the Isaiah 53 prophecy pointed to Jesus and the good news. Do we know the Old Testament Scriptures well enough to do that? How might the lack of knowledge of Old Testament Scriptures be hindering our effectiveness in sharing the gospel message or limit people’s ability to understand that it is Real, Good News?
What gives Jesus His authority and credentials as the Son of God and the Savior of the world is the fact that He alone fulfilled God’s salvation prophecies and promises written in the Old Testament Scriptures. Even Jesus said the Old Testament Scriptures testified about Him (John 5:40) and claimed He was the prophesied Messiah (John 4:26). One web-site stated that the odds of any one person fulfilling even just 8 of the prophecies about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. But for one man to fulfill all of them would be statistically impossible. We know that a prophet’s words are true and from God if what they say comes true (Deuteronomy 18:22). Without both Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment, we wouldn’t know if Jesus or God’s Word were true. God’s Word is proof of the truth of Jesus, and Jesus is proof of the truth of God’s Word. That truth is why we can be prepared to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15), and the reason we can trust in a future hope of Jesus’ return and our eternal life with Him.
Jesus’ disciples used the Old Testament Scriptures to teach, prove, persuade, baffle, debate and refute both Jew and Gentile alike throughout the Book of Acts. It was a powerful, evangelistic tool. But how often do we use that tool in Christian circles today? It didn’t seem to matter what background the disciples’ listeners came from or whether they even believed in the Scriptures at all. How often have we thought we can’t use Scripture with people who don’t believe in Scripture? Or do we consider the Old Testament boring and irrelevant, so we leave it out of the discussion? If so, consider this: If the good news needs both the Old and New Testament Scriptures to be true, and the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, both Jew and Gentile (Romans 1:16), then do we limit that power if we leave out the Old Testament? If our witness for Jesus begins and ends with the New Testament, then He becomes just another prophet, teacher or religious nut, or a sensational story that can’t be proven. Or if it begins and ends with the Old Testament, then we have no hope. But with the complete Word of God it becomes His powerful, Real, Good News.
Prayer: Dear God, You are the author of both the Old and New Testaments. Thank you that you are sovereign over all of history, that we can trust that you will do what you say. Thank you for the undeniable truth of Jesus that you provide in Your Word, that all of Your Word is useful and inspired by you. Forgive us if we have ignored any part of Scripture. Give us a thirst for all of it, and wisdom to see even the Old Testament’s relevance and importance for today. Help us to know it well enough to powerfully share the truth of Jesus and your salvation plan so that others may believe and receive your gift of eternal life. In the true and saving name of Jesus. Amen!