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David B. Garner is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary and Pastor of Teaching at Proclamation Presbyterian Church (Bryn Mawr, PA). Pastor, professor, and author, he has also served as a missionary, ministering in Europe and Central and Southeast Asia. From 2003-2007, he served as Director for TE3 (Theological Education for Eastern Europe), a regional theological training ministry based in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Column: Sine Qua Non by David Garner

The Jesus of the Old and New

September 11, 2014 •
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 
Loving the Word of God
As faithful Christians, we prize our Bibles. And so we should. The almighty God of heaven and earth has spoken, and he has spoken understandably in words of grace and truth to us! Truly astounding. 
By the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the gift of hearing with faith secures our blessed forgiveness and eternal welcome into God’s family. How do we know? God has told us in his holy Word. 
We love the Word of God because of this glorious, hope-filled message. We love the Word of God because it is the Word of God, the living God, who is our God. We take Scripture’s authority seriously because we know that since God has spoken, we must listen. Jesus actually tells us that only his people can truly hear—only his sheep actually discern his voice (John 10:27–30). The Apostle Paul further explains how the Holy Spirit frees us from the darkness of ignorance by shining his radiant light into our souls (1 Cor. 2:1–16). 
What About the Old Testament?
For many of us, however, when we say we love the Word of God, we actually have in mind the New Testament. Oh, we surely believe the Old Testament is inspired of God and we openly claim its uniqueness and even its divinity. But for most of us such conceptual affirmation does not carry much practical weight. 
To be fair, a few prized texts from the Old Testament get honorable mention, like Psalm 23 and Isaiah 6. Key characters of the Old Testament have earned our spiritual respect: Abraham, Moses, and David, among others. But honestly, how often do our hearts get swept away by the litany of sacrifices detailed in Leviticus? How highly do we value ancient genealogies? When did the apportionment of the land to the tribes of Israel last elicit heartfelt wonder that God had spoken? 
Most of us believe this material important in some way, but we don’t always grasp how or why. In the meantime, we leap over vast sections of the Old Testament to find something more immediately rewarding. We want to see Jesus, and so we go to the New Testament to find him.
Any such giant leap masks a colossal lapse. A New Testament-only faith produces a shallow understanding of the Bible at best, and a complete misunderstanding at worst. There is no New Testament without an Old Testament. In fact, there is no meaningful Christ of the New Testament apart from the Christ promised and proclaimed in the Old! As we catapult over pages of ancient holy writ, we discount vital portions of God’s Word and dodge the very Jesus we long to see.
The Jesus of Old and New 
The entire New Testament rests its claim to authority on the basis of the authority of the Old Testament. The full argumentation of the New Testament stands not only upon the acknowledged authority of the Old Testament, but also in direct material dependence upon it. In excess of ten percent of the New Testament is direct citation or obvious allusion to the very text of the Old Testament.1  The other ninety percent develops and expands these references and allusions to our Lord. The content and structure of the New Testament depends entirely on its Old Testament parentage.
Put simply, the New Testament centers on Jesus because the Old Testament speaks of Jesus. The promises of God find their yes in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20): the entire Old Testament gives concrete promises about the Messiah, which the Son of God himself delivers in full (see 1 Peter 1:10–12). “Jesus Christ Himself is the center of New Testament revelation. Since the New Testament completes the story begun in the Old, Christ is also the center about which the Old Testament begins to speak in its preliminary way, and to which the Old Testament points forward.”2
Christ Jesus fulfills the entire Old Testament, and as such, his entire life, ministry, and ultimate purpose find anticipatory yet substantive explication in Old Testament revelation. 
Jesus Christ is the theme from beginning to end. Genesis is a prelude to the gospel. He, who in Genesis is promised as the seed of the woman, is seen in Revelation sitting on the great white throne judging all the races of men. The covenants of the Old Testament culminate in the covenant of the New. The history of ancient times was selected as a prelude to the history of the Son of Man. The sacrifices were types of the great sacrifice on Calvary. The prophets spake of him; the psalmists sang of him; the hopes of saints reached out to his coming. The Bible is a supernatural witness to a supernatural Person who was to come and who did come to save the world from sin and death.3
Christ then comes front and center in the New Testament, because he has already done so in the Old Testament. The range of this living reality extends from individual words in isolated texts to the aggregate of the Old Testament canon. From microanalysis to macro-analysis, Jesus Christ is the substance, the Protagonist, the essence, and the completion of biblical revelation. He is the central Word, and he is the Final Word; he is the anticipated Word, and he is the consummative Word (Hebrews 1:1-2). He is the Word made flesh and he fleshes out the Old Testament Word.
Jesus is the divinely provided New Testament “Yes” to the divinely given Old Testament promises. He is the new “It is finished,” in response to the old “Thus says the LORD.” Thus, the New Testament answers the Old Testament in a Christological affirmative; the entire teaching of the Testaments converges on the “Yes and Amen” himself—Jesus Christ. 
With the end of all special revelation centering on Jesus Christ, it is no wonder that Paul describes, without need for specific chapter and verse, the death, burial, and resurrection appearance of Christ “in accordance with the [Old Testament] Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). In Paul’s and his fellow apostles’ understanding, biblical revelation manifests an organic, Christ-ward, redeeming focus. 
For the apostles and therefore for us, understanding Jesus’ person and function comes by a proper reading of the Old Testament. To miss Jesus in the Old Testament is to miss the Old Testament (cf. Romans 9:1-8); to miss Jesus in the Old Testament is to misunderstand Jesus in the New Testament. Christ is the only proper “comprehensive hermeneutical key.”4  That is, to understand who Jesus is and what he has done requires a studied reliance upon the divinely inspired, Christ-centered, Old Testament. Scripture itself begs us to read the Old Testament with that Christological eye. To read any biblical text even once without Christ in view obscures its real meaning.
In his introductory words to the great epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul reminds us of this trans-testamental Jesus:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,  (Romans 1:1-4 ESV)
We love our Bibles. And so we should. But to love the Christ of Scripture is to love the entire Scriptures of Christ. To love Jesus is to love the Jesus of both testaments. And to miss him in the Old Testament is to miss him in the New Testament.
The Christian faith is a biblical faith—an Old and New Testament faith. If we claim to be “New Testament believers” then we are necessarily “Old Testament believers.” To love the Word of God is to love it all. Why? Because with exquisite expression and rich redundancy, our Redeemer Jesus is revealed from beginning to end.
Roger Nicole, “New Testament Use of the Old” in Revelation and the Bible (ed. Carl. F.H. Henry; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958), 138.
Vern S. Poythress, The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1991), 8.
David S. Clark, A Syllabus of Systematic Theology, Third Edition (St. Louis: Frederick, N.D.), 37.
D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991): 263.

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