“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” —Deuteronomy 5:6
Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote, “The real division of the Bible is this: first, everything you get from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 3:14; then everything from Genesis 3:15 to the very end of the Bible.” Spot on, and yet, we must also say that here we come to another major dividing line, not simply within Scripture itself, but especially in the church. Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum state, “It is the interpretation of the relation of the old covenant to the new the is the basis of all the major divisions among Christians, i.e., all the denominational differences derive ultimately from different understandings of the covenant at Sinai to us today.” While I would argue that the differences between we Reformed Baptists and our Presbyterian brothers go all the way back to Genesis 3, it is here that they come to a head.
Also, it is here that we diverge sharply with our Dispensational friends. And the division is growing generally among Christians and Evangelical churches for whom the Old Testament, the Law, is avoided like the Judean wilderness. No one lives there anymore. It’s flyover territory. We may mine the OT for some illustrations and inspirational stories. We may rip some sentimental lines from the Psalms or grab a proverb or two when needed, but can we say with Psalmist, “Oh how I love your law! It is my mediation all the day,” (Psalm 119:97).
I’m afraid that Andy Stanley’s asinine exhortation that the church needs to unhitch her faith from the Old Testament, though many reacted against it and Andy himself tried to walk it back, wasn’t really a needed exhortation. We largely are unhitched.
As for those of us who are hitched, or who wish to be, do we know what it is that we’re pulling? We know we’re hauling law, but do we recognize that the trailer itself on which the law rests is covenant? Further, do we realize that this covenant is one of redemption and grace? Hijacking Paul’s contrast of the Old and the New and driving it places he never intended, we pit the Old and the New against one another. Because we do, we now don’t know where we’re going. While we will largely still agree that the law is meant to drive us to grace, we’ve forgotten that grace also leads us back to the law.
Additionally, because we don’t know the Old, our supposed knowledge of the New is hollowed out. We’ve lost the plot, the background, the anticipations, the images, the shadows, the promises, the types, and the covenant soil out of which the New Covenant blooms. In short, we’ve become strangers to the covenants of promise.