This post was suggested by an article I recently read from Creation Ministries International. This is a ministry, as its name suggests, that specializes in the defense and explanation of the opening chapters of Genesis as being authoritative, accurate and historical. I highly recommend it and the publications it produces. You can contact them at Creation.com.
The article refers to Christians, churches and individuals alike, who, for various reasons, downplay the importance of the Old Testament, and especially the first 11 chapters of Genesis.
Without getting into the article’s approach to the subject, may I suggest some reasons why Genesis is important and should be studied, not neglected.
1. It gives an account of the origin of the earth and its inhabitants that is quite different from the science of our day. It simply says that in the beginning God created…. Evolutionary science tells us that things just simply happened, without rhyme or reason, and we’re lucky that a planet evolved on which life could form and we could show up.
2. Genesis tells us that it took God six days to create everything and that He “rested” on the seventh day. Evolution requires numerous billions of years for the development of nothing into everything. Some try to get around this by saying that Genesis’ “days” are really eons of time. Genesis describes them as “evening” and “morning.” If eons of time are really involved, then how did vegetation, which was created on the third day, survive without sunlight, which was created on the fourth day?
3. Genesis tells us that man was a unique and separate creation, not just a development from a lower form of animal. Nor does it tell us, as some have taught, that God took a couple of hominids with which to form a “special relationship.” God formed man out of the dust of the earth, not from an ancestor of apes and monkeys.
4. Without Genesis, we have no account of why this world is so messed up, or how, as Paul put it, sin entered. Genesis tells us that man is a fallen creature, under the judgment of God and driven out from His presence.
5. Genesis gives us the foundation and background of the Gospel. It contains the very first promise of redemption, when God told Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel,” Genesis 3:15.
There is a great deal more we could say about this, no doubt. Simply put, Genesis is the foundation of the rest of the Bible. Without it, we lose a great deal of what we need to understand it.
We need Genesis.
Having said that, there is another use of the term, “New Testament Christian,” a term very familiar in my own background and history.
Perhaps the majority of professing Christians believe, in one way or another, that we have to live according to the Old Testament, in particular, the Law of Moses. They try very hard to mold New Testament believers according to an Old Testament pattern. From this view, for example, has come infant baptism, because Jewish male babies were circumcised, and, it is said, infant baptism and communion have replaced circumcision and the Passover. However, circumcision and the Passover weren’t replaced by other symbols, but were fulfilled in that which they symbolized and foreshadowed. Circumcision is fulfilled in regeneration, and the Passover was fulfilled in the death of Christ. Baptism, believer’s baptism, the only kind commanded by our Lord and observed in the New Testament, is the believer’s profession of faith, and Communion or the Lord’s Supper, looks back to the death of Christ, not a release from Egyptian bondage.
From the view that we’re obligated to live by the Old Testament has come the idea of a “national church,” in which one is a member simply by virtue of being a citizen of that country. Spiritual condition has nothing to do with it. The New Testament knows of no such thing. Salvation is a personal and individual thing, not a corporate thing. Nor is it “familial,” that is, the infant has some sort of relationship with God simply because the parent does. It was to one who perhaps exemplified an Old Testament relationship to God more than any other person in Scripture to whom our Lord said, “You must be born again.”
Though the term “church” is sometimes used in a general sense, its predominant use is in reference to a local group of believers in a given area. The NT knows nothing of the monolithic religious structures which have risen since the days of the early church.
Along with the idea of a national church has come the idea of a priesthood, based on the OT idea of priesthood, in which the people of God are separated into “clergy” and “laity.” While it is true that God has given only some men gifts and abilities to be pastors and teachers, every believer may come into the presence of God in prayer for himself and for others. Such access isn’t limited to a certain “family” or class of believers. There is no NT office of “priest.”
Well, then, if we’re not to live by the OT Law, does this mean that we can live as we please?
While there are no instructions for animal sacrifice or any “ritual” in the worship of God, every commandment of the Ten except one is repeated in the New Testament, along with a great deal else unknown to the Old Testament. The only commandment not repeated in the NT is the one about keeping the seventh day as Sabbath.
There is a great deal more that could be said about this. It’s a minority viewpoint, to be sure. Nevertheless, this is what “New Testament Christian” means: that we live under the teachings of Christ in the New Testament, not under the rules and regulations of Moses in the Old.