Members of the Church of Christ are sometimes accused of not believing in the Old Testament. This may be because we emphasize the need for New Testament authority in all we do and that the Old Testament is no longer binding. Though this seems straight-forward, people misunderstand it.
The Bible teaches that we must do all by the authority of the Lord, in His name (Col. 3:17). To do a thing in the “name of the Lord” is to do it by His command or His right and power. Jesus said He has all authority (Matt. 28:18). The Father said, “He Him” (Matt. 17:5). The Hebrew writer revealed by inspiration, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Heb. 1:1, 2). These verses clearly show that Jesus is the one and only to hold religious authority today.
Jesus expressed His authority, gave His commands, through the New Testament. There are four books that record His life and teaching (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). The other twenty three books of the gospel tell us about the establishment of the church, how to live, and what to expect (Acts-Revelation). Each book was revealed by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13). Hence, when we go by the New Testament, we are going by the authority of the Lord.
Since the New Testament is the expressed authority of Jesus, and He has all authority, that leaves none for the Old Testament. Right?
Does this mean members of the churches of Christ do not believe in the Old Testament? Not at all. Rather, we accept what Paul said, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we thorough the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The Old Testament teaches us about God and His dealings with men. We learn how He gives commands and holds men accountable to them. We often see His mercy, even to stubborn people like the Israelites.
Many New Testament truths are well illustrated in the Old Testament. In fact, I submit that there are no better illustrations to use…after all they are inspired!
Far from discounting the Old Testament, members of churches of Christ study it quite diligently. Over the past few years I have taught on the Minor Prophets, Genesis, Ezekiel, and other texts from the Old Testament. It enriches our understanding of God’s plan of redemption and gives us many examples of righteousness, as well as unrighteousness.
Again, to emphasize the main point; the New Testament is our authority, not the Old.
The Old Testament was done away with on the cross of Christ (Eph. 2:14, 15; Col. 2:14, 15). It was the ministry of death, while the New is the ministry of life (2 Cor. 3:3-11). This includes all the Old Testament; the Ten Commandments are no exception.
People wonder how the Ten Commandments are not authoritative and still maintain moral law. The fact is all the commandments are repeated in one form or another in the New Testament, except the Sabbath command. Besides, we cannot pick and choose which parts of the Old Testament to keep. As James and Paul said, we either take it all or none (Jas. 2:10; Gal. 5:3).
Members of the Church of Christ do believe in the Old Testament, just not for our religious authority. We are followers of Christ, not Moses.