We’ve Been Practicing Old Testament Paradigms

Saturday Discussion

Spiritual Formation (Nelson)Back in 2010, I interviewed Dr. Peter Nelson, author of the new book, Spiritual Formation: Ever Forming, Never Formed, (Biblica Publishing). Here is a sneak peek at one paragraph that captured my attention.

But with Christ’s global Great Commission to make disciples among all the people groups on earth, a dramatic shift of approach was put into effect. If the Old Testament pattern was ‘come and see’ (i.e., come and see the bright light of God’s glory shining out from his people Israel), in the New Testament it is ‘go and tell.’ What’s more, although the people of God in the Old Testament times were united along national and ethnic lines, with Christ’s coming and his missionary commission, the people of God have been reconstituted as a multiethnic, international fellowship spreading all over the earth and among all populations. The theocracy under which Old Testament Israel lived has been eclipsed by a different form of ‘government,’ the church, the worldwide suprapolitical fellowship of Christ-followers.” (p. 58)

Thought:    If this is true, and I think it is, it means that the methodology of the western church for at least the last 120 years has been essentially Old Testament in nature. In fact, for the last 30 years, much of the church growth and, sadly, even the church planting literature has been explicitly ‘COME AND SEE’ (i.e., Old Testament in form).

The recent post-modern spin on “COME AND SEE’ morphing into “COME AND EXPERIENCE,” is really a minor tweak on an essentially Old Testament paradigm. But in the New Testament paradigm, we are not first and foremost demonstrators of the Kingdom, we are heralds of the Kingdom. We announce good news. Certainly, we have to live out the good news lest we become in-credible witnesses. But the order is important.

Our job is to announce, to proclaim glad tidings, to give testimony to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, to tell of forgiveness of sins, to call to repentance, to call to belief.

By all means live the gospel. Live radically transformed lives. Live sacrificial, service oriented, humble lives of compassion and joy. Do all that, but remember, —open your mouth.

  • Tell people about Jesus.
  • Tell them about what He did for them. (Came, lived a sinless life, died and rose again)
  • Tell them why it applies to them.
  • Tell them because it is what Jesus calls all of us who are His to do for Him.

What do you think?  

see also We’ve Got Discipleship All Wrong and Making Disciples” is a Unitary Act.

2 thoughts on “We’ve Been Practicing Old Testament Paradigms

  1. Pastor Marty, you are a deep thinker. It shows in the way you speak and write. I submit few church leaders think in as much detail as you do. To suggest that many churches follow an ‘Old Testament Paradigm’ would imply that this was the thought process.

    May I submit that the ‘Come and Experience’ paradigm exists by default because most churches do not have the passionate manpower commitment to actively pursue the ‘Go and Tell Paradigm.’ And the reason many churches do not have the manpower is because so many of us are stuck in the ‘Jesus and Me Paradigm.’

    I like your end comments…just submitting it is the ‘Jesus and Me Paradigm’ that needs to be broken…and the ‘Old Testament Paradigm’ should not be given more weight than it deserves.

    Dr. Nelson is a sharp guy, too. I know this because he attended our church for a while when you were our pastor and he gave the message a number of times.

    Look forward to the interview. 🙂


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