Quick Guide to Understanding the New Testament
There are at least four things that are greatly misunderstood about the New Testament, and these keep people from really understanding the incredible things Christ accomplished by His life, Cross and resurrection:
1. There is No Law of God: The Old Covenant Law was given only to Israel and it ended when Christ came. Gentiles never had any part of the Old Covenant Law. Today, your conscience functions like the law; universally, people know that it is wrong to kill or steal. Institutional religion has always functioned as if we are under law and this, more than any other thing, has kept people from understanding the life of faith. The Old Covenant Law was self-empowered living while New Covenant grace is God-empowered living. The Old Covenant was external; the New Covenant is internal. You are able to live righteously by the power of Jesus Christ living in you, not by trying to keep your denomination's set of rules (their version of the law). Christ in you is what faith is all about.
2. You Have Both an Inner Spirit and an Outer Mortal Body: When you trust Christ as your Savior, God completely removes your old, inner nature ("spirit" or "heart") and replaces it with a new heart filled with God's Spirit; you are righteous because Jesus now lives in you. You can never sin in your inner spirit because Jesus in you can never sin (1 John 3:9); your eternal life is assured because the life is in Jesus Christ (1 John 1:2; 5:11,12a). But, your body is still the same; that part of you is not yet saved (Romans 8:10a). Because of this, believers live by faith, which is the power of Christ in you as He lives out His life through you.
3. Jesus Emptied Himself to Live on this Earth as a Human Just Like You: This is a critical issue: Jesus became like you so that you can live like Him. The Bible does not teach that Jesus was fully God and fully man at the same time as is commonly taught; that is a man-made tradition. Rather, Jesus emptied Himself of His deity (Philippians 2:6,7) for "a little while" during His time on this earth (Hebrews 2:7a,9a). He became like us in every way (Hebrews 2:17), except without sin. At His baptism, the Holy Spirit came down and entered Jesus (Matthew 3:16). The Holy Spirit then became Jesus' power to do the works and miracles of His Father. This same Holy Spirit that lived in Jesus is the same Holy Spirit that now lives in you, and is your power to live the life God wants for you.
4. Context is Everything: People use many Scriptures out of context. The Bible was written by Jews primarily to Jews. Jesus came to save the Jews but, as He was doing that, God brought forgiveness to everyone and the offer of new life to those who trust Christ as Savior. Many of the books and letters of the New Testament were written specifically to Jews. The two exceptions were the letters of Paul, which were written to a mix of Jews and Gentiles, and the Gospel of Luke and book of Acts which Luke, the only Gentile writer, wrote to a single person. Therefore, it is important to understand the context when reading the New Testament.
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