BOOK SUMMARY: “IRRESISTIBLE: Reclaiming the New that Jesus unleashed on the world” by Andy Stanley

CLARIFYING SOME MISCONCEPTIONS

Because some are concerned that Andy Stanley is no longer holding to an evangelical view of faith, it’s worth looking at a few things up front.

ANDY STANLEY IS CONNECTED WITH DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

> Andy Stanley is a graduate of Dallas.

> Dallas has an Extension Campus that meets at the church Andy Stanley founded and leads (North Point Community Church)

> Andy Stanley was invited to participate in a discussion with the President of Dallas on a podcast run by Dallas. (They specifically address the message of this book at 21:38)

> The Professor of Theological Studies from Dallas (Glenn Kreider) endorsed this book.

ANDY STANLEY BELIEVES THE BIBLE IS GOD’S WORD

> North Point Community Church’s doctrinal statement begins with…

“About the Scriptures: We believe the entire Bible is the inspired Word of God and that men were moved by the Spirit of God to write the very words of Scripture. Therefore, we believe the Bible is without error.”

> In his essay, “Message and Method”, he says…

“I believe the Bible is without error in everything it affirms. I believe what the Bible says is true, is true.”

> In his book, “Deep and Wide”, he says…

“When dealing with miracles, Satan, hell, and even certain aspects of heaven, acknowledge that these are difficult things for the modern mind to accept. Here’s one of my scripts. Feel free to plagiarize or adapt:

‘For those of us raised in church, it’s easy to believe these things took place. But if you are new to Bible study, I can understand why you may have questions or even doubts. You may be interested to know that some of Jesus’ own followers had a difficult time believing some of this stuff. You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘Doubting Thomas.’ Thomas was one of Jesus’ followers who didn’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. Thus the nickname. Apparently Jesus’ own brother, James, didn’t believe for a long time either. So you are in good company. No pressure.’

As stated earlier, the primary claim an unbeliever must come to terms with has nothing to do with the long list of miracles scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments. The primary issue is what a person believes about Jesus. So I’m always looking for opportunities to shift the discussion in that direction. Anytime I’m teaching a passage that unbelievers may object to as unbelievable, I take a minute to affirm their doubts and then offer a simple rationale as to why they may want to reconsider. My simple rationale is this: Jesus believed this incident actually took place. Every time I mention Adam and Eve, I say something along the lines of:

‘I’ll tell you why I believe Adam and Eve were actual people. Jesus did. I’m a simple man. If somebody predicts his own death and resurrection and then pulls it off, I’m with him. I don’t really care what he says, I’m with the guy who rose from the dead. I would like to do that some day myself. And he said those who believe, even though they die, they will live. So I go with what Jesus said.’”

> In this book “Irresistible”, he says:

“I’m not discounting the importance of the Jewish Scriptures. When it comes to Jewish sacred texts, I’m with Jesus. His view is my view.”

ANDY STANLEY BELIEVES IN CORE EVANGELICAL DOCTRINES

> Salvation is by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone.
> The deity of Christ, His virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection.
> That there is an extremely clear and significant difference between Law and Gospel (which Luther said is the key to understanding the Bible and Christianity)
> That everyone spends eternity somewhere. Believers will experience eternal life with God, whilst unbelievers will suffer eternal judgement in Hell.

ANDY STANLEY WOULD AGREE WITH MUCH OF WHAT REFORMED AND LUTHERAN CHRISTIANS WOULD BELIEVE.

STEP #1 – LAW
The Law condemns us and shows us our need for Jesus to save us.

STEP #2 – GOSPEL
The Gospel invites us to place our faith in Jesus to pay for our sin and receive the Holy Spirit.

STEP #3 – HOLY SPIRIT
The Holy Spirit works in us and through us to make us more like Jesus.

STEP #4 – GOOD WORKS
In response to God’s amazing grace, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians seek to do good works freely and joyfully. Reformed/Lutheran Christians differ from Dispensational Christians on what these good works look like.
Reformed/Lutheran
> Ceremonial and Civil Laws of the Old Covenant no longer apply.
> Moral Laws of the Old Covenant need to be applied in light of what Jesus taught.
> The New Testament also applies.

Dispensational (Andy Stanley)
> Ceremonial, Civil and Moral Laws of the Old Covenant no longer apply.
> Christians seek to love others as they have been loved by Jesus. The New Testament paints a picture of what this will look like.

A FRAMEWORK

The following analogy may be helpful in understanding Andy Stanley’s view of the Old Covenant vs the New Covenant…

Suppose a man is both a father to his son, and a boss to his employees. One day his son overhears him talking to his employees about expectations and rewards.

The son could foolishly go home and think that he too needs to fulfill those same expectations, and that if he does, he’ll get the same rewards. But that would be ridiculous. Just because the father has expectations and rewards for his employees, doesn’t mean he operates the same way with his son.

This is why Christians don’t listen to the expectations and rewards our Heavenly Father had for Israel (i.e. Old Covenant) and think they’re for us. God hasn’t changed, but the covenants have. Israel was in a conditional covenant (blessings and curses). Christians are under the new covenant of grace. We are not slaves but sons.

SUMMARY

THE BIBLE ISN’T MADE UP OF JUST ONE COVENANT

“Many of us were unintentionally encouraged to mix, match, and blend Old Testament concepts and values with New. It’s unlikely anyone explained to you that the Bible is organized around several covenants or contracts between God and a variety of people and people groups. Odds are, nobody explained why the Old Testament was called old and the New, new.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 93). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The terms ‘Old Testament’ and ‘New Testament’ are common church vernacular, but many Bible readers have no idea where they came from. Most Christians are unaware of how the Old Testament got old and how something written two thousand years ago can be referred to as new. Many assume the Old Testament is labeled old because the events in the first half were older than the events in the second half. That’s assuming they’ve ever stopped to think about it.

 In Jesus’ day, Jews had a collection of writings considered sacred. This collection of texts would eventually be taken over by the church and retitled the Old Testament. Jews have never referred to their Scriptures as the old anything for the same reason we don’t call our Bibles the old Bible. While the arrangement of the Jewish Scriptures is different than what we find in our English Old Testaments, the documents included are pretty much the same. In other words, our Old Testament would have been Jesus’ Bible. But it’s important to note… the term Bible wasn’t applied to anyone’s scriptures until two hundred-plus years after Jesus’ farewell address. So, in the first part of the first century, there was no Old or New Testament. There was just Jewish Scriptures and some crazy folks who claimed a man had risen from the dead.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 96-97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“‘Covenant’ and ‘Testament’ are interchangeable. In your English New Testament, the word covenant is a translation of a Greek term used in ancient times to refer to wills and contracts, agreements or pacts. Similarly, in your English Old Testament, the term covenant is a translation of the Hebrew term used in reference to treaties and contracts. In ancient times, as in modern times, nations entered into treaties with one another. These treaties, or covenants, were created to define roles, expectations, and consequences of unmet expectations between tribes, regions, and eventually kingdoms.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 97). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE OLD COVENANT

THE OLD COVENANT IS GOD’S WORD

“I’m not discounting the importance of the Jewish Scriptures. When it comes to Jewish sacred texts, I’m with Jesus. His view is my view. And what does he say about the Jewish Scriptures?”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 69-70). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE OLD COVENANT IS GOOD

“When understood in its ancient context, it was brilliant! The civil and religious law detailed into God’s arrangement with Israel was superior in every way to the civil and religious law of the surrounding nations. The Torah may strike us as unsophisticated or perhaps barbaric, but the protections afforded to the most vulnerable were nothing short of revolutionary in their original context. Women, servants, foreigners, and children all fared better under Jewish law than did their counterparts in the surrounding nations. The Sinai covenant was a perfect arrangement within a specific cultural setting in light of God’s purpose for the nation and for the world.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 95). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“We should always affirm the goodness and divine origin of the old covenant. After all, it is the cocoon that brought us life, light, and a kingdom that has no end. It’s the backstory for the greatest story. It was the nanny whose purpose was to point God’s people toward the One who was to come. It’s the history of God’s chosen people through whom he would eventually step foot personally onto planet earth. The old covenant is a perpetual reminder that God keeps his promises, that his love endures forever. Yes, it is obsolete. But it is an obsolete covenant for which Jesus followers should be forever grateful. N. T. Wright summarized it perfectly when he wrote: The Torah [law of Moses at Sinai] is given for a specific period of time, and is then set aside—not because it was a bad thing now happily abolished, but because it was a good thing whose purpose had now been accomplished.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 170). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE OLD COVENANT IS CONDITIONAL

“We find the people of Israel camping at the foot of Mount Sinai watching Moses descend with God’s instructions for the nation. We call it the Ten Commandments. But before it was over, it was more like the 600 Commandments. Those famous first ten functioned a bit like a table of contents.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 29). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“When Moses finished reading the summary points of all God required of the nation, they responded with a hearty: Everything the LORD has said we will do. But of course they didn’t.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 30). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The content, wording, and arrangement of God’s instructions to Israel are in the form of a legal contract. Scholars refer to this template as a suzerainty treaty or a bilateral suzerainty treaty. This form of agreement was used by non-equal parties when defining the terms and conditions of their relationship. In a suzerainty treaty, the greater power, the suzerain, dictates terms to the lesser power, the vassal. Think curfew. The point being, the Ten+ Commandments were more than commandments. They were just one part of a comprehensive legal contract or covenant between God (the Suzerain) and the nation…

Keep my commands and I’ll keep you safe. The agreement was bilateral and conditional. If the nation of Israel didn’t uphold their end of the deal, God was under no obligation to uphold his.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 32-33). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The nation of Israel entered into a formal covenant with God at Mount Sinai. The terms and conditions were etched in stone. It was a classic bilateral suzerainty treaty, a covenant between non-equals. This was a conditional covenant. As long as the nation kept God’s commands, God would keep the nation safe. But if the nation didn’t uphold their end of the deal, God was under no obligation to uphold his.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 98). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“’If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’

This was part of God’s message to King Solomon after he completed the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. Here God reiterates his commitment to the existing cause-and-effect covenant he established with the nation of Israel. To apply these verses to, or claim this promise for, any other group is dishonest and dangerous. The new covenant established by Jesus stands in stark contrast to the assumptions and implications reflected in the verses cited above. To put it in broad terms, under the old covenant when you obeyed, you were blessed.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 99-100). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE OLD COVENANT WAS TEMPORARY

“If the law of Moses was destined to become obsolete, why establish it in the first place? Why did God establish a covenant that had a shelf life? Paul’s answer: Why then was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. There it is again. The law was intended as a temporary measure until God fulfilled his promise to Abraham.

For good measure, Paul threw in a word picture. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. The law was like a nanny. Guardians, or nannies, are responsible for watching over children until they’re old enough to care for themselves. God’s covenant with Israel served that same purpose. The law was in place for a limited time while God prepared the world for the introduction of the King who existed before time. Consequently, the law was in effect only ‘until Christ came.’ With the inauguration of the new covenant, the old covenant lost its authority.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 142-143). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE OLD COVENANT WAS BETWEEN GOD AND A NATION

“The covenant God made with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai was between God and the nation, not God and individuals in the nation. This was a national covenant. Individuals within the nation could cut themselves off from the covenant through personal unfaithfulness, but the covenant itself was with the nation.

When God punished the nation, everybody suffered, not just the guilty. When the nation was invaded, the righteous and the unrighteous were slaughtered and enslaved. When God blessed the nation, the wicked prospered right along with all the not-so-wicked.

God judged the health and devotion of the nation by the behavior of the leaders, judges, and prophets. The point being, God’s conditional promises to Israel were promises to the nation of Israel, not individuals in the nation and . . . and not you. You were not, are not, and should be glad you’re not included in that covenant.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 98). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Much confusion, not to mention bad theology, stems from our proclivity to cherry-pick, edit, and apply portions of God’s covenant with Israel (or texts referencing God’s covenant with Israel). Walk into any Christian bookstore around graduation time and you’ll see a plethora of graduation cards and gifts printed or engraved with Jeremiah 29:11. ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

How encouraging. God-fearing graduates can step confidently into the next chapter of their lives assured of prosperity, divine protection, and, hopefully, a job. Maybe. But who is “you”? “For I know the plans I have for you.” You who? Certainly not you, that’s who. Here’s the entire passage.

This is what the LORD says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’ If this is indeed applicable to graduates, they will have to wait seventy years for God to prosper and protect them. But if they can hang on until age eighty-eight, the best is yet to come! Fortunately, these verses don’t apply to graduates. Graduates are covered under a different covenant. A better covenant. A covenant that doesn’t require animal sacrifice to stay current.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 98-99). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The promises found in most of the Old Testament are not your promises. Yours are better. They may not be as promising, but they are better promises. Everything promised between Exodus and Malachi is promised within the context of a bilateral suzerainty treaty between God and a nation. It should all be interpreted within that context. Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes were all written within the context of an I will if you will arrangement between God and a nation.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 165). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Every promise you need today is found within the context of Jesus’ new covenant. It’s a better covenant. If you can’t find it there, don’t go looking elsewhere. You’ll just get yourself in trouble. God’s promises to Israel are not his promises to you. Again, yours are better. Much better. His promises to you are coupled to his original promise to Abraham. His promise to bless the world. To bless YOU! On the other hand, there are principles, both stated and illustrated, throughout the Old Testament. Lots of sowing and reaping. Proverbs is full of common sense cause-and-effect relationships. Solomon’s financial suggestions alone are worth the price of a genuine leather-bound study Bible. But for the record, don’t do anything because Simon and Solomon say. They are not the bosses of you.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 166). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE OLD COVENANT DIDN’T PROMISE AN AFTERLIFE

“In the Old Testament, when people died, it was assumed they went to Sheol. But Sheol wasn’t an actual place. It was the term used to describe the realm of the dead. Sheol became somewhat synonymous with hell after the Jewish Scriptures were combined with Christian writings.

Many a grieving parent has taken comfort in King David’s response when he’s told the baby he conceived with Bathsheba had died. Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me. This is a powerful, reassuring, hope-filled statement when read through the lenses of our new covenant-colored glasses. But there was nothing hopeful about it when David uttered it. His point was not that he would see his baby again one day in heaven. His point was that he would eventually join his baby in death. Would I correct a grieving parent’s misapplication of this text? Of course not. But I sure as Sheol wouldn’t use it at the funeral service either.

For lots of reasons. Most folks overlook the fact that God killed David’s baby to punish him and Bathsheba. That’s comforting. The reason we new covenanters believe mamas and babies will be reunited someday has nothing to do with anything in the old covenant. We believe the dead will be reunited because of an empty tomb.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 165-166). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

JESUS CAME TO DO SOMETHING NEW, NOT IMPROVE OR UPDATE THE OLD

“Jesus stepped into history to introduce something new. He didn’t come to Jerusalem offering a new version of an old thing or an update to an existing thing. He didn’t come to make something better. Jesus was sent by the Father to introduce something entirely new.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 20). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Jesus had not come to introduce a new version of Judaism. His movement was not regional. The Jesus movement was an all-skate. It was for all nations. His followers claimed he was the final sacrifice for sin, eliminating the need for the Jewish temple.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 23). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Jesus came to establish a new covenant, a new command, and a new movement. His new movement would be international. The new covenant would fulfill and replace the behavioral, sacrifice-based systems reflected in just about every religion of the ancient world. His new command would serve as the governing behavioral ethic for members of his new movement.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 23-24). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“While the new covenant signaled the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, it signaled the finale of the covenant God established with ancient Israel at Mount Sinai.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 85). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Dr. John Piper puts it this way: Jesus was not just another member in the long line of wise men and prophets. He was the end of the line. I love that. ‘The end of the line.’ To be sure, many instructions and rules and religious practices and rituals from the Old Testament are no longer to be practiced. But this is not because these practices and rules were wrong but because they were temporary and were pointing forward to the day when Jesus Christ would fulfill them, and thus end them. The coming of Christ did not abolish them, but it did make them obsolete. ‘Obsolete.’ There’s that word again. Perhaps an illustration will help. If you had an overwhelming amount of debt that you wanted to rid yourself of, one option would be to declare bankruptcy. In that case, your obligation would not be fulfilled, just removed. But if someone came along and paid off your debt, the obligation would be fulfilled and the burden of fulfilling that obligation would be removed as well. Jesus fulfilled—as in ended—the necessity of the Jewish law.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 109-110). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Under the old covenant, Jews were accountable to a ‘written’ code, the law of Moses. But under the new covenant, we are accountable to the Holy Spirit. Big difference.

The written code was housed in the temple, libraries, synagogues, and portions of it in the homes of wealthy Jews. The Spirit? Not so much. Under the new covenant, we don’t visit the temple. We are the temple…

I want to point out one other super important contrast: new vs. old… in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. You’ll think I’m making this up. The Greek term translated old actually means obsolete or outdated. Paul uses a derivative of this same term in his second letter to Corinthian Christians. Speaking of his Jewish brethren, he writes: But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.

This isn’t old as in ancient. We don’t refer to the U.S. Constitution as the old constitution. Why? Because it’s still in force. If we ratified a new constitution, we would immediately, as in the next day, refer to the original constitution as the old constitution. Not because it suddenly got older, but because we were no longer using it.

Remember when you got your current cell phone? The moment you took possession of it, how did you begin referring to the one you walked into the store with? The one you kept by your bedside the night before? The one you showed off to friends when you first got it? As soon as you took possession of your new phone, the other phone immediately became your . . . old phone. Not because it suddenly got older. But because you were replacing it with something newer. Better. And I bet you didn’t carry both phones around with you. Why? You’re not the blended-phone type. Once you got your new one, you . . . well . . . what did you do with your old one?

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 138-139). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE NEW COVENANT

THE NEW COVENANT IS FOR THE WORLD

“For God so loved the world.’ That’s right, the entire world. As in everybody, in every nation, in every generation. The Creator of the World revealed himself to a man with no people who would become a nation with a divine purpose. Along that harrowing journey, he would use a variety of things to move the story along. Road trips, plagues, fire, brimstone, man-eating earthquakes, stone tablets, an ancient constitution, a portable altar, kings, and, eventually, with some reservation, a temple. Actually, several temples. But these were all means to a specific end. And they were all designed to end. Everything on that list had a shelf life.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location: 949). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“When Jesus stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized, something brand-new was being unleashed on the world. It was so new, so totally other, so unlike anything that had been before, even John acknowledged his moment in the sun had come to an end. From that time on, it was all about the new guy. Remember this? The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the . . . There it is again. . . . world!’”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location: 962). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE NEW COVENANT IS UNCONDITIONAL

“On the evening prior to his crucifixion, which nobody in the room saw coming, Jesus met with the Twelve for the Passover meal. Passover was one of the most, if not the most, important celebrations for ancient Jews…

During this most sacred occasion, Jesus made what was perhaps his most outlandish and offensive statement to date…

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” At which point they may have thought, You’re kind of making this all about you. Perhaps we should take a few moments to remember what we’re here to remember. Moses. Egypt. Let my people go. And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, Here we go. “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”2 To which they must have thought, What? You want us to celebrate Passover in remembrance of you? That’s worse than claiming to be greater than the temple! Jesus reframed and reinterpreted a meal pointing back to perhaps the most pivotal moment in Israel’s history. Put yourself in the disciples’ sandals and imagine how ridiculous, how blasphemous, this must have sounded. We don’t mess with Christmas or Easter, and Jesus didn’t have any business messing with Passover…

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ ‘The new covenant.’ Did he really say the new covenant? As in the one predicted by Jeremiah six hundred years earlier? If that was the case, then this really was big. Maybe not as epic as the nation’s exodus out of Egypt, but big nonetheless. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah warned that the covenant between God and the nation would eventually be fulfilled and replaced. “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt . . .’ This new, replacement covenant would be different from the original covenant in several respects. According to Jeremiah, the new covenant would be a covenant of conscience. ’I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ The inauguration of this new covenant would eliminate the need for ceremonial animal sacrifice. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 82-84). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The new covenant Jesus announced at Passover was not only new, it was a completely different kind of covenant than the one God established with the nation at Mount Sinai. The covenant Jesus inaugurated was more akin to the covenant God established with Abraham when he promised to bless the world through him. In ancient times this arrangement was sometimes referred to as a promissory covenant. Unlike the bilateral suzerain treaty discussed earlier, a promissory covenant was unilateral and unconditional. In a promissory covenant, one party made a pledge to another party and took full responsibility for fulfilling that promise. Think middle school crush. Remember that note where you promised unwavering love no matter what? That’s how a promissory covenant starts. Fortunately for you, you never ratified the covenant by cutting the neighbor’s cat into two equal parts and . . . Oh yeah . . . I left out something important. The root of the Hebrew term for covenant means to cut. We cut deals. In the old days, folks cut covenants. They would literally slice an animal into two equal parts and a representative of each party would walk between the eviscerated carcasses. Why? I’ll let an expert explain:

‘The one who passes between the divided halves of the slain animals invokes death upon himself should he break the word by which he has bound himself in the oath.’

In other words, May it be unto me as it is with this unfortunate animal if I violate the terms of this covenant. When God ratified his covenant with Abraham, he had instructed Abraham to bring a goat and a ram and to cut them in two and arrange the halves opposite each other.

In a traditional covenant ceremony, both parties would then pass between the eviscerated carcasses. But this was an unconditional covenant. The text says that as the sun set, Abraham fell into a deep sleep. And then something extraordinary happened: When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.8 God did not require Abraham to pass between the divided carcasses. Instead, the blazing torch, representing God’s presence, did all the passing. This was God’s way of saying, ‘Abraham, this is on me! I take full responsibility for fulfilling my promises to you.’ Unilateral. Unconditional.

Now, with all that as a backdrop, let’s revisit Jesus’ reference to the new covenant during his final Passover. On that very night, he would surrender his own body to be flayed to the bone by a Roman cat–o’–nine–tails. Minutes later he would be forced to shoulder a wooden beam weighing upwards of a hundred pounds. Then his hands and feet would literally be torn in two by his own weight as he hung and bled to death on a Roman cross: This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you. ‘Poured out for you.’ Like Abraham, we would not be required to participate in the covenant ceremony. This was unilateral. Unconditional. It was Jesus’ way of saying to the world: This is on me! This is on me, for you!”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 100-102). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE NEW COVENANT IS BETTER

“The author of Hebrews says it best. Jesus was the ‘guarantor of a better covenant.”10 Later he writes, “the new covenant is established on better promises.’”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 102). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The Ten Commandments never lifted a finger to help you. Worse, the Ten Commandments sat back and waited for you to screw up. And when you did, they finally spoke up, not to defend you but to condemn you! Once you were condemned, do you know what they did next? They demanded you go to a priest and make a sacrifice to purchase atonement for your sin. That’s a problem, now, isn’t it? You see, all the temple priests retired when the temple burnt down two thousand years ago. I suppose you could build an altar in your backyard. But my guess is animal sacrifice is illegal where you live. Not to mention, you really need an official, flesh-and-blood Levite for your sacrifice to be official. Good luck with that. So not only have you screwed up, you are . . . well, you are condemned. You are out of favor with God and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it! Have a nice day. ‘But wait!’ you say. ‘God forgives sin. All I have to do is ask!’ Not under the old Ten Commandment’s covenant, he doesn’t. You’ve gotta kill something or burn something when you break a commandment. You’re getting your covenants confused. Asking for forgiveness in Jesus’ name is the new covenant, not the old.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 137). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Nobody knows who authored the letter to the Hebrews. It was written around AD 64. It reads more like a sermon than a letter. The document is written to Jewish Christians pressured by the Jewish community to renounce Jesus and return to traditional Judaism.

The author urges his audience to stay the new covenant course and resist the temptation to bend and blend. In a point-by-point comparison, the author explains how everything about Jesus is superior to everything about the old covenant.

Here’s a brief summary:

  • Jesus is greater than Moses.
  • Jesus is a better high priest than the current high priests.
  • Jesus’ covenant is superior to the covenant established at Mount Sinai.
  • Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice is superior to the daily temple sacrifices.

Comparing Jesus’ capacity as a priest to the priest down the street, he writes: But, in fact, the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. Note the compare-and-contrast terminology: ‘superior,’ old,’ ‘new,’ ‘better.’ He’s in complete agreement with the Jerusalem Council and the apostle Paul. The new covenant is a better, superior, preferable covenant. There’s no mention of blending, mixing, or combining. According to our mystery author, the old covenant does not carry the weight or authority of the new one.

He continues: For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. This is an extraordinary and unsettling statement. Apparently there was something wrong with the old covenant. If he’s correct, the Bible says there’s something wrong with part of the Bible. If he’s not correct, well, then, part of our Bible is not correct. Oh well. He goes on to quote the prophet Jeremiah who predicted the old covenant would eventually be replaced by a new one. But what the author of Hebrews says next is astonishing. It doesn’t astonish most Christians because . . . well, most Christians don’t read the Bible. But what he says doesn’t astonish those who do read it because most Bible readers miss the fact that he’s talking about their Bible. Here we go: By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one . . . Wait for it . . . obsolete Farewell, author of Hebrews. Come on, you can’t label portions of the Bible obsolete and claim to be a Christian. Can you? The author of Hebrews says the new covenant rendered the old and everything associated with it obsolete. But that’s not the most astonishing statement. What follows may be the reason our mystery author chose to remain a mystery. By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 151-153). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

THE NEW COMMAND

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ Yes, they had. The Jewish Scriptures stated: Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. Instead of explaining what that bit of Scripture meant, Jesus surprised everyone with this: But . . . If he had paused after ‘But . . .’ they would have thought, But? Jesus, you don’t respond to Moses with but unless it’s, ‘But of course.’ You can’t but something handed down by Moses! But he did. Because Jesus was greater than Moses. Greater than the temple. Greater than the law. So he butted his way through. But I tell you do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

We can’t begin to imagine how ridiculous this sounded to first-century Jews struggling to survive under the hobnailed sandals of Rome. But more to the point of our discussion, we can’t begin to imagine how unbiblical this sounded to first-century Jews whose entire Scriptures were built on an ethic to the contrary. You’re familiar enough with Old Testament stories to know Israel never, ever, turned the other cheek. Joshua, the messiah figure for first-century Jews, was certainly not a cheek turner. He was a warrior. David, in whose line the Messiah was to come, had so much blood on his hands God wouldn’t let him build the temple. Jesus wasn’t simply contradicting their Scriptures. His teaching stood in stark contrast to their entire history! Many in his audience wanted more blood on their hands. Roman blood.”=

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 106-107). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. You won’t find ‘hate your enemy’ explicitly stated in the Jewish Scriptures. But the sentiment was certainly modeled and illustrated throughout Israel’s history as documented in their Scriptures.

The psalmists expressed a great deal of unmitigated animosity toward their enemies. Ancient Israel did not love her enemies. Ancient Israel took every opportunity to destroy her enemies, often with God’s blessing and intervention. If the ancient Jews prayed for their enemies, they prayed for their enemies’ destruction. Against the backdrop of their messianic militaristic aspirations, Jesus was a poor excuse for a messiah. Instead of fulfilling messianic expectations, he was dissing them.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 107). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“As the hinge between covenants, Jesus’ mission was to lay the groundwork for the transition from old to new. Summarizing the entire Jewish law with two existing laws wasn’t just genius, it was strategic. Just as the old covenant included laws for the nation to live by, so Jesus’ new covenant would include instructions for his followers to live by as well. But his list wouldn’t be engraved on stone tablets. It would be engraved in the hearts, minds, and consciences of his followers. The rules and regulations associated with Jesus’ new covenant could easily be committed to memory. The reason being, they weren’t a they. They were an it. There was just one.

The one commandment! Doesn’t sound very commanding, does it? This should go without saying, but I don’t hear many folks saying it, so I’ll say it. The old covenant commands were part of the old covenant. The end of the old covenant signaled the end of the rules and regulations associated with it. Jesus didn’t issue his new command as an additional commandment to the existing list of commands. Jesus issued his new commandment as a replacement for everything in the existing list. Including the Big Ten. Just as his new covenant fulfilled and replaced the old covenant, Jesus’ new commandment fulfills and replaces the old commandments.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 3014). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Participants in the new covenant are not required to obey most of the commandments found in the first half of their Bibles. Participants in the new covenant are expected to obey the single command Jesus issued as part of his new covenant. Namely: As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 3027). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Jesus’ new covenant commandment established the governing ethic for his new movement. It was simple but all-encompassing. It was far less complicated than the current system but far more demanding. As we’re about to discover, the imperatives we find scattered throughout the New Testament are simply applications of Jesus’ new covenant command. New Testament imperatives are examples of how to love the ‘one-anothers’ Jesus commanded us to love. Again, far less complicated. But far more demanding.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 3087). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Jesus’ new covenant command forces us to upgrade our answer to the question Why? Why obey? Why submit? Why surrender?

Under the old covenant, why was answered with an eye to the sky. Israel obeyed to fulfill their part of their old covenant contract with God. They obeyed to be blessed. They obeyed to be protected and prospered. They obeyed to keep the nation foreigner-free. Old Testament prophets, writing in their old covenant context, reiterated the old covenant why throughout their instructions to the nation. Obedience brought blessing. Disobedience would result in punishment, perhaps banishment. Israel obeyed old covenant rules and restrictions for their own sake. With that paradigm in mind, consider this well-known old covenant command.

Honor your father and your mother . . .

Why? so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Honoring Mom and Dad under the old arrangement wasn’t really for the benefit of Mom and Dad. It was about the security and prosperity of the kids. This is the nature, force, and tone of the old covenant. Unfortunately, that’s the nature, force, and tone of a lot of modern preaching. One of the devastating consequences of our mix-and-match church culture is we invariably mix and match old covenant and new covenant whys. It’s devastating because Jesus’ new covenant came prepackaged with a new answer to the question why.

With the inauguration of the new covenant, why would no longer be associated with appeasing God or purging property. Jesus followers aren’t instructed to obey in order to gain something from God. We obey in light of what we’ve already been given.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 3087). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“In the parable of the prodigal son, when referring to the wayward younger brother, Jesus says: But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with ________. Remember what comes next? Don’t look. How we fill in that blank says a great deal about how well we understand the new Jesus unleashed in the world.

In the past, I’ve felt scorn, anger, and resentment toward sinners. Even repentant sinners. Who could blame me? These folks, in some cases friends, enjoyed the pleasure of sin and then turned around and leveraged God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness. They were having it both ways. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like them. So, yeah, my word was different than the word Jesus put in the mouth of the prodigal’s father. What word would you choose? What would you be “filled with” if you were a brother or sister to the prodigal? What word would your church or denomination put in that blank? But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion.

According to Jesus, the proper response to sin isn’t jealousy, anger, or indifference. It’s compassion. That’s easy to say but difficult to do. Jesus knew that. In the end, he put his life where his mouth was. Again, Paul said it best: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Still powerless. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners . . . Before we began our journey home. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Sin should break our hearts because sin breaks people and broken people break the Father’s heart. That’s the new covenant. That’s the new way. That’s the way of love. The way of Jesus. The way of his followers. The old covenant said, Stone him. The new covenant said, Take him back, swine smell and all. It took me far too long to realize I can’t be for people far from God until I feel what the Father feels toward people who are far from him. He’s not angry. He’s not jealous. He’s certainly not indifferent. He’s brokenhearted. He’s got his eyes on the road.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 3988). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

NOTE: Martin Luther’s Perspective on the 10 Commandments

Whilst Martin Luther did point Christians back to the 10 Commandments to show Christians what good works would look like, it’s interesting that he didn’t think they all applied to Christians in the same way that it applied to the nation of Israel. He applied the principles rather than taught people to obey the commands.

This is his comment on the Sabbath…

“This commandment… does not concern us Christians; for it is altogether an external matter, like other ordinances of the Old Testament, which were attached to particular customs, persons, times, and places, and now have been made free through Christ.

But to grasp a Christian meaning… We keep holy days not for the sake of… Christians (for they have no need of it holy days), but… for the common people, man-servants and maid-servants, who have been attending to their work and trade the whole week, that for a day they may retire in order to rest and be refreshed.

However, this, I say, is not so restricted to any time, as with the Jews, that it must be just on this or that day; for in itself no one day is better than another.”

THE NEW MOVEMENT

“In all my years of ministry, I’ve only had one conversation with an unbeliever—a Jewish friend—who had an objection to Christianity based on anything to do with the claims of Jesus. ‘Andy,’ he said, ‘I just don’t believe someone can pay for someone else’s sins. I believe each of us is responsible for our own sins.’ I smiled and said, ‘Well, congratulations, you’re standing on the threshold. That is the issue.’”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 18). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“When asked about their view of Scripture, 72 percent of nones said it was not the Word of God. More people have more questions about the origins, relevance, and authority of the Scriptures . . . the steady rise of skepticism is creating a cultural atmosphere that is becoming unfriendly—sometimes even hostile—to claims of faith.

In a society that venerates science and rationalism, it is an increasingly hard pill to swallow that an eclectic assortment of ancient stories, poems, sermons, prophecies, and letters, written and compiled over the course of 3,000 years, is somehow the sacred ‘Word of God.’ That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news. And now you’ll understand why I spent so much of your valuable reading time trying to pry you away from all things old covenant. Again, here’s the good news.

The foundation of our faith isn’t ‘an eclectic assortment of ancient stories, poems, sermons, prophecies, and letters, written and compiled over the course of 3,000 years.’ The foundation of our faith isn’t even an inspired assortment of ancient stories, poems, sermons, prophecies, and letters, written and compiled over the course of 3,000 years. The foundation of our faith isn’t an assortment of anything.

But the majority of Christians believe it is. And the majority of post-Christians thought it was. So they left. ODDS ARE In 2011, 10 percent of Americans qualified as skeptics when it came to the Bible. In 2016, just five years later, that number had more than doubled. Currently, 22 percent of Americans do not believe the Bible has any divine underpinnings. But the current percentage is not the real story. The real story is the current rate at which culture is dismissing the Bible as uninspired, untrue, and irrelevant. But it doesn’t stop there. Twenty-seven percent of millennial non-Christians believe ‘the Bible is a dangerous book of religious dogma used for centuries to oppress people.’ Journalists, scientists, and scholars the likes of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens have provided plenty of one-sided commentary to support that narrative.

When our culture held the Bible in high regard, leveraging the authority of the Bible was somewhat effective. Those days are over. They’ve been over for a long time. How has the church responded? Skinny jeans and moving lights. We preach, teach, write, and communicate as if nothing has changed, as if ‘The Bible says it,’ still settles it. As if our target audience is non, not post. That must change as well.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 4178). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Question: What would happen to you if your birth certificate along with every copy of and record of your birth were to vanish from the earth? Answer: Nothing. Your birth certificate documents you. It didn’t create you and it doesn’t sustain you. Question: What would happen to you if you discovered an error on your birth certificate? Answer: Nothing. For the same reason. How would you respond to someone who claimed you were never born because of an error on your birth certificate? How would you respond to someone who refused to believe you existed until you produced a birth certificate? Crazy, I know. But this convoluted thinking mirrors the way most people think about our faith. And by ‘most people,’ I don’t mean most non-believers. Most Christians are confused on this point as well. Consequently, as the Bible goes, so goes their faith.

One more. WHICH CAME FIRST Which came first, the resurrection or the written accounts that document the resurrection? Obviously, the resurrection. Documents that document an event can’t preexist the event they document. Neither do they create the event.

The New Testament documents are like a birth certificate of sorts. They document the birth of the church. They document why the church was birthed. Most importantly, they document the resurrection of Jesus. The first converts to Christianity did not believe Jesus rose from the dead because they read about it. There was nothing to read. They believed he rose from the dead because eyewitnesses told them about it. When your mama’s friends came to visit her after you were born, they didn’t ask to see your birth certificate. They asked to see you!

The foundation of our faith is not an inspired book. While the texts included in our New Testament play an important role in helping us understand what it means to follow Jesus, they are not the reason we follow. We don’t believe because of a book; we believe because of the event that inspired the book. The event, not the record of the event, is what birthed the ‘church.’ To say it a different way, the Bible did not create Christianity. Christianity created the Bible. The Christian faith existed for decades before there was a The Bible. Faith in Jesus existed for decades before the Bible as well. But not before the resurrection.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 4535). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“This approach to faith in no way diminishes the importance of Scripture. Just the opposite. The resurrection serves as our apologetic or argument for the reliability of Christian Scripture. Let me explain.

The Christian faith began with the resurrection of Jesus. It was birthed by an event, not a document. A birth, not a birth certificate. Our faith began when a handful of Jesus followers saw him alive from the dead. Just as the resurrection of Jesus served as the reason they would later give for the hope that was alive in them, so his resurrection must serve as the reason for our hope as well.

To state it more directly, we don’t believe because the Bible says. We believe because Jesus rose! Why do we believe Jesus rose? We believe he rose from the dead because Matthew tells us so. Mark tells us so. Luke tells us so. John tells us so. Peter tells us so. James, the brother of Jesus, believed it to be so. And last but not least, the apostle Paul came to believe it was so.

Eventually, church leaders collected these individual declarations of faith, including the four accounts of Jesus’ life and teaching, bound them together, and titled it the New Testament. And then there’s this. Once someone accepts the historicity of the resurrection, you don’t generally have to convince them to lean in to what Jesus said and did. But it gets even better. When someone becomes fascinated with Jesus, they usually become fascinated with the backstory as well—the Jewish Scriptures.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (Location 4621). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“I’m not discounting the importance of the Jewish Scriptures. When it comes to Jewish sacred texts, I’m with Jesus. His view is my view. And what does he say about the Jewish Scriptures?”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 69-70). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

WE MUST NOT MIX THE OLD WITH THE NEW

“The birth of Protestantism signalled a revival of the new Jesus introduced. But the struggle would not end there. The temptation to pour the new wine Jesus offers into the old wineskins of temple and empire is with us today. Every generation needs imperfect reformers—men and women who, like the apostle Paul, become apoplectic when they see a trace of the old ways creeping into the new Jesus introduced. I’m convinced it’s the mixing, blending, and integration of the old with the new that makes the modern church so resistible. It’s the mixing, blending, and integration of the old with the new that make our faith indefensible in this misinformation age. Jesus warned us two thousand years ago against pouring new wine into old wineskins. In the end, both the wine and the wineskins are ruined. The result is a mess.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 24-25). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The modern church suffers from its own version of mix-and-match theology and orthopraxy. By mix-and-match I’m referring to our incessant habit of reaching back into old covenant concepts, teachings, sayings, and narratives to support our own teachings, sayings, and narratives. Here is a sampling of some of the “old covenant leftovers” just to whet your appetite.

  • Why are Christians behind the movement to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms and courthouses? Why not portions of the Sermon on the Mount?
  • Why do we give children a copy of the old covenant bound with the new without teaching them the difference?
  • Why do some churches have priests?
  • Why do Christians sometimes describe their pastors as “anointed” by God?
  • Why do some Christian leaders constantly warn of God’s impending judgment?
  • Why would a Christian believe God judges nations at all? New Testament authors along with Jesus spoke of a once-for-all final judgment…
  • Why would Christian leaders declare a tsunami God’s judgment on a predominantly Muslim region of the world?
  • Why do Christians judge non-Christians for not behaving like Christians?…
  • Why do we take marriage and dating advice from a pagan king with seven hundred wives?”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 90-91). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Decades of mixing and matching have resulted in a version of faith filled with leftovers from the covenant Jesus fulfilled and replaced. Old covenant leftovers explain why religious leaders feel it’s their responsibility to rail against the evils in society like an Old Testament prophet. It’s why our song lyrics are filled with invitations for God to fill our buildings. Bad church experiences are almost always related to old covenant remnants…

Self-righteousness and legalism usually stem from an imported approach to holiness. The prosperity gospel is rooted in God’s covenant with Israel rather than the teaching of Jesus. The list goes on and on. The justifications Christians have used since the fourth century to mistreat people find their roots in old covenant practices and values. As I mentioned in the introduction, imagine trying to leverage the Sermon on the Mount to start an inquisition, launch a crusade, or incite a pogrom against Jews. But reach back into the old covenant, and there’s plenty to work with.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 94-95). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“While Jewish Christians in Paul’s day viewed a blend of ancient tradition with new revelation as harmless, Paul saw something different. He knew the legalism, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and exclusivity that characterized ancient Judaism would eventually seep into and erode the beauty, simplicity, and appeal of the ekklesia of Jesus. Perhaps he knew that if the Jesus movement ever found favor in the empire, any trace of old covenant imperialistic thinking would tip the scale in the direction of the kingdoms of this world. Maybe he foresaw the day when mix-and-match husbands would leverage his words in attempts to force their wives into submission. No doubt he’d seen enough opportunistic evangelists to know they would not resist the temptation to claim for themselves God’s covenant promises to prosper Israel. Perhaps he knew his words regarding slavery, when blended with old covenant narratives and assumptions, would be used to support the slave trade.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 146-147). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“Mix and match and you don’t get the best of either. You get the worst of both. You get the prosperity gospel, the crusades, anti-Semitism, legalism, exclusivism, judgmentalism, fourteenth-century Catholicism.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 158). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

NOTE: Martin Luther taught the same thing…

“The New Testament properly consists of promises and exhortations, just as the Old Testament properly consists of laws and threats. For in the New Testament the gospel is preached, which is nothing else but a message in which the Spirit and grace are offered with a view to the remission of sins, which has been obtained for us by Christ crucified; and all this freely, and by the sole mercy of God the Father, whereby favor is shown to us, unworthy as we are and deserving of damnation rather than anything else. Then follows exhortations, in order to stir up those who are already justified and have obtained mercy, so that they may be active in the fruits of the freely given righteousness of the Spirit, and may exercise love by good works and bravely bear the cross and all other tribulations of the world. This is the sum of the whole New Testament.”

“Whoever knows well this art of distinguishing between Law and Gospel, him place at the head and call him a doctor of Holy Scripture…

 This difference between the Law and the Gospel is the height of knowledge in Christendom. Every person and all persons who assume or glory in the name of Christian should know and be able to state this difference. If this ability is lacking, one cannot tell a Christian from a heathen or a Jew; of such supreme importance is this differentiation. This is why St. Paul so strongly insists on a clean-cut and proper differentiating of these two doctrines.”

HOW TO USE THE OLD TESTAMENT

“When teaching this content, I’m occasionally asked how Paul’s words to Timothy regarding the usefulness of “all Scripture” fits this paradigm. Paul writes: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.9 And, of course, I wholeheartedly agree. All Scripture is useful for all those things. But here’s something to keep in mind. If you want to know what someone means by what they say, listen to what else they say and watch what else they do. If we want to know what Paul meant by “all Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training,” we should pay attention to how Paul used the Jewish Scriptures to teach, rebuke, correct, and train. Illustrations are scattered throughout his letters and his teaching as documented in the book of Acts. As we will discover in chapter sixteen, Paul never sets his application ball on an old covenant tee. When it came to how believers are to live, he was quick to point to Jesus as the standard. When Paul described the believer’s relationship with God, he always spoke in new covenant terms.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (p. 168). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

“The Old Testament is great for inspiration, but not application. Don’t do anything the Old Testament tells you to do because someone in the Old Testament tells you to do it or because they did it themselves….

Old Testament narratives are rich in courage, valor, and sacrifice. Everybody faces a Goliath or two. Most of us can relate to Moses’ fear of rejection and Gideon’s insecurity regarding his past. Who isn’t inspired by Joseph’s decision to forgive his wicked brothers or Daniel’s decision to face Babylonian lions rather than violate his conscience. Besides, Old Testament stories of faith, fortitude, and grit are the dots that connect to create the storyline of our redemption. While it’s not your covenant, it certainly connects to your story.”

Stanley, Andy. Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World (pp. 166-167). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.