The Old Testament and the gospel – what’s the connection? The Old Testament can be hard to read and understand, even dry at times. Yet, if Christians wanted to understand the gospel in a fuller sense, digging deep into the Old Testament is a necessity.
Hailing all the way from Australia, Rev Dr Tim Escott (pictured above) holds a PhD in the Old Testament and is a suitable speaker to be teaching at CTC this year entitled: The Old Testament and the Gospel. CTC lasted for an entire week and was held at Luther Centre, Petaling Jaya – complete with 3 Behind-the-Scenes morning workshops, 4 night sessions, and ending with the climax of CTC on Building Healthy Churches. CERC itself was privileged to host the prelude and postlude sermons by Rev Dr Tim Escott himself at Sunday gatherings two weeks in a row on Luther Centre grounds as well in order to accommodate visitors of CTC.
As people of the Word, CERC highly encourages the church as a whole to attend conferences such as CTC in order to learn and grow together with other churches in the Klang Valley. As such, this week, CERC Growth Groups even made the effort to attend CTC on their usual meeting nights throughout the week.The hope and prayer is that CERC may be strengthened in the work Christ has called her to do and persevere in building a church that is faithful to Jesus and his gospel.
Some highlights from the conference were most definitely the Behind-The-Scenes (BTS) morning workshops. There were opportunities to dig deeper and ask Dr Escott questions at a classroom level. On BTS day 1, He spoke at length about hermeneutics or interpretation of the Bible, and the challenges and approaches to it – this was in order to set the scene for getting Biblical theology right and therefore getting the gospel story according to the Old Testament right.
Marcus Lim, a candidate and student leader shared how he was humbled as he learnt that he still had much to learn. “During BTS, my presuppositions were challenged by Dr Escott. I was assuming that biblical theology was the only way to read the Bible, but he asked me what my evidence for that was, and in that moment I was really struck by the reminder that I need to read the Bible based on the Bible, not based on what I think I know or heard or read elsewhere. It was very humbling, and I realised that even someone who thinks they know a lot can still keep learning.”
Another CERC candidate, Jane Au, shared her reflections on the importance of biblical theology and the Old Testament, “Learning biblical theology helps me see God with the right perspective – how He reveals Himself in His Word, from Genesis to Revelation. The concept of a holy and merciful God who saves through judgment used to be very foreign to me, but when I began to learn the Old Testament, God opened my eyes to see my sin and unworthiness. I can only fall down and worship Him, for I am undeserving of His grace and mercy.”
An unexpected detail at the CTC conference worth mentioning was perhaps the numerous booths outside the main hall every night. Each booth was specially designed to draw attention to a specific GGF product – Thinking Theologically Conference, Milk, Ministry Matters Conference – just to name a few. One could see that GGF works hard to serve the Lord, and has a hunger to see churches not just in the Klang Valley but throughout Malaysia grow.
Pictured below: Some of the many booths at CTC!*
By the end of the week, there were a number of reflections on the ground appreciative of the connection between the Old Testament and the gospel. Eldwin Oui, a GGF partner and CERC member shared his thoughts, “We often think that the “gospel” is from the New Testament. To some extent, this is true, but in CTC, Dr Tim Escott showed us how the gospel is actually from the Old Testament. The hope and salvation that the gospel brings to believers are shaped by significant salvation-historical events such as the Exodus. For example, the deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt and into God’s promised land foreshadowed the deliverance from our slavery to sin and into a restored relationship with God through Christ Jesus. This and many other connections between the gospel and Old Testament helped me to see the gospel rooted in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. It created a deeper appreciation of the breadth and width of the gospel. I found my wife, family and friends from various churches refreshed by the truth of the gospel being preached in a biblical theological manner.”
CERC is a huge supporter of a parachurch organisation like GGF because of the work they do and has benefited greatly because of their labour of love. May the Lord sustain and persevere GGF in the years to come, and may many more churches come to benefit from GGF just as CERC has.
*To find out more about these GGF offerings, check out their website here