If Most Of The N.T. Disappeared…

I’ve been a Christian for over twenty years now.

I’ve had seasons of growth, seasons of dryness, seasons of ‘active ministry’, seasons of ‘rebellion’…

Heck, I’ve been a ‘professional christian’ in various capacities.

But right now, at 27 1/2 years old, with no important-sounding titles like ‘pastor of _______‘ or ‘_________ leader‘, I can honestly say this:

I love the Bible more than I ever have.

I LOVE, the scripture: It is such a masterpiece of a book.

It is one BIG Story composed of lots of smaller stories that even gives shape and context to my story.

And it communicates the same Truth — and sub-truths — in dozens of various ways.

You can read the 4,000-year-old story of Joshua and learn about the courage that comes from trusting in God. Or you can read the 2,000-year-0ld story of Stephen and learn the same lesson.

You can see our need for a Savior in the ancient stories in Genesis, or in Paul’s detailed argument in his letter to the Romans, penned thousands of years later.

Written by so many different people over so many centuries… and still faithful and consistent in the Story of God

The Bible is a miracle.

As I’ve been reading in the Bible this year, I’ve had a question develop in my head:

Only a very small percentage of the Bible actually tells the literal story of Jesus (Matthew 1 – Acts 1). From the middle of Acts 2 through the end of the Bible, all we get are various commentaries and explanations about Who Jesus is and what He accomplished.  So I’ve been wondering how my perception of God and my understanding of the Gospel would be different if all I had of the new testament were the stories of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts)

(2 Clarifications: I’m including Acts because it tells us a lot about the immediate aftermath of Jesus’ life, so we’ll just go ahead and say that it makes more sense to group it with the Gospels than with the Epistles. Secondly, the light that the old testament shines on our understanding of the Gospel is profound, and how much of the Gospel we could understand without it would make a fun discussion, but I’ll save it for a later post. So for now, we’ll leave the O.T. alone. We’re just talking about losing most of the new testament.)

I believe that there is more than enough in these five writings to come to a sufficient understanding of the Gospel and it’s place in our lives, but many of the passages that give me the greatest clarity and encouragement would be gone.

So, I want to ask you:

Just for kicks, pretend that Matthew-Acts was the entire New Testament. What book/chapter/passage/teaching would you miss the most? Why?

13 comments

  1. i can’t narrow it down… so i have 3, short and sweet:
    romans – hello, theology
    ephesians 4 – church
    1 peter – persecution

  2. Hebrews 10 (specifically verse 14) Is my favorite verse in the whole Bible. So I’d miss it the most. Check the verb tenses. Amazing truth. Best memory verse in temptation ever.

  3. Zach,

    This is a great post…

    Let me say this though, first of all, if you are going off the idea that we are keeping the parts of the New Testament that tell the story of Jesus then I think we HAVE to keep Revelation.

    If we don’t keep Revelation then here is what I would miss most:

    1) Revelation- there isn’t a book that is more encouraging and gives more hope than Revelation. It is also, obviously, the most detailed account of telling us that King Jesus, the slaughtered Lamb has/will conquer once and for all.

    2) Hebrews- Outside of the Gospels- Hebrews helps us understand Jesus the most.

    3) Romans- for the same reasons as everyone else!

  4. Zack,

    This is a great post…

    Let me say this though, first of all, if you are going off the idea that we are keeping the parts of the New Testament that tell the story of Jesus then I think we HAVE to keep Revelation.

    If we don’t keep Revelation then here is what I would miss most:

    1) Revelation- there isn’t a book that is more encouraging and gives more hope than Revelation. It is also, obviously, the most detailed account of telling us that King Jesus, the slaughtered Lamb has/will conquer once and for all.

    2) Hebrews- Outside of the Gospels- Hebrews helps us understand Jesus the most.

    3) Romans- for the same reasons as everyone else!

  5. well..if we keep the old testament..the whole thing points to jesus..if we keep only the new testament parts that you list i think it’d still be fine cause it confirms what the old testament says even though there are some more clarifications in the missing books. but we can see that jesus came and fullfilled all the prophecies that hes the messiah and god..we understand what hes about and who he is.we understand who the holy spirit is since you keep acts and also grace, mercy and salvation with the chief of sinners..and we understand that jesus is coming back and the end times stuff in matt chap 24 so we really dont need revelation.

  6. There are several verses I would miss, but the whole book of Romans is so rich…
    In his “Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans”, Martin Luther called the book of Romans, “…the most important piece in the New Testament. It is purest Gospel.” and… “…the richest possible teaching about what a Christian should know: the meaning of law, Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, justice, Christ, God, good works, love, hope and the cross. We learn how we are to act toward everyone, toward the virtuous and sinful, toward the strong and the weak, friend and foe, and toward ourselves. Paul bases everything firmly on Scripture and proves his points with examples from his own experience and from the Prophets, so that nothing more could be desired. Therefore it seems that St. Paul, in writing this letter, wanted to compose a summary of the whole of Christian and evangelical teaching which would also be an introduction to the whole Old Testament. Without doubt, whoever takes this letter to heart possesses the light and power of the Old Testament. Therefore each and every Christian should make this letter the habitual and constant object of his study.”

  7. Ephesians: practical advice for husbands and dads
    James: practical advice/commands (almost 50% of the verses have one)
    Corinthians: how to approach the Eucharist, the importance of reconciliation, what love looks like, etc.

  8. Thanks for all the great thoughts everyone!

    To answer my own question:

    I think I would miss the letter to the Ephesians the most. We’ve been studying it at church for the past several months, and it’s been a great reminder of how much God has taught me through that book over the years.

    We live in a culture that says “do, do, do!” but Ephesians says, “You don’t have the power to ‘do’. First you have to just be, then, as you learn Who God is and who you are, you will see where the power to ‘do’ comes from.”

    Ephesians 2 is also such a good, clear, blatant explanation of where God brought us from: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.” This is powerful because it shows me how far God has brought me, but also because it shows me that God did ALL of the work. A dead person doesn’t initiate anything. A dead person doesn’t even know he’s dead…

    After Ephesians, I would miss Romans for the great systematic theology. And I would especially miss chapter 8. I’m not sure there is anywhere else in scripture that says quite so clearly: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ….”

    And lastly, I would miss Colosians. Chapter one and the amazing description of how Jesus created everything and holds it together is a precious passage to me. There and Hebrews 1 are the only places in scripture where that is clearly stated, so I would definitely want one of them!

    This has been a fun exercise!

    I’m surprised that most of you mentioned Hebrews. I haven’t studied that in a while, so I’m excited for my Bible reading plan to get me there!

  9. Awesome! Apparently God is trying to get that message through my thick skull: “Ephesians says, “You don’t have the power to ‘do’. First you have to just be, then, as you learn Who God is and who you are, you will see where the power to ‘do’ comes from.” This seems to be a theme in my life lately…and it’s basically the direction our church is going now…
    I guess I will start a study of this book on my own now and see what God does in my life with it. Thanks!

  10. Sounds great Wendy!

    Our pastor has been teaching through Ephesians for several weeks and it has been great! If you’re interested to can listen to/watch/download all the sermons from the ‘media’ link on the http://www.summitrdu.com website.

    The first sermon in the series is especially helpful because he gives a lot of historical context behind the book that helps you know what to look for!

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