Worship - Lesson 1
New and Improved
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can identify how the New Testament has improved upon the Old Testament by providing its spiritual fulfillment.
- The student can demonstrate at a basic level the continuity between the two testaments.
This lesson works best when the comparison of both covenants can be visualized. The use of a chalkboard is sufficient, although an overhead projector with a transparency pre-divided into two columns and a number of rows (at least 8) might enhance the presentation. For this purpose a blank template for copying to a transparency and/or individual paper copies for the students is provided as well as a template that has been completed for the teacher.
You might have various household products in the classroom that tout their “new and improved” status. This seems to happen frequently with dishwashing soaps and detergents, for example.
The New Testament or Covenant does not simply replace the Old. (This view tends to trivialize or sometimes even erase a substantial portion of God’s Word.) Instead, the Testament or Covenant established through Jesus Christ is best seen as a “new and improved” version of the Old.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (about 10 minutes)
Organizational matters (taking roll, etc.)
- Prayer and/or song: A prayer thanking God for revealing His will to us, His overall plan of salvation, and His patience with humanity through the ages and with us in our brief lifetimes would be appropriate for this lesson. Songs that tie together the Old and New Testaments, namely in terms of God’s unchanging love for humanity, could help reinforce the lesson. “There is No Condemnation” (Romans 8:1), “The Steadfast Love of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:22-24) and “Unto Thee O Lord” (Psalm 25) are possibilities.
- Have the students discuss marketing strategies with regard to products advertised as “new and improved.” **Q**: Why do companies choose to do this rather than offer a completely new product with a completely new name? (The presence of household products with “new and improved” on them might aid the discussion.) **A**: It will draw new customers while retaining past customers. (If necessary, you can guide conversation towards the importance of brand recognition and customer satisfaction. For example, if I am satisfied with “Rusted Cuspid” toothpaste and accustomed to purchasing it every time I go to the store, why would I even think about buying the brand new “Polar Molar” toothpaste? Am I not more likely to pick up the “Rusted Cuspid” brand whether “new and improved” or not? On the other hand, if I am unsatisfied with “Whiter Incisor” toothpaste and want to try a new brand, and my choices are between the new “Polar Molar” toothpaste and a normal “Rusted Cuspid”, which would look more appealing to me? Might the appearance of “new and improved” brightly displayed on the “Rusted Cuspid” help change that decision?)
Learning Experiences: (about 20 minutes)
- Intro: When you look at your Bibles, we also have “old” and “new.” Sometimes we think the “new” is a brand new product, and the “old” is no longer useful. Is this true with the two parts of our Bibles? The following exercise will help determine the answer to that question.
- **Q**: What are some of the things found in the Old Testament that we do not do any more as New Testament Christians? (Have students answer. Make a list of their responses. Hopefully the following will be included in the list: circumcision, Temple, sacrifices, priests, High Priest, food restrictions, and the Sabbath.) It might be that someone will object that Christians still do or have some of these as this list is being composed. Be prepared for such possibilities. You might respond with something like this: “We definitely need to look at that. First, though, let’s continue making this list of things that people think have become obsolete.” If nobody makes that connection during the list making process, then you will need to gently push them in that direction once the list has been compiled. You could ask, “Now is it true that Christians no longer have or do these things?” If this does not elicit some answers, you can further prompt the class with this question: “What about priests? Are we not told that all Christians are priests?” At this point, discussion may arise about each of the items on the list. Some will be more readily debated; other topics may be more difficult. It is important, though, that scripture be used to back up each assertion. A list with supporting passages follows. A template for a handout or teacher’s guide is also available below. Priests: 1 Peter 2:9 High Priest: Hebrews 4:14-5:10 Sacrifice (of atonement)*: Hebrews 9:11-14, 26-28; 10:11- 14 Sacrifices (of thanksgiving)*: Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:17 Circumcision: Romans 2:28-29; Philippians 3:3 Temple: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:19-22 Sabbath: Hebrews 4:9-11 Food restrictions**: Mark 7:14-19; Acts 10:9-16 * It might be important to make a distinction between types of sacrifices. Many Christians mistakenly believe that all sacrifices concerned sin. Many sacrifices under the old covenant, however, expressed the worshipper’s thankfulness to God. Under the new covenant, the sacrifice for sin was accomplished once and for all through Jesus Christ. Christians, on the other hand, offer the sacrifices of their bodies to God as worship. (How we are to offer our bodies as sacrifices in worship pleasing to God is spelled out on Romans 12:3-13:10.) ** Of the items on the list, only the practice of food restriction has totally been abolished. The principle behind distinguishing between clean and unclean foods, though, was purity. (Take seafood for example. Clean animals were those who had parts appropriate for the environment: gills, fins, scales, etc. Unclean animals had at least some parts inappropriate for the environment such as legs which are for land, i.e. lobsters and crabs.) The eating practices of the Jews were to be daily reminders of what their spiritual practices were to be. In this sense one could say that the food laws also were spiritualized, for Christ has made us holy - inside and out.
- As a result of this comparison, it should be clear that there is strong continuity between the Old and New Testaments. The New Testament is a “new and improved” version of the Old. This can be seen in other areas as well:
Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
- The word “church” comes from one of the two words in the (Greek) Old Testament describing God’s people (see Acts 7:38 where the word is used to describe the Israelites in the wilderness).
- Jesus and the New Testament writers continuously quote the Old Testament as authoritative revelation from God. (See for example, and perhaps discuss if time permits, Matthew 5:17-18 and Romans 7:12, 14; 15:4; and 2 Timothy 3:16-17.)
- Read Hebrews 10:8-10 and Romans 8:1-2. Through Jesus, the older covenant has been set aside and replaced with the new and improved one. Jesus is the center of the Bible, of both Testaments. We will see this more clearly when we examine the story of Jesus in the four Gospels.
Applications: (5-10 minutes)
Have the students discuss Matthew 5:17 and Romans 3:31 in light of the lesson. Make sure the students understand that we fulfill and uphold the law in ways that could not be achieved before the coming of Christ, for he empowers us to live the spiritual reality of the law. Another way of putting it would be, “Christians fulfill the substance, not the shadow.” (See Colossians 3:16-17 and Hebrews 10:1.) If time permits, it would be beneficial to address the following. It is important not only for the students to realize the continuity between the Testaments, but to also recognize the importance of knowing the Old Testament better. Ask the students to list some of the benefits that would result. If they are slow in drawing conclusions, provide questions or topics to spur creative thought. Possibilities include looking at Acts 18:28 and 28:23 (How many students could prove Jesus is the Christ from the Old Testament?), 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (How is the Old Testament useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness?), or passages like Mark 4:30-32 (or any of the passages listed in the lesson above) that can only be understood with a working knowledge of the Old Testament. (In Mark 4:30-32, Jesus alludes to Ezekiel 17:22-24 as part of his parable of the mustard seed indicating that part of the phenomenal growth of the kingdom will be the inclusion of the Gentiles, a point missed if the Old Testament background is ignored. Also the shock that the original audience would have felt at the idea of a mustard seed turning into a bush the size of the cedars of Lebanon is overlooked.) The following are potential answers: We understand Jesus better when we know the Old Testament. We understand much of the New Testament better when we know the Old Testament. The Old Testament offers valuable insight into God’s definition of ethics, morality, and godly living. The Old Testament offers a broader understanding of God. The Old Testament lets us see more of God’s activity in human history. We see more fully God’s purpose in creating humans, his love for people, and his unfolding plan for redeeming a sinful world in the Old Testament. Seeing God’s faithfulness in the past gives us more assurance for the future. God has kept His promises, so we know He will keep His promises.
Assignment: (about 1 minute)
Have the students evaluate their actions over the next week with regard to the topics discussed in class. Have them consciously think about being priests, offering sacrifices, being the temple, etc. Also, the students should read Matthew 1:18-12 and Luke 2:1-20 and make a list of the differences between the two stories to bring to class next week.
Evaluation: (next class meeting)
At the beginning of class the following Sunday, have students share how they lived out one of these parallels with the Old Testament (i.e., what that student did that exhibited circumcision of the heart or offering one’s body as a living sacrifice).
Additional scriptures that reveal the continuity between the Old and New Testaments: Romans 13:8-10 (10 Commandments); 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (Celebration of Passover), 1 Corinthians 9:21 (the Law), 1 Corinthians 14:34 (the Law); Galatians 5:14 (the Law), Galatians 6:2 (the Law), Galatians 6:16 (Israel); Colossians 2:11-12 (circumcision); Colossians 2:16-17 (food laws, Sabbath, festivals); 1 Timothy 4:13 (Old Testament); 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (Old Testament), 2 Timothy 4:6 (sacrifice); Hebrews 13:15-16 (sacrifice); James 1:25 (the Law); James 2:8-13 (the Law); James 4:11-12 (the Law); 1 Peter 2:4-8 (temple); 1 Peter 2:9-10 (Israel); and Revelation 5:9-10 (priesthood).
Comparison of Old Testament Practices with the New Testament
Old Covenant - New Covenant
- High Priest
- Sacrifices for Sin
- Sacrifices for Thanksgiving
- Food Laws
Comparison of Old Testament Practices with the New Testament
Old Covenant - New Covenant
- High Priest - Yes. - Hebrews 4:14-5:10
- Priesthood - Yes. - 1 Peter 2:5 and 9
- Sacrifices for - Sin - Yes. Hebrews 9:11-14, 26-28; 10:11-14
- Sacrifices for Thanksgiving - Yes. - Romans 12:1-2; Phil. 2:17; 1 Peter 2:5
- Temple - Yes. - 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:19-22
- Circumcision - Yes. - Romans 2:28-29; Philippians 3:3
- Sabbath - Yes. - Hebrews 4:9-11
- Food Laws - No. - Mark 7:14-19; Acts 10:9-16
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