Living & Leading In the Post-Testament Age


Just in time for Christmas, a short excursion into the Nativity’s cascading meaning in our lives and ministries… 

We live in the “Post-Testament Age.” Up until 2,000 years ago, the people of God lived in the relational reality of the Old Testament and the Old Covenant—their religious lives were governed by a rules-and-sacrifices system of “righteousness management.” Then, for a very short time, people lived in the present reality of the New Testament and the New Covenant, where their lives were guided and formed not by rules and regs, but by the presence of God incarnate—born in obscurity, executed by conspirators, and raised-up as a king.

On his path to Golgotha, Jesus went to great lengths to tell His disciples that a new time—a new age—was coming, when the Spirit would guide and direct them from the inside out. He told them that this new age of relational reality would be, by far, the best yet…

And that brings us to the present moment—as the contemporary followers of Jesus, we are living a post-Testament life. We are people of the Word, yes, but that Word is not confined to the pages of our Bible. The Word is inhabiting an ongoing narrative in our lives, and some of what we have seen and heard and experienced would fit nicely in a “Next Testament.” This is the life we live right now. Our future, and the future of the church, is defined by the kind of relationship Jesus said we’d have with Him in the Post-Testament Age. And that relationship is animated and fueled by the Spirit indwelling in us. Jesus describes this miraculous, everyday way of living and leading this way…

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! …I will send you the Advocate(Paraclete–Comforter, Encourager, Counseler)—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me… There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me’” (John 15:5-7, 26 and 16:12-15).

So, what does it mean for us to live and lead with a post-Testament, Spirit-dependent mindset?

I compare it to the way an improvisational jazz quartet plays music. It’s a relational nuclear reaction—as members relate to each other, and to the quartet’s leader, with acute attention to the nuances each one is contributing, a creative explosion of beauty is the result. The band leader and the band members are mutually serving the music, sometimes adding something that others follow, sometimes following what others add. And central to this improvisational environment is the leader’s sure, but relaxed, vision for the music. The interplay of their relationships, guided and nudged by the missional sensibilities of the band leader, offers us a template for the post-Testament relationship Jesus is calling us into…

For a profound and visceral experience of what this looks like with a live quartet, watch jazz master Stefon Harris’s TED Talk “There Are No Mistakes On the Bandstand.” After you do, mull these questions:

  • If Jesus views His post-Testament relationship with us like the relationships in a jazz quartet, how is that relationship similar to or different from your current relationship with Him? How is it different from the way you’re describing what it means to follow Jesus to those in your ministry?
  • What might “embracing the discordant notes” in your relationship with Jesus mean for you? And how might it change the way you lead others in your ministry?

As you read these last lines, pause. Sit quietly and ask Jesus: What’s one “discordant note” in my life that you’ve turned into “beautiful music”? (Pause) Now simply, silently, thank Him. Celebrate the Nativity by celebrating His creative, improvisational, redemptive genius…

(If you would like help in drawing your congregation toward a deeper cultivation of the Post-Testament life, reach to connect with a Vibrant Faith Ministry Leadership Coach. Just CLICK HERE for more information. Coaching is an intentional process that moves you forward into the future you long for.)

Rick Lawrence is Executive Director of Vibrant Faith—he created the new curriculum Following JesusHe’s editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible and author of 40 books, including The Suicide Solution, The Jesus-Centered Life and Jesus-Centered Daily. In the Spring of 2024 his new book Editing Jesus: Confronting the Distorted Faith of the American Church will be published. He hosts the podcast Paying Ridiculous Attention to Jesus.


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