Updated: Apr 25, 2019
I’ve been asked on many occasions which testament I recommend that people start with in Bible Quest, the Old or the New. I’ve taught different groups by starting with different testaments, and I’ve also looked at when and how the Bible Quest calendar can be laid out for maximum effect.
There are several reasons to favor the Old Testament as a starting point for biblical instruction. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that the Old Testament came first chronologically. Because it forms the backdrop for the coming of Christ, it lays the mental foundation for Jesus’ life and mission. Furthermore, we are told in Romans 15:4 (see also I Corinthians 10:11) that the events and circumstances of the Old Testament “were written for our instruction.” I personally prefer starting with the Old Testament, but there are also compelling reasons to begin with the New Testament.
The reasons to begin with the New Testament are similar to the Old, but from the opposite perspective. Because it came later chronologically, the New Testament is the most recent revelation of God and it can thus serve as a reliable lens that helps to explain the Old Testament. The New Testament begins with the work of Jesus, the pinnacle of God’s plan, and it gives direct and clear instruction for believers living with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church age.
When we developed the core material for Bible Quest, we did so with forty weeks per Testament. Why is this? There are fifty-two weeks in a year, but if we subtract one week for each of the twelve months in a year because of holidays, taking an occasional week to review, and the unpredictability of life, we come up with forty. I found that compelling because the number forty shows up so often in Scripture, so that's where we settled.
We originally used Bible Quest in a church setting with a group of students, so scheduling was an important consideration. With the forty-week, full-year in mind, I considered when the best time in the year would be to start the program. Looking at the calendar, I wondered about how Bible Quest would line up with natural holidays already on the calendar. Because we always included one week a month for review, making the program a true year, we found that if we started in November with the Old Testament we’d be ready for the material on Jesus the following Christmas. Though Easter varies each year, the crucifixion and ascension both occur in the program approximately about that time in the spring. With a little foresight and planning, we could thus leverage holidays to help maximize the material we were learning.
Of course, it is not imperative to begin the Bible Quest journey in November, and neither is it an absolute necessity to start with either the Old or New Testament. The most important thing is to be intentional about discipling our children in God’s Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That’s the only way to make for an excellent year of Bible Quest.