Pastor's Pen

“And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?” – Acts 17:19

In advertising we often hear the slogan "New and improved". By presenting a product as fresh and upgraded, they tap into our preference for novelty and progress. In a culture that values the latest and greatest, "Old and the same" simply doesn't have the same allure.

Certainly, there's nothing inherently wrong with improving a product if it genuinely needs enhancement, or with informing people about such improvements. However, issues arise when we attempt to enhance something that's already perfect—specifically, we're referring to the Word of God. In an effort to boost attendance or make Christianity appear "fresh and exciting," there's been a proliferation of attempts to "improve" the gospel. Some diminish preaching to a brief, scripturally deficient homily following a service primarily geared toward entertainment. Others seek to enhance the gospel by disregarding its less popular aspects, such as the reality of God's wrath. Still, others endeavor to upgrade the gospel by substituting it with a political agenda or social initiative.

Such "improvements" are often well-intentioned, but they can be spiritually lethal. Throughout history, the most perilous threats to God's people have emerged from within the covenant community rather than from external sources. These threats typically arise from false prophets—individuals who claim to serve the Lord but then distort or replace His Word with a new and altered message. Our fidelity to the Lord hinges on adhering to the "ancient paths" (Jeremiah 6:16), the timeless truths of God that have been handed down to us once and for all (Jude 3). Let us refrain from preaching and teaching novelty, and instead, let us uphold only those truths derived from a faithful interpretation of sacred Scripture.

For certain individuals, such as those mentioned in this week's passage, these longstanding teachings may appear fresh because they've never encountered them before. We're not about novelty in that sense. There is also nothing wrong with making new, faithful illustrations to effectively convey these timeless truths to others. What we must guard against are "innovative" doctrines that are entirely unprecedented in church history. If, during our studies, we encounter something new and true, it's more likely that we've stumbled upon a truth that others have previously taught. Further investigation will likely reveal that others have arrived at the same insights. Conversely, if we stumble upon something entirely new that has escaped every other Holy Spirit filled Christian, we would do well to exercise caution and hesitancy if we want to stay on the right path.

While it's commonly believed that it takes courage to espouse novel ideas, in our present age, true courage lies in standing firm for what is true, regardless of its antiquity. Let us muster the courage to proclaim the timeless truths of God's Word as the sole solution to the challenges of this modern era.