The Firm Foundation of God Stands

"Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new."  This comment is made in Acts 17:21 concerning the city of Athens in the first century.  Around 51 A.D., the apostle Paul had gained considerable attention in this city when he preached Jesus and the resurrection.  Having never heard this doctrine before, the people of Athens convened at the Areopagus (a mound of rock where public meetings were held) to hear these strange new things from Paul.  He told these religious people about the God whom they did not know, who was the Maker of the world and the Lord of heaven and earth.  He proclaimed to them the message of repentance and the certainty of the coming Judgment through "a Man whom [God] has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). Having heard these things, some men sneered, some wanted to hear more, and some believed Paul.

Much like the people of Athens, the people of our time also want to spend their time telling or hearing something new.  Indeed, we want to hear "the news" of the latest events every day.  Certainly, there is nothing wrong with getting the news, but information does not necessarily carry more importance or deserve greater attention simply because it is new.  It is a great mistake to assume that a new message is more reliable, more accurate, and more truthful than an old message.  Rather than always believing the latest information, we should believe the information that has the most merit regardless of whether it is new or old.

Case in point, the gospel of Christ has been known to man for nearly two thousand years and has existed in the mind of God from eternity, but it is the most important message the world has ever heard. This ancient message continues to demand more attention than any other, and its truth cannot be revoked by newer, contradictory doctrines.  It is the word of God, which is imperishable, just as Isaiah 40:6 and 1Peter 1:24-25 say,

24For, "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls off, 25but the word of the Lord endures forever." And this is the word which was preached to you.

Nevertheless, many people are still captivated by new ideas even when those ideas contradict the word of God.  Many of these ideas are accepted not on their merit or their conformity with established truth, but rather they are accepted merely because they are new, different, and allegedly progressive.  As men offer their new ideas, they portray God's word as being outdated and irrelevant. They attempt to supplant God's word with new cultural and social ideas concerning fornication, homosexuality, divorce, and abortion that convince people to reject God's ancient truth in favor of a new morality.  They promote new ideas about the roles of husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children that have transformed the structure and function of many homes so that they hardly resemble the pattern given by God in Scripture.  Man's new ideas about the church's structure, leadership, work, and worship have convinced many professed Christians to deny God's word on these matters and embrace the teachings of men.  As all of these new ideas have been employed, society, the home, and the church have suffered.

Rather than being enthralled with every new thing, it is a Christian's mandate to preserve, maintain, and defend the ancient truth of God's word.  This mandate is given in the second letter to Timothy, where Paul warned Timothy of the new attacks that had come and were coming against the gospel.  In 2Timothy 1:13-14, Paul urged Timothy, saying,

13Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  14Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

As men like Hymenaeus and Philetus spread their new ideas of worldly, empty chatter, Paul reminded Timothy that "the firm foundation of God stands" (2Tim. 2:19).  Even as men accumulated "for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires" (2Tim. 4:3), Paul gave this charge to Timothy in 2Timothy 4:1-2:

1I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Today, this mandate belongs to us, so let us take it to heart.  New ideas that contradict God's word will continue to be offered by men, and people will rush to hear them.  Rather than being caught up in the excitement of what is new and the enthrallment of the majority, let us "stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it" (Jer. 6:16).  Indeed, let us stand on the firm foundation of God as the winds of change swirl around us.  New ideas will come and go, but the word of God endures forever.

Stacey E. Durham


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