What is better, the old or the new? When it comes to wines, the experts say, “The old is better” (Lk. 5:39 NIV). When it comes to the Christian life, the apostle Paul encouraged his readers to “get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are” (1 Cor. 5:7). Here he is saying that the new is better. As our memories fade, comparisons between the old and new become more difficult. About 3000 years ago King Solomon wrote: “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions” (Eccl. 7:10). Clearly, there is no virtue in itself in being old or in being new. When a Jew turned to Christ, he was faced with the challenge of using both the new and the old: “Therefore every teacher of the Law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old” (Mt. 13:52).
When it comes to God’s unchangeable revelation, we are urged “to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3). We are to trust and build on the old and firm foundation of God’s Word. That is called faithfulness. But as time progresses, tastes, cultures and forms change. We are called to speak the same timeless truth in new situations, the same revelation with new words. Life itself forces this challenge on all local churches and all ministries in all places.
As you face the challenge of change, avoid the simplistic formulas used by some: that everything new must be good or that everything old must be good. May the Lord help us to benefit from the new without losing what is true. May we be like that converted Jewish teacher mentioned in Matthew 13:52 above, “who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”
By Philip Nunn
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org