THE WORD IS
The preservation of the Christian religion in its original state is a timely topic. Some are convinced that the Christian religion cannot be and must not be renewed. Others try to replace the New Testament with newer testaments. Is the Christian religion suffering from getting old?
Jesus Christ established a New Covenant. At the same time the former one became unnecessary because it only foreshadowed the coming one which would be better. In the New Covenant God creates that which is new through His Word. Through the power of the Word those dead in sin become alive, become new creations. "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Cor. 5:17). The New Covenant is not new merely because it replaced the former one. It is new because it doesn't age or wear out with use. There can be nothing newer than new. The truly new is even newer than the newest.
The New Covenant is a guarantee that through faith in Jesus we receive treasures that do not get old. "God... has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Pet. 1:3,4). Jesus urges us to set our hearts on this heritance. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal" (Matt. 6:20).
Temporal things such as cultural activities are subject to change and progress. Our culture and our earthly lives suffer from the aging process. We need "daily bread", refreshment and change to avoid exhaustion. But Christian doctrine is not subject to change. Faith has been delivered to the saints "once for all" (Jude 3). The Word of the Apostles is therefore so binding that even the holy angels do not have the authority to change it. The Bible is this strict: "But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). We value that which is old and yet retains its value. Should we not therefore value the ancient Gospel much more? It remains new. Even God uses it and He will use it on Judgement Day (Rom. 2:16). On that day the Gospel will bring us shame if we have considered it to be oldfashioned.
Jesus wants us to be the type of hearers who "hold fast" God's Word (Luke 8:15). If we go along with the spirit of the times and changing society, and "modernize" Christian doctrine, we are actually regressing. For then we are offering people that which is subject to aging and is worthless. The devil, of course, promises to replace the old with new, but he has never kept his promises. Actually he wants to replace the permanent with the temporary, the ageless with the aging, renewal with decline, life with death and preservation and salvation with eternal damnation.
It is true that the present state of affairs demands change: a return to the Bible, the renaissance or revival of the Lutheran Reformation, the preaching of Christ crucified, a child?like faith in God's Word. Troubled consciences need the peace that faith in the promises of the Word and the Sacraments provides. That is why it is necessary to remain in the "faithful Word which is in accordance with the teaching" (Tit. 1:9). "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you" (1 Tim. 4:16).
The Christian religion is not subject to the aging process, it is always new. For this reason: The new, not the novel.