“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
The Apostle Paul, several times in the New Testament, reminds believers and unbelievers of the glory of knowing God the creator. This certainly was the situation when Paul was at Mars Hill in Athens, Greece. The account is found in Acts 17:16-34. First of all, we witness the reality of human religion in 17:17-18a. Second, in Acts 17:18b-21, we witness the reality in humans for the new.
And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean. Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new’.”
The ancient Athenians prove the age old maxim that man is at heart a religious being. The only questions about man’s religion is not only what, or who, he worships, but also what good works does he have to perform in order to be accepted by the God he worships.
Additionally, we see the desire on the part of man to always be inquisitive for something religiously new or different. The next big thing, if you will.
I am often told about some new religious movement occurring within the evangelical church. The people bringing this to my attention are all excited about Christmas carolers singing in a mall, synchronized worship dancing in a park, or some new bestselling Christian book about an individual who died and went to heaven, or hell, and came back to life in order to tell everybody about it, as long as you buy their book. There are new styles of worship, new styles of preaching which seeks to be more culturally relevant, a new physical atmosphere in an auditorium or sanctuary (usually dark) and new techniques to entice the unchurched to come to church.
Something new! How many false religions, and false teachings, have sprung up overnight with the message that they have discovered some new truth? In fact, there are preachers who are more than willing to preach from the pulpit that God has actually spoken to them and given them some “new” revelation, belying the teaching of Revelation 22:18-19. Check out I John.
This was the attitude of the Athenians when they encountered the preaching of the Apostle Paul. Some were saying he was a babbler, or a foolish show-off who did not have anything meaningful to say. Others accused him of being a preacher of foreign gods or divinities, which could also mean demons. This was because Paul was preaching the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Finally, the people brought Paul to the Areopagus. The name means “Mars Hill” or “the Hill of Mars.” This was the hill where legal matters were conducted, and where the most serious criminals were sentenced. It was also the place where the most important questions about religion were discussed. Since Paul was not on trial, the reason for his being brought to the hill was for him to expound more fully on the content of the gospel.
The people of Athens apparently had not heard the gospel, but were most interested in hearing what Paul had to say. Not because they wanted to know God, but rather because they were interested in hearing “something new.” In fact, Luke records this statement, “Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.”
What about you? Are you only interested in singing songs to the Lord that have been written within the last year and once replaced by something new, to never sing the older songs or hymns again? Are you only interested in something new and exciting occurring at church, and rather disinterested when the pastor only preaches from the Scriptures? I mean, how many times can a pastor zip line into an auditorium until this act becomes old?
Ask God to purge your heart of this tendency to treat with disdain and disinterest anything that is not new in your walk with Christ. Ask God to rekindle an interest in God’s Word and in biblical worship. You may be blessed by hymns written several hundred years ago. As well as biblical hymns which are being written today. You may also be surprised to find yourself getting to know God better through the reading of biblical texts which were written thousands of years ago.
Soli deo Gloria!