Is Christianity outdated in its answers for mankind's problems? No. God's Word is still relevant, and will remain relevant and true for any age. This is so because the Word depends on God's character, who gave this Word. God's character is eternal, unchanging and true, and therefore His Word is eternal, unchanging and true for all times.

Source: Faith in Focus, 2011. 4 pages.

"Christianity is Antiquated": A Human Response to a Divine Quality

Some 2000 years ago, in the time of the early church, Christians were described as people “belonging to the Way” (Acts 9:2). This is a good description for Chris­tians, because Christ Himself said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

In the current modern era, the Way of Christianity is criticised by some for being “antiquated”, “outdated”, or “old”. These criticisms come from people who are in­terested in the questions of today, rather than the answers of yesterday. Perhaps ironically, almost 2000 years ago, there were some who had the same attitude. The inhabitants of Athens, for example, used to spend their time “in nothing other than telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21).

Why do people turn from God’s Way in pursuit of something “new”, when as we read in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “there is nothing new under the sun”? And how should we respond to them? We find the answers to these questions by lifting our minds up from the poverty of natural human thought, and by instead looking to the eternal nature of our glorious God, the fountain of all truth, who has revealed Himself to us in His unchanging Word. Only by consider­ing the nature of our God can we see that eternality is a divine, rather than a human, quality; only then can we know how to respond appropriately.

Eternality is a Divine Quality🔗

Perhaps one of the clearest statements about the eternality of our God comes from the opening verses of Psalm 90:

LORD, Thou hast been our dwell­ing place in all generations. Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.

The phrase “from everlasting to everlasting” expresses that God’s ex­istence spans from one end of infinity (before the world was created; before time itself) to the other end of infinity (past the Day of Judgment, and beyond – forever). God always has been and always will be.

Because God is eternal, so is His name: “Thou, O LORD, dost abide forever, and Thy name to all genera­tions” (Psalm 102:12); “Thy name, O LORD, is everlasting” (Psalm 135:13). He is “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev­elation 1:8).

In addition to being eternal, our God is also unchangeable. God declares about Himself: “I, the LORD, do not change” (Malachi 3:6). With our God, there is “no variation, or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). Throughout all eternity, though earth and heaven pass away, God will remain the same:

Of old Thou didst found the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.Psalm 102:24-27

Because God does not change, nor do the aspects of His character. Just as His existence is eternal, so His lovingkindness is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17); his righteousness “is an ever­lasting righteousness” (Psalm 119:142); his faithfulness continues “throughout all generations” (Psalm 119:90); and He “keeps faith forever” (Psalm 146:6).

God’s reign as King on high is also from everlasting to everlasting. He is “on high forever” (Psalm 92:8). His throne is established “from of old” (Psalm 93:2); and His kingdom is “an everlast­ing kingdom” (Psalm 145:13). He will “reign forever” (Psalm 146:10); and His dominion endures “throughout all gen­erations” (Psalm 145:13).

Divine Truth is Eternal🔗

One consequence of God’s eternality is that His truth is eternal. In order to demonstrate the eternality of God’s truth, we must examine His truth in connection with our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, declared when He was before Pilate, that the reason He had been born and come into the world, was to “bear witness” to the truth (John 18:37). Indeed, one of Jesus’ most commonly repeated expressions is the phrase “Truly, truly, I say to you” (John 6:26). Scripture tells us that the Lord Jesus is “full of” truth (John 1:14).

Jesus’ relationship with the truth is even more clearly established when He says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). By saying “I am” the truth, Jesus is declaring that not only does He speak the truth, He Himself is the truth.

The unity of Jesus and the truth is further revealed in His identity as the Word. Scripture declares of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1; 1:14) – that is to say, Jesus Christ is the Word, and the Word is God. It is natural then, for Scripture to declare that “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17), because not only is Jesus Christ “the Word”, he is also “the truth”.

Jesus’ unity with the truth gains further significance in light of the con­trast between Jesus and Satan. Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), who “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Whenever Satan speaks a lie, “he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44). But Jesus is “the truth”. And because “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18), there was “no deceit found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).

The truth also has significance in light of the contrast between the followers of Jesus and the followers of Satan. Jesus says that everyone who is “of the truth” hears His voice (John 18:37). However, those who cannot hear His voice are not of the truth (John 18:37; 8:43-44); they are of their “father the devil” (John 8:44). They do not recognise the truth; nor do they understand it – which is why, when standing before Jesus (who Himself is the truth), Pilate says, “What is truth?” (John 18:38).

Because of God’s eternal and un­changing nature, His truth is also eternal, and will never change. His truth “is ever­lasting” (Psalm 117:2); His word “stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8); and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Divine Law is Eternal🔗

Because God – the King on high – is eternal and unchangeable, so is His law. God’s precepts are upheld “forever and ever” (Psalm 111:7-8); and every one of God’s righteous ordinances “is everlast­ing” (Psalm 119:160). The counsel of the LORD “stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation” (Psalm 33:11). God’s testimonies are known from “of old” (Psalm 119:152); He has founded them “forever” (Psalm 119:152), and they are “righteous forever” (Psalm 119:144).

One important law, with which God has bound Himself, is His eternal covenant with His people. Scripture declares that: “He has ordained His covenant forever” (Psalm 111:9); and

He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations ... Then he confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.Psalm 105:8, 10

Thus an important application of the eternality of God’s law, is that we can rely on His covenant forever.

Man’s Passing Existence without God🔗

In contrast to the eternality of God, man’s days on this earth are short. Man is “but flesh, a wind that passes and does not return” (Psalm 78:39); he is “like a mere breath” (Psalm 144:4); and his thoughts are “a mere breath” (Psalm 94:11). He withers away “like grass” (Psalm 102:11); “as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more; and its place acknowledges it no longer” (Psalm 103:15-16). Man’s days are “like grass” (Psalm 103:15); they are like a “passing shadow” (Psalm 144:4), or a “lengthened shadow” (Psalm 102:11), about to disappear.

However, those who walk in the LORD are able to enjoy blessings which are of a divine, and therefore eternal, nature. They, in contrast to the fading grass, will be “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3); they will “never be shaken” (Psalm 15:5; Psalm 55:22). They will receive “life forever” (Psalm 133:3); will “abide forever” (Psalm 37:27); will “endure forever” (Psalm 89:36-37); will be established “forever” (Psalm 89:4, 28-29); are “preserved forever” (Psalm 124:1); and are “as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (Psalm 124:1). Their inheritance will be “forever” (Psalm 37:18); they will inherit the land “and dwell in it forever” (Psalm 37:29); and they will inherit God’s testimonies “forever” (Psalm 119:111). They will be “remembered forever” (Psalm 112:6); their righteousness will endure “forever” (Psalm 112:3; Psalm 112:9); and God will guard their going out and coming in “from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 121:8).

On the other hand, contrast the right­eous (who will be eternally blessed) with the wicked (who will not receive such blessings). The wicked are like “chaff which the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:4); they will “wither quickly like the grass, and fade like the green herb” (Psalm 37:1-2); “Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place, and he will not be there” (Psalm 37:10); the wicked will perish, and “like the glory of the pastures, they vanish – like smoke they vanish away” (Psalm 37:20); “they are destroyed in a moment” (Psalm 73:19).

Our Appropriate Response to God for His Eternal Blessings🔗

Because God is eternal, and because the blessings which He gives to us are eternal, it is fitting that our response to God for His blessings to us should also be eternal. For this reason, we will give thanks to God “forever” (Psalm 52:9); we will tell of His praise “to all generations” (Psalm 79:13); His praise will endure “forever” (Psalm 111:10); His glorious name will be blessed “forever” (Psalm 72:19; 145:21; 115:18), and “from everlasting even to everlasting” (Psalm 106:48); He will be blessed “from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 113:2).

Our appropriate response will be God-centred – declaring His nature, re­membering His deeds and His law. His lovingkindness we will sing of “forever”; His faithfulness we will make known “to all generations” (Psalm 89:1). His deeds and wonders we will remember from “of old” (Psalm 77:11); His acts and works we will praise and declare “from one generation ... to another” (Psalm 145:4). His ordinances we will remember from “of old” (Psalm 119:52); and His precepts we will “never forget” (Psalm 119:93).

For our part, our conduct towards God will be appropriate eternally – obeying, trusting, and hoping in Him. We will obey Him “continually, forever and ever” (Psalm 119:44), and will perform His statutes “forever” (Psalm 119:112); we will trust God “forever” (Psalm 52:8); and we will hope in God “forever” (Psalm 131:3).

Our Appropriate Response to those who Object that Christianity is Antiquated🔗

In light of these scriptural principles, we are able to view those who criticise Christianity much more accurately. When our non-Christian friends criticise Christianity for being antiquated or outdated, we can see clearly that they are speaking out of their natural fallen state. In that state, their thoughts are inclined towards the passing, transitory matters of this life – because in their natural state they are passing, transitory creatures, whose thoughts are “a mere breath” (Psalm 94:11). Their thoughts are naturally turned away from the eternal God. They do not seek Him out. They do not appreciate or value His eternal nature as they should. They do not respond to Him with everlasting praise and thanksgiving as they should. They do not remember His deeds from of old. They do not obey His eternal law, or value it. Nor do they value the eternal nature of His Son, who is His Word, and His truth.

How should we respond to such critics? First, we should respond with patience. All too often, our natural ap­proach is one of frustration, when we don’t immediately see in our non-Chris­tian friends the changes that we hope to see. But we should recognise that our impatience stems from our own passing, transitory human nature. Although we are naturally inclined to look only at the problem directly in front of us, we should instead lift up our eyes to the eternal purposes of our unchanging God. Just as God does not unfold all of His purposes throughout history in a single moment, so also we cannot expect to see others change immediately. Our aim should be to display in our approach to others the same patience and forbearance that God shows us in His character.

Second, in love, we can expose to our non-Christian friends the poverty of their current state. They do not have the truth. Furthermore, for as long as they seek what is new and shun what is old, they will not find the truth – because the truth is older than time itself (“In the beginning ... the Word was with God” [John 1:1]). Without the truth, they do not have the Way to God – and they will perish in darkness. Moreover, their destruction is imminent; like “the glory of the pastures” (Psalm 37:20), they will be “destroyed in a moment” (Psalm 73:19).

Third, we can explain to our non-­Christian friends the desirability of the eternal nature of our God. It is no criti­cism of God to say that He is eternal; on the contrary, it is to His glory. It is glori­ous that before all things, God existed. It is glorious that, because of God’s eternal nature, the blessings which flow from Him are also eternal: His eternal Word, which is always true; His eternal law, which does not change; His eternal covenant, on which we can always rely; and the blessings of everlasting life in heaven. In the same way, it is no criti­cism of Christianity to say that it is old; on the contrary, it is glorious that we will “never be shaken” (Psalm 15:5) – it is glorious that the Way in which God leads us, is the way “everlasting” (Psalm 139:24).

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