IS CHURCH HISTORY IMPORTANT?
Definition: History is the branch of knowledge that records and explains past events.
Do you think that it is important to have an understanding of Church History?
Why learn Church history?
1. To be obedient
“Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding? “
2. To understand God
“We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.”
Knowing the acts and ways of God in working with His people throughout history provides us with a better understanding of God Himself.
3. To keep us from error
Not knowing about the many errors in the history of the Church dooms us to repeat those failures again. Many of the heresies of the first, few centuries of the Church have surfaces once again in our times. Knowledge of those early heresies will help us to remain on the clear path of Biblical truth.
4. To understand our own time
Church History helps us to understand our own time better. The author if the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes once wrote that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). History, in very real and concrete ways, moves in circles and cycles. A fuller understanding of our past helps us to understand how we have arrived at this point in history. It helps us to see today from God’s perspective. Church History shows us that actions and ideas have consequences not only in our own generation but future generations as well.
5. To Glorify God
The ultimate and most important reason to study Church History is that it facilitates true and extravagant worship of our God. Our hearts are filled with awe and wonder when we explore the mighty acts of God in the past. The apostle John (Revelation 4:8, NIV) recorded that in heaven four living creatures, surrounding a throne, do not stop day or night declaring the glory and holiness of God, “who was, and is, and is to come.” As we gain an appreciation of Church History we gain a greater appreciation of the Lord and how He has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind throughout the ages this increases our thankfulness to Him for not being a God who is absent and unconcerned with our lives but a God who has revealed Himself as the one who is always present and willing to act on behalf of those who call upon Him. Church History can be thought of as the study of how God has intervened in the events of mankind in order that he might redeem mankind and establish His kingdom purposes.
THE CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF HISTORY IS UNIQUE
A Christian understanding of history is unique for the Bible declares that in history God is working out His redemptive purposes.
Please turn to Romans 8:28-30
Can you identify from those verses what’s God purpose in History might be?To conform us to the image of His Son in order that He might be the first born among many brothers. First born meaning that He is Heir in all of God’s things! In Him, we become coheirs to God’s riches too.
Who do those verses apply to?This surely applies to all of God’s people who were, are being and will be saved. In other words “The Church”.
Now turn to 1 Peter 2:2-10
Does this verse give us any additional insights to what God’s purposes in history might be?
Verse 5 indicatesA Christian is a) Chosen by God, b) Like Living stones being built as a spiritual House, c) To be a holy priesthood, d) To offer spiritual sacrifices accepted to God through Jesus Christ.
Verse 5 says A Christian is a) A Chosen Race, b) Royal priesthood, c) A People for His own possession so that you proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Lets look at a few Heresies
1) IDOLATERS – Christians continued to worship or create idols in violation of the 2nd commandment. There were two problems here. The first was the practical use of the idols, and the second was their continued presence, merely adding Christianity to their other beliefs. Response: abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood. Acts 15:20; 1Jn. 5:21
2) NICOLAITANS – Rev. 2:6,14-15 a sect holding to the “teaching of Balaam” which upheld the freedom to eat food offered to idols. The fear was that if Christians unwittingly ate such food, purchased from the marketplace and offered to an idol by its seller, that they had desecrated the temple of their body, losing their holiness and their salvation. Response – Paul rejected that idea, asking “is that anything?” He provided a weaker-stronger brother standard in 1Cor. 8-10. This ruling upheld the freedom we have in Christ concerning food sacrificed to idols, but weighed that freedom against the temptation to new believers; its bottom line was to avoid it where possible, but not to fret if it happened. As far as the use or presence of idols, or committing fornication, Acts 15:20 is an absolute prohibition. Rev. 2:20 outright condemns intentionally eating food sacrificed to idols (participating in idolatry).
3) No Resurrection of the Dead – 1Cor. 15:12 Response: if Christ is not raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. If we have existence in Christ only in this life, we are the most miserable of all men. (v. 17,19) There is a resurrection, but it already took place – spiritually – 2Tim 2:16-18 Hymenaeus and Philetus… have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. We expect a physical resurrection of the bodies of all men at Christ’s return, some to eternal glory, the rest to eternal damnation. (Dan. 12:2; 1Cor 15:23,42,52; 2Cor 5:10)
4) Easy-Believism – this is a belief that because we are under grace, obedience is optional. Our freedom in Christ, our forgiven state, becomes a license to sin. Response: What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live in it any longer? Rom. 6:1,2. Don’t you know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be misled: neither the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, the corrupt, the effeminate [man-boy sex], homosexuals, extortionists, thieves, drunkards, the pugnacious, nor defrauders will inherit the kingdom of God. 1Cor. 6:9,10.
5) JUDAISM – 1. Circumcision is a prerequisite to salvation for men. 2. Obedience to Jewish Law is necessary including Sabbath and Kosher requirements. Response: 1. It denies salvation by faith through Christ’s Atoning sacrifice. 2. It undermines obedience inspired by love and thankfulness rather than reward. If some one asks you how are the Old Testament saints saved. Well lets look at 1 Peter 1 :8-11. So they are saved awaiting a messiah (Christ) who was supposed to come and we are saved by trusting the messiah who came 2000 years back.
6) Roman Catholic Church: It claims to be the true church. Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Queen of Heaven and honored in numerous Marian devotions. Basically, salvation is attained through sacraments and good works. It is maintained by good works and participation in the sacraments. We know as the Bible says 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast. So none of us are ever saved by any works.
Additionaly we surely believe the following
Sola Scriptura – the standard of truth is the Bible alone, not the church, not the Pope
• Solus Christus – salvation is by Christ alone, not by sacraments, not by priests
• Sola Gratia – salvation is by grace alone, not by works, not by penance
• Sola Fide – salvation is by faith alone, not by faith plus anything else
• Soli Deo Gloria – everything we do is for the Glory of God alone; everything that has been done for us by God is for God’s glory alone; nothing we do merits God’s grace.
The Gospel as concluded by the puritan Jeremiah Burroughs
The gospel of Christ is the good tidings that God has revealed concerning Christ. As all mankind was lost in Adam and became the children of wrath, put under the sentence of death, God, though He left His fallen angels and has reserved them in the chains of eternal darkness, yet He has thought upon the children of men and has provided a way of atonement to reconcile them to Himself again.
The second Person in the Trinity takes man’s nature upon Himself, and becomes the Head of a second covenant, standing charged with sin. He answers for it by suffering what the law and divine justice required, and by making satisfaction for keeping the law perfectly. This satisfaction and righteousness He tenders up to the Father as a sweet savor of rest for the souls that are given to Him.
And now this mediation of Christ is, by the appointment of the Father, preached to the children of men, of whatever nation or rank, freely offering this atonement unto sinners for atonement, requiring them to believe in Him and, upon believing, promising not only a discharge of all their former sins, but that they shall not enter into condemnation, that none of their sins or unworthiness shall ever hinder the peace of God with them, but that they shall through Him be received into the number of those who shall have the image of God again to be renewed unto them, and that they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
History teaches us that a person who has a deep devotional life before the Lord is characterized by
1) An intense love towards the Lord and His people. 2) A life that is lived out in dependence upon God, results in a joyful heartfelt freedom. 3) A desire to reflect Jesus and proclaim His Truth with Love 4) An assurance that the kingdom of God can be realized in history and the Lord works in all circumstances to bring about His purposes in the way that He desires. 5) Humility 6) Every person encountered by the Christian is seen as a potential brother or sister in Christ. 7) Devotion is not escaping the world but rather through worship of the Lord they are motivated to serve by bettering the world. 8) They are salt and light to the world.