Why Church History is Important…
…Notes from A Survey of Church History, Part 1
In this postmodern age where history has become nothing more than “social construct,” i.e., fiction, the history of the Church is important to rehearse. The Church in our age has seen its history as fragmented, interrupted between the Apostolic era and the Reformation period. I know Christians who think that the Word of God was completely unknown to Christians during the Medieval period–that there was no personal Christian piety in the lives of the people in those days–as if the Holy Spirit went to sleep and the Word of God ceased…
The Scriptures given in this session’s study guide show us the dialog between Jesus and His disciples, heralding the New Covenant work of God in Him:
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.“A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Judas(not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.”
In the passages (shown above) offered in this session’s study guide, here is Jesus introducing the disciples to the New Covenant work God promised in the Law, the Psalms and the prophets which is fulfilled in Him. It would be new to the Jewish disciples—radical change would come: Jesus the Holy One, the Chief Rabbi—the Good Shepherd, the Son of Man—one flock and one Shepherd. How unfathomable it must have been to the disciples as they tried to comprehend what Jesus was announcing to them; and the Lord Jesus has been faithful to build His Church. The gates of hell have failed to destroy it, precisely because of the work of the Holy Spirit who has been faithful to teach His flock and bring to remembrance the Word of a faithful God from age to age. A careful study will prove Church history more than “social construct” that Jesus is the One who has made out of the diversity in the Church one flock in Him who is the one Good Shepherd of it.
The New Covenant Church is not the first people to deal with the character and being of God, the theology of the only True and Living God. Israel was constantly beset by her own doubts and questions of relevance in the setting of the pagan cultures. Moses was the theologian of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant book of Deuteronomy is the doctrinal statement—the “summa theologica” of the times, and for all the centuries prior to the incarnate appearing of the Christ; but it was for the Jew first and then for all who would seek after God. Everything upon which the New Covenant—Apostolic—teachers knew and based their doctrine and preaching was first established in Old Covenant Scriptures. In order for the New Covenant teaching not to be viewed as an innovation, it must be shown as fulfillment of Old Covenant Scriptures: i.e., historical truth and not “social construct.”
Therefore, let us rejoice! The Lord Jesus Christ is faithful!