Monday 11 April 2016

The Immense Value of Church History to Give Stability to the Church

For some people church history is boring. But this should not be our attitude to church history. A non-Christian philosopher once said that "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it". How important this is for government leaders as well as church elders and all Christians! This is why church creeds, such as the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed (381AD), the Athanasian Creed and the Creed of Chalcedon are so important. They lay down boundary markers for truth and prevent stray doctrines from entering into the church and sometimes this happens unawares. This is a constant danger for the church according to Jude 3-4:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Did you notice the phrase "crept in un-noticed" and the attack is upon "our common salvation"; this is the content of the church's faith? Just like weeds growing up in our gardens, so do spiritual weeds of erroneous teaching seek to choke sound historic church doctrines. Proverbs 22:28 "Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.

Of course the authority of Scripture is final, but Reformed Confessions such as the Westminster Standards are vital to the safety, security and comfort of the church. If a church fully subscribes to a Reformed Confession, then we know what they believe and that they are standing on historic, time-tested truths. It is the truth that sets us free according to the Lord Jesus and truth must be pursued, held fast to, and cherished. Do you cherish church history? Do you appreciate the value of church history and appreciate that a church that values church history is less likely to go astray, than one that dismisses church history or one that never mentions church history?

Let us pray for a healthy and enthusiastic love of church history because as long as it is not simply an academic pursuit of self-interest, this can serve the church well.

A Suggested Book

S. M. Houghton, "Sketches of Church History" (Banner of Truth).

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