March 12, 2017
What Do You Know of Church History?
If you don't know much about church history this is a great book to start with. Each chapter is only a couple of pages long and is focused on each of the centuries since Christianity began.
This book starts off with the apostles then goes onto share about faithful men like these:
Justin Martyr, in the 2nd century 'defended the truth of the Christian gospel by expounding Scripture and refuting false accusations regarding the Christian faith.'
Augustine of Hippo, a bishop from Alexandria in the 4th century
Patrick, who evangelized Ireland in the 4th century
Alopan, a Syrian missionary to China in the 8th century
Cyril and Methodius, brothers from Thessalonia, who spread the gospel in what is now called Russia in the 9th century
Anselm of Canterbury, an intellectual with spiritual and moral courage in the11th century
Peter Waldo of France, who's followers 'objected to the many errors and corrupt practices of the Western church' in the 12th century
Francis of Assisi who in the 13th century, preached... 'a life of simplicity and had a great concern for preaching repentance as the way into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ'
Also from the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas... 'who is often regarded as one of the church's great scholastic thinkers'
John Wycliffe, who translated the bible from Latin to English in the 14th century because he felt all people would be able to grow in faith and practice from reading the Scriptures.
John Huss, was from Bohemia, now the Czech Republic. He was the rector at the University of Prague in the 15th century. Studying he realized the Church was teaching contrary things to the Scriptures.
Martin Luther, probably the most well-known reformer from the16th century, who nailed his 95 thesis on the church door at Wittenberg, Germany. I highly recommend finding these online and reading through them. The church today has benefited by Martin Luther's courage to do this.
John Calvin, another well known reformer in the 16th century, who has a great influence on all aspects of church and the Christian life.
In the 17th century came the Puritans. Men like, Matthew Henry, John Owen and John Bunyan. I personally love Matthew Henry's commentary on the Bible.
George Whitefield, brothers John and Charles Wesley and Jonathan Edwards were all preachers from the 18th century who preached repentance and saw great revivals of the heart at that time.
The 19th century had great missionaries like Hudson Taylor who went to China and never asked for money, but rather trusted God fully to met his needs as a missionary. He has inspired me personally as well as George Mueller who ran many orphanages in England, at this time, and never solicited money for his cause, but only trusted God to provide, and God provided again and again.
*Note - I'll be writing about George Mueller next week! : )
Billy Graham is most well known for bringing the gospel to masses of people. the simplicity of repentance and faith in Christ was preached thousands of times, all over the world.
One of the things that amazes me about church history is how little support these people had in defending the truth, and yet the truth has continued. I see how God's hand has been in each century and how he has used those who love Him to share the gospel truth.
God used each of these men (some who were martyred) to keep the gospel living and moving and He continues to do so through all those who surrender to Him.
I'm so thankful for their courage and determination in standing for truth, so that it could be passed down to us.
I highly recommend getting to know who these men were and what they brought to the Church.
From the tenth century chapter the author writes:
"Today's world is not much different from that of the tenth century. The church continues to be confronted with paganism, as well as with temptations to worldly success. While some denounce the tenth century as 'The Dark Ages,' we must recognize that our contemporary society demonstrates a moral and spiritual darkness, and the church is challenged to respond with the light of the gospel.
Sometimes the church stands by and lets her witness be muted by worldly concerns. Rather, the church should perpetually increase in the knowledge of God's Word, be strengthened by the worship of God, and give itself to the simplicities of day-to-day devotion to Jesus Christ. By living for Christ and proclaiming His gospel, we can shine a much-needed light in the darkness."
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Eph. 5:8
This is why I believe contending for the faith, once given to us, is so important...just look at history.
I agree with the author, the time we live in is no different then the dark ages. Paganism, false teachings, and cults infest our world, all reasons to stand for the truth once given to the saints.
We need to hold tight to the truths our Christian forefathers lived and died for. The timeless truths of God's Word.
"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." Jude 1:3
Jesus said: “...when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8
Will He find us faithful to the truth once delivered to the saints?
I found this book very brief and left me wanting to know more, which I think was probably the purpose of the book. : )
I have another book on church history called, 'Church History in Plain Language' by Bruce L. Shelley, which is over 500 pages. I've been a bit intimidated to read it, but after reading 'Church History 101' I'm actually curious to get started.
I highly recommend 'Church History 101' as a starter on Church history!
Buy it HERE on Amazon