Often studying Church history can seem like something that is reserved for the historian, the seminary student or the pastor. However, this ought not to be the case, as there are many practical benefits to studying the history of God’s people.
Here are just some of those reasons why you should be reading about the saints of old:
1. It humbles us
There is nothing like reading the exploits of godly men and women, and even children, for the Kingdom of God to make us realise that we are not the first to face opposition from the ungodly, nor are we the first to do basically anything we are doing for God’s glory.
We can often have a sense of self-importance until we see the humility of godly men and women who suffered and died for the faith once delivered unto the saints. May we never look down upon these people who laid the groundwork, in many ways, of the spiritual blessings we enjoy today. The Church has been blessed by them, and without realising it, so have we if we heed the message of truth they were martyred for.
2. It makes us more gracious
Having said all this, about the blessings from previous generations, these men and women were not perfect. Sometimes we have rose-tinted glasses in how we view by-gone eras, as if the issues we face today have never been faced before. The Church has often faced them, and with far more grace than we often afford those with whom we disagree.
Studying Church history will help you see how the Church dealt with problems in the past. It will help you see what issues are worth strong condemnation on the internet. It will help you see that, even though the Church is in a weak moment, it is not the worst point in her history. Not by a long shot! Some challenges are unique in scale, like the mainstream acceptance of the Charismatic movement, but these have been faced before by the early Church and the Reformers. Some of the most well-beloved Church fathers were affected by some of these errors. If nothing else, hopefully, it will give you perspective and it will help you see God’s providence in all these things.
3. It makes us more patient
In the internet age we are really impatient to have theological disputes settled immediately. If we study Church history, we will see these disputes took many years to settle, or may not be yet settled in some circles. It’s not realistic to expect everyone to see what you see because you wrote an internet blog, or from the YouTube video you made, and then sent them the link. Be realistic. People are extremely busy, especially pastors and ruling elders. Don’t expect any dispute to be resolved quickly, and don’t attack those who won’t immediately join in with your side. Not everyone has the same calling.
Church history is not the only thing to study of course, but I pray it will give you further impetuous to study your Bible and live for God!