“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4
Two weeks ago, many churches celebrated National Reformation Day—the day in 1517 on which Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the Castle Church doors in Wittenberg, Germany, thereby launching the Protestant Reformation.
It’s moments like this that truly define the church’s dedication to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of biblical teaching. Unfortunately, history is often forgotten–and with it, the lessons that were learned.
Although it seems that modern Christians struggle with completely different issues than their predecessors, church history says otherwise. Let’s take a peek at 3 ways church history can impact the lives of today’s Christians.
Solomon proclaimed that there was “nothing new under the sun” and that “all is vanity.” Although this seems fairly depressing at first glance, it was a striking reality—one that can apply to any moment in church history.
There is no problem or issue in today’s modern world that great thinkers in the past haven’t also wrestled with even if it was phrased differently. Christian thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas and St. Anselm dealt with questions such as How could a loving God ever judge someone? and Why doesn’t God just eliminate all evil?
Knowing how some of these thinkers answered these questions can help modern Christians form their own responses based on the context in which they find themselves. Lean into the knowledge that historical Christians imparted through their writings and apply them to your current conversations.
Francis Schaeffer was a 20th-century theologian and philosopher who never cared to assume. He also didn’t want those he was sharing the gospel with to assume either.
He employed a method that he called “taking the roof off people’s lives,” in which he lovingly showed unbelievers the errors of their belief systems. He understood that at the core, every human has assumptions about life and how it’s “supposed” to work.
Every generation has certain assumptions that form their thinking. Use church history to help you keep your own assumptions in check about those you interact with. You may even learn how to expose others’ assumptions about the Christian faith in order to lead them to Christ.
The word evangelize means to “attempt to convert someone to Christianity.” At one point in church history—and perhaps still in use today by some churches—evangelizing was viewed as a program or method of sharing the Christian faith.
This programmatic practice is not implemented in many modern churches in order to avoid looking like Christians are “selling something.” The means of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is just as important as the gospel itself. There are right and wrong ways of sharing the Christian faith.
Throughout church history, many different methods have been used to make followers of Jesus. Some have had great success while others were downright embarrassing.
Understanding the most effective and biblical ways of telling others about Jesus within your immediate context can help you avoid the evangelical pitfalls of the past.