Why Study Early Church History?QUESTION: Why study early church history?ANSWER:
Why study early church history? When exactly does it begin? And what exactly does it have to do with me, you ask? From my earliest memory I hungered for a sense of who I am. A desire to understand what makes me, me. Though the members of my family are all uniquely different, there remains a cord running through us -- a cord that strengthens us and unifies us, despite our differences. The more I study my family, the more I understand myself. It fascinates me to discover similar interests, similar character traits, and similar experiences woven through generation after generation. Family defines who we are, as individuals and as a people.The Church
is all about family. . .all about God's family. When Jesus died on the cross for my sins, He was bringing me far more than salvation. His death for me bought me a new identity, a new family. Through the grace of Jesus' shed blood, I was adopted into God's own family, becoming an heir with Him.
Why study early church history? Because that is how I came to understand who I am as God's child. As I study early church history, a sense of family identity begins to take on fuller meaning, and I begin to grasp a clearer picture of the grace given to me.
The Church began with a handful of men and women recognizing and professing that Jesus Christ was God's own Son. Paul recorded the foundation stone of the church when he wrote, ". . .that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). These men and women, having seen with their own eyes, having touched with their own hands, proclaimed the truth (Jesus) they knew, and the family grew.
Their journey, the price they paid for adhering to truth, the depth of the truth they knew and professed as God poured out His presence upon them, all of this makes up the history of the family of God -- the history of the Church.
Why study early church history? Because it is my history. As I come to more fully understand it, I come to a fuller, clearer understanding and appreciation of who I am as God's child. The history of the early church runs through my veins and calls me to hear and know the truth of God for which these earliest followers of Jesus paid so much. Were it not for their faithfulness, their willing obedience to God's love, regardless of the cost on their own lives, there would be no Church today. They were faithful and steadfast. Great sacrifices were made that I might know the truth of God's love for me. Studying their history, their example of obedience reveals that love and strengthens my resolve to be obedient to God and faithful to the family of which He made me part.