Christianity 201

May 29, 2015

When Church History Seems Too Old

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).

Recently my youngest son, who now attends a Christian university, informed me that back in high school, they were not allowed to use sources that are more than ten years old, and the greatest emphasis on this was in a course in — wait for it — history! I guess the teachers want to be able to have easy access to check what’s in the essays and term papers against the bibliography.

In an internet world, it’s becoming common to reject things sourced from newspapers and magazines, and to only want to know what’s new, what’s trending.

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber touched on this recently at Daily Encouragment:

In his final sermon (the entire Book of Deuteronomy) Moses prepared to pass the mantle of leadership on to his successor Joshua. He called the people to “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.” I believe this to be a command for all people of all generations, not just the initial listeners. Of course “the days of old and generations long past” have been growing since Moses gave this command some 3,400 years ago!

It’s interesting to observe how many times the Bible reminds us to consider our history. History was very important in the life of the people. Great New Testament sermons like Peter’s on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and Stephen’s (Acts 7) are rooted in history, the record of God’s providential work in space and time. Hebrews 12, known as the faith chapter, commends “the ancients” for their faith, name by name. It is an excellent overview of God’s working in history in the lives of prominent Bible characters.

Today one of the great strategies of Satan is a blurring and de-emphasis of history, whether it be the extremely poor grasp of history evident among so many in this “living only in the now” age or the deceptions of the historical revisionists who essentially rewrite history to suit their own worldview. If Satan can get us to lose perspective of the past a trap is set for the lie of living only for the “Now.” Forget the past and we place little value on the future, supremely our eternal future.

“Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.” Many like us can no longer ask our father (Stephen’s passed away in 1998 and Brooksyne’s in 2000). Increasingly many have not known the love of an earthly father, but we do well to inquire of our spiritual fathers and elders. Above all we learn from the elders in the Holy Scriptures.

The writer of Hebrews reminded his readers and all of us, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the Word of God to you.” Consider those who have shared God’s Word with you throughout your life. For many it will be a godly parent or close relative. It may be a pastor, Sunday School teacher or other godly influence, perhaps a camp counselor or other individual you met along life’s journey who has impacted your life for Christ.

I once asked a congregation if they would like to verbally pay tribute to someone who had made an impact on their life. Peter, a few years older than I, recalled an earnest teacher in his Junior High class who often stressed “the fundamental fundamentals and basical basics.” Peter shared how the students snickered at the teacher’s improper English and oft repeated phrase but in retrospect over the years he realizes how her earnest emphasis on truth made a difference in his life, by her words and her conduct.

We are also called to “consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” I am so thankful for those whose lives I have personally observed as I witnessed the transforming change Christ makes. The leaders whom our text refers to were real people who were known personally by those they served. The word for imitate is a Greek word from which we get “mimic”.

Today, let us indeed remember the days of old and consider the value of generations long past!  Let us remember our leaders, who spoke the Word of God to us and consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

As they do each day, they concluded with a prayer:

Daily prayer: Ancient of Days, You have given us Your Holy Word as a spiritually historical foundation to build our lives upon. Through the centuries Your greatness is demonstrated through ordinary people just like us and through Your awesome acts that reveal Your incomparable power and divine attributes. History in the past and history in the making is subordinate to Your sovereign work in the lives of Your people. We choose to remember our leaders, who spoke the Word of God to us and consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith as we lovingly submit ourselves into Your merciful hands. Amen.

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