Tonight Pastor Cade will kick-off our Midweek Summer Sermon Series titled, “Going Pro(testant): Living the Truths of the Reformation.” The series is being designed as a unique blend of church history, historical theology, and expositional sermons. Over the course of the summer we’ll be exploring the great themes and biblical doctrines that were central to the Protestant Reformation. Each week we’ll be digging into one specific passage of Scripture and using the background, narrative, and biographies of the Reformation as important illustrative and connecting anchor-points to how these truths apply to our lives today.
The first sermon (from April 27, 2016) introduces the series by making an explicit and expository case for the relevance of church history for the lives of Christians. Before we begin a series like this, we want to be convinced that the Bible demands this type of study for disciples. Below is Pastor Cade’s first “listening-guide” to the series. Be sure to listen to the audio on our website for the sermon itself.
And yet at the same time all of us are deeply rooted in history as well. We love good stories. We feed off of them. We cherish our memories. We like to talk about “old times.” Many of us would long to be able to return to the past to spend time with those who have gone before. For all of our aversion to history, we can’t seem to escape it. We’re haunted by it. And we’re made by it. We are the living products of yesterday.
So history is vital. Some teachers may have made it boring, but it is always relevant. We can never get away from it, nor should we try to. That’s especially true for Christians. We do not accept the worldview of a closed universe. We believe that the God who created all things has intimately involved himself in his creation – that he has acted within the history of our world – ultimately and definitively in the person of Jesus Christ and in the millions of mundane milliseconds in his relationship with his people. Not only that, but Jesus himself gives us the example of taking the history of God’s dealings with his people seriously (John 10:22).
II. “What’s past is prologue.” – William Shakespeare
And that’s not all. Not only does God work in history, and not only did Jesus model the significance of celebrating God’s work in history, but the Bible explicitly commands believers to be rooted and grounded in their history. Church History is not just an academic discipline and required seminary class for history nerds. Nor should pastors make the instruction in church history to their local churches a priority because it’s their personal hobby. The Bible explicitly commands us to take church history seriously. That means that our “topical series” in the coming months unfolding the riches of the Protestant Reformation isn’t merely interesting. It’s basic obedience. Hebrews 13:7-9 provides us with the prescription for historical discipleship. The author has been encouraging Christians to persevere and to continue steadfastly in their faith. He has given them the examples of the faithful saints of the past (Hebrews 11), he prompts them to not grow weary as followers of Christ by running their race with endurance, being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12), and he then provides explicit ways this encouragement is to be lived out. That’s where we find his command to learn from church history, and as we read his words we are told what to do and why this is good, gospel guidance:
1. Learning from church history overflows from loving and cherishing the Word of God. (v. 7a)
2. Learning from church history provides us with meaningful mentors to help us be faithful throughout our lives. (v. 7b)
3. Learning from church history demonstrates our confidence in the unchanging person, promises, and plan of Jesus Christ. (v.8)
4. Learning from church history guards us against Satan’s buffet of false-gospels. (v. 9a)
5. Learning from church history strengthens us in our love for and dependence on the grace of the gospel. (v. 9b)