Why Does History Matter?
"Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted… now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…" 1 Corinthians 10:6-11
"The first battlefield is the rewriting of history." Karl Marx
Today historic monuments are being targeted for destruction by volatile mobs stirred up by Marxist revolutionary agitation. Deception leads to bondage. The truth sets free.
"And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." John 8:32
Everything Has Consequences
History tells us what has worked and what has not. We need to develop the ability to recognise these lessons in every area of life. We need to discover our roots. Everything has consequences. History illustrates the consequences of ideas and actions. In history we can see examples and illustrations of man's depravity and rebellion against God, and God's mercy, grace and sovereignty in intervening in the course of human events.
"History is and must ever continue to be next to God's Word, the richest foundation of wisdom, and the surest guide to all successful practical activity." Philip Shaff
Examples of Excellence
History can provide us with the visions of those who impacted society and examples of excellence to inspire us to courageously stand firm in spite of all opposition. We need to learn from positive Godly role models - examples of excellence that can inspire us to reach higher, go further and achieve more through the collective wisdom of the past. We also need to learn from the mistakes of others, to benefit from the painstaking developments and sacrifices of our Fathers in the Faith.
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever." Cicero
Inspiration and Encouragement
In history we can find encouragement to persevere, a rebuke to short-sightedness and selfishness. We can learn in history lessons to expose false doctrines and correct unwise policies. History can teach us humility as we consider the great sacrifices that others have made for many of the privileges we enjoy today. History can put our trials and troubles into perspective. We must learn from history, or we will repeat its mistakes.
"If we do not know our own history, we will simply have to endure all the same mistakes, sacrifices and absurdities all over again." Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Understand the Times
Real history, told from a Biblical perspective, is a treasure of the Church that can teach us the truth that endured. In the Scriptures we are commanded to understand the times so that God's people may know what we ought to do (1 Chronicles 12:32).
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana
Foundations for the Future
The longer you look back the further you can look forward. A tall building needs to lay deep foundations. A tall tree needs a deep root system. In order to understand who we are, we need to understand where we came from. We need to understand the events and issues of the past that correspond with our challenges today.
Learn From History
Reformer John Calvin declared: "Histories are a true school for learning how to order our lives."
Forewarned is Forearmed
In order to anticipate problems and threats in the future we need to study the past. In order to liberate our thinking from current fashions and to recognise potential potholes and traps, we will find immeasurable insights and practical help from studying the people, events and issues that shaped the past and affect our present situations. As Professor C.S. Lewis declared "It is not the remembered, but the forgotten, past that enslaves us."
Christianity is rooted in history. Much of the Bible is actually history. Some of the key doctrines of Scripture are linked to historical events recorded in the Bible: Creation, Fall, Flood, Exodus, the Fall of Jerusalem, Exile to Babylon, the Return of the exiles, the Incarnation of Christ, the Crucifixion of Christ and His Resurrection and Ascension. Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith, focuses on historic personalities as examples of excellence to inspire and guide us.
A Linear View of History
Unlike Eastern religions which have a circular view of history, Christians believe in a linear view. "You only have one life, it will soon be passed. Only what is done for Christ will last." History is heading towards a climatic conclusion: The fulfilment of the Great Commission, the Return of Christ and the Judgement of both the living and the dead. Because of the importance of history, manuscript research and archaeology is vital.
The Apostle Paul warns the brethren not to be ignorant of the lessons of history (1 Corinthians 10:1-11). The Apostles Creed focuses on the historical roots of our Faith. When the Gospel is summarised in 1 Corinthians 15:3-9, it is focused on historical events. Stephen's defence of the Faith in Acts 7 is a lesson in Redemptive History. History is His Story. "All nations will come and worship before You…" Revelation 15:4
Luke who authored the Gospel and the Book of Acts was a meticulous historian. "Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account… that you may know the certainty of those things…" Luke 1:1-4
Christian Liberty Books has produced a number of new History books recently, including: Sketches from South African History, The Greatest Century of Missions, Church History Manual, A Christian History of Africa and Going On. We have also produced the South African History Audio and Data MP3 Boxset. See our website:www.christianlibertybooks.co.za for a variety of highly recommended history books, including: The Great Christian Revolution , by Otto Scott; Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War - How Britain Cost her Empire and the West Lost the World, by Patrick Buchanan; The Greatest Century of Reformation and Victorious Christians - Who Changed the World.
Dr. Peter Hammond
The Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa