Pillar Journal

History Stirs Us To Praise God

Christ has been present from the beginning and has been at work through all time in the lives of men, the affairs of nations, and the cycles of nature.

The study of church history should lead us to praise God, for history finds its significance in Him. Jesus Christ said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev. 22:13). Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and function as a figure of speech (merism) that uses extremes to include everything in between. In other words, Christ is the origin of history, the goal of history, and the meaning of all that transpires as history moves from its origin to its goal. All things were “created by him, and for him… and by him all things consist” (Col. 1:16–17). History hinges upon Christ. Just as Christ’s first coming made His moment in history “the fulness of times” (Eph. 1:10; cf. Gal. 4:4), so Christ’s second coming will be the end of this age and the beginning of the age to come.

At every point from start to finish, Christ is Lord of history. As the eternal Son of God and the living Word, He is the voice that spoke the world into being and sustains it through all time. He is Lord of all in society, in the church, and in the heart of every believer.

Dear believer, your Alpha and Omega of salvation, Christ Jesus, will keep your salvation sure until the very end. As the first step in your road of salvation was from Christ, so every succeeding step, including your last, is His gift. He who gives you grace to live will give you grace to die, for He is your end as well as your beginning. He accomplishes all His purposes of grace for you, fulfills all His promises of love on your behalf, and completes all His counsels of infinite wisdom for you. Colossians 2:6–7 says, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him.”

Your Omega tells you in John 15:5 that without Him you can do nothing. In repentance, in faith, in obedience, and in endurance, you are powerless without Him. In secret prayer, in duty, in holy warfare against sin, in your personal walk with God, what are you without Christ but a stubborn and sinful lump of cold clay? Thank God that Christ is not only your Alpha but also your Omega of salvation!

Christ will complete what He begins
To save from sorrows and from sins;
The work Jehovah undertakes
Jehovah-Jesus ne’er forsakes.1The Gospel Advocate, for Promoting Spiritual Unity, ed. Andrew Joseph Baxter, 16:76.

Christ has been present from the beginning and has been at work through all time in the lives of men, the affairs of nations, and the cycles of nature. And when time has run its course, He will write the final chapter and give the final disposition to all things. If we are true believers on that day, we will welcome Christ as Lord not only of our personal past and present history in working everything together for our good but also as Lord of our future history. At His coming we will see an eternal day that knows no sunset—a day of perfect salvation from Satan, this evil world, our old nature, and sin itself. There will be no more tears, pain, sorrow, temptation, night, or death. It will be a day of perfect fellowship with Christ, when we will worship Him, serve Him, exercise authority with Him, and reign with Him. Heaven and Christ will be synonymous, for our eyes will be only on Him as our faith is turned to sight. Our eyes will never stray from our precious Bridegroom, and we will enjoy an intimacy with Him greater than that of the angels, who have been in His presence for thousands of years. We will enjoy knowing Him, seeing Him, loving Him, praising Him, and glorifying Him forever. We will bask in Omega’s smile, bathe in His glory, and feast in His presence. Samuel Rutherford said that heaven without Christ is hell, and hell with Christ is heaven to us, for Christ is heaven itself.

To study history is to study the works of God through His Son and to end in Him. The Puritan Richard Baxter (1615–1691) said,

The writing of church-history is the duty of all ages, because God’s works are to be known, as well as his word…. He that proveth not…what God hath been doing in the world…doth want much to the completing of his knowledge.2Richard Baxter, The Life of Faith, in The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, ed. William Orme (London: James Duncan, 1830), 12:364.

We study the history of God’s people to see what God has been doing in the world and thus praise Him for His mighty acts, and we trust Him to display His power and glory afresh in our day. The Psalms give us a Godcentered reason to study history: “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works” (9:1); “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (107:31).

In observing God’s works, we see God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His covenant promises. The Lord remains the same, and His words cannot fail. In studying history, therefore, we learn to say, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22–23). Knowing what God has done in the past lays the foundation for trusting Him in the present for the future. We rest our faith upon God’s promises and acts in the Bible, while church history confirms and strengthens that faith when we view it through the lenses of God’s Word.

Therefore, we ought to read church history and communicate it to others for the glory of God. Reformation historian J. H. Merle d’Aubigné (1794– 1872) said, “God ought to be proclaimed in history. The history of the world ought to be distinctively the annals of the government of the Sovereign King.”3J. H. Merle d’Aubigné, History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century, trans. Walter K. Kelly, 2nd ed. (London: Whittaker and Co., 1842), 1:3. This is the goal not just for the study of history but also for the events of history. Edward Panosian says, “History is like a train.” It does not “wander aimlessly,” but “rides on a track.” Its cars are connected to each other. It has a conductor, and it follows His “conscious direction.” Though traveling at various speeds along its journey, it has a destination, and one day its journey will reach an end.4Edward M. Panosian, “Cultivating a Love for History,” in Edward M. Panosian, David A. Fisher, and Mark Sidwell, The Providence of God in History (Greenville, S.C.: Bob Jones University Press, 1996), 8–9. That should lead us to exult with Paul, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).

Excerpt From
Why Should I Be Interested in Church History?
Joel R. Beeke and Michael A.G. Haykin