What is Church History?
- The shared narrative of the people of God.
- The story of the development of doctrine.
- The practical outworking of the truth of biblical principles.
Why Study Church History?
- To discover our heritage.
- To understand practical differences.
- To understand the roots of doctrine.
- To learn to appreciate unity in diversity.
After Pentecost, the day that Jesus ascended into heaven, the Apostles obeyed the command of Christ to, “Go into the world and make disciples of all nations”, which is called the ‘Great Commission’. From that day, around 30 A.D., until 100 A.D., when they all had passed away, the apostles went out and witnessed, share the gospel, ‘good news’, with peoples from other cultures and countries.
This is where the literal and the tropological (moral) meaning of the text needs to be distinguished. You see, the Apostles quite naturally took this as a command to leave where they lived, everything comfortable, and forsake such for the sake of Christ. They actually, physically, left and went to as many nations as they could effectively. The Apostles left their homes and went on missions elsewhere.
For many believers as individuals, this command can be applied as “‘As you go’, make disciples of all nations,” meaning that wherever someone is, wherever you are, you can help people to see the worth of Christ’s teaching, believe on his saving work, and follow his word. “While you go” about your daily life try to live fruitfully so that others can know, and hear, and experience the love of Christ. However, the apostles certainly understood it as a command to leave their homeland and tell people in different countries about the gospel.
For churches, small and large, it seems good to make sure that we have some sort of international missions efforts, and not just sending money (though that is often a part of it). Christ knew that it is good for believers to interact with others of cultures other than ones own. Christ does give the exact reasons we should partake in international ministry, but we can well presume it is more than just a one way street.
Sure, the believer has something of infinite worth to offer anyone, the good news of Jesus, but it is also for your own benefit, so that you reciprocally are moved and changed. Teaching something has a way of embedding further into your own life. Sharing the good news with others will help you embed it into your own heart and soul. It so seems they went in all directions, but some are more certain than others.