Summary: Overview of major events in Church History.
Church History: Examining the Creeds and Confessions of the Church Through the Ages and Why They Matter.
Lesson 1: Church History at a Glance
In the small book of Jude, there is an important verse which is good to begin our study this evening.
Regarding the false teachers of his day, he says these words.
v.11 “Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.”
This is important because it demonstrates to us the value of knowing our history.
This was a time when personal copies of the Scriptures were almost unheard of.
Yet, the people of God were expected to know about these relatively obscure individuals from Israel’s past.
It was expected that they would know their own history.
Such is a good place for us to begin this study, as it shines a light on the fact that we also need to know our history.
We are beginning tonight in the study of Church History.
Church history is a subject of which many people are very ignorant, even many people who have been in church all their lives.
Illustration: Peanuts Cartoon. Lucy “I am writing about church history”... “My pastor was both in 1945...”
This myopic view of church history is a negative consequence of the anti-intellectualization of the church.
For many years, the church has been so focused on “feelings” and “emotions” that it has shied away from depth in theology and the pursuit of scholarship.
The ones really investing in these areas have largely been from the liberal perspective and we have seen the radical departure from orthodoxy which has occurred as a result.
We have a responsibility as the people of God to study and understand our history.
The old adage is so very true...
Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
This study is designed to acquaint us with some of the most important events of the past 2,000 years of church history.
We are going to do this by examining some of the great creeds and confessions which have been established down through the ages.
We will not be able to study every single aspect of history; but we will be looking at many of the high points which helped establish the church’s position on foundational teachings.
LOOK AT HANDOUT: Church History Outline
Tonight, we are going to look at church history at a glance; this will help us establish the framework for understanding the details of history as we dig into them in the weeks to come.
The Church Began at Pentecost
Acts 2:1-4 “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Pentecost is the Greek name of the Feast of Weeks.
Pentecost is celebrated 50 days (or seven weeks) after Resurrection Sunday.
Remember that Jesus was with His apostles for 40 days after the resurrection and then ascended into heaven; they then prayed and waited in the Upper Room for 10 days when the Holy Spirit fell.
This coming of the Holy Spirit fulfilled the promise of Christ.
John 16:7 “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”
The Spirit’s coming empowered the Apostles and gave birth to the church.
The word “Church” in the Bible is the Greek word “ekklesia”
Ekklesia means “called out ones”.
The church is made up of the ones who have been called out, also known in Scripture as the elect.
The initial church was made up of converts from Judaism, and as a result Christianity was considered at that point to be a “sect” of Judaism.
It is certainly right to say that Christianity grew out of Judaism, as Christ is the Messiah prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures.
It might be more appropriate to say Christianity is Judaism completed, as Christ came to both fulfill the Old Covenant Law and establish the New Covenant based on His work on the cross.
This is why many Jewish converts to Christianity today call themselves “completed Jews”.
The Expansion of the Early Church
It was not long after the establishment of the church that the Gospel went out to the Gentiles.
The Bible says that a partial hardening has come over the hearts of the Jews.