There are many answers to the question of, why is studying history important? You have probably all heard the famous quotation, “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.” The Word of God shows us the value of studying history. In Scripture we have a history from creation until approximately 70AD. A vast period of time in which we can see the hand of God working through his decrees. Q. 7 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, What are the decrees of God? A. The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. And Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees? A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.
As we see God working in history we see the outworking of His decrees and we give Him glory for the things He has done and continues to do. There is value in studying the history of the Church for the past 2000 years and studying theology. Doctrine is not that which divides us but that which unites us. We don’t focus our attention on our Secondary Standards, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, arbitrarily but because they are a summary of what Scripture teaches. We study the Church of history so that we don’t fall into the, “everyone did what what right in his own eyes,” mindset.
In our home we have been studying the American War for Independence this summer and are just starting a study of the Civil War. I have learned some interesting things. First, the more I study different periods in American History I don’t think there was ever a time in U.S. history that was true unity. We cannot believe the claims that we are more divided today than ever before. Many living in the colonies in the 1770’s and 1780’s were not excited about independence from Great Britain. I think most other eras in our nation’s history were like that as well. I have also learned that God works providentially, many times despite the sins of people. The colonists should not have defeated Great Britain. There are many battles in the history of the world that should not have ended the way they did.
There is also great merit in studying our Church history. The story of Faith Bible and the two congregations that came together on February 24, 2013 and the history of Faith Bible and Redeemer, those two particular congregations, is important history. There is also benefit in studying the history of the denomination to which we belong, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Why do you belong to the OPC rather than a Baptist Church? Or a Methodist Church? Or a Catholic Church? Why not some other religion? Why do you belong to a Reformed Confessional Presbyterian Church? Have you considered lately why you are a member of the OPC and what that means?
I have been blessed by my personal study of our denomination this year and also through our group study on Wednesday evenings as we have gone through the book, “Fighting the Good Fight” by D. G. Hart and John Muether. John is the current historian for the OPC. In this study so far I have learned why a new denomination came about in 1936. Why was that important? I have learned how the Church splitone year later in 1937. Do you know why missions is so important to our denomination? Do you know why congregations own their own property and not the OPC? Have you heard of Bruce Hunt and his work in Korea? What doctrinally was at stake in the Clark controversy? Or the Penial dispute? In what ways do we have relationships with other Reformed Churches and why have we not become more evangelical in our relationship with the culture?
Yes, part of this is a commercial. Our midweek study will restart in about four weeks on Sept. 7th. We will be looking at Chapter 9 of the book. I encourage you to join us. I am attaching the outlines of what we have covered so far in case you want to look at where we have been. If you don’t have a book let me know and I’ll make sure you get one. I’m not ashamed to give you a commercial for an activity that I think would be beneficial for every member of the OPC. Even if you cannot make the study, I encourage everyone in the OPC to read this book. Come and ask questions.
Studying history isn’t just about one particular book either but a desire to learn and grow and look for the ways that God is working out his decrees through His providence. Currently in our home we are reading many different periods of history spanning many different topics. Whatever period or topic of history you enjoy I encourage you to continue to learn and grow. Most of all I, encourage you to be in Scripture every single day and see God’s history with His people and the blessings He gives to His own.