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Why Reading Church History Will Make You Love God More

Luke H. Davis
Why Reading Church History Will Make You Love God More

Once when I was much younger, our family was vacationing in Colorado. There were all sorts of activities at the conference center in the Sangre de Cristo range where we stayed, but one I remembered was horseback riding. Our entire family saddled up on several noble beasts and headed out for a leisurely plod over the surrounding territory. As time went by, two things became apparent. One, riding a horse was a calming endeavor. Two, the beauty of the Colorado outdoors—the sunny skies, the towering trees, and the singing birds—overwhelmed you. Reacting to the tremendous scenery all around him, my youngest brother Joel expressed what anyone would say: “I feel small.”


          The grandeur of the Rockies isn’t the only thing that can dwarf us. Taking a look at the triumph, tragedies, dreams, and struggles of Christ’s followers over the past twenty centuries has a way of making us feel small, if we are honest. Taking in the great sweep of church history helps us realize many have come before, forming and influencing our faith in ways we need to appreciate. It is the instructional and inspiring nature of church history that I seek to bring home to readers in the entire five–volume set of my Risen Hope series for younger readers.


          Aside from having an interest in the subject, why should young people (and the young at heart) read church history? Well, I’d offer that church history is a biblically encouraged activity. In II Timothy 3:14, Paul encourages Timothy to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” Those people from whom Timothy received the Gospel included Timothy’s grandmother Lois, his mother Eunice, and Paul himself (II Timothy 1:5–6). When we read stories of Christians acting in history’s drama, then we receive fresh courage because we see the Gospel lived out in others, helping us to continue in what we have believed.

The important and most thrilling things in life get imprinted in our hearts through stories.

But when we remember such people, we need ways to have these memories fastened to our inner beings. The important and most thrilling things in life get imprinted in our hearts through stories. The most wonderful and touching thing anyone can do for you is to make and keep promises that endure. In church history, we have both. Jesus makes his promise: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” and it will spread “to the ends of the earth; and I am with you always.” The storyline of church history asks and answers the question, “Will Jesus live up to his promise through ordinary people doing unbelievable things?” And the answer is yes. This is where the Risen Hope series is so helpful and encouraging.


What was it like to sit in the imperial hall at Nicea and listen to Athanasius stand up against his detractors, boldly demonstrating from Scripture that Jesus is truly the eternal Son of God and that this matters for Christians everywhere? Read Redemption: The Church in Ancient Times, and you’ll know.


          What was Stephen Langton thinking as he walked across the dewy grass at Runnymede, England to present the Magna Carta to King John, knowing it would be disregarded in the future but was willing to begin the attempt to restrict the power of kings? You’ll discover that in Reign: The Church in the Middle Ages.

Would Lady Jane Grey yield to Queen Mary and deny her Protestant faith, or would she remain faithful in prison all the way to death? The answer lies in Reform: The Church at the Birth of Protestantism.


Can you imagine the squalor and smell of nineteenth–century Paris as Emilie Mallet scoured the city, looking for children she could rescue from the plague of cholera? Your senses will come alive in Renewal: The Church That Expands Outward.

Do you want a bystander view of C.S. Lewis as he defends Christianity with a skeptic in an Oxford pub, of Corrie ten Boom as she labors in the concentration camp at Ravensbrück, or of Benjamin Kwashi as he prays while an inch from possible death? The sights and sounds of these events come through in living color in Resolve: The Church That Endures Onward.

Stories like these await you through the entire Risen Hope series. But ultimately, I hope you don’t merely enjoy the stories. I would hope that, as you see Jesus’ promise to establish his Church coming true, you will find yourself as a part of God’s story of redemption. And if you come to love that story, you will come to love God more dearly than you did before.

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Risen Hope Box Set

The Church Throughout History

Luke H. Davis
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