“That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?”Joshua 4:6
Our interest in history stems from the fact that our Bible, the book of books, is principally a recording of events which took place in bygone years. While the Scriptures contain doctrine and philosophy they are primarily a set of writings which are historical. All of the teaching within the Bible rests upon the facts that have been recorded and preserved. Israel’s survival and identity depended upon her continuity as a people who stemmed from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which made them the children of the covenant. Therefore, they understood themselves in the light of what they knew about their ancestors.
After passing through the Jordan, entering Canaan for the first time, Joshua commanded the erection of a memorial consisting of twelve stones drawn from the river bed. Memorials preserve history and this memorial was a picture lesson for the children in days to come of their link with the past; of what God had done.
In like manner we study the history of the Church because spiritually we are united to every person and period throughout our remarkable history. Every part of the Church in history has enjoyed the same covenant blessings that we inherit in Christ.
The Church of Christ is part of the river that John saw, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. The Mississippi, the Nile, the Amazon, and Ganges and all other great rivers rise as humble streams before becoming the mighty torrents of water, bringing life to billions. From the tributary to the estuary the river is one water course supplying the same vibrant energy. Today we swim the same water that Peter, Paul, Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Athanacious, Augustine and all the other worthies of history swam in. History teaches us our continuity, our historic place within the plan of a covenant keeping God, and therein lies the secret of the preservation and the success of Christ’s Church.
"Elect from every nation, Yet one o're all the earth, Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth." S.J. Stone