This week, we’ve looked at the impact of a major theological council and the rise of the monastic movement. Each of these events guided the church through a time of major transition.
The Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon affirmed the truth that Christ was fully God and fully man—two natures in one person. The impact of this truth is massive. It affirms that Christ was fully God so He could live a sinless life and atone for our sins, satisfying the wrath of God. Yet He was fully man; he experienced what it is to be human and yet He did not sin. He was God in the flesh—our Savior.
We can relate to Him in His humanness. He knows what it’s like to experience emotion—joy, sadness, anger, compassion and love. He knows what its like to be in relationships with people; He was a Son and a friend. He knows what it’s like to be tempted. For all these reasons, Jesus can sympathize with us because He experienced what it is to be human—and He can save us because He is God. May we remember these words in Hebrews and draw near to Him: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15–16).
Guiding the Church
The great councils of the first few centuries of the church brought guidance and clarity to the central theological issues of the faith. God protected His church from theological error, which would have divided believers and obscured the truth of the gospel. When the church rose in position and power, the monastic movement grew. These devout believers in monasteries often served as the moral compass for the church, protecting the church from moral lapse. God continued to work through the lives of everyday Christians to spread the gospel.
Over the last eight weeks, we’ve raced through the first six hundred years of church history. While it was often messy and complicated, we’ve seen God care for and guide His church through these events. When we look at the lives of these early Christians, we find people like us—people with faults, disappointments, and struggles. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we stand on their shoulders. They continued to build on the foundation laid by the apostles as the church grew rapidly. Their story is part of our story as Christians. By remembering God’s faithfulness to them, we find encouragement when facing our own trials.
When you see God work through major events in history, how does that give you hope for the church?