Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Augustinian view of history, A Study in Providence

Is God sovereign? If you truly believe that he is then everything must be understood in the light of His revelation. A Christian should have a well rounded education including a knowledge of history and its relationship to God's revealed word. History seems to be an important concept in the Bible. How you understand history is important to how you react toward culture.

If you look up “remember” in the Strong's Concordance you will find almost a full page of references. God constantly commands His people to set up reminders of His marvelous works. He commanded the Children of Israel to set up the Gilgal stones at the crossing of the Jordan, He set up the passover as a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt, He gave to the Christian the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's supper as a remembrance of Him.

Isaiah 46:9,10 reads, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”. Passages like this one and Isaiah 25:1 inspired the Augustinian, or Christian, view of history. The Christian sees history moving in a linear direction for the purpose of glorifying God and accomplishing His will.

Another label for the Christian view of history is the providential view of history. Providence is a concept found in the fathers of the church and this country that has almost been lost on today's Christian. Tragically, too many Christians have allowed their view of history to be tainted by philosophies of men. If they will reject these false doctrines and view history as having a definitive purpose, the Christian will begin to act differently toward culture.

The first question in the Westminster shorter catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This is a marvelous summation of our purpose in light of God's plan in history. God's plan for this world, man and, yes, all of creation, is being accomplished through history and can be seen in passages such as I Peter 4:11: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracle of God: if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability that God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever.”

Understanding history as God “declaring the end from the beginning” and as Him “do(ing) all (His) pleasure” helps you see all of history, and everything that is happening today in such a way that motivates you to live for His glory. If history is seen as a purposeful creator directing everything to His glory, life then has purpose. You see, it's all about God. Man, even Christian man, tends to want to view everything in the context of 'what's in it for me'. If it is all about God then you can see history as pointing everything to His glory and you will live out I Cor. 10:31, (“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”) with gusto.

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