Hard-Won Doctrines That We Take for Granted Today

The Person of Christ

This is clearly one of those moments where we are standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We take so many doctrines as givens in this moment. I’ll mention two. One in particular is our doctrine related to the person of Christ.

When we go back to the early church, there were serious controversies. In fact, we could go back to the pages of the New Testament and see that even while these New Testament epistles are being written, false teaching of who Jesus is has entered into the New Testament church.

ESV Church History Study Bible

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There’s the denial of his true humanity right there in the pages of the New Testament. As we go into the early centuries, we find the denial of Jesus’s deity. And so we have this wonderful moment in church history at the council of Nicea at 325. We have this other moment in 451, the council of Chalcedon. Together, these two councils present for the church this summary of the biblical teaching, faithfully presenting a summary of the biblical teaching of who Christ is as truly man and truly God. Those are two natures united in one person.

Five Solas

The second doctrine is the solas that come to us from the Reformation. We need to realize that these doctrines, whether it’s the early church Christology or the Reformation solas, these doctrines came to us through blood, sweat, tears, and toil. And so there were folks in church history who gave their lives for these very doctrines that we hold dear. There were folks in church history that devoted their entire lives, their whole careers, to not only promoting what the Bible says about these doctrines but also responding to that false teaching that so quickly led the church astray.

There were folks in church history who gave their lives for these very doctrines that we hold dear.

So we love these doctrines—the solas—and who Christ is. We need to remember that we are indeed standing on the shoulders of those who’ve come before us. We need to be grateful for their labors and praise God. And then we also take all that for motivation for us, because now we have an obligation. And our obligation is not to assume that the next generation will be fine and they’ll have all these doctrines intact. Just as we learned from others, we teach others. And so we have an obligation to pass on these doctrines. That means so much to us to pass them on to the next generation and, by God’s grace, to the generations to come.

Stephen Nichols is the editor of the ESV Church History Study Bible: Voices from the Past, Wisdom for the Present.

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