The Christian View Of Biblical History

For Catholics and Orthodox Christians, the biblical stories are not just recollections of historical happenings. They manifest God's involvement with his chosen people and the lessons he wanted to teach them by the various events of his providential care. To understand Christ and his church it is necessary to appreciate as well as possible God's whole involvement with humankind. Events in biblical history shed light on God's plan for all of creation.

Images and stories from the Old Testament reappear remolded in the New Testament. For example the story of Abraham tells something about Christ. Moses' commandments tell something about the Sermon on the Mount. The Jews' escape from the slavery of Egypt tells something about the escape of all from the slavery of sin. The sacrifice of a lamb in the Jerusalem Temple tells about the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, on the cross. Each part of the biblical story tells something about the other parts. This is why the story of the origin of the church needs the whole of the Old and New Testaments to show how the church fits into the whole of God's plan for humanity's redemption and the role of the church in it.

chapter 3

THE HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC AND ORTHODOX CHURCHES

According to Catholic and Orthodox belief, it was 40 days after Jesus Christ's resurrection from the dead that he ascended into heaven. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Christ's ascension left his disciples lonely and confused. They no longer had a teacher to follow, and they were afraid that they too would be punished. As they huddled together in fear and bewilderment, the Acts of the Apostles reports that:

Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. —Acts 2:2-4

The painted ceiling of a Bulgarian church. At the center is God the Father; the surrounding scenes depict the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible.

The painted ceiling of a Bulgarian church. At the center is God the Father; the surrounding scenes depict the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden from the book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible.

After being filled with the Holy Spirit, according to the Christian scriptures, the apostles gained courage and became missionaries, fulfilling the final directive of their risen and ascended Lord: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19) They went about teaching the main Christian message: that Jesus was the true son promised to Abraham, that he was the Messiah, that he was the Son of God who became man, that he was crucified and raised from the dead, and that through him sins are forgiven and eternal salvation is offered to all people.

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