Now Available - God's Prevailing Work: Themes in Church History, volume 1

Positive Action, Oct. 15, 2018
Now Available - God's Prevailing Work: Themes in Church History, volume 1

We’re excited to announce the release of a new Bible study covering important themes from church history.

As the first of two planned volumes, God’s Prevailing Work: Themes in Church History, AD 30–1517 introduces major figures and events from the ascension of Christ through the dawn of the Reformation. It’s a 13-lesson, big-picture view of the challenges, debates, and triumphs of the church’s first 1500 years.

That said, God’s Prevailing Work is first and foremost a Bible study—with readings and exercises that challenge students to work through historical issues with the guidance of Scripture.

Dr. C.J Harris, author of God's Prevailing Work, shares what his team hopes to accomplish through this new curriculum on the themes of church history.

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God's Prevailing Work
God's Prevailing Work
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Who is this for?

We designed the curriculum for church groups of teens and adults. Even if teachers and students have no prior knowledge of church history, this study will give them the resources to immediately begin discussing these topics and their relevance to God’s children today.

How does it work?

For each of the 13 lessons, students will spend the week prior to class working through their Student Manual exercises. There they will encounter an introduction to a critical theme and time period, as well as Scripture readings and other primary source material, all updated for the modern reader.

Then in class, teachers can review the exercises using the answer keys, discussion material, and historical notes included in the Teacher’s Manual. Classroom presentations are provided free on our website.

What components do I need?

The Student Manual

This self-guided workbook encourages students to explore biblical themes in the context of church history. Includes illustrations, maps, and timelines. 156 pages.

The Teacher's Manual

This hefty guide provides discussion ideas, historical notes, and suggested answers for student exercises. Includes a complete copy of the Student Manual material. Available in print or PDF. 210 pages.

Free Classroom Presentations

Easily present notes from the Teacher Manual while reviewing material from the Student Manual. Using the pre-formatted slide layouts and text, you can also adapt the presentations with your own pictures and lesson content. Available in PowerPoint, Keynote, and PDF format.

What exactly does the study cover?

Check out the scope and sequence below. Sample lessons are available on the product page.

God's Prevailing Work
God's Prevailing Work
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Scope and Sequence for Volume 1: AD 30–1517

Chapter 1. Life in the Early Church


  • Demonstrate continuity between the early and modern church
  • Emphasize the love and unity central to biblical descriptions of the church
  • Discuss the priorities of the early church, comparing them with Christian activity today

Notable Points:

  • The Apostles
  • Papias
  • Tertullian

Chapter 2. The Persecuted Church


  • Explore the basis for Christian persecution, along with examples in the early church
  • Discuss common responses to persecution, as well as the view encouraged by Scripture
  • Note ways that God can turn the evils of persecution toward good

Notable Points:

  • Polycarp
  • The Early Persecutions

Chapter 3. Living in the World


  • Discuss ways Christians have related with the world
  • Discern appropriate ways to respond to opposition from unbelievers
  • Challenge students to develop an answer for their hope in Christ

Notable Points:

  • Anthony
  • The Apologists

Chapter 4. From Persecution to Privilege


  • Explain how Christianity became a legal religion in the Roman Empire
  • Discuss the benefits of religious freedom
  • Examine some dangers of religious privilege

Notable Points:

  • Constantine
  • Eusebius of Nicomedia
  • The Edicts of Milan and Thessalonica

Chapter 5. Heresies


  • Describe some of the heresies faced by the early church
  • Review biblical teaching on heresies and false teachers
  • Briefly note major ecumenical councils
  • Discuss the response to major heresies, including God-given opportunities to clarify truth

Notable Points:

  • The Ecumenical Councils
  • The Nicene Creed

Chapter 6. No Earthly City


  • Introduce the life and work of Augustine
  • Note the distinctions between what Augustine called earthly and heavenly cities
  • Discuss Augustine's later controversies

Notable Points:

  • Augustine
  • The Sack of Rome

Chapter 7. To the Regions Beyond


  • Introduce several early Christian missionaries, including the ministry of Patrick
  • Note the importance of the Great Commission
  • Discuss the nature and goals of biblical discipleship

Notable Points:

  • Patrick
  • Boniface
  • Cyril and Methodius

Chapter 8. Light for the Dark Ages


  • Note God's use of monasteries to preserve His Word
  • Introduce the split between the Eastern and Western Churches
  • Explain the foundations of the Holy Roman Empire
  • Emphasize God's sovereignty over governments and leaders

Notable Points:

  • Alcuin
  • Charlemagne
  • John Asser

Chapter 9. Christendom Divided


  • Note the causes and catalyst for the Great Schism
  • Review attitudes that lead to conflict in the church
  • Discuss essential points of agreement for Christian unity

Notable Points:

  • Pope Leo IX
  • Humbert
  • Kassia

Chapter 10. The Crusades


  • Note the origin and early expansion of Islam
  • Define a crusade
  • Review biblical teaching on Christians and warfare
  • Outline several crusades and their impact

Notable Points:

  • Pope Urban II
  • Pope Innocent III

Chapter 11. Out of the Cloister


  • Note the growing divisions between clergy and laity in the Middle Ages
  • Explain the rise and mission of mendicant orders
  • Discuss the importance of service to the Christian life

Notable Points:

  • Dominic de Guzmán
  • Francis of Assisi

Chapter 12. A Turbulent Darkness


  • Note the difficulties of fourteenth-century Europe
  • Explain the origin and course of the Western Schism
  • Discuss the impact of the Council of Constance
  • Introduce the teachings of John Wycliffe and John Hus

Notable Points:

  • The Avignon Papacy
  • Catherine of Siena
  • John Wycliffe
  • John Hus

Chapter 13. The Light of the Word


  • Describe the state of the Roman Catholic Church at the beginning of the sixteenth century
  • Discuss the centrality of Scripture to the dawning Reformation
  • Note a few significant figures of the early Reformation

Briefly introduces...

  • Pope Leo X
  • The Council of Trent
  • Erasmus
  • Ulrich Zwingli
  • Martin Luther
God's Prevailing Work
God's Prevailing Work
Learn More >

Copyright info

God’s Prevailing Work: Themes in Church History, AD 30–1517

by CJ Harris, PhD

Contributions from Michelle Harris, MA

Cover and layout design by Shannon Brown

Illustrations by Justin Gerard

Editing and development by Jim Lord, Christa Lord, and Duncan Johnson

Copyright © 2018 Positive Action for Christ. All rights reserved.

As always, we trust these materials will help you magnify the majesty of God to your students. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us—we’d love to hear from you!

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