Following Jesus 94

The early church pastor named Polycarp is a celebrated figure in the history of the church. A direct pupil of the apostle John, Polycarp lived between 70 and 155 A.D., connecting him to both the biblical apostles and the age of the early church fathers.
He achievements include his letters written to the church at Philippi, in which he encourages the members to remain strong in their faith and to flee from materialism. He also instructs the members in the proper handling of financial dishonesty that was creeping into the church.
Polycarp served as the pastor of the church at Smyrna (modern day Izmir), and was recognized as one of the early combatants of doctrinal  heresies. He rejected the teachings of Marcion, an influential heretic who tried to redefine God and rejected Old Testament teachings. In his well-known thesis, Polycarp combated Gnostic heresies that were beginning to spread throughout the Christian church.
Polycarp's greatest contribution to Christianity may be his martyr’s death. His martyrdom stands as one of the most well documented events of history.
Rome had unleashed bitter attacks against the Christians during this time period, and members of the early church recorded many of the persecutions and deaths. Polycarp was arrested on the charge of being a Christian -- a member of a politically dangerous cult whose rapid growth needed to be stopped.
Facing an angry mob, the Roman governor took pity on such an old man and urged Polycarp to proclaim, "Caesar is Lord". If only Polycarp would make this declaration and offer a small pinch of incense to Caesar's statue he would escape torture and death. To this Polycarp responded, "Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" Steadfast in his stand for Christ, Polycarp refused to compromise his beliefs, and thus, was burned alive at the stake.
Polycarp's martyrdom is a historical reality. He died for one reason - his unyielding faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Yet Polycarp's well-recorded death is only one of many lives that were given to reveal and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. In light of the cruel and torturous deaths of the first and second generation Christians, all theories that Christianity was a myth, created for the personal gain of its followers, was rejected. Even today, many will die for a belief, but none will die for a lie.
Polycarp's life and death provides an inspirational example for all Christians. He gave his earthly life for Christ, and in the midst of his sacrifice, he gained eternal life.
Talking Points
  • Read this upcoming week 2 Timothy 3:1-4:5. Meditate upon God’s descriptions of a living and pleasing church in the last days. 
  • How may you please the Lord this upcoming week? 

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