I have been on such a journey. If you don’t understand the title of “Church History & The MAZE”, please read previous article. If you read several previous articles you will find a growing vision of “The Cross”, as I have read these early church fathers, of which I just downloaded today another 2,000 pages! This last week, Billy Graham himself, gave us another reminder of the Cross. And oddly enough, even a movie “Maze Runner 3” left us hanging as to what would “you” do if your blood could save the world? Do you give yourself to it so others can live, but your life becomes a continual sacrifice?
A lot of odd things going on for those who have eyes to see. I asked my wife the other day, (after reading some “David Platt”); I asked her, “Why is it if a Muslim decides to receive Christ as his Lord, he has to pay such a high price, whereas, we have had to pay so little, such a low price?” And then I asked, “Have we REALLY been asked to pay a low price, or have we been asked the same price, but just have not paid it?”
Now I know what you are saying, “Salvation is free, you idiot! Don’t you know that!” Ahem…well yes I do. BUT…maybe I should have said “to live out the salvation we have freely received.” (Better?)
After all, if we do not live it out…does it do us any good to have it? Are we not one of the bad grounds in which the seed never lived? And as I have read these early church fathers, and stories of Christians in countries where they cut out your tongue for speaking the name of Jesus, I realize what a low price I have paid. Did I just happen to hit a “SALE”, a Blue Light special on Jesus? Did I find him at the Goodwill store. (Well, in a way you could say that, it was a place of good will and good news.)
But…our conversation continued: “I personally pay nothing for salvation and yet it is supposed to cost me everything, per Romans 12:1-2 and many many many other scriptures. The early church fathers knew this…and Polycarp knew this when he took a stand about how the Bishop of Rome was wanting to change Easter, or Passover. We have not gotten into this yet, but we will…and it is very very very rich!
What salvation actually cost me is “my surrender”. How much have I surrendered? How much is a Blue Light special surrender worth? They say you get what you pay for. Scripture says he who gives little will receive little, and he who gives much will receive much. My Blue Light special Jesus?
Our surrender is a call to crucify the monster we were born and embrace real love. This can only happen by the power of God as we care enough to SEEK HIM and show we really want it, followed by OBEDIENCE. Our surrender looks strangely enough like a cross.
You see, the CROSS is not only a picture of God’s love for us, but also a picture of our love for him. How’s your picture looking these days?
In my searching I have been almost blinded by the light of a revelation of Jesus shifting everything from cold hard Temples, to a relationship developed at warm and loving Tables. From there, the “Dove”, the “Cross”, and “Love” have become a template by which I can measure every action I still choose to commit and every path I choose to walk.
I have reached a point where I am convinced the Lord’s Supper is the “KEY” to everything. I am convinced that Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, probably even the Bishop in charge when Jesus gave them a report card in Revelation, he probably knew it was the Key too, and also the Apostle John, whom he learned under. But evidently some Bishops of Rome did not agree on this, and in this I see a fork in the road revealing all. I have been amazed at the mystery of history unfolding in the evidence I have examined.
So…let me start here. The first “Christian Mystic” we looked at was Origen, and we did an article on him that is dated as Feb. 15, 2018, if you want to examine it. He will be spoken of more as time goes by, as well as other Christian Mystics. But for today it is time we introduce what are considered some of the early church father “SUPERSTARS”. At this point I would group them as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. All three these guys became Bishops appointed by Apostles. (Some say Bishop Linus was the first Bishop of Rome, who was oddly enough connected to Paul, more than Peter. The order of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Bishops of Rome are a little foggy, but no serious problem.)
I call these guys “Superstars” because their testimonies are above reproach, which makes them very valuable as far as whether to trust their leadership on “issues” that arise. These men not only were discipled directly by Apostles, but proved themselves so faithful, and able to fulfill the role of Bishop, that Apostles appointed them as Bishops over churches. They went on to fulfill those roles even unto a martyrs death! You can examine these three as much as you want, but they were all highly regarded even by those who would follow them, of whom more of their writings have survived.
I’ve read and examined Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians and find it awe inspiring, scripture confirming in every way, enlightening in unexpected ways, and just what I would expect from a disciple of the Apostle John. One of his biggest and dearest points was maintaining UNITY in the church!
So…when I show you that Polycarp got into a big contention with the Bishops of Rome, concerning the Passover, believe me this is no small thing! It is weird the way I actually begin to see something that seems a little different, a little odd, starting with the 6th Bishop of Rome! (6, as in the number of man/flesh/sin/etc.) Very odd, I know. But anyway, be that as it may…Polycarp would not have taken this stand unless he felt very strong about this.
He lived to be very old before being martyred. A lot of these early guys did not. Perhaps God kept him around for this very reason. Perhaps he got something from the Apostle John. Whatever the case, if you examine him, you will find nothing but a very humble Superstar for God and the church. He ran his race and served faithfully through all kinds of circumstances most of us will never see. (I hope.)
The Table is now set for us to get into the meat of this in the next article. I hope you realize how important these early church decisions are. After all, compare it to trying to send a rocket to the moon. You may be off by only a teeny tiny bit from the earth on your trajectory course, but by the time you get to the moon, you’re going to be LOST IN SPACE! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
So in the meantime, ponder the Cross, our cross, our price. Pray for our fellow believers in hostile countries. Remember the Dove, the Cross, and Love. Think about how the Lord’s Supper and the Passover relates to all this. Don’t forget Billy Graham’s funeral this last week and his reminder of the Cross. And I might add, I had no vision of all this when I painted the Cross big, bold, and bright upon my Teepee. (More coming soon.)