Wigtown Martyrs – The Promised Crown of Life“As the waters overtook the matron martyr the younger woman was implored by her friends to give in to her persecutors, yet she continued to pray and recited verses from the 25th Psalm. Her executioners continued to try to break her and she was “Dragged half-dead from the waters, [and] urged again ‘to pray for the king’…. She had already been overwhelmed in the horrors of death; the black devouring floods were hissing at her feet, as if greedy for their prey; life, and the sweets of life, inviting her one way; death, in one of his most wild and horrific forms, yawning to swallow her up the other way.The Martyrdom of Polycarp - The Promised Crown of LifeThe early church was hated by the society and government of the Roman Empire for various reasons, such as the refusal of Christians to sacrifice to the gods. The Empire went through many phases of demanding that the Christians sacrifice — which meant denying their faith — or be killed. The earliest attacks claimed the lives of many of the apostles.
This text is the story, from around 160 AD, of the martyrdom of Polycarp, the Bishop of the church in Smyrna, a city in Asia Minor (modern Izmir in Turkey) devoted to Roman worship. The account is in the form of a letter from eye-witnesses to other churches in the area. It is the earliest chronicle of a martyrdom outside the New Testament.The First Tremor: Peter Waldo - Pre-Reformation ReformerMore than three hundred years before Martin Luther was born, an unlikely reformer suddenly appeared in the city of Lyon in southeast France. His protests against doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church were strong tremors foretelling the coming spiritual earthquake called the Reformation. And the movement he launched survived to join the great Reformation. He is known to history as Peter Waldo.Patrick Hamilton Scottish Martyr - The Promised Crown of LifeIn 1528 the powerful Archbishop of St. Andrews summoned Hamilton, saying he wished to have a debate. However, it was a ruse, and before Hamilton’s influential friends could muster any support, a church court hurriedly found him guilty of heresy. (While heresy trials ordinarily took weeks, Hamilton’s was rushed through in a mere twelve hours.)
In contrast to the trial, the punishment was long. It took six hours for Hamilton to die by burning at the stake. A witness of the execution noted that the martyr “never gave one sign of impatience or anger, nor ever called to heaven for vengeance upon his persecutors.”The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste - The Promised Crown of Life"The tried Christian shall be a crowned one. The crown of life is promised to all who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God, shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above, where love is made perfect." Matthew Henry, Jame 1:12 CommentaryDavid Brainerd (1718–1747) - Article by John PiperAs a result of the immense impact of Brainerd’s devotion on his life, Jonathan Edwards wrote, in the next two years, The Life of David Brainerd, which has been reprinted more often than any of Edwards’s other books. And through this Life, the impact of Brainerd on the church has been incalculable. Beyond all the famous missionaries who tell us that they have been sustained and inspired by Brainerd’s Life, how many countless other unknown faithful servants must there be who have found from Brainerd’s testimony the encouragement and strength to press on!Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) - Article by John PiperIf you look at Jonathan Edwards from the wrong standpoint, everything is wrong. Some people look at him as a great eighteenth-century thinker, writer, and preacher, and that is as far as they go.
But Edwards’s thinking, writing, and preaching are what they are because of what he was. And we will be helped most if we see something of what John De Witt meant when he wrote, “[Edwards] was greatest in his attribute of regnant, permeating, irradiating spirituality” (quoted in Jonathan Edwards, xvii). Behind the greatness of his thought was the greatness of his soul. And his soul was great because it was filled with the fullness of God. In our day we need to see his God — and the soul that saw this God.Adoniram Judson missionary to Burma - by Eugene M. HarrisonIn a day when the cause of world evangelism is so sadly languishing, it will be a humbling and inspiring experience for the Christians of America to turn aside and expose their souls afresh to the story of one who was magnificently captivated by the love of Christ. The love of Christ was his hope, his incentive, and his consolation. The love of Christ sang and sobbed and shouted its way through all the changing scenes, manifold trials and monumental accomplishments of the five great epochs of his life.Athanasius (298–373) Article by John PiperAthanasius stared down murderous intruders into his church. He stood before emperors who could have killed him as easily as exiling him. He risked the wrath of parents and other clergy by consciously training young people to give their all for Christ, including martyrdom. He celebrated the fruit of his ministry with these words: “in youth they are self-restrained, in temptations endure, in labors persevere, when insulted are patient, when robbed make light of it: and, wonderful as it is, they despise even death and become martyrs of Christ” — martyrs not who kill as they die, but who love as they die (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, 65).William Carey - The Great Commission: THE MASTER'S SEMINARYWilliam Carey was the man whom God used almost single-handedly to bring the Great Commission back to the forefront of the church’s thinking. Commonly recognized today as “the father of modern missions,” Carey came on the scene during a period of evangelical lethargy. Paralyzed by hyper-Calvinism and a general apathy towards the lost, most churches in England believed that if God wanted to save sinners, he did not need the participation of men.Prince of Translators: William Tyndale- Ligonier Ministries"Let it not make thee despair, neither yet discourage thee, O reader, that it is forbidden thee in pain of life and goods, or that it is made breaking of the king's peace, or treason unto his highness, to read the Word of thy soul's health—for if God be on our side, what matter maketh it who be against us, be they bishops, cardinals, popes."