Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Martyr Moment: the Overseer of the church at Rome, Felix

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:
  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Text from Foxe's Book of Martyrs

We left off with the conclusion of the eighth persecution under Emperor Valerian. Here we begin The Ninth Persecution Under Aurelian, A.D. 274.

From the modern language version of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, it is stated that "Historians know Aurelian as the Roman Emperor who held the barbarians in check beyond the Rhine River and regained Britain, Gaul, Spain, Syria, and Egypt for the Empire. Christans know him as just another barbarian and persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ."

The overseer of the church at Rome, Felix, was the first martyr during Aurelian's reign. Felix was beheaded in AD 274. Agapetus, a young gentleman, who sold his estate, and gave the money to the poor, was seized as a Christian, tortured, and then beheaded at Praeneste, a city within a day's journey of Rome.

These are the only martyrs left upon record during this reign, as it was soon put to a stop by the emperor's being murdered by his own domestics, at Byzantium. Aurelian was succeeded by Tacitus, who was followed by Probus, as the latter was by Carus: this emperor being killed by a thunder storm, his sons, Carnious and Numerian, succeeded him, and during all these reigns the Church had peace.
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The Christian rarely has peace on this earth. Even while the Apostles were laying the foundation of the church, spiritual war erupted in the heavenlies and satan sent his minions to lob weapons of false doctrines and false teachers to enter the church and sow tares. Spiritual war is continuous and we are never at real peace.

Though when our church and its doctrines are being attacked in the heavenlies by false prophets, AND we are being attacked in the earthly realm by bodily threats, harm, and death, it is a wonder that the church remains alive at all.

Thank the Lord that He is the Overseer of the Church at Earth and in Heaven! He is powerful enough that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18).

It is only by His power and His Spirit that we have true, inner, spiritual peace, being reconciled to God once again. When Jesus comes in His glory, then all the saints will also have the peace that eludes us on earth, freedom from sin's effects, and freedom to proclaim His name without persecution. I can't wait for that day.

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