Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Martyr Moment: Victor, Leonidus, Basilides

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

The Fifth Persecution, Commencing with Severus, A.D. 192

For a short period, Severus was favorable toward Christians, because it was said that he recovered from a severe illness after being ministered to by a Christian. It wasn't long though, before the full fury and prejudice of Rome's citizens prevailed and obsolete laws were revived and used against the And once again, they were blamed and punished for every natural misfortune that occurred. A.D. 192.

But, though persecuting malice raged, the Gospel still shone with resplendent brightness. Firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success. The Lord added to His body throughout the Roman Empire. Tertullian, the Carthaginian who converted to Christianity about 193 AD, informs us that if the Christians had collectively withdrawn themselves from the Roman territories, the empire would have been nearly empty.

During this persecution, Victor, bishop of Rome, was martyred in 201 AD. Leonidus, father of Origen, the Greek Christian philosopher known for his interpretations of the Old Testament, was beheaded. Many of Origen's hearers also suffered martyrdom: particularly two brothers, named Plutarchus and Serenus; another Serenus, Heron, and Heraclides, were beheaded. Rhais had boiled pitch poured upon her head, and was then burnt, as was Marcella her mother. Potainiena, the sister of Rhais, was executed in the same manner as Rhais had been; but Basilides, an officer belonging to the army, and ordered to attend her execution, became her convert.

Basilides was later required to swear an oath to Roman idols, and said he could not, as he was a Christian. At first those who heard him could not believe what they had heard, but when he repeated it, he was dragged before a judge, condemned and quickly executed.

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What an amazing God we have! When one genuinely converts, He places the Holy Spirit in us to help us in all our Christian life- in prayer, in study, in resisting sin, and in proclaiming Him. Basilides was firm in his convictions even in the face of death. This kind of clinging to the faith can only be done under the influence and strength of the Holy Spirit, Whom we give all due praise.

Just as firmly, the evil spirit that influences the world, satan, wants to stamp out all occurrences of such genuine faith as fast as he can. Do not think that satan ignores you. No one is too lowly or too marginal for satan to know about. He had his eye on the lowly officer Basilides in the one corner of the Roman Empire, and when he converted incited the people and the court officers to dispatch Basilides quickly. In Luke 4:13 it says "And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time." He never quits, that old beast! Stamp out the light! cries satan, never understanding that the Light is eternal.

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Father, we thank You that the light of Jesus burns in us forever. Foxe wrote that even though malice tried to reign, Your gospel shone with resplendent brightness! Let our light shine so brightly that the devil mus shield his eyes when we pass by, and let it penetrate even the darkest heart filled with malice against You. Amen


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