I've discussed martyrdom on this blog before (see here). This post is a little different. People don't read books much anymore and as much as I would love to change that it's outside my power to do so. However, most people will sit down and enjoy a movie. It's getting harder and harder to recommend movies that are great for the whole family. Thankfully this movie is an exception.
There is an excellent new movie about the martyr Polycarp. It is just called Polycarp and is available here. Now it's not a perfect movie. For instance it has nothing regarding Baptism and the Lord's Supper which would have been a vital part of the Early Church's life. Overlooking that though, there is much to commend here - for the entire family. The best part about this movie is that it shows Christians struggling with how to respond to persecution and martyrdom. This is the main point of the movie and it excels in this. And because it excels in this it is a great encouragement to young and old as we contemplate the possible coming persecution even here in our own country.
If you want to read about Polycarp and his martyrdom check this out.
Preaching on Sanctification
From the Reverend Heath Curtis: How should we talk with our people about living a godly life? How should we encourage them to progress in godly living and yet not fall into works righteousness? We could start by just telling them about what the struggle is like. Gerhard does a good job, I think:
In the beginning the desire is more clouded, the assent more languid, the obedience less intense, and these gifts must increase. But they grow in us not like lilies of the field but by trying, wrestling, seeking, asking, knocking, and "this is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God.” The Savior says in Matt. 13:12, “It will be given to him who has.” Whoever has received very small spiritual gifts from God should acknowledge them with a grateful mind, asked that they be increased, and neglect no opportunities to advance in piety. To him it will be given that he may be the richer, but from him who does not have, that is, from him who behaves as if he had received nothing from God, even what he has will be taken away.
This was taken from http://gottesdienstonline.blogspot.com/2013/04/gerhard-on-preaching-sanctification.html.
Offended by Our Church Customs
This is a fantastic section from Walther on church customs:
We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them. . . . It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism in outward things. It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won’t accuse us of being Roman Catholic! Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them? We are not insisting that there be uniformity in perception or feeling or taste among all believing Christians-neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he. Nevertheless, it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extent that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are merely addressed or instructed, while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world. . . . Someone may ask, “What would be the use of uniformity of ceremonies? We answer, “What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers.” (Walther, Essays for the Church, I:194)
A place for Pastor Packer to post articles, links, and his own thoughts.