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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)

TITLE: FINAL COUNTDOWN
By Kenneth Heath
08/31/08


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FINAL COUNTDOWN.


“Whom will you serve?” The Roman Proconsul asked. “Is it Christ or Caesar?” “Christ” said Polycarp without a moment’s hesitation. By confessing Christ, Polycarp knew he had sealed his fate.

It was A.D. 155 and following the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the subsequent birth of Christianity, persecution was an everyday reality to those who chose to follow Christ. The Romans would not tolerate worship other than to Caesar, their god, so Christians were brought before the Roman tribunals to play the ultimate game of Truth or Dare.

They were told to choose between the truths of Christ or face the dare of death for their faith. Christians knew that they could not worship both Jehovah and Caesar; therefore, many chose to die rather than to renounce Jesus.

The Roman amphitheatres became places of horror and death as tens of thousands of Jews and Gentiles, who had accepted Jesus as the Messiah were put to death. They were lashed to poles in the centre of the amphitheatres and eaten alive by wild animals. Women were crucified on crosses that stood around the perimeter; with their murdered babies hang around their necks.

Before being thrown to the lions, those early Christians were given a last chance to recant. Some did, and bowing before the statue of Caesar, they said “Caesarus este kurios”- Caesar is Lord. However, the vast majority, having been transformed by the power of the living Christ, refused to deny him. They went to their death singing, “Christus este kurios”-Christ is Lord.

Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna, having been appointed by John himself. When brought before the Roman Proconsul, he was instructed to curse Christ or die.

“Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

When threatened with death by fire, he said, “You threaten me with a fire which will burn for an hour and then will go out, but you are ignorant of the fire of the future judgement of God reserved for the everlasting torment of the ungodly.”

Sentenced to death by burning, Polycarp requested not to be nailed in place, promising that, “He who grants me to endure the fire will enable me to remain on the pyre unmoved.”

In his final prayer, he prayed, ”Oh Father, I thank You, that You have called me to this day and hour and have counted me worthy to receive my place among your holy martyrs. Amen.” When he had offered up the Amen and finished his prayer, the fireman lighted the fire.

Eye witnesses stated the following; “A mighty flame flashed forth, and we to whom it was given to witness, saw a marvel. Yes, indeed, we were preserved that we might relate to the rest what happened. The fire with the appearance of a vault, like the sail of a vessel, filled by the wind, made a wall round about Polycarp, leaving him unharmed. In addition, there was in the midst, a presence, not like flesh burning but like gold and silver refined in a furnace. In addition, we perceived such a fragrant smell, as if it was the wafted odour of Frankincense or some other precious spice.”

“So at length the lawless men, seeing that his body could not be consumed by fire, ordered the executioner to go up to him and stab him with a dagger. And when he had done this, there came forth a large quantity of blood, so that it extinguished the fire, and all the multitude marveled that there should be so great a difference between the unbelievers and the elect.” After Polycarp died, the fire was lit again, and his body was cremated.

The sands of time have almost run out for this worlds’ system. Fast approaching is the time when you will be required to play the final game of “Truth or Dare.” Are you going to say “Satan is lord” or are you going to say “Christ is Lord”? The choice is yours and will come at a cost. Your physical life!

Revelation 12 says; “They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Believer, hold fast to your faith, take a deep breath and smell the sweet presence of Jesus. He is the only Truth, come on, I dare you, choose eternal life by choosing Christ.


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This article has been read 419 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Murray09/04/08
YES
Patty Wysong09/08/08
What an account! I'd not heard this before--it makes for a very moving 'case'. Well done.
Arlene Showalter 09/10/08
I enjoyed this immensely! And the author is 100% correct...the day will come when we all may be called upon to play Truth or Dare.

I cannot verify this...but was told years ago...that the Romans had to give up killing the Christians because too many soldiers were becoming believers after seeing the faith and joy of the dying martyrs! What a testimony!!
Patricia Turner09/10/08
An awesome well written account of this actual historical event.
Norma-Anne Hough09/18/08
Hi ken,
Well done. What a testimony to the rest of us. Quite an awesome story.
Love Norms