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As the Acts of the Apostles draws to a close we can be left asking what happens next. Our studies in early church history begin with two disciples of the Apostle John. From the Revelation we know that John was imprisoned on the island of Patmos. But the ministry of the gospel continues in Antioch and Smyrna with Ignatius and Polycarp, two church leaders who had been discipled by John.

Ignatius came from Ephesus and became the bishop of Antioch. He led the church to take its stand against those who questioned the deity of Christ. There were those who were teaching that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were figurative than actual. This questioned the gospel message. Ignatius took his stand and defended the truth of the gospel, a truth we stand on today.

Polycarp lived in Smyrna and led the church there into his 80s. Polycarp stands out in church history as the first Christmas to have their persecution documented. He showed grace to the end and would not recant his faith. He was burned at the stake, but his strong defence of the gospel has comforted and strengthen Christmas martyrs throughout the generations.

The Life of the Church – Learning our Church History is a teaching series from Annalong Presbyterian Church. For videos and handouts visit

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David McCullagh:

Now, we're beginning a new series, um, I think I've told you before, I love the Old Testament and that's why perhaps the Tabernacle was a study that I particularly enjoyed because it got into a little bit of that. Um, coming a second closer, I do love church history. Um, and one of the reasons for that is you're going to discover a quote. Um, on your, uh, on your handout in just a moment. Uh, in our house we enjoy one or two, uh, programs. Uh, Silent Witness, if you're familiar with it. Um, I can't even remember the rest of them. There was one on Forgotten. Uh, there was a Canadian one as well, I can't remember what it was called, the Coroner I think. And it's that idea of what the past can teach us today in discovering how murders were committed but also who done them and it's, it's murder mystery but it's from a different perspective. And it's one of those shows that you're, you're trying to follow that trail because the trail does lead to today. And we do that with our, our family. history as well. We do it whenever we think about where we've come from. And I suppose that's what always fascinates me whenever I'm putting together a tribute for someone whose funeral service I will conduct. You learn of people who perhaps started life on the shore road and They were maybe the last in the children, so the fishing industry wasn't for them. There wasn't enough room, and so they ended up moving up country, perhaps to a maternal farm, and ended up being farmers. And so, all of a sudden, from becoming a fishing family, they became a farming family, and for generations. That's all that particular family have known, and in this age in which we're living, and I've had a few of these experiences myself, where families have moved away from Manilong to find work whenever. Uh, we had our first storm in Parliament and the civil service was, was growing, or there was work up in Belfast. And so families moved and they became city families. But yet they always retained a connection. But as soon as they came home, you knew they weren't from here. You knew they were those city people. Even though they grew up here, they changed. And they became defined, even defining themselves as city people. Because if they were truly honest, they enjoyed coming to Annalong. for the holidays, but perhaps not to live, because we were just that little bit further out from the bus route. Nowadays, you're further out, uh, from the internet service, I think is the major complaint. So we like to know who we are and where we've come from. And that's the significance of church history. And whether you wanted to call it church history, maybe that's too academic for you, maybe you just want to call it the story of the church, whatever you want to call it. The 2, 000 years that we will cover in the next decade of Midweek Series, perhaps, define who we are today. Not just in our theology that we might look back to only 500 years ago, or more recently what has shaped and defined church today and what previous generations have done. But right at the very beginning, 2, 000 years ago, after we leave the Acts of the Apostles, we jump to Um, what we understand and learn today. And so as we begin this evening, we're calling this Direct Beginnings. Because there is a direct connection. We, we simply don't drop off Acts 28 and wonder what happened. There are people who were known in the biblical text who continue, uh, through writings that are extra biblical and tell us what life was like for them. And we'll look at two of those this evening. But the first of all is, why learn our church history? Well, church history is beneficial to us. As I've said, church history tells us who we are today. Not just about what we believe, but also our practice. Why do we, particularly here in Annalong, use shortbread and not pan bread? That's our church history. Why is there a T junction Church in County R Ma? When I say T Junction, it's in the form of a T equal lengths in every wave coming from the pulpit, and they put tables down the aisle and they sit at table for the Lord's Supper. That's their church history, but it's not ours. But the commonality is we sing from a blue hymn book, the revised hymn book, or perhaps our practices in how we lift the collection. That's our practice, which goes hand in hand with also what we believe. And so as we look over certain figures and certain events, it'll define why we do what we do, but it'll define why we believe what we believe. And one current, uh, professor, he's actually president of the Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, uh, Stephen J. Nichols said this, and this is the first quote there in italics, uh, about a quarter of the way down your handout. The past enriches our lives in surprising ways. In our past, our family history, we see examples of faithful disciples. We can be encouraged and even inspire, inspired by their faithfulness. But far more, we see examples of God's faithfulness to his people. And I read that a while ago and I thought, that's, that's pretty good. If you want a reason of why we do it, that's it there, because actually we call it church history, but it's the story of God at work in human history and we must remember that it is his story. It's not ours, and I think it's key of what's, how we understand this moving forward, that church history, the story of the church only works. when we understand it through the Holy Spirit. Presbyterians are given a short straw, I believe, in how we look and perceive the Holy Spirit. Just because we don't do it like others doesn't mean we don't have a firm belief in the working of the Holy Spirit. And this is where it begins. It begins in the salvation of generations before us. It works in the revivals and in the movements, missionary movements of the church that not only spread from Jerusalem into all the world, but spread across Africa, Asia, South America. Even America itself at a time had to be evangelized. And so the Holy Spirit was at work and has been at work and will continue to be at work and that's what we're going to see. That actually, church history is the history of the Holy Spirit at work in all places and in all times. And that's what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians chapter 10 and verse, uh, sorry, chapter 1 and verse 10. That it was he who delivered us from such a deadly peril and he will deliver us. On Him, we have set our hope that He will deliver us again. See, when we learn the movement of God through His Spirit, when we see Him at work, as we will particularly see it in these two first characters this evening, well then we see how God will deliver us in the future. As we've known God in the past, so we will know Him for today, and we will know Him for the future. Supported by Scripture, of how we see God work in the Biblical text. As well as the testimonies that we will now hear over these next number of weeks of people from our past Who will tell us how faithful God has been. So where to begin? Whenever you're thinking of church history, it's a good question. Where could you begin? You could start in the garden if you wanted to. You could start, uh, whenever we picked up that series that we did, um, last year or the blank page in your Bible a couple of years ago, we could have picked up there as we enter into the formation of the church with the coming of Jesus Christ. Well, we're actually going to begin with what's key. in Acts chapter 1 verses 6 to 11 and the ascension of Jesus. So we're going to read that. If you do have your Bibles, turn to it there. Acts chapter 1 and verses 6 to 11. The text says, So when they had come together, they asked him, Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them, It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you'll receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven, As he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes and said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as he saw, as you saw him go into heaven. Amen. This is the Word of God. So this is where we begin. The ascension of Jesus Christ because it's in this moment that the disciples are told what to do They're told to go out and we know the Great Commission We have it in Matthew 28 go into all the world, but but here we have what they're to do Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria Some people have looked at that as a, a circle. Jerusalem is the inner circle, where they were, going out to Samaria, the countries around them, or, or sorry, Judea, the countryside around them, and then out to Samaria, to the world around them. That's nearly too limiting, because it's geographical. If we think of it in these terms, Jerusalem was where they knew, the people they knew, begin there, then go to the countryside you knew. the people that you know, the culture that's familiar within Judea, and then go to Samaria, the beginning of the Gentile world, and there, mixed with a culture you don't know, and spread out through to the ends of the earth. That's perhaps a better way to view that than, than simply, uh, that's just three circles. But what's happening in each, to the area and people you know. Then to the countryside, that's familiar, but it's a culture that is known. Then going beyond that and even more into the pagan culture and into all the world. But notice what Jesus says. He says this will happen when you will receive power. from the Holy Spirit that's going to come upon you, and then you will be my witnesses. That's why we see this as a movement and as a work of the Holy Spirit. The church can only move as the Spirit leads. The church is obedient to the Spirit. The great missionary movements of the past have been faithful in where they have gone and in the message they have proclaimed. And as we go in step with the Spirit, then we know that God will bless his work in his way. And so the life and witness of the Church throughout all of time has been led by the Spirit and must be led by the Spirit. Spirit led and Spirit filled, and that's why we recognize the Holy Spirit at work in our Church history. But we're not going to go through Acts. We're already, or we've already done that and are at a certain point along the way. We're going to jump to the end of Acts because that's where we really begin. That's why this is entitled Direct Beginnings. Because we're going to really pick up where Acts leaves off. And so as the canon of Scripture closes, We have Revelation, and Acts of the Apostles, and Revelation, certainly the first couple of chapters, that is, the letters to the seven churches, are inextricably linked. You can't read the seven letters to the seven churches unless you understand the Acts of the Apostles. Because it is to those very churches that Jesus is speaking. And so as we finish the Acts of the Apostles, we know Paul is on his way to Rome. He's there because that's what he wanted to. He wanted to go because of appealing to Caesar. And we have that there in Acts 25 and verse 11. And Acts closes in A. D. 63. And this is what we learn at the close of that. Speaking of Paul, he lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. And there you have Paul, even though he's waiting to be tried by Caesar. He, he's still proclaiming the truth. He's an older man now, it's likely the year after Paul is martyred. We don't have records of that, but it's most likely Paul dies in A. D. 64. And so we, we leave Paul doing what he's been doing since his conversion, proclaiming the good news. So what happens after this? What happens to the church after A. D. 64? Well, you know I like to give you as much as I can. We're not going to look at this in any detail. So, top of page 2 there, there's a grid, um, and it's on the screen as well, and this grid is a, a bit of an idea of how the Acts of the Apostles work. And so you see here, anywhere between A. D. 64 and 67, Paul and Peter are martyred. And it's during the time of Nero, but of course it's also the time of the Great Fire. And so most of the persecution came because of the Great Fire, which was started by Nero but blamed on the Christians. And so we don't know exactly when, but somewhere between those years at the bottom of that grid, 64 to 67, Peter and Paul are martyred. And it's only verbal tradition. that teaches us that. And that's important for us to understand as we go into this evening because we're going to look at two people and their names are Ignatius and Polycarp. Now I grew up with a lot of people around me called Ignatius I didn't grow up with anyone around me called Polycarp. I don't know anybody called Polycarp, but in Cady there were a few Ignatiuses along the way. I don't know if you've any in Annalong, but I grew up with being a familiar name. Um, I could never understand what a nickname for Ignatius would be, or a shortened version, so we're not going to try that this evening. Anybody know or heard of Ignatius, as in this Ignatius we're talking about, and Polycarp? Good. I see heads nodding, and I see you going, Nope, don't have a clue. Well, in the days of Polaroid cameras, I'm delighted to be able to show you pictures of them, or at least etchings of what they look like. You have them there. Ignatius. Ignatius means to ignite. Ignatius. And polycarp means many fish. And there's no better name for these two fathers of the church. As we'll discover, Ignatius really did ignite. Something he ignited truth in the church, Polycarp, uh, the, what we would call the first to be persecuted because we have a written detail of his persecution, his martyrdom. Uh, he really was, uh, someone who gathered many fish because in his ministry where he was 86, he was allowed to continue ministering until he was 86. He, he truly was the one who, who discipled many of the church fathers for the generations that would follow him. And so that, these are the two we're going to look at, but the reason why we're going to start is because they have direct connections to Scripture. Because both of these men were disciples of John the Apostle. Have you ever wondered what happened to the disciples? Because they, they were in what we call the rabbinic tradition. Jesus was their rabbi. Jesus was their teacher. That meant that a rabbi gathered people around him who he would invest in, who he would train and instruct. And what that was supposed to do was for them to become rabbis in due course, so that they would gather people around them. Now we don't have the rabbinic system now, but we have something similar. We call it discipling. So John Disciple as a disciple, he discipled Ignatius and Polycarp. Now, we don't know this, uh, through the biblical text, but in what is called the martyrdom of Polycarp, the record of, of what happened to his life, we're told that both these two men, um, were disciples of John. In fact, Polycarp went on to, or he discipled Erren, or who is the next church father? that will come in a timeline for us. And so it was one disciple discipling another, discipling another, and so we have this line of succession of discipleship that brings us to who we are today. So the Apostle John, who by this stage is on Patmos, um, receiving the revelation, um, Polycarp and Ignatius are in faith, have been discipled, and are now in their places of Antioch. So let's begin by looking at Ignatius the Bishop of Antioch. He was born roughly around 35 AD and he was born in Ephesus. And we're going to hear a lot of these place names because they're places that have been on Paul's missionary journey. So he was born in Ephesus. We know that Timothy was in Ephesus, and so it's most likely that he benefited from that instruction. And as I've said, he was a disciple of John the Apostle. But he, he did go on, uh, rather quickly, uh, to the church in Ephesus and minister there. Or sorry, the church in Antioch. Um, he's from Ephesus, a great city, a great place of learning, and a great heritage for him, and we understand that he was martyred in AD 110. So he lived a good age too, but not much is known about what he did in his teaching and in his ministry, um, because it wasn't necessarily written down. We know some of his epistles, his letters, and that's what we're going to look at briefly this evening. And what, uh, Ignatius is known for and why is he, why he is important for us is that he stood firm against false teachers. Uh, this is something that plagued the church. We know it because, uh, John dealt with it himself. He was telling the people to stand firm, and there was a belief in the days of Ignatius that Jesus didn't really come in human form. It was more than a story. In that there was a real person, but it was implied rather than a reality. And this troubled Ignatius, as you can understand, but you have to understand the culture of the time as well. This is all new. Nothing's written down. There's no scripture to go to and contend with. Rather, it's what the Apostles have taught, because isn't that what the early church did in Acts 4? They listened to the Apostles teaching, and that's how the church was formed in its understanding of salvation. of Christology, and who Christ was, and what atonement was, and redemption. And so now this second generation are taking that, and they're the ones who, along with the Apostles, are starting to write down. And so in the epistles of Ignatius, he is writing to the church to warn them. And in fact, it's there, he quotes in the middle of the text there, um, I think it's over on page three. He's writing and he tells the church to say, look, when you hear false teaching about this, when you hear that there's issues with Jesus, close your ears. Don't listen to them. And you can understand why. And really, this nails for us our understanding of salvation. Because from this moment of Ignatius, we continue to believe the truth of salvation in the church. That Christ indeed did come, the deity, the God man. He did indeed die a death he did not deserve. He did indeed rise from the dead. And if you don't believe that, then you have no salvation. And so Ignatius was writing to the church to say, don't listen to this falsehood, don't listen to these people. This is, this is long before we get to the Gnostics, who have some secret knowledge. This is right in the very opening years of the church, where they're, they're starting to challenge what salvation is. That actually salvation is works and just pleasing God, going back to a Jewish way, rather than the way of Christ, understanding that he is the Son of God. And so what Ignatius fought in his epistles and ultimately what brought him to his martyrdom, we still stand on today. Salvation alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone. Now those terms were not adopted for a couple of hundred centuries or a couple of centuries later, but this is where it begins. And this is the battle that was fought in the church, in Antioch, and in the surrounding areas. So that the church would be strong in what it believed about salvation. And that's the heritage that we stand in today. The testimony of Ignatius makes us gospel centered people today. So whenever you go back and think of his name Ignatius, Ignite, he truly did ignite something. He ignited the truth about salvation and the gospel. that we benefit and rejoice in today. Well, let's move on to our second person who's called Polycarp. And Polycarp was born in A. D. 70. We don't exactly know where he was born, but we believe it to be Turkey or Asia Minor, as it was known in biblical times. And he, again, was a disciple of John the Apostle. But the difference with him, as I've said, is he went on to disciple others. He was born in Turkey and he ministered in Turkey because he went to Smyrna to that place that we read off in Revelation the letter to the church in Smyrna that we'll come to look at in a moment and he was martyred in A. D. 155 so here was a man who lived long and had a strong ministry and it's actually more the end of his life that we look at Antioch was a city much like, um, sorry, Smyrna was a city much like Antioch that was at the hub of Roman life. There were Roman rule but also Roman culture. and Roman God, gods and in the midst of all of this he managed to disciple, he managed to see conversion and as I said earlier he was a faithful teacher of Arrhenius, who was the next church father to come after them. So both of these two men are building on what has been, what already has been done. They're ministering to the second generation of believers following in the footsteps of Paul and of John. We want to look at, uh, Polycarp at the end of his life. Because Polycarp for us is about persecution. We know that others were persecuted. But we have no written literature that tells us in detail the level that we have about Polycarp. And so he really, it's not that he sets the example, but he gives us the truth of Of what the church was facing. And in Antioch there was, er, in Smyrna there was strife as much as there was in Antioch. But he kept going, but he became noticed as well. It was a port city. And so trade was coming in and out. And the problem in Smyrna, as well as the whole Christian world, is they were called atheists. Now that's ironic, isn't it? The Christians were actually called atheists. And the reason why they were called atheists was because they didn't believe in the pantheon of gods of the Roman culture. They only believed in one true God. And really, what was the clincher? Why they were really called atheists was because they didn't worship the Emperor as God. They didn't worship Caesar as God. And in Smyrna, it was Polycarp who took his stand. And in taking that stand, he led many to Christ. He wasn't afraid to stand up to the culture of his day and of his time. And he spoke for what was right and what was true. And you know, this attracted attention. The whole way in Rome with the Caesar of the time Trajan who orders directly from his palace the arrest and execution of Polycarp. Well Polycarp and Smyrna gets wind of this and so he runs and he hides. 86 years of age he goes and he hides and he hides out in an estate, in a barn, in an outhouse amidst the bales of hay, and eventually the Roman soldiers who have been tasked to find him with the arrest warrant track him down. They, uh, find him hiding in behind the bales. They see him, but more importantly, Polycarp sees them because he's, quite literally, the 86 year old man has run them ragged, and he sees that they're tired, and he sees that they're hungry. And he tells the master of the estate to prepare food for the Roman soldiers. And he willingly goes after they have rested, and after they've been fed, to face execution. Well, as Polycarp is brought, he's taken into what is a familiar scene. He's taken into an amphitheatre. And in this, this is an amphitheatre, maybe I shouldn't confess, this is an amphitheatre from our holidays. So you have one of our holiday pics on the back of your sheet there. That's simply to say, here's what it looks like, in case you've never really seen one before. We're not talking about the Colosseum. We're talking about local, provincial amphitheatres throughout the whole of the Roman Empire. This is one simply from a little place just above Florence in Italy. And here Polycarp was brought out on the center stage. And behind him in chains and shackles were other Christians who would be executed likewise. And the Roman official says to Polycarp, I want you to turn round and say to these Christians, Away with you atheists. And the whole reason for doing that was so that in doing it, Polycarp would actually recant his faith. Because if these were being tried for being Christians, and if they had a profession of faith in Christ, Polycarp was basically saying, You're atheists. He would have got himself off the hook, retired, and been fine to live out the rest of his days. But Polycarp, the man of many fish, took a stand that was bold and that was brave. In his 86 year old voice, he stood in front of that amphitheater. He didn't look at the Christians behind him, but he looked at every face before him on every tear, and he put out his hand and he said, Away with you, atheists. The best of the Roman world, including the Roman officials in front of him. He not only disobeys their order, but he condemns them for their lack of faith in Jesus Christ. They're the atheists, not him. He was given the opportunity to recant, and this is what he said. In a bold statement, he said, Eighty six years I have blaspheme my king who saved me? Polycarp right to the very end. proclaimed his lord and his master. He did not recant. He did not forgo his faith. And so he has set the standard of what is martyrdom, of what we know as martyrdom because it is written for us in detail. And he was quite quickly taken, tied to a stake, burnt. But it shouldn't come as any surprise to us. of why Polycarp was the way that he was. We may not know the man, but just in these two incidences, the, the action of waving the hand in front of the, the whole of the Roman citizenship, to saying that he, after 86 years, he would not recant or blaspheme against his Lord. Let's remember what Jesus said to that very church in Smyrna. Because in Revelation, Chapter 2, in verses 8 to 11, that bottom, that red writing there at the bottom and over the page. And to the angel of the church of Smyrna write, the words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. I know your tribulation and your poverty, but you are rich. And the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison. that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt. By the second death the bishop of Smyrna whether he received this from John or not But when you compare his life to what was given to the church, he lived this message He had already gone through the first death the first death to his own self Where he forgone his own way of living and was went to Christ as the sovereign and knew him as the sovereign Lord For him, the second death had been burned to the stake was nothing, because he'd already been tested. He had stood firm, and he was welcomed into the heavenly realms. For the early church, as they would face persecution, as Polycarp recognized, but also, uh, as Ignatius recognized, in terms of false teaching, the promise is given to them that Christ will be with them. That they can trust in Jesus. They can trust in him as Savior, and in doing so, he will see them through. And you know, we don't know what lies ahead of us today. We don't, none of us can. We can't look into a crystal ball. None of us has any of that at our fingertips, nor would we want it. Rather, we wait on the Lord, and as His Spirit has led His church and His people. As it has been spirit led and spirit filled so we too will be spirit filled and spirit led. We too will face false teaching that we must stand against. We too will face persecution in some shape or form and in many ways in this current age the two are becoming closer together. Where the persecution is following false doctrine. Because the false doctrine is coming from the world that tells us we're wrong. And because we don't believe what the world wants us to believe, then we are facing persecution for it. But Jesus has promised to be with us to the end. He has promised to see us through, that indeed, as the letter was written to the church in Smyrna, so we have gone through the first death. And whatever the second death, however it comes through, ill health or sickness or through persecution, We can stand firm because we will be seen safely home. And that's what Peter tells us in 1 Peter. Some of the, a passage that I love in chapter 5 verses 6 to 11 where he says, Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. Be sober minded. Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. We started with a set of three Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and all the world four. And so we finish with a set of four, that Christ himself will restore Confirm, strengthen, and establish. What do we learn from church history? What do we learn from the testimonies of Ignatius and Polycarp? That God is good, and God is faithful. To us as individuals, as families, to a particular congregation here, but to the church worldwide, He remains faithful. And I do say, if you do have the opportunity to go to this event on Friday week, make every effort to go, because that's how we learn of what God is doing in the world. Beyond these shores, as much as we're hearing about church closure on one hand, and church planting on the other. So we need to see beyond our shores, and we need to go to countries where, where it's so different, but yet know the testimony that even in the most challenging of circumstances, God is at work. Cast all your cares on Him. Trust Him, because He cares for you. That's what we learn. That's why it's important to hear these stories and these testimonies. So that we can stand on the heritage of faith, not on that alone, but on the Christ, who has seen each and every one of his children through each generation and each circumstance. We are gonna take about 10 minutes to discuss some things about tonight, because we need to, to see how it works out. And there you have three questions to think about round your tables. Is there any concern for false teaching in the church, both local and global today? How can we respond to any form of teaching that goes against the word of God? And we are familiar with persecution in churches around the world, but how do we see persecution in the church in the UK and Ireland, and how can we respond to it? So I'm going to pray, uh, then we'll go to those questions. Um, we'll take a, a pause around nine or just after it. We'll sing another song and then we'll take a bit of time to pray this evening. So let me pray for us as we finish off certainly this part this evening. Our Father God, we thank you that as we look at church history, it's not academic. It's not there for books and for people who are particularly interested. It's a lesson for us. And so may we grow in it. May we grow through it. And may we see your spirit at work now as then. So that we will stand strong for we are the sea of the same faith. It's this heritage of salvation that Ignatius, uh, fought for us. It's understanding that the world will always be against us as Polycarp stood for what was right and true in his day. So may we be faithful and do likewise. May these passages of scripture that we've looked at this evening encourage us along the way, and may we grow more in the likeness of Christ. And so as we discuss these things and think them through now, help us to learn and to grow, so that we may know you more. And we ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

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