Justin Martyr

'And beginning with Moses and all the prophets…' Jesus was able to draw on a long tradition of faithful men, men whose lives and teaching cannot be torn apart, for they lived what they believed, and preached what they believed – they were filled with the Holy Spirit. We are blessed even more, for we have Moses, the prophets, Jesus himself, and a great cloud of witnesses since. One of the 'great cloud' I have enjoyed studying over the past few months is Justin Martyr. Allow me to share three highlights with you, in the hope that it will encourage you to serve faithfully.

Justin’s Remarkable Conversion

Justin lived in an era of history when the gospel was not believed by the millions upon millions it is today. One after the other, Justin attempted to understand Stoic, Pythagorean and Platonist schools of philosophy. Each of these was seeking after truth and seeking to know God, but without Christ at the centre none was able to satisfy. Then one hundred years after Jesus started his public ministry, also at age thirty, Justin met a man not far from the sea at Ephesus. He was an old man, ‘exhibiting meek and venerable manners,’ a man of intelligence and a gentle boldness, and he told Justin of Christ. Justin reports that when this man left 'Straightaway, a flame was kindled in my soul and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me.' Justin, a man of incredible talent and learning bowed the knee to Christ and became a Christian.

So may we, when evangelizing, never be afraid to declare the gospel to even the most learned and self-assured unbeliever. And as we study, let us be careful to make sure we consciously place everything in subjection to the Lord Jesus, praying that we may be used to kindle a flame in the hearts of unbelievers.

Justin’s Remarkable Calling

The next 35 years of Justin’s life were spent vigorously defending the truth of Christianity against its detractors. He taught many important leaders of the church (including Ireneaus) at a school he founded in Rome. He also sought to win pagans and Jews to Christ, as well as bring heretics back into the fold. He always considered himself a 'philosopher', never putting off his philosopher’s gown. But philosophy – the love of wisdom – is not, of course, a necessarily pagan thing. Justin brought it into submission to Christ. He found that where philosophy was right, it had borrowed what it said from Moses and the prophets. And where it was wrong, he renounced it.

So may we also aspire to evangelise and disciple, with an all-pervasive love of Christ woven into everything we say and live. Like Justin, may we consciously submit all our thoughts and actions to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Justin’s Remarkable Conclusion

Justin’s full name is Justin Martyr. During the reign of the so called 'philosopher king' Marcus Aurelius, an evil reign in which many faithful Christians of whom the world was not worthy were killed, Justin also was martyred. He was brought before the prefect of Rome, Rusticus (a.k.a. country bumpkin) and boldly preached the gospel before being scourged and beheaded. From his conversion to his death, Justin’s life and theology was Christocentric - he put Christ at the centre of everything. How could he not follow in his Master’s footsteps when faced with either denial or death?

So may we also put Christ at the centre, and follow faithfully. Justin refused to fall away from piety to impiety, and his recorded words are a challenge to us all: 'Do what you will, for we are Christians, and do not sacrifice to idols.'

Guest post submitted by Timothy van den Broek, Moscow, ID

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