Polycarp was a contemporary of the apostle John and, evidently, one of his friends. Polycarp was born about 52 A.D. and was martyred around 156 A.D. He served as an elder in the church at Smyrna for many years and was noted for his deep devotion and commitment to Christ. When he was brought into the stadium where he was burned alive at the stake, efforts were made by his executioners to get him to recant Christianity. They said to him, “Have respect to thine age. Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the atheists.” With solemn countenance, Polycarp looked upon the stadium filled with the lawless heathen and waved his hand toward them and said, “Away with the atheists.” When pressed further to deny Christ, Polycarp said, “Fourscore and six years have I been his servant, and he hath done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Then, threats were made to execute Polycarp unless he denied Christ. He responded by saying, “You threatenest that fire which burneth for a season and after a little while is quenched: for thou art ignorant of the fire of the future judgment and eternal punishment, which is reserved for the ungodly.” Shortly after speaking these words, Polycarp was burned alive at the stake.
Muslim extremists today who say to people professing Christianity, “Convert to Islam or die,” are carrying out dreadful actions. People are being beheaded, crucified, or executed in some other manner. Many have fled Iraq to escape death. While such extreme measures are not being used in the USA today, there is intimidation and mockery of those who are disciples of the Lord. Those who oppose Christians, the Bible, and God are becoming more open and brazen. Eventually, at some point in the future, this may lead to violent opposition. It would be wise for us to prepare ourselves for survival by spending more time in prayer and Bible study. Now is a good time for us to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to die for Christ?” Even more significantly, are you living for him now?