March 19, Sunday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Jabez Yeo who is now a friend of AMI, was first posted on May 16, 2016.  He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (B.S.) and Columbia International University where he studied Islam (M.A.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Justin Who Became a Martyr”

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.  15 What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted. 16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. 18For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Have you ever sought meaning in life’s philosophies or in the world’s wisdom? One person who did but was eventually disillusioned by his search was Justin Martyr. Justin, born in the early 2nd century A.D., attempted to find fulfillment in the Greek philosophy of Stoicism. Unconvinced, he then cycled through the teachings of different philosophers but was never completely satisfied. Around A.D. 130, conversations with an elderly believer led Justin Martyr to surrender his life to Jesus—and he experienced a powerful life transformation!

Around the same time, the heresy of Gnosticism was becoming rampant in the early church. In a nutshell, the Gnostics believed that the material world was unimportant, and that physical bodies were prisons trapping the human spirit, which they considered to be the “spark of God.” Thus, they proposed that Christ had not become incarnate but had only appeared to be human in order to rescue stray “sparks” of God’s being that were trapped in human bodies. Since its inception, Gnosticism has spawned heretical beliefs, including the elevation of the soul to divinity that have echoed throughout history, especially in the recent New Age movement. 

Utilizing his past experience in Greek philosophy, Justin Martyr countered the claims of Gnosticism thoroughly in his writings. In particular, Justin Martyr delved into the concept of the Logos—God’s pre-existent spirit who became incarnate in Jesus Christ. He explained, “just as fire comes from fire without diminishing the original source, so Christ as the universal Logos pre-existed as God’s Son.”  Justin Martyr then wrote Syntagma, which established him as the most important 2nd century apologist in the eyes of many, as it was the first major anti-Gnostic writing by an orthodox Christian.

Ultimately, Justin was arrested for his faith and was ordered by Roman authorities to denounce his belief in God. Refusing to do so, Justin was then executed and surnamed “Martyr,” as he gave his life for what he considered to be “true philosophy.” As Christians today, may we also find our true satisfaction, not in the world’s wisdom, but in God’s eternal truth.  

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for being the Way, the Truth and the Life. Help me to find ultimate meaning in Your Word, and may it spur me to lead a life that is pleasing to You. May I not trust in my own intellect or in the world’s wisdom, but help me to place my hope in Your truth, even though my mind cannot completely comprehend it. Lord Jesus, as my Good Shepherd, lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. In Your Name I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Esther 10

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