Polycarp of Smyrnaby Sinclair Ferguson
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There are lots of ‘idols’ these days. But do you have any heroes? What’s the difference? Idols are people we say we ‘adore’ because they are famous, or rich, or good looking, or because they have amazing talents, or special abilities perhaps we wish we could have. Heroes are people who are willing to live and die for what they believe.
Polycarp of Smyrna: The Man Whose Faith Lasted tells the story of a hero. He was a follower of Jesus Christ. He loved and served his Lord for over eighty years. And from the beginning to the end - his faith lasted. This large hardback book for children, from the pen of Sinclair Ferguson, is beautifully illustrated by Allison Brown.
A Personal Word to Parents about this new Heroes of the Faith series from Sinclair B. Ferguson
Many of our children enjoy having heroes, but they are living in a world that encourages them instead to have ‘idols’. Sometimes, perhaps, the difference is simply a choice of words. But today it is usually more. For the ‘idols’ our children are encouraged to have - whether by media coverage or peer pressure - are to be ‘adored’ not because of their character, but because of their image.
By contrast a ‘hero’ is someone who is much more than a ‘personality’ about whom we may know little or nothing. A hero is someone who has shown moral fibre, who has overcome difficulties and opposition, who has been tested and has stood firm.
This series is about such people - heroes of the Christian faith - whose lives remind us of the words of Hebrews 13:7: ‘Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.’
There are different kinds of heroes. The books in this series reflect the fact that some become heroes by being willing to die for Christ; others because of how they served the church of Christ; yet others because of what they taught about Christ; and others because of where they were prepared to go for Christ.
Heroes of the Faith is also intended to provide a kind of church family album - pictures of those who have been members of the family of God. Many of us who are parents wish we could teach our children more about the story of the church, to help them see the privilege of belonging to a spiritual family that stretches back over the centuries and extends to the ends of the earth. This series aims to cover the centuries-long story of the church and to introduce children to heroes of the faith in every period of history.
None of these heroes was perfect - they all recognised their need of the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord. None of them claimed perfect understanding or perfect obedience. But each of them aimed to love the Lord with heart and mind and soul and strength. In that sense they were true heroes. Many of these heroes were ministers and preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But they were not heroes simply because they were ministers. The word ‘minister’ means ‘servant’. They were people who became leaders in the church; they became heroes because they were servants both of the Lord Jesus and of his people.
I count it a privilege to have the opportunity of introducing your family, and especially your children, to many of the Heroes of the Faith. May they become heroes too!
—Sinclair B. Ferguson