Ivan the Terrible, one of the great rulers of Russia, wanted to marry Sophia, the daughter of the King of Greece. When Ivan asked the King for his daughter’s hand, the King demanded that Ivan join the Greek Orthodox Church. Ivan had gone to Greece with five hundred of his best soldiers, and when Ivan joined the church, they desired to join also. A catechizer outlined the articles of the creed to the soldiers, and they gave assent to all of them with one exception. One of the articles stated that if they joined the church, they could not be professional soldiers. They asked the catechizer to give them time to think it over. They pondered the problem: “How can we join the Church and remain in the army at the same time?” They concocted a plan. When they were to be baptized, they marched into the water, five hundred of them, together with five hundred priests. Shortly before each priest took his candidate under, each soldier grabbed for his sword, and lifted it up in the air, and each soldier was baptized except for his fighting arm and a gleaming sword that jutted out of the water. Those who witnessed the mass baptism spectacle said that they saw five hundred dry arms and five hundred glittering swords sticking out of the water. The soldiers had fallen upon this plan: “We will join the church with our bodies, but we will allow our fighting arms to remain in possession of the state.”
***Calvin Warpula, “Growth Through Surrender.” In Growth: The Result of Our Assurance, pp. 185-201. Edited by Jerry R. Whitmire. West Monroe, LA: School of Biblical Studies, 1980. Story from Angel Martinez. REVIVAL AT MIDNIGHT. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956.
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