Sometimes I wonder if our faith has enough to fight for? Is there anything in your faith that you would be willing to die for?
A Tale Of Two Martyrs
According to John Foxe, in his famous Book of Martyrs (officially titled, Acts and Monuments), Ridley arrived at the field of execution first. When Latimer arrived, the two embraced and Ridley said, “Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it.” They both knelt and prayed before listening to an exhortation from a preacher (as was the custom before an execution for heresy).
After the sermon, one of the officials pleaded, “Mr. Ridley, if you will revoke your erroneous opinions, you shall not only have liberty so to do, but also your life.”
“Not otherwise?” said Ridley.
“If you will not do so,” replied the official, “there is no remedy: you must suffer for your deserts.”
“Well,” concluded Ridley, “so long as the breath is in my body, I will never deny my Lord Christ and his known truth. God’s will be done in me.”
The blacksmith wrapped a chain of iron around the waists of Ridley and Latimer. When the wood about Ridley’s feet was lit, Latimer said, “Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out.”
As the fire rose Latimer cried out, “O Father of heaven, receive my soul!” and he died almost immediately. Ridley however, hung on, with most of his lower body having burned before he passed away.
What would you have done in the same circumstance? Answer Below
We live in a time of political correctness and a time when a large majority of us would have never been associated with those radical Christians. John Wesley, Luther, Moody, Ridley, etc.
We have allowed people to walk all over us and place us in a category that is used by political parties either for good or bad.
In a time when we have more men and women fighting in wars across the world, we stay relatively secure and safe in our communities. We stay passive and living a life of not going to one extreme or the other.
Sometimes I wonder if Western Christianity has not been taken over by a bunch of hippies, placing flowers in our hair and singing songs around a campfire.
This has not always been the case.
I am not saying that back in the day things were better, but there use to be a day and age when faith shaped the world. It moved mountains of people into action, created nations, and even destroyed nations.
It was taken by men and women who knew the cost and were willing to give it all for that cause.
Why do you think Joseph was chosen to take the promise land. Because he was a great speaker…no…he was a great War General…
Do You Know John Knox
He was a minister of the Christian gospel who advocated violent revolution. Let that sink in for a moment…
He was considered one of the most powerful preachers of his day, but only two of the hundreds of sermons he preached were ever published. He is a key figure in the formation of modern Scotland, yet there is only one monument erected to him in Scotland, and his grave lies beneath a parking lot.
Dramatic events were unfolding in Scotland during Knox’s youth. Many were angry with the Catholic church, which owned more than half the real estate and gathered an annual income of nearly 18 times that of the crown. Bishops and priests were often mere political appointments, and many never hid their immoral lives: the archbishop of St. Andrews, Cardinal Beaton, openly consorted with concubines and sired 10 children.
The constant sea traffic between Scotland and Europe allowed Lutheran literature to be smuggled into the country. Church authorities were alarmed by this “heresy” and tried to suppress it. Patrick Hamilton, an outspoken Protestant convert, was burned at the stake in 1528.
In the early 1540s, Knox came under the influence of converted reformers, and under the preaching of Thomas Guilliame, he joined them. Knox then became a bodyguard for the fiery Protestant preacher George Wishart, who was speaking throughout Scotland.
In 1546, however, Beaton had Wishart arrested, tried, strangled, and burned. In response, a party of 16 Protestant nobles stormed the castle, assassinated Beaton, and mutilated his body. The castle was immediately put to siege by a fleet of French ships (Catholic France was an ally to Scotland). Though Knox was not privy to the murder, he did approve of it, and during a break in the siege, he joined the besieged party in the castle.
You know what the results were of John Knox…they signed a treaty that forced the English and French to leave Scotland. A pastor did this…
I’ll admit that our times are different…but that is the point…is there enough left in our faith to fight for. I am not saying we raise up our pitchforks and go storm a castle…but I am asking…what are we standing up for. What is it that we fight for. Community, multi-site, small groups?
So Many Programs
I can not help think and wonder that the reason we have so many church programs and talk so much about church growth, is because we don’t have a fight. When you mobilize around a cause, you are not worried about church growth, buildings, or budgets. You are worried about fighting for that cause.
Church people love to use Acts 2 as the sounding call as to what church should be. People sitting around breaking bread and learning the word of God. It is used over and over again by church planters and small group pastors to pump up their cause.
Yet, what we fail to mention and even comment on was that during this time of meeting and gathering, the church was being KILLED! It was illegal! It cost you everything to be in one of those meetings.
It was not but a couple of chapters later that Paul scattered the church. Isn’t it ironic that the church grew and spread because Christians were hiding and running for their lives.
Yet we do not mention or want to be part of the program. We will take Acts 2 all day long…but forget the other chapters…because that’s when all those crazy radical Christians were standing and dying for their faith.
Yet it was during this time that the church experienced the greatest growth…
Where Are They Now
Don’t you find it weird that we elevate and speak about the apostles in such adorning light. That we idolize them and wish we had 10% of the faith that they did. Phillip and the Ethiopia, James the brother of Christ, doubting Thomas, Peter the fiery one, Paul and his missionary journeys.
But the one thing that is taboo and not spoken of is how this powerhouse men of faith left this world. They did not ride off into the sunset and lay around on a death-bed telling stories of the good old days. Their lives came to a bloody and violent end.
It speaks to the convictions of these men…
As someone has correctly pointed out, hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff. Men may willingly die for what they believe to be true…even at times if what they believe is actually false.
But no one will die willingly for something they know to be a lie!! Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Jesus, committed suicide. Only John, of the other 13 Apostles, died a natural manner of death (John did not die by homicide, a martyr).
Matthew : Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound
Mark : Died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead
Luke : Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost
John : Faced martyrdom when he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.
Peter : He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross. According to church tradition it was because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
James : Just The leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
James the Great : Son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
Bartholomew : Also known as Nathaniel Was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey. Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.
Andrew : Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: ‘I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.’ He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
Thomas : Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.
Jude : Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
Matthias : The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.
Barnabas : One of the group of seventy disciples, wrote the Epistle of Barnabas. He preached throughout Italy and Cyprus. Barnabas was stoned to death at Salonica.
Paul : Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
So Now What
What in your faith are you willing to fight for? Leave comments below
Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). 131 Christians everyone should know (170). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.