Posted in foxe's book of martyrs

Sunday Martyr Moment: Ignatius

By Elizabeth Prata*

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

From Foxe’s Book-

The Third Persecution, Under Trajan, A.D. 108

In the third persecution Pliny the Second, a man learned and famous, seeing the lamentable slaughter of Christians, and moved therewith to pity, wrote to Trajan, certifying him that there were many thousands of them daily put to death, of which none did any thing contrary to the Roman laws worthy of persecution. “The whole account they gave of their crime or error (whichever it is to be called) amounted only to this-viz. that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet before daylight, and to repeat together a set form of prayer to Christ as a God, and to bind themselves by an obligation-not indeed to commit wickedness; but, on the contrary-never to commit theft, robbery, or adultery, never to falsify their word, never to defraud any man: after which it was their custom to separate, and reassemble to partake in common of a harmless meal.”

In this persecution suffered the blessed martyr, Ignatius, who is held in famous reverence among very many. This Ignatius was appointed to the bishopric of Antioch next after Peter in succession. Some do say, that he, being sent from Syria to Rome, because he professed Christ, was given to the wild beasts to be devoured. It is also said of him, that when he passed through Asia, being under the most strict custody of his keepers, he strengthened and confirmed the churches through all the cities as he went, both with his exhortations and preaching of the Word of God. Accordingly, having come to Smyrna, he wrote to the Church at Rome, exhorting them not to use means for his deliverance from martyrdom, lest they should deprive him of that which he most longed and hoped for. “Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!” And even when he was sentenced to be thrown to the beasts, such as the burning desire that he had to suffer, that he spake, what time he heard the lions roaring, saying: “I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread.”

Trajan being succeeded by Adrian, the latter continued this third persecution with as much severity as his predecessor. About this time Alexander, bishop of Rome, with his two deacons, were martyred; as were Quirinus and Hernes, with their families;

Zenon, a Roman nobleman, and about ten thousand other Christians.

In Mount Ararat many were crucified, crowned with thorns, and spears run into their sides, in imitation of Christ’s passion. Eustachius, a brave and successful Roman commander, was by the emperor ordered to join in an idolatrous sacrifice to celebrate some of his own victories; but his faith (being a Christian in his heart) was so much greater than his vanity, that he nobly refused it. Enraged at the denial, the ungrateful emperor forgot the service of this skilful commander, and ordered him and his whole family to be martyred.

At the martyrdom of Faustines and Jovita, brothers and citizens of Brescia, their torments were so many, and their patience so great, that Calocerius, a pagan, beholding them, was struck with admiration, and exclaimed in a kind of ecstasy, “Great is the God of the Christians!” for which he was apprehended, and suffered a similar fate.

Many other similar cruelties and rigors were exercised against the Christians, until Quadratus, bishop of Athens, made a learned apology in their favor before the emperor, who happened to be there and Aristides, a philosopher of the same city, wrote an elegant epistle, which caused Adrian to relax in his severities, and relent in their favor.

Adrian dying A.D. 138, was succeeded by Antoninus Pius, one of the most amiable monarchs that ever reigned, and who stayed the persecutions against the Christians.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My comment-

What a fellow believer Ignatius was. Oh, Lord, may I be always reminded of Ignatius: strengthening others even as a death sentence lay over his head. May I learn to serve You better through edifying other believers, not thinking of myself, but only of Your glory.

*This essay first appeared on The End Time in July 2013

cross

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, goose, john huss, martin luther, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: John Huss, “The goose is cooked”

By Elizabeth Prata*

John Huss was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. The following below is excerpted from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. John Huss was killed by the Roman Catholic Church for the ‘heresy’ of proclaiming that Christ is the Head of the church and that salvation is in Christ alone. The martyrs died proclaiming Jesus is the head of the church and so many foolish people today have wantonly substituted idols for Him instead. Continue reading “Sunday Martyr Moment: John Huss, “The goose is cooked””

Posted in bartholomew, foxe's book of martyrs, jude, marturdom, thomas

Sunday Martyr Moment: Jude, Bartholomew, and Thomas

By Elizabeth Prata

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Jude

 

Apostle Jude
by Anthonis van Dyck

The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, an ancient city of Mesopotamia, about A.D. 72.

Bartholomew

Tradition says he preached in several countries, and then translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of East Indian, he taught it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

Thomas

Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Persia, Parthia and India.In Calamina, India, he was tortured by angry pagans, run through with spears, and thrown into the flames of an oven.

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, glory, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: A Phyrgian city burned

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

[Phyrgia was in west-central Turkey]

A city of Phrygia, consisting entirely of Christians, was burnt, and all the inhabitants perished in the flames.

Tired with slaughter, at length, several governors of provinces represented to the imperial court, the impropriety of such conduct. Hence many were respited from execution, but, though they were not put to death, as much as possible was done to render their lives miserable, many of them having their ears cut off, their noses slit, their right eyes put out, their limbs rendered useless by dreadful dislocations, and their flesh seared in conspicuous places with red-hot irons.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Johnnie Moore said this week in his opinion piece, “We must stand up for Middle East’s persecuted Christians
Christianity began in the East, not the West, yet today Christians in the East are enduring an all-out-assault by Islamic terrorists, while Christians in the West live their lives largely oblivious to it all. This has to change. This is no imaginary persecution; in Syria alone there have been reports of kidnappings, Christian communities intentionally displaced by militants and, worst of all, shootings and beheadings of Christians who refused to convert to Islam. In Egypt radicals have recently destroyed dozens of churches, and the once vibrant Christian population in Iraq has been decimated.

Qanta Ahmed wrote in the Jerusalem Post this week, Persecution of Christians in the Muslim world: We are what we tolerate
Syrian Christians, long protected by Syrian President Bashar Assad, bear the ultimate price at the hands of rebel Islamists. Egyptian Islamist have destroyed 43 Orthodox churches and attacked 207 churches in the past year alone. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, where there is no Arab Spring, where democracy is mature, Christian persecution is as integral to daily Pakistani life as the weather. In 2013 alone, Pakistan witnessed the razing of 178 homes in Christian residential area Joseph Colony in Lahore and the execution of 82 Christians at worship at Peshawar’s historic All Saints Church, leaving another 200 congregants wounded.

Persecution is not new. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12). Nor are the ways people are wounded, tortured, or killed new. Evil men are and always have been evil. This is what hostility to the Gospel looks like. Do not be surprised that such wickedness against holy Jesus and His children exists. (1 John 3:13). Without Christ there is no peace, but where there is Christianity, Christians, and the Spirit, there will be hostility against the testimony of Jesus. They tried to kill Jesus several times before they actually did.

And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. (Luke 4:29).

The fact that persecution has always existed doesn’t make reports like these from JPost or FoxNews any easier to read. But there is an additional element to the persecution story. Though persecution has always existed, it is prophesied to become worse and worse as the ages progress.

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

This persecution will find it ultimate, completely saturated expression in the Tribulation, when satan persecutes the Jews and then the Christians:

Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17).

Even though persecution is an ugly thing, we can take heart from it. First, we know that there are strong Christians in the world willing to suffer and die for the spotless name of Jesus. We know that as persecution becomes worse and worse, that the word of God is perfect in its certainty. We also know that as it increases, the time of His appearing draws closer. We can also  imagine the homecoming of the martyred Christians in Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan… are receiving in heaven.

The topic of martyrdom is a difficult one but it has its joys too.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal“. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Whether death comes from sickness, age or by another man’s hand, a life lived for the Lord has everlasting value and glory unto Jesus.

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: "Into the kiln!" and the end of Emperor Valerian

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

We left off with the martyrdom of Cyprian. Here we conclude the eighth persecution under Emperor Valerian:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At Utica, a most terrible tragedy was exhibited: three hundred Christians were, by the orders of the proconsul, placed round a burning limekiln. A pan of coals and incense being prepared, they were commanded either to sacrifice to Jupiter, or to be thrown into the kiln. Unanimously refusing, they bravely jumped into the pit, and were immediately suffocated.

Fructuosus, bishop of Tarragon, in Spain, and his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, were burnt for being Christians.

Alexander, Malchus, and Priscus, three Christians of Palestine, with a woman of the same place, voluntarily accused themselves of being Christians; on which account they were sentenced to be devoured by tigers, which sentence was executed accordingly.

Maxima, Donatilla, and Secunda, three virgins of Tuburga, had gall and vinegar given them to drink, were then severely scourged, tormented on a gibbet, rubbed with lime, scorched on a gridiron, worried by wild beasts, and at length beheaded.

It is here proper to take notice of the singular but miserable fate of the emperor Valerian, who had so long and so terribly persecuted the Christians. This tyrant, by a stratagem, was taken prisoner by Sapor, emperor of Persia, who carried him into his own country, and there treated him with the most unexampled indignity, making him kneel down as the meanest slave, and treading upon him as a footstool when he mounted his horse. After having kept him for the space of seven years in this abject state of slavery, he caused his eyes to be put out, though he was then eighty-three years of age. This not satiating his desire of revenge, he soon after ordered his body to be flayed alive, and rubbed with salt, under which torments he expired; and thus fell one of the most tyrannical emperors of Rome, and one of the greatest persecutors of the Christians.

A.D. 260, Gallienus, the son of Valerian, succeeded him, and during his reign (a few martyrs excepted) the Church enjoyed peace for some years.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just as I honor the Christian martyrs for exalting Jesus with their lives, it gives me no pleasure to see the fate of those who persecuted them. I am gripped with a heavy despair for all those who die while in their sins, forever destined to a hell of fire and torment. The torments they inflicted upon the martyrs were but a moment of trouble compared to an eternity in glory. (2 Corinthians 4:17). The torments that will be inflicted upon the tormentors will be a forever punishment for dishonoring the Holy Lord by rejecting His Gospel. (2 Thess. 1:9).

I wish that they had repented. I wish that they had been affected with the truth of the Gospel and the commitment of the martyrs to the name of Jesus Christ. Yet their stubbornness and their suppression of the truth went deep, and many, many tormenters themselves rejected the truth that was being proclaimed in front of them with lives and lips. They themselves unknowingly sealed their own fate even as they were inflicting those passing torments onto the martyrs.

The Lord is holy and just. Believe on His name and be saved.

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, martyrdom, Sunday martyr moment

Sunday Martyr Moment: "Cyprian to the beasts!"

 Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

We have been looking at Chapter 2, the Ten Primitive Persecutions. Chapter 1 looked at the first persecutions, beginning with Stephen, and the Apostle’s and companions’ deaths and ending with Barnabas in AD 73.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs Chapter 2 is about the first generations of martyrs, from AD 73 to AD 303. This post represents an overview of part of the second half of the 8th persecution under Valerian, A.D. 257.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Source

In Africa the persecution raged with peculiar violence; many thousands received the crown of martyrdom, among whom the following were the most distinguished characters:

Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, an eminent prelate, and a pious ornament of the Church. The brightness of his genius was tempered by the solidity of his judgment; and with all the accomplishments of the gentleman, he blended the virtues of a Christian. His doctrines were orthodox and pure; his language easy and elegant; and his manners graceful and winning: in fine, he was both the pious and polite preacher. In his youth he was educated in the principles of Gentilism, and having a considerable fortune, he lived in the very extravagance of splendor, and all the dignity of pomp.

Carthage is a suburb of Tunis, Tunisia and was the centre of the Carthaginian Empire in antiquity. The city has existed for nearly 3,000 years, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC into the capital of an ancient empire.Wikipedia

About the year 246, Coecilius, a Christian minister of Carthage, became the happy instrument of Cyprian’s conversion: on which account, and for the great love that he always afterward bore for the author of his conversion, he was termed Coecilius Cyprian. Previous to his baptism, he studied the Scriptures with care and being struck with the beauties of the truths they contained, he determined to practise the virtues therein recommended. Subsequent to his baptism, he sold his estate, distributed the money among the poor, dressed himself in plain attire, and commenced a life of austerity. He was soon after made a presbyter; and, being greatly admired for his virtues and works, on the death of Donatus, in A.D. 248, he was almost unanimously elected bishop of Carthage.

Cyprian’s care not only extended over Carthage, but to Numidia and Mauritania. In all his transactions he took great care to ask the advice of his clergy, knowing that unanimity alone could be of service to the Church, this being one of his maxims, “That the bishop was in the church, and the church in the bishop; so that unity can only be preserved by a close connexion between the pastor and his flock.”

Source

Left, Roman Carthage.
In A.D. 250, Cyprian was publicly proscribed by the emperor Decius, under the appellation of Coecilius Cyprian, bishop of the Christrians; and the universal cry of the pagans was, “Cyprian to the lions, Cyprian to the beasts.” The bishop, however, withdrew from the rage of the populace, and his effects were immediately confiscated. During his retirement, he wrote thirty pious and elegant letters to his flock; but several schisms that then crept into the Church, gave him great uneasiness. The rigor of the persecution abating, he returned to Carthage, and did everything in his power to expunge erroneous opinions. A terrible plague breaking out in Carthage, it was as usual, laid to the charge of the Christians; and the magistrates began to persecute accordingly, which occasioned an epistle from them to Cyprian, in answer to which he vindicates the cause of Christianity. A.D. 257, Cyprian was brought before the proconsul Aspasius Paturnus, who exiled him to a little city on the Lybian sea. On the death of this proconsul, he returned to Carthage, but was soon after seized, and carried before the new governor, who condemned him to be beheaded; which sentence was executed on the fourteenth of September, A.D. 258.

The disciples of Cyprian, martyred in this persecution, were Lucius, Flavian, Victoricus, Remus, Montanus, Julian, Primelus, and Donatian.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The lesson here is how quickly false doctrine attempts to gain entry. It never sleeps and it always crouches at the door. (Genesis 4:7). The moment Cyprian was in hiding, it came in with full force and caused division among the brethren. As lay-people we need to do our part in being students of the Word and prayerfully understanding of the precepts Jesus laid down. Deacons too. Don’t over-rely on the pastor for discernment or wisdom. The Holy Spirit gives wisdom to all who ask, with no reproach. (James 1:5). The overseer of the flock is important but we have our job to do as well. (Philippians 3:14, 2 Peter 1:5-7).

 Have a blessed Lord’s day.

Posted in faith, foxe's book of martyrs, martyr, suffering

Sunday Martyr Moment: Martyrs vs. Mark Driscoll – What is real suffering?

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Eighth Persecution, Under Valerian, A.D. 257

Began under Valerian, in the month of April, 257, and continued for three years and six months. The martyrs that fell in this persecution were innumerable, and their tortures and deaths as various and painful. The most eminent martyrs were the following, though neither rank, sex, nor age were regarded.

Rufina and Secunda were two beautiful and accomplished ladies, daughters of Asterius, a gentleman of

The Martyrdom of Secunda and Rufina
Collaborative painting by Il Morazzone,
Giulio Procaccini, Giovanni Battista Crespi (1620-1625)

eminence in Rome. Rufina, the elder, was designed in marriage for Armentarius, a young nobleman; Secunda, the younger, for Verinus, a person of rank and opulence. The suitors, at the time of the persecution’s commencing, were both Christians; but when danger appeared, to save their fortunes, they renounced their faith. They took great pains to persuade the ladies to do the same, but, disappointed in their purpose, the lovers were base enough to inform against the ladies, who, being apprehended as Christians, were brought before Junius Donatus, governor of Rome, where, A.D. 257, they sealed their martyrdom with their blood.

Stephen, bishop of Rome, was beheaded in the same year, and about that time Saturninus, the pious orthodox bishop of Toulouse, refusing to sacrifice to idols, was treated with all the barbarous indignities imaginable, and fastened by the feet to the tail of a bull. Upon a signal given, the enraged animal was driven down the steps of the temple, by which the worthy martyr’s brains were dashed out.

Sextus succeeded Stephen as bishop of Rome. He is supposed to have been a Greek by birth or by extraction, and had for some time served in the capacity of a deacon under Stephen. His great fidelity, singular wisdom, and uncommon courage distinguished him upon many occasions; and the happy conclusion of a controversy with some heretics is generally ascribed to his piety and prudence. In the year 258, Marcianus, who had the management of the Roman government, procured an order from the emperor Valerian, to put to death all the Christian clergy in Rome, and hence the bishop with six of his deacons, suffered martyrdom in 258.

Let us draw near to the fire of martyred Lawrence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless tyrant, understanding him to be not only a minister of the sacraments, but a distributor also of the Church riches, promised to himself a double prey, by the apprehension of one soul. First, with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure of poor Christians; then with the fiery fork of tyranny, so to toss and turmoil them, that they should wax weary of their profession.

With furious face and cruel countenance, the greedy wolf demanded where this Lawrence had bestowed the substance of the Church: who, craving three days’ respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had. In the meantime, he caused a good number of poor Christians to be congregated. So, when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valiant Lawrence, stretching out his arms over the poor, said: “These are the precious treasure of the Church; these are the treasure indeed, in whom the faith of Christ reigneth, in whom Jesus Christ hath His mansion-place.

What more precious jewels can Christ have, than those in whom He hath promised to dwell? For so it is written, ‘I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.’ And again, ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ What greater riches can Christ our Master possess, than the poor people in whom He loveth to be seen?”

O, what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant’s heart! Now he stamped, he stared, he ramped, he fared as one out of his wits: his eyes like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar formed, his teeth like a hellhound grinned. Now, not a reasonable man, but a roaring lion, he might be called.

Wikimedia Commons,
Martyrdom of Lawrence

“Kindle the fire (he cried)–of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him, away with him: whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates, bring out the strongest chains, and the fire-forks, and the grated bed of iron: on the fire with it; bind the rebel hand and foot; and when the bed is fire-hot, on with him: roast him, broil him, toss him, turn him: on pain of our high displeasure do every man his office, O ye tormentors.”

The word was no sooner spoken, but all was done. After many cruel handlings, this meek lamb was laid, I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with his martyr Lawrence, so miraculously God tempered His element the fire; that it became not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Consider what the ladies went through. They were young, engaged to be married to handsome, rich suitors. However, when the chips were down, their suitors showed eternally that their brides’ worth was less than their fortunes, and the suitors snitched to the government and gave them over. The ladies were killed. I wonder how the sisters felt in prison. They did not renounce, so we know that they were comforted by the Spirit. (Hebrews 13:5). It can’t have been easy though, in the dank, dark, rat and maggot infested, slimy prison, awaiting their fate. Were the sisters together? Did they sing? Pray? I’m sure they did. Through it all, they remained faithful to the one true Groom and their eternal reward in heaven will last forever. Moths and rust have already destroyed the two rich suitors and their fortunes. (Luke 17:33; Matthew 6:19).

The bishops of Rome had it hard, too. One after another were killed. When Sextus succeeded Stephen, he knew he was going to be killed at some point, I’m sure. What a job description. “Needed: Leader of church, the people you will lead are skittish and likely will be hunted and persecuted. You will be hunted and likely killed too. Probably tortured. Accepting inquiries from 2-5 PM, in person.”

And they lined up, serving Christ with full passion and love. Killed with Sextus were deacons Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. (Matthew 10:16).

And dear Lawrence, tortured mercilessly and roasted on a gridiron because he wouldn’t give over the church money! His declaration of the Church’s treasure being His sheep, priceless!

I think about today’s men who call themselves leaders and whine about difficulties of service in ministry. (Jude 1:16). Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church claims to have “faced danger” a few times. He wrote a long list of perceived persecutions and troubles he said he’s endured, in an essay titled “The hardest part of ministry” with the tag, ‘suffering.’ It’s a lengthy essay about his personal suffering, listing many woes he has faced. Here are a few.

Mark Driscoll, Wiki photo

Once, a man tried to enter his house. Another time a man with a “large knife” walked up the aisle and tried to stab him. Once, a sex offender tried to talk to his family. One time, someone sent Mark a letter telling him to stop preaching. Other times, people would post directions to Mark’s house on social media and encourage his critics to come to his home. He even has had to endure gossip! Once, someone even pooped on his porch!!

Yep, in his own humblebragging words, Mr Driscoll has surely been through it. Mr Driscoll wrote, “In general, going out in public has gotten tough. People feel free to interrupt family dinners out to sit at the table…” That’s just terrible! It’s not like his time is not his own but Jesus’s and his service is to Jesus or anything.

Like the two young ladies who lost their family, their fiancé, and their lives in A.D. 257 had been through it, sealing their martyrdom with their blood, some of today’s pastors are surely enduring a terrible persecution. Dealing with poop on your porch must surely equate with betrayal, imprisonment, and beheading as a terrible price for your service.

I love reading about the martyrs and writing about them so I can honor them as my forbears in faith. I love to ponder the faithfulness of our Savior who gives a faith so strong these precious martyrs endured torture and death with songs and prayers. I love to praise the Holy Spirit for empowering them with the things to say, like Lawrence bringing the sheep as the treasure, knowing it would mean his fleshly doom. Jesus is worth living for.  Jesus is worth dying for.

I also write about these martyrs so as to give us all a sense of perspective. Mr Driscoll has definitely lost his. When he preaches on suffering, do you truly think he understands biblical suffering for the name of Jesus? I don’t.

Driscoll at dinner with family, source: FB

Jesus is hated in this world and that hatred will only grow worse. (John 15:18; Matthew 10:22). Hatred for Him will express itself in physical harm, injustice and death. It already is, in many nations of the world. Complaining because you can’t eat supper in a restaurant without interruption from people is not ‘suffering.’ They are the people whom Lawrence called the most precious treasure of the church. Yet Mr Driscoll considers them a bother and just wants to eat his steak in peace. Perspective-

Being grilled on a gridiron is real suffering. Interruptions at dinner and gossip about you is not.

I think of two evangelists who rode a boat up a river deep into a jungle and trekked three more hours to reach a village of lost people in Laos. They shared about Christ and 178 people were converted and 8 were baptized. Yet the local witch doctor accused several Christians of causing the accidental deaths of three local men, and the Christians were rounded up, tried, told to renounce their faith, threatened with exile, and forced to pay restitution.

This incident was not in some long ago time. It was a news story posted on Voice of the Martyrs on November 18, 2013.

And rich pastors in the US complain that their woes are “cruel and unusual.”

Perspective. Keep in your heart what real suffering for the faith and the name of Jesus is so that we can praise His holy name for being so faithful to those who truly suffer. And let us rejoice in our own circumstances that He hasn’t ordained us to the same events as yet. Rejoice either way, that we suffer for Him or we live for him. And remember the martyrs.

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, martyr, persecution, prayer

Sunday Martyr Moment: Seven soldiers in a cave

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249, continued

In the year of our Lord 251, the emperor Decius having erected a pagan temple at Ephesus, he commanded all who were in that city to sacrifice to the idols. This order was nobly refused by seven of his own soldiers, viz. Maximianus, Martianus, Joannes, Malchus, Dionysius, Seraion, and Constantinus. The emperor wishing to win these soldiers to renounce their faith by his entreaties, gave them leniency and said that they would be allowed a considerable respite until he returned from an expedition. During the emperor’s absence, they escaped, and hid themselves in a cavern. The soldiers’ hiding place was discovered, and it was ordered sealed up, so that they would die of hunger and thirst.

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The Voice of the Martyrs blog posted a story recently about how difficult it is for Chinese missionaries who obey God to enter the Tibetan mission field. One of those difficulties is the deep spiritual darkness of the region. It is Buddhist, and idols are everywhere. Here is an excerpt of a wonderful short essay about those difficulties, and the grace of God which strengthens and enables the missionaries to persevere.

The biggest obstacle faced by Chinese missionaries, however, is the intense spiritual warfare being waged in the region. Tibet is a Buddhist stronghold. The vast majority of the Tibetan people adhere to this religion. “The streets are full of idols,” says the Chinese missionary. “All of these people worship these idols.”

“A quick walk through the old part of Lhasa confirms this statement. Everywhere you walk and at all hours of the day, people are ceaselessly mumbling chants, rubbing their prayer beads in calloused fingers and spinning prayer wheels. According to the missionary, penetrating this spiritual darkness is extremely difficult – many of the Chinese Christians in the area, he says, are lazy and weak of faith as a result. Many more go home, disillusioned and discouraged.”

“As if these challenges weren’t enough, Chinese missionaries are often persecuted by the Chinese government, which maintains very strict control on religion in Tibet. Chinese missionaries have been thrown in prison and even kicked out of the province as a result of their efforts to evangelize the Tibetan. Evangelism in Tibet must be conducted very covertly and on a small scale level in order to avoid the wrath of the authorities.

In Lhasa, everywhere Buddhists are ceaselessly mumbling chants,
rubbing prayer beads in calloused fingers and spinning prayer wheels.(source)

The fingers of the Buddhist are calloused because they pray and pray but no one is listening.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

The seven soldiers that the Emperor sealed up in the cave died a horrible death. Though not as painful as some of the Christians who were being actively tortured, the soldiers took a long time to die, in agonizing thirst, alone in the dark. Except … they were not alone.

I am sure that they prayed to our Holy God for comfort and to supplicate to Him. They laid down their lives for His glory. Being a faithful God, would not leave them alone in their moment of truth but accept the sacrifice of their lives and their dying prayers as the glory He deserves and demands. I wonder if the LORD sent an angel to minister to them as they lay dying. I wonder if they heard His voice whisper comfort to them. I wonder if they gained supernatural strength to pray and sing even as their wasted bodies lay shriveled and dying.

Even in death, the loss of the breath in the body is nothing, as long as there exists a blessed supernatural highway of communication between ourselves and our precious Savior. For the Buddhist, spinning wheels and counting beads, there is only blackness, emptiness, and darkness. They have the high altitude sunlight but have hearts of stone and dwell in the dark, while the 7 soldiers had the darkness of a cave, but the Light of glory at the end. No matter your situation today, whether you are in a real cave-like dark prison for the faith, or you are in a metaphorical dark cave of bad circumstances, you always know that you can pray. We are confident in Him.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

Posted in faith, foxe's book of martyrs, prosperity gospel

Sunday Martyr Moment: Of pious blood, and prosperity Gospel

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249

Karitena, municipal seat of ancient Gortyna, Greece

Lucius, the governor of Crete, ordered Cyril, the 84-year-old overseer of the church at Gortyna, to be arrested for refusing to obey the edict to perform sacrifices to the idols. When Cyril appeared before him, Lucius exhorted him to perform the sacrifices and thereby save himself from a horrible death. the godly man replied that he had long taught others the way to eternal life in Christ, and now he must stand firm for the sake of his own soul. He displayed no fear when Lucius condemned him to be burned at the stake, and suffered the flames joyously and with great courage.

The persecution raged in no place more than the Island of Crete; for the governor, being exceedingly active in executing the imperial decrees, that place streamed with pious blood.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions, fresh ideas and creativity.”
“God wants us to have healthy, positive self-images, to see ourselves as priceless treasures.  He wants us to feel good about ourselves.”
“You will often receive preferential treatment simply because your Father is the King of kings, and His glory and honor spill over onto you.” 
“If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you…”
“It’s going to happen… Suddenly, your situation will change for the better…He will bring your dreams to pass.”
~~Joel Osteen

 If Foxe’s Book of Martyrs isn’t enough of a rebuke against the Prosperity Gospel, I don’t know what is.

Posted in crown of life, foxe's book of martyrs

Sunday Martyr Moment: Four Anonymous Women

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249, continued

Andrew and Paul, two Christian companions of Nichomachus, held fast to Christ and were stoned to death as they called on their blessed Redeemer.

In Alexandria, Alexander and Epimachus were arrested for being Christians. When they confessed they were indeed Christians, they were beat to death with sticks, torn with hooks, and then burned to death. On the same day, four female martyrs were beheaded; their names are unknown.

In Nice, Trypho and Respicius, prominent men and Christians were arrested and given over to the torturers. Nails were driven through their feet, they were scourged, dragged through the streets, torn with iron hooks, scorched with torches, and then beheaded.

Agatha, a Sicilian lady, was not more remarkable for her personal and acquired endowments, than her piety; her beauty was such, that Quintian, governor of Sicily, became enamored of her, and made many attempts upon her chastity without success. In order to gratify his passions with the greater conveniency, he put the virtuous lady into the hands of Aphrodica, a very infamous and licentious woman. This wretch tried every artifice to win her to the desired prostitution; but found all her efforts were vain; for her chastity was impregnable, and she well knew that virtue alone could procure true happiness. Aphrodica acquainted Quintian with the inefficacy of her endeavors, who, enraged to be foiled in his designs, changed his lust into resentment. On her confessing that she was a Christian, he determined to gratify his revenge, as he could not his passion. Pursuant to his orders, she was scourged, burnt with red-hot irons, and torn with sharp hooks. Having borne these torments with admirable fortitude, she was next laid naked upon live coals, intermingled with glass, and then being carried back to prison, she there expired on February 5, 251.

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I think about the four females who were martyred. We do not know who they were … but Jesus does!!!

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)

The martyrs of the Tribulation are honored by His granting their resurrection and then, they reign with Him!

“Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4)

They receive a crown of life! (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)

Their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And we Christians will meet them in glory, where their injuries and pain are wiped away —

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev 21:4)

Hold fast, you brethren under trial! Hold fast, the brethren that are not but will be under trial, even unto death. Foxe wanted to honor those who had passed the bloody baton of faith forward into the generations that lived before us, and he wrote of them in his book. That is only part of the story. Jesus has recorded their names and deeds from the foundation of the world and their death has honored Him and glorified Him in the extreme. I can’t wait to meet those 4 precious women, and all the martyrs. My hallelujah will be joining the chorus of those who will hear Him say to them “Well done good and faithful servant.”