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.
|Aurelian, 44th Emperor of Roman Empire|
"Aurelian was succeeded by Tacitus, who was followed by Probus, as the latter was by Carus: this emperor being killed by a thunder storm, his sons, Carnious and Numerian, succeeded him, and during all these reigns the Church had peace. Marcus and Marcellianus were twins, natives of Rome, and of noble descent. Their parents were heathens, but the tutors, to whom the education of the children was intrusted, brought them up as Christians. Their constancy at length subdued those who wished them to become pagans, and their parents and whole family became converts to a faith they had before reprobated. They were martyred by being tied to posts, and having their feet pierced with nails. After remaining in this situation for a day and a night, their sufferings were put an end to by thrusting lances through their bodies." (photo source)
“There is no such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstances of your life can change! ”
― Rhonda Byrne, The Secret
"Zoe, the wife of the jailer, who had the care of the before-mentioned martyrs, was also converted by them, and hung upon a tree, with a fire of straw lighted under her. When her body was taken down, it was thrown into a river, with a large stone tied to it, in order to sink it."
“I declare God’s dream for my life is coming to pass.” ~Joel Osteen
"Quintin was a Christian, and a native of Rome, but determined to attempt the propagation of the Gospel in Gaul, with one Lucian, they preached together in Amiens; after which Lucian went to Beaumaris, where he was martyred. Quintin remained in Picardy, and was very zealous in his ministry. Being seized upon as a Christian, he was stretched with pullies until his joints were dislocated; his body was then torn with wire scourges, and boiling oil and pitch poured on his naked flesh; lighted torches were applied to his sides and armpits; and after he had been thus tortured, he was remanded back to prison, and died of the barbarities he had suffered, October 31, A.D. 287. His body was sunk in the Somme."
"When we use the spiritual laws that God has set up, God must obey what we request." ~Kenneth Copeland
I interspersed the quotes from several noted Prosperity/Word of Faith false preachers to highlight the contrast between the ridiculousness of what they preach compared to the reality of the persecution of the Christian. Jesus said,
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
You WILL have tribulation. However, the true Christian who is truly at peace believes Jesus's words. Our trouble is here on this world but we have peace within knowing He has overcome the world. Our peace is eternal- being reconciled to Him. Anyone who says that our troubles won't exist on this earth is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
Zoe was converted because of the steadfast faith of the twins Marcus and Marcellianus. The twins exhibited the peace of Jesus which resided in them, and Zoe believed. In listening to false prophets like Osteen, Copeland, Byrne and others, if you grasp the things of the world, when the world comes against you the things you've grasped will fall away. Grasp instead Jesus, who never fails.
Lest one think that such horrors existed only in the fourth century, Christians are being persecuted in exactly the same manner and intensity today. Their persecutors invent evil cruelties to perpetrate upon them, and many who die under them still exhibit the faith of the fourth century martyrs. Below is from the Christian Post, reporting on the new watch list for countries that persecute Christians, compiled by Open Doors.
On January 8, "Open Doors launched its 2014 World Watch List (WWL) ranking of countries where persecution of Christians is most prevalent. And it is, indeed, very prevalent these days, with more than two thirds of the countries on the World Watch List experiencing an increase in the persecution of Christians in 2013...Christians remain the most persecuted religious minority on the planet. ... North Korea ranks first on the WWL for an unprecedented 12th year in a row." (source)
Because of Foxe's Book, voices like Zoe and Marcus and Marcellianus and Quintin's are heard today. It is important that they be heard, because they speak of Jesus and by their lives Jesus speaks through them. The Martyrs and the persecuted speak today. Over at Voice of the Martyrs, a North Korean Christian who was imprisoned for many years on a gulag says,
"I could not tell you what the worst thing was I experienced. Every day in the camp was like torture. I often had to think about God's plagues for Egypt. Being in this concentration camp felt like undergoing all those 10 plagues at the same time. People were dying and their corpses were burnt. The guards scattered the ashes over the road. We walked that road every day and each time I thought: one day the other prisoners will walk over me." (source)
This is certainly not the life of ease and prosperous blessings that the above-mentioned false prophets teach.
Yet, like Zoe, Quintin and the others, when today's martyrs and persecuted Christians rely on God, HE enables them to persevere, and even thrive, spiritually. Here is that North Korean Christian again,
"Despite everything, I remained faithful to God. I remained faithful and God helped me survive. Not only that, He gave me a heart to evangelize other prisoners. Frankly, I was too scared to do it. I wanted to live. How could God ask me to tell the other prisoners about Jesus? I would die if they caught me. God persisted. He showed me which prisoners I should approach. He gave me a feeling: 'That person. Tell him.' So I went to the person and told him or her what is in Acts 16:3, that people have to believe in Jesus and that they and their households will be saved. It was an encouraging message for those prisoners, who walked on the edge of death each day. They were easily converted. Not only because of what I said. They saw the Spirit working in me..." (source)
|Photo by Marco Forti|
For those of us who are living a life of ease and comfort through no "declaration" or works of our own but by the grace of God, let the Spirit shine in you. Pray that the mercy and love of Jesus will stream forth. Can people see the Spirit working in you?
And pray for today's persecuted brethren of our Body.