Sunday, February 2, 2014

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.

1 comment:

  1. "...Christians in the East are enduring an all-out-assault by Islamic terrorists.....in Syria alone there have been reports of kidnappings, Christian communities intentionally displaced by militants and, worst of all, shootings and be-headings of Christians who refused to convert to Islam.....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..."

    Yet,

    "...Christians in the West live their lives largely oblivious to it all..."

    God has no favorite nation or race, nor does He favor any individual because of nationality, birth, or position in life, "...Of a truth...God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34)

    When the above persecution come upon our nation, it may very well come from our own, so to say, "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:16-17).

    In the above scripture, Jesus does not speak of persecution coming from pagans or false religious organizations, but of opposition and hostility from so-called professed believers, religious authorities, and congregations. His reference to the world hating believers (John 15:18-19) will include these religious people. These so-called professed believers have values so different from the true N.T. gospel that when they persecute or kill true followers of Christ, they think they are serving God (sounds familiar to what is going on today in the East).

    "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God , and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans 8:16-17).

    Mario

    ReplyDelete

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