Sunday, October 20, 2013

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."

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