Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Martyr Moment: Zoe, the Twins, Quintin, and today's persecuted Christian

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

Aurelian, 44th Emperor of Roman Empire
Last week we began we began looking at the Ninth Persecution Under Aurelian, A.D. 274. It was a brief look, Emperor Aurelian was killed by his own brothers a short while after taking the throne.

"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

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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.

4 comments:

  1. In addition to the usual WOF preachers like Joel Osteen, you should include self-appointed "Bible teachers" like Jack Kelly.

    On his Gracethrufaith website he continually says that if you are nice to Jews/Israel you will receive a blessing. He uses Genesis 12:3 to support this view. I have read comments by his militant followers on Rapture Ready, who say they like to donate money to Jewish causes so they will get a blessing from God. Apparently these folks think Jesus is a vending machine!

    Just so you know, I have been respectful to Jews all of my life (I'm 40) and can honestly say it made no difference in terms of getting any sort of blessing. If anything it seems to invite Satanic attacks, which is understandable.

    In addition, this Kelly guy also says things like as long as you believe Christ is savior you can live completely unrepentant of sin and still make it to heaven. This includes acts like homosexuality and fornication. HA! He claimed the rapture would take place in 2011. Obviously that never happened.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thanks for reading. As for Jack Kelley, I know of a Jack Kelley of the website gracethrufaith.com. I stopped reading him when he defended the Gap Theory. This theory is that there exists a gap between gen 1:1 and 1:2 and this span of time is when Lucifer sinned. He said "...that something happened to cause a judgment that rendered Planet Earth an uninhabitable ruin after it was originally formed," and "A long gap of time between verses 2 and 3 while the Earth lay in darkness as a result of the judgment (and darkness was on the face of the deep)." more on why gap theory is incorrect, here
      http://www.gotquestions.org/gap-theory.html

      He also denies that God elects sinners to salvation, saying that the choice is ours personally (only), and misapplies Romans 8:29-30 ("foreknew") to defend his stance.

      As you shared the verse, The LORD DID say that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed. (Gen 12:3). I don't think he can be held responsible for how his readers twist the scripture.

      Kelley did not say flatly as a prediction the rapture would be in 2011, he wrote an essay supporting the possibility of it. Here: http://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/in-support-of-a-2011-rapture/
      His study was based on calculations on dates from Israel's birth and lengths of lifespans from the bible. He urged readers to do their own study. Yes it came close to date-setting, but in reading the essay it did seem clear to me that it was his personal opinion.

      From what I've read of Mr Kelley it doesn't sound like him to say that "Christ is savior you can live completely unrepentant of sin and still make it to heaven."

      Delete
  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    A few months back, Jack Kelley received an email from a woman who said that her son decided to live 'fast and loose' because he'd read on gracethrufaith you can do that and make it to heaven, as long as you trust Jesus as your personal savior. Kelley repeated his assertion that her son was spiritually okay. I wish I'd bookmarked that question and response so I could send it to you. It was quite horrifying, frankly.

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    1. Hello!

      Maybe he was explaining the doctrine of eternal security- he gets that question a lot. (However the doctrine of eternal security should always be paired with the reality of progressive sanctification, there's no such thing as a carnal Christian'- fruit WILL be borne). Anyway, as I said, between his adherence to the Gap Theory and his misunderstanding of sovereign election and the doctrines of grace, I stopped reading him. But he sure knows his bible-era history, I give him that. :)

      Delete

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