Brethren, I would like to speak to you about a very sobering subject tonight. I ask you to leave now if you truly don't desire to be challenged in your Christian walk tonight. I ask you to leave if you just wanted to hear some entertaining preacher who would tell you stories and jokes. Please do not be offended, all I am desiring to ask you is this: "Have you come to understand and walk in, true christianity?"
Believe me when I say this, time is coming soon that you would wish that you heard many more mesages of this content and type.
Time is coming soon that we all wish we would have much more prepared our faith for the things coming on the earth.
Brethren, time is coming soon when we would have all wished we would have suffering more, prayed more, evangelized more, lived more for Christ.
Christ is risen. He is the only way to heaven. He was the reward of saints gone by.
Christ and nothing! Men of old gave everything for Christ.
Christ was to them a pearl of such great price it was worth selling everything.
I would like to tonight, take you through 3 topics of consideration.
1. Martyrdom and Suffering in Scripture
2. The suffering of Early Christian Maryrs
3. The example of Anabaptists
[b]1. Martyrdom and Suffering in Scripture [/b]
There is so literally so much scripture on the topic of suffering and martrydom in the bible that we will just have to look at a few portions tonight.
1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
1 John 3:12-13
12Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.
13Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
32And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
[b]2. The example of Early Christian Maryrs [/b]
The deaths of the Apostles:
· Andrew: Martyrdom by crucifixion (bound to a cross).
· Bartholomew: Martyrdom by being Flayed alive and crucified, head downward.
· James the Greater: Martyrdom by being stabbed with a sword.
· James the Lesser: Martyrdom by being thrown from a pinnacle of the Temple at Jerusalem , then stoned and beaten with clubs.
· John: An attempt to boil him alive in oil. Exiled to Patmos.
· Mark: Was dragged in the streets until his death.
· Jude: Martyrdom by being beaten to death with a club.
· Matthew: Martyrdom by being beheaded.
· Peter: Martyrdom by crucifixion at Rome with his head downwards.
· Philip: Martyrdom.2
· Simon: Martyrdom by being sawn in half.
· Thomas: Martyrdom by being stabbed with a spear.
· Paul: Martyrdom by being beheaded in Rome.
Tortures and Torments of the Christian Martyrs
Of Crosses and Stakes: A. Martyrs suspended by one foot. B. Suspended by both feet. C. Raised on the cross, head uppermost. D. nailed to the cross, head downwards. E. Hung up by both arms, heavy weights being attached to the feet. F. Christian woman suspended by the hair. G. Martyrs hung up by one arm only, ponderous stones being fastened to their feet.
Divers Modes of Suspension: A. Martyr suspended by both feet, and a great stone fastened to his neck. B. Sometimes the Blessed Martyrs, after being smeared with honey were bound to stakes fixed in the ground, and so exposed to the rays of the sun to be tortured by the stings of flies and bees. C. Martyr suspended by one foot; one leg is bent at the knee, which is constricted by means of an iron ring, the other being weighted with a heavy mass of iron.
More suspensions: A. Martyr suspended by the feet, and his head at the same tim pounded with hammers. B. Martyr suspended by the hands, which are tied behind his back, heavy weights being fastened to his feet and around his neck.
The Great Wheel: A. Sometimes martyrs were bound to the circumference of great wheels, and so hurled from a height over stony places.
Wheels of a Second Sort: A. Martyr whose limbs are interwoven in the spokes of a wheel, on which he is left exposed for days, till he dies. B. Martyr bound to a narrow wheel, which is revolved, so that his body is horribly mangled on iron spikes fixed underneath.
Wherein Bodies were Racked and Stretched: A. A pulley. B. martyrs racked at the pulleys. C. Crushed in the press, just as grapes and olives are pressed in making wine and oil. D. Capstan or windlass.
Raised on a Pulley: A. Martyr, with his hands tied behind his back, hoisted in the air by a rope. B. Pulley. C. Spikes, or sometimes, sharp flints, on to which the Martyr was let fall.
On the use of Cudgels: A. Martyr bound to four stakes and beaten with cudgels. B. Martyr laid naked on iron spikes and violently beaten with a cudgel. C. Martyr bound hand and foot and similarly beaten with a cudgel.
Buffeted, Stoned and Crushed: A. Martyr buffeted, kicked, and pounded with the fists. B. Martyr being stoned. C. Martyr whose face and jaws are bruised and broken with a stone. D. Martyr crushed under a huge stone.
Of Currycombs and Pincers: A. Martyr tortured by means of the iron claw or pincers. B. Torn with the hooks. C. Mangled with the iron currycombs.
Scorched on the Wooden Horse: A. Martyr hung from the wooden horse and scorched with the flame of torches. B. Martyr suspended by his feet from a pulley and tortured in a like fashion.
Frying-pans and Pots: A. Martyr thrown head-first into a caldron full of molten lead or boiling oil. B. Martyr in a hot frying-pan. C. martyr plunged into a boiling pot.
The Brazen Bull and Iron Bed: A. Martyr's dismembered limbs put in a frying-pan. B. Martyr in the brazen bull. C. Laid on the iron bed and broiled.
Other Instruments of Martyrdom: A. Martyr whose hand is filled with incense mingled with live coals, and who being constrained by the pain to scatter the incense, is said to have made sacrifice to the idol. B. Martyr clad in the iron tunic and shod with the red-hot shoes, which consume the flesh off his bones. C. Martyr seated in the iron chair, while a red-hot helmet, or morion, is set on his head.
Burning Coals, Molten Substances: A. Martyr compelled to walk over burning coals, while molten lead, boiling pitch, or like substances, are poured over his head.
Some Uses of Fires: A. Martyr cast into a burning fiery furnace. B. Martyrs set in a tun, or cask, and burned therein. C. Martyr burned in a room, or chamber, that hath been set on fire. D. Bound hand and foot and set on a blazing pile. E. Bound to four pegs fixed in the ground, with a fire burning underneath. F. Bound with ropes drenched in oil and consumed by a fire lighted under him. G. Thrown into a pit full of live coals. H. Iron shovel for stirring and rousing the fire.
Stabbed by Styles, and Amputated: A. Martyr stabbed to death by boys with their writing styles. B. Martyr whose limbs are amputated one by one.
Beating and Piercing: A. Martyr stabbed in the throat with a dagger. B. Short to death with arrows. C. Beaten over the head with an axe. D. Beheaded with a sword. E. Transfixed with a spear.
Sawn in Two: A. Martyr struck with a club or cudgel. B. Sawn in two with an iron saw. C. Hands and feet cut off.
Piercing the Inwards: A. Martyr pierced through with a sharp-pointed stake. B. Martyr whose belly has been cut open and the liver torn out, which the heathen used sometimes to eat.
Martyrs being Flayed Alive: A. Martyrs being flayed alive.
Legs Torn, and Sharp Reeds: A. Martyr bound by either leg to the tops of two neighboring trees, which have been bent down and forcibly drawn together, and will presently be suddenly let go again. B. Martyr tortured by having sharp reeds stuck under his finger and toe nails.
Condemned to the Wild Beasts: A. Martyr imprisoned in a net, and so exposed to be tossed by a wild bull. B. Thrown down naked to be devoured by wild beasts. C. Wrapped in a wild beast's hie, and so left to be torn by animals. D. His feet fixed in a great stone, and with red-hot brad-awls stuck under his fingernails, the martyr is gibven over to be worried by starving dogs.
Cast Down from a Height: A. Martyrs cast down headlong from a height. B. Thrown into a lime kiln.
Shut Up in a Box and Drowned: A. Martyr shut up in a leaden box and drowned in a river. B. Sewn up in a bag, together with a cock, a viper, an ape, and a dog, and thrown into the nearest sea or stream.
Other Early Christian Maryrs:
Agapius: He was brought to the arena with a murderer to be cast to wild animals. The emperor gave clemency to the murderer. When the Christian refused to accept liberty by renouncing his faith, he rushed against a bear let loose upon him. After being mauled by the bear, he was taken to prison. Surviving for one day, stones were bound to his feet, and he was thrown into the sea. (357)
Alpheus: He was scourged and scraped with iron hooks and severe bonds. He received different tortures on the rack, having his feet stretched a night and a day to the fourth hole in the stocks. At length, he was beheaded. (350)
Apollonia: They seized this elderly woman, beat her jaws, and broke out all her teeth. They built a fire and threatened to burn her alive unless she would repeat their impious expressions. She appeared to shrink a little, but when allowed to go, she suddenly sprang into the fire and was consumed. (258)
Apollonius: He was renowned for his learning and wisdom. After he gave an eloquent defence of the faith before the judge, he was decapitated according to the decree of the senate. (205)
Apphianus: When this youth tried to prevent Urbanus from sacrificing to a god, he was seized and torn by the soldiers. He received innumerable stripes on his whole body and was cast into prison. There he was stretched with both feet a night and a day on the rack. When he was brought before the judge and refused to make a sacrifice, his sides were furrowed and scraped to the bone while he was being beaten on the face and neck. When he still did not yield, they covered his feet with linen steeped in oil and set fire to the cloth. The fire penetrated to the bones, but the youth did not die or yield. Defeated, the tormentors returned him to prison. After three days, he was taken again to the judge. This time, as he remained faithful to his belief, he was thrown into the sea and drowned. (355)
Blandina: She was tortured by tormentors who took turns from morning till night until they were overcome. She continued to live despite her whole body being torn asunder and pierced. Later, she was bound and suspended on a stake, being exposed as food for wild animals. When none of the animals would touch her, she was taken down from the stake and returned to prison for another time. Then, after scourging, exposure to animals, and roasting, she was thrown into a net and cast before a bull. After much tossing from the animal, she died. (172-179)
Ennathas: She was dragged by force and brought before the judge. After being scourged and enduring dreadful abuses, she was stripped of her clothes above the loins. As she was led about the city, she was beaten with thongs of hide. She remained cheerful through this; and, when she was taken back before the judge, she was condemned to the flames. (365, 366)
Julian: He was an old man who was afflicted with gout. Having confessed the Lord in front of his accusers, he was carried on a camel throughout the city. In this elevation, he was scourged and finally consumed in an immense fire, surrounded by the thronging crowds of spectators. (259)
Metra: An aged man, he was called upon to utter impious statements. When he did not obey, his tormentors beat his body with clubs, and pricked his face and eyes. After that, they led him to the suburbs, where they stoned him. (257)
Origen: He endured many torments to the body because of his faith. He was under an iron collar, spent time in the deepest recesses of the prison, for many days was extended and stretched to four holes on the rack, was threatened by fire, and had other tortures. The judge tried hard to protract his life in order to prolong his sufferings. (255)
Polycarp: He was a teacher from Asia who taught multitudes not to sacrifice to the gods nor worship them. Through a vision he had, he said that he must be burned alive. After he was bound to the stake, he prayed and awaited the fire. The flames gave the appearance of an oven around him. He was in the midst, not like burning flesh, but like gold and silver purified in the flames. A fragrant odour, like the fumes of incense, or other precious aromatic drugs, was perceived. When the persecutors saw that his body could not be consumed by fire, they commanded the executor to plunge his sword into him. When this was done, such a quantity of blood gushed forth that the fire was extinguished. His body was later burned according to the custom of the Gentiles, and his bones were buried. (143)
Pothinus: He had performed the ministrations of the episcopate of Lyons. Although past ninety years of age, very infirm of body, he was taken to the tribunal where he stood firm in his faith. He was unmercifully dragged away and endured many stripes, while those nearby abused him with their hands and feet. Then, after two days in prison, he died. (174)
Procopius: Before he was tried by imprisonment, he was taken before the tribunal of the governor. When commanded to sacrifice to the gods, he declared that he knew only one to whom it was proper to sacrifice. When ordered to make libations [the ritual of pouring out wine or oil in honor of a god] to the four emperors, he stated a sentence which did not please his accusers. Immediately, he was beheaded. (349)
Quinta: They took her to the temple of an idol and tried to force her to worship. When she turned away in disgust, they tied her by the feet and dragged her through the city, dashing her against the millstones and scourging her at the same time. When they completed the dragging where they started, they stoned her. (257)
Sanctus: He suffered many torments devised by men. When these men could do no more, they fastened hot plates of brass to the most tender parts of his body. He withstood all the suffering, but his body was one continued wound, mangled and shrivelled, that had entirely lost the form of man to the external eye. Again, he passed through the tortures. These included the strokes of the scourge, the draggings and lacerations from the beasts, other tortures demanded by the audience, and the iron chair upon which his body was roasted. Other tortures followed until he died. (172-176)
Serapion: He was seized in his own house. After torturing him with the severest cruelties and breaking all his limbs, they threw him headlong from an upper storey of the house. (258)
Simeon: He was the son of Cleophas, a descendant of David, and the second bishop of Jerusalem. When he was one hundred and twenty years old, a search was made for any descendants of David. Simeon was one who was taken into custody. After he had been tormented for several days, he was crucified. (118)
Theodosia: She was not yet eighteen years old, yet was distinguished for her faith and virtue. As she approached some prisoners before the judgment seat to salute them, she was seized by the soldiers and led away to the commander. She was tortured cruelly, having her sides and breasts furrowed with instruments even to the bones. She kept a cheerful and joyful countenance throughout. Then she was ordered to be cast into the sea. (359)
Timotheus: He endured a multitude of tortures. Then he was condemned to be consumed by a slow and gentle fire. Throughout it all, he exhibited an undeniable proof of his sincere devotedness to God. (352)
Ulpian: He was a young man who suffered dreadful torments and the most severe scourgings. After all of these, he was sewn in a raw bull's hide, together with a dog and a poisonous asp, and thrown into the sea. (357)
[b]3. The example of Anabaptists [/b]
Quote from Art Katz on coming persecution:
"The greater number of Christians will not be able to be satisfied with conventional Christendom. That merely to sit in a church that speaks a correct word or doctrine is not enough. Things that are merely correct are not enough. Merely to be phraseologically correct is not enough. There needs to be an awesome, a power, an authenticity in our words and in our life. And there is going to be a restlessness in many Christians who have been able to be satisfied this long in situations like that. But the very issues that are taking place in the world will be a factor that will move saints to look for a deeper quality of faith and relationship than what they now know in their conventional and predictable "Christian" situations.
And so we have the very formative factors by which a minority of the Spirit will increasingly be called out to be the remnant people of God who are willing to pay the price of true relationship and true faith. Whereas the majority who do not see the need or have not have the stomach for the cost and the sacrifice of it and who remain in these normative "Christian" situations will be increasingly deceived, having the words that are appropriate to the faith but not the power thereof. But what's more, they will be irritated by that minority of the Spirit who have moved on to a more authentic existential quality of faith and look upon them not only as being strange but perhaps even being heretical and even threatening to what is considered normal or a normative Christian.
In a word, we are going to see formed the very elements that make up the church that is persecuted and the church that is its persecutor. And we need to know now that we are moving toward the one or the other. There will not be as I said before a neutral ground. That the logic of true faith is persecution and that the Scriptures will be fulfilled that says "and they will kill us and claim that they are doing God a service". We are going to see the re-enactment of the persecution of the Anabaptists in the 16th century, even persecuted by the major reformation churches. Again to be the distinguishing character of the struggle at the end of the age again. "
Denny Kenaston quote:
A deep love and commitment to Jesus Christ brings an overflow of grace and power into a life. This grace and power brings influence on the world of souls around us. Sometimes this fragrance is sweet to the seeking heart, and sometimes it is a stench to the hard and impenitent. All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. This suffering brings more grace, a deeper love for God, and more burdens for the lost. In time, this process makes a powerful, dynamic church, which is the body of Christ on the earth. The annals of church history are scattered with testimonies of this upflaming of God's people, fueled with the effects of persecution.
There was a precious group of people like this that lived in parts of Europe in the sixteenth century. Their persecutors named them Anabaptists because they believed in believer's baptism and renounced their infant baptism in the Church of Rome. Oh how they loved the Lord Jesus! Oh how they loved the Word of God and wanted to obey it in every way! Persecution and martyrdom awaited these dear people everywhere they moved. From 1525 to around 1600, multitudes of them gave their lives for the cause of Christ. This covers the span of about three generations.
The Anabaptists believed in the freedom of the will, with the help of divine grace, that man may overcome evil tendencies in his character and obey the divine commandments of God.
The Anabaptists believed in and strongly emphasized spiritual rebirth, the transformation of "natural" man into "spiritual" man
And likewise have power (received through the Holy Spirit) to resist evil, sin, and disobedience to God, pride, and selfishness, which formerly would have dominated his character.
The Anabaptists declared to these other churches:
"This mercy, love, and community we teach and practice, and have taught and practiced these seventeen years. God be thanked forever that although our property has to a great extent been taken away from us and is still daily taken, and many a righteous father and mother are put to the sword or fire, and although we are not allowed the free enjoyment of our homes as is manifest ... yet none of those who have joined us nor any of their orphaned children have been forced to beg. If this is not Christian practice, then we might as well abandon the whole Gospel of our Lord. ...
"Is it not sad and intolerable hypocrisy that these poor people [the Lutherans] boast of having the Word of God, of being the true, Christian church, never remembering that they have entirely lost their sign of true Christianity? Although many of them have plenty of everything, go about in silk and velvet, gold and silver, and in all manner of pomp and splendor, ... they allow many of their own poor and afflicted members to ask for alms. [They force] the poor, the hungry, the suffering, the elderly, the lame, the blind, and the sick to beg for bread at their doors.
"Oh preachers, dear preachers, where is the power of the Gospel you preach? ... Where are the fruits of the Spirit you have received?"
May we go forward in our day with the same apostolic spirit in us.
May we go forward with brothers and sisters who suffering before us.
May we go forward with the power of the Gospel in our lifes.
[i]Greg Gordon (1979 - Present) - founder of sermonindex.net ministry. His desire is to pray for and see society changing revival in North America.[/i]
[i]Note: this was a outline of a sermon recently preached in Caranport, SK, Canada[/i]
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon