Are You Martyr Material?Bro. David Chancellor
12/3/2006 6:00 PM
And 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; Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched 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. Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the word was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
People have endured many things to walk with God. These of the Old Testament went through with faith even though they hadn’t received the promise yet. We have something better than they did.
Are you martyr material (and we don’t mean blowing up cars and killing people)? Would you endure to the end? Would you be faithful in adversity? How is your faith and love in God? These are what enable people to go through. What is your commitment to God? If you are settled to live for God, you will be able to face whatever comes your way. It takes the quality of commitment.
The martyrs of years ago didn’t have to be told, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves." There were some in France who walked 8 miles out of town, to meet out of doors in the rain and in the dark. They met in fear of being discovered and destroyed. If your pastor has to stay on your back to get you to church, you aren’t martyr material. There is something lacking in people’s commitment to Christ if their pastor has to constantly be on them to get them to church. The man who was preaching to these in France who became martyrs had to live in caves because the opposition was out to get him, because he was getting the job done.
Martyrs have certain character qualities. We can also have these qualities and be encouraged to be faithful. The saddest individuals were those who caved in to the opposition and didn’t remain faithful. They felt a failure of defeat. It means something to be willing to go through whatever it takes to have a clear conscience before God.
What kind of person are we? We believe in standing for what is true and what is right, but we aren’t called to punish others. We aren’t called to chase people down and give them their just due. God can still take care of his church and meet out judgment.
If your commitment to God is sound and your faith is fixed in God, you’ll be able to go through whatever comes your way. Some people give up way short of martyrdom. Keep your commitment to God and you’ll be able to overcome the little battles as well as the big ones. Be faithful in the day to day grind.
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council. And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.
This is a good account of Stephen. As you face life’s troubles, go through it praying, "Lord, help me face it right." Many accounts of martyrs tell of the grace and peace that they had when going through the trouble. It made others want what they had. When you have God, he can bless you with the right spirit and wisdom for the situation. God will uphold the right. We don’t have to try to prove our case. We don’t have to go and play politics to prove the truth. We should have an overwhelming desire to do what is right.
Martyrs want to lift up Jesus and be true to him. None of them set out wishing to die, but they were determined to be true to God even if it brought death. Being true in a lukewarm age requires the same commitment. We have to be determined to stand true and not let anything turn us aside from God.
1 John 4:20-21
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him. That he who loveth God love his brother also.
We need to have a love for God, not just a love for religion. If a man doesn’t love his fellowman, he doesn’t love God either. Any religion that doesn’t bring love toward both God AND man falls short of what God wants. If we would have the qualities of the martyrs, we can’t love God and hate men. Those that hate their fellowman and say they love God really just love their religion. If we would have the religion that pleases God, we need to love both God and our fellowman.
Those that killed the martyrs didn’t succeed in their goal. People still live for God today. We need to treat others right even if they treat us wrong. We want people to know that we love them.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
By this passage of scripture, no one can claim to be a Christian and hurt other people intentionally. We love people, not just the ones that agree with us. To read this any other way is to read it in a sectarian way.
You’ll never convince anyone that you’re the people of God by persecution and coercion. You can convince people you’re of God when you show God’s love to them. This doesn’t mean that we overlook their sin. We can still speak the truth in love. We can share the truth out of love and concern. People will know because of your love for others, especially when you’re enduring hard and unpleasant things.
Some people persecute thinking that they’re doing God a service. This is blind and misguided thinking. We need to love God and have a deep commitment to him. We need to want to go through to the end no matter what comes against us.
What is lacking that causes people to feel they have to stay on people’s case to get them to church? It is a lack of commitment. In meeting together we find our source of strength, we find encouragement for our souls. We need to meet together to get what we need to stand. The people of God should desire to be together. If people want to be somewhere else, their commitment is lacking. God wants our commitment to be such that we WANT to gather with the people of God. We should want the things of God so much that we’ll do whatever it takes to stay clear before God. Be faithful to him in all of life’s troubles.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep: In journeyings often, in perils of waters, imperils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, imperils among false brethren: In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Paul went through a lot. We might battle discouragements and such, but really, we haven’t faced all that much. "…in perils among false brethren…" The preacher the night the martyrs met in the rain met his death because someone turned him in. It is sad when you face trials through lost confidence. It would be better to go to the stake than to have your faith in humanity totally destroyed. We don’t want to do anything to cause someone else to fall. We’re here to help and strengthen each other. The devil wants to destroy the help we get from each other. Stay committed to God, keep your love for him and keep the love he puts in your heart for your fellowman. We can be faithful like the martyrs were. We can be victorious if we have the same commitment to God and the love for God and our fellowman. To be an overcomer, you need to have a commitment to God. We want to have the grace to live for God, no matter what comes our way.