There was a time when Christians in the United States thought little of martyrdom. There were not many believers in America killed for their faith. If some were, most often the news media failed to report it.
However, our world has now changed greatly. ISIS, fellows citizens and other anti-Christian groups are attempting to destroy Christianity and take over the world including the United States.
You know through television, social media and the internet that thousands of Christians around the world are being killed each year because of their faith in Jesus Christ and their refusal to deny their allegiance to Him for the sake of saving their own life or the lives of their loved ones.
This anti-God movement began in the Garden of Eden when the serpent [Satan] said to Adam and Eve that they did not need God any more, but could be like Him knowing the difference of good and evil.
“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
To be like god or to be your own god and in control of your life and the lives of others continues to be attractive to most people even today.
When non-Christian leaders are in positions of power they often perceive that Christians are a threat to the advancement of their ideology, goals and godless agendas because they follow Jesus Christ the perfect leader of all creation. Consequently Christians must be silenced or eliminated.
Jesus warned His disciples regarding powerful godless leaders:
“But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them...Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and the children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name...” (Mark 13:9, 12-13a)
In the midst of Jesus’ warning He promises the presence and aid of His Holy Spirit to those persecuted.
“When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 13:11)
Stephen, the first Christian Martyr
This writer believes that Stephen was a prototype of all Christian martyrs.
“Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking [according to Jesus’ promise, the Holy Spirit spoke through him].
“Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.” (Acts 6:8–15)
“But they [The council] cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:57–60)
Christian Martyrs Today face the same anger and violence against them as did Stephen. The persecution maybe different, but the reality of hatred is the same.
Anti-Christian rhetoric is now commonly heard in the political arena. Many have all made terroristic statements against Christians.
Alex Newman in The New American Magazine, April 8, 2013 writes ...the “Department of Defense was caught training U.S. troops that Catholics, orthodox Jews, and evangelical Christians are to be considered “religious extremists,” even equating the major religions (representing more than half of Americans) with truly violent groups such as al-Qaeda, the Ku Klux Klan, and Hamas.” (https://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/faith-and-morals/item/15028-christians-are-extremists-like-al-qaeda-u-s-army-taught-troops)
Had the President declared martial law to combat terrorism you could be, as a Christian declared an enemy of the state and subject to arrest, jail time or even death.
Until Supreme Court Justices who support the Constitution are appointed, this negative sentiment against you and your Christian beliefs will continue and grow. Where and to whom may you turn for help?
Jesus Christ speaking to His disciples says that persecution of His followers is normative.
““But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.” (Matthew 10:17–19)
The often tested King David confidently declares:
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
Remember, “He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13)
The Apostle Paul adds:
“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1–2)
Jesus is Your Comfort and Peace in times of testing and trials. You need not fear regarding future persecution and martyrdom because the Lord Jesus Christ,
“…Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”” (Hebrews 13:5b)
Praise the Lord!
About the author:
Pastor Bingham is the founder of CupBearers, and was for 17 years a missionary with Cadence International and has been the Pastor of Rocky Mountain Evangelical Free Church for 32 years. He also served on the CMF Board of Directors for several years.