This book needs to be elevated to the personal level of a must read for those of us who desire to pursue God passionately in these spiritually compromising and confusing times. Hopefully, we as Baptists know where we inherited the name from; the Anabaptists. From a link on John MacArthur’s Grace to You website, I found this definition; “The word Anabaptist means "re-baptizer." It is a label often assigned to all "Radical Reformers"—a diverse group that remained outside the mainstream of the Reformation—they were the lunatic fringe of the Reformation.” Please see this definition, and more at http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/anabapt.htm
As you read their 5 tenets, one that stands out the most is their stand on Believer’s baptism versus infant baptism. “The anabaptists were the among the first to point out the lack of explicit biblical support for infant baptism.” I think this distinction is very relative to us today, as people like me and our dear Pastor have a testimony that includes our involvement and knowledge of this practice both being brought up an a Catholic church.
Foxe’s book of Martyrs documents in very explicit language, and paints especially very vivid pictures of the lives and demise of those willing to hold to may of the tenets of our Anabaptist forefathers. In this particular installment, I have chosen to re-type very many chronological excerpts from my copy of the book(what year or release I don’t know); to not only wet your appetite to pick one up, as well as engage in a little self-edification to perhaps propel myself into elevated my spiritual convictions towards a biblical definition of separation in the midst of a great ecumenical apostate movement in America today. There is a lot here! These are only highlights, and I’m certain it is barley 5% of the book I’ve pulled out and re-typed here.
Please do all you can to endure the graphic replication of the text, and continue to the end where I have written a brief conclusion and included a very practical word of encouragement for us today.
In the preface it introduces those included in the book as “…brave upholders of our faith (who) were imprisoned, tortured, and slain by the thousands. In an age of religious liberty such as the present, when justice, and freedom, happiness, and well-being of the multitude are jealously guarded-when offenders against the laws are subjected to no avoidable physical pain, and even science in called upon to provide for the most dangerous of them the least painful of deaths-it is with amazement that we read of the barbarous punishments of the past.” Included for the most part in this book is a graphic, and perhaps very historically accurate(though not ‘inspired’) “Appalling…accounts of man’s inhumanity to man”. “…only differing in being upheld by a fiery zeal and fervent faith which grew stronger with persecution, defied prisons and tormentors, and shone yet brighter than the flames in which their bodies finally perished.”
“John Foxe was an Englishman, born in the Roman Communion in 1517 at Boston, Lincolnshire…He entered Oxford University at sixteen…in 1543 he was chosen a fellow of Magdalen College. He took up the study of religious history to find reasons for the increase and decline of the Church of Rome.”
“Foxe (was led) toward Protestantism. Having fallen under suspicion of heresy, he was either removed from his fellowship, or found it advisable to resign and leave Oxford…Fox became a tutor in the family of Sir Thomas Lucy of Warwickshire. He marries…and moved to London. After enduring many hardships and privations, Foxe…obtained another tutorship (with) the grandsons of the Duke of Norfolk.” “In 1559 Foxe returned (to) London.” From approximately June of 1550, despite receiving an “ordination from Bishop Ridley of the Church of England…he was satisfied with his minor duties at Salisbury…his life thereafter was devoted to ministerial work, the writing of books, principal among them being the Book of Martyrs”. “John Foxe passed away on April 18, 1587”
Chapter One starts “The first Christian Martyrs were those who suffered under the persecution of the Romans in the early ages of the Church. For two hundred and forty years, or from about the year 64 after Christ to the time of the emperor Constantine (306), the cruel punishments inflicted upon the Christians by their heathen enemies are described by the ancient historians as being as various and horrible as the mind of man, inspired by the devil, could invent. Some were slain with the sword, some burned with fire; some scourged with whips; some stabbed with forks of iron; some fastened to the cross or gibbet; some drowned in the sea; some had their skins plucked off; some were stoned to death; some killed with cold; some starved with hunger; some with their hands cut off or otherwise disabled, were left naked to the open shame of the world. Yet, notwithstanding the sharpness of their torments, such as was the constancy of those who suffered – or rather, such was the power of the Lord in His saints – that they generally remained faithful to the end.”
“The first martyr…was Jesus Christ himself.”
Chapter 2 depicts “The lives, sufferings, and cruel deaths of the apostles and evangelists.” It begins with “Stephen..the...proto-martyr, or first martyr…the first man put to death for his faith in Jesus Christ.” “On being taken before the council, he made a noble defence: but that so much the more enraged his judges, so that they resolved to condemn him to death. At this instant, Stephen saw a vision from Heaven, and in rapture he exclaimed, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the rights hand of God!” Then the Jews cried out against him, and having dragged him out of the city, they stoned him to death.”
“James…the elder brother of the apostle John…was the first of the apostles to meet a martyr’s death. Herod Agrippa…raised a persecution against the Christians, and especially singled out James as an object of his vengeance. “(the) man who had brought false accusations against him walked with him to the place of execution. He had…expected to see James looking pale and frightened, by the saw him, instead, bright and joyous.” “The false witness greatly wondered at this, and became convinced that the Savior in whom the prisoner by his side believed must be the true God.” “The man himself, therefore, became a convert to Christianity, and was condemned to die with James the apostle. Both were…beheaded the same day and with the same sword. This took place in the year of our Lord 44.”
“Philip…labored…diligently in his apostleship. …arriving at Hierapolis…the inhabitants so sunk in idolatry as to worship a great serpent. Philip…converted many of them to Christianity, and even accomplished the destruction of the serpent. This so enraged the rulers, and especially the priests, who gained much money by the superstitions of the people. He was then cruelly scourged, and afterwards crucified. Bartholomew succeeded in taking down the body, and burying it…for this, he was himself very near suffering the same fate. Philip’s martyrdom took place 8 years after James in the year 52 after Christ.”
“Matthew…tax gatherer, or collector of tribute. After the ascension of his Master, he continued preaching the gospel in Judea for nine years. …he wrote his gospel in Hebrew for the use of the Jewish people to whom he had preached. It was afterwards translated into Greek…He then went into Ethiopia, ordained preachers, settled churches, and made many converts. He…traveled to Parthia, where he met his death, being slain with the sword, about the year 60.”
“Mark…seized, his feet were tied together, and he was dragged through the streets, and left bruised and bleeding in a dungeon all night. The next day they burned his body.”
“James(the less)…The Jews of Jerusalem…greatly enraged against the Christians, determined to wreak their vengeance on (this) James. The mob being incited to attack him, they fell upon him in the street, threw him down, and beat, bruised, and stoned him to death.”
“Matthias…was martyred at Jerusalem, being first stoned and then beheaded.”
“Andrew…the brother of Peter…in Greece, the governor…threatened him with death for preaching against the idols which he worshipped…Andrew fearlessly continued to tell the people of Christ. He was…sentenced to be crucified on a cross made of two pieces of wood of equal length, the ends of which were fixed in the ground. He was fastened to it…with cords…that his death might be more slow. Andrew hung upon the cross three whole days, suffering dreadful pain, but continuing constantly to tell people around him of the love of Jesus Christ.”
“Peter…Herod Agrippa…found it pleased the Jews…(having caused) James to be put to death…resolved that Peter should be the next sacrifice. He was…arrested, and thrown into prison…the Lord came in the night…touched him…his chains fell off…he went out free. Herod was so angry at his escape that he ordered the sentinels who guarded the dungeon in which he had been confined be put to death. Peter went to Rome. In the year 64…Nero(as it was believed) caused the great city to be set on fire…the wicked emperor accused the Christians. There was a magician at Rome…who pretended he could fly…(who was) a great favorite of Nero…Crowds came together one day to see him fly…among the crowd were Peter and Paul…Peter and Paul knelt down and called on the Lord to confound the magician, and bring his deeds to naught…Simon(the magician) at once fell to the ground and broke both his legs. Nero…cast Peter and Paul into prison…and kept there nine months. During this time they converted two of the captains of the guards, and forty-seven other persons, to Christianity Peter was…scourged…crucified with his head downwards. It is related that he himself chose this painful posture because he did not think he was worthy to suffer in the same manner of his Lord.”
“Paul…was then martyred by the order of Nero, by being beheaded with the sword.”
“Jude…the brother of James…he wrought many miracles and made many converts which stirring up the resentment of people in power, he was crucified in the year 72 after Christ.”
“Bartholomew…translated Matthews gospel into the language of heathen nations. The idolaters finally slew him, some say with the sword, others say that he was beaten to death with clubs.”
“Thomas…preached in Parthia and India. After converting many to Christ he aroused the anger of the pagan priests, and was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.”
“Luke…traveled with Paul to Rome and preached to many barbarous nations. It is not known…whether Luke died a natural death, or was martyred by the enemies of Christianity.”
“Simon…preached with great success in Mauritania and other parts of Africa, and even in Britian, where though he made many converts, he was crucified by the pagans in the year 74.”
“John…founded many churches in Greece…at Effuses, he was ordered by the Emperor Domitian to be set bound to Rome, where he was condemned to be cast into a caldron of boiling oil…this sentence was not carried out…he was afterward banished…to the island of Patmos…(where he wrote…Revelation). Domitian died, and the next emperor, Nerva, …sent John back to Effuses, when he wrote his gospel. He lived to be a very old man, and died a natural death at Effuses-some writers say in the one-hundredth year of his age.”
Chapter 3 documents even further the “First general persecution of the Christians: under Nero, A.D. 64” “Nero…was the sixth emperor of Rome…Nero was made emperor when only sixteen years old, through the dark plots of his wicked mother Agrippina, who by poisoning her husband, the emperor Claudius, and his son, cleared the way to the throne for Nero, who was her son by a former marriage.” Included is mere references to how Nero accused the Christians, and his cruel treatment of them like this…“Others he had wrapped in tow and smeared with pitch; they ere then fastened to tall poles planted in the garden of his palace and set on fire…while Nero…reclined upon a balcony and watched the blazing of what he called his ‘torches’”. You will read as you go through the many persecutions that “persecution…indeed, (made) their numbers greater.”
Chapter 4 details the “Assault of Jerusalem, A.D. 70” “…the Romans surrounded the walls of the city, cut off all supplies of food from the starving inhabitants…Pestilence raged in almost every house; there was scarcely any food or drink to be had; and the wretched Jews, instead of holding together and attacking their common enemy, fought among themselves.” This should probably serve as a reminder towards what will occur during the great tribulation, as predicted in Revelation chapter 6, men of the same country will turn upon themselves as the judgments are poured out. Read then “The 2nd persecution under Domitian, A.D. 85”, “The 3rd persecution under Trajan, A.D. 108”, “The 4th persecution under Marcus Aurelius, A.D. 163”, and about Polycarp.
“Polycarpus, a follower and convert of John the evangelist, had served in the ministry of Christ for 60 years…(he died a)…cruel martyrdom…in his 86th year. The holy man still earnestly prayed to heaven, after being bound to the stake. Fire was set to the wood, and the flames grew hot; the executioners gave way on both sides, as the heat was intolerable. But all this time the martyr sang praises to God in the midst of the flames, remaining for a long time unconsumed therin…Astonished at this miracle, but determined to put an end to his life, the guards stuck spears into his body, when the quantity of blood that issued from the wounds of their victim put out the flames. After may attempts, however, they put him to death, and burned the dead body which they had not been able to consume while alive. The extraordinary event had such an effect upon the people, that they began to worship Polycarpus as a god.”
There are many stories included like the next 3, that should push us to know that we know, as well as encourage others to know that they know they are indeed saved; and that we are all willing to demonstrate this level of commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ should persecution ever resurrect itself in this age where we have only known persecution towards those minor moral stands we take, but never physical persecution for our faith. The story is “of a Roman mother and her sons”.
“Felicitatas, a Roman lady of high rank and great ability, was a devout Christian. She had seven sons, whom she had educated with the most pious care. The empire being about this time grievously troubled with earthquakes, famine, and floods, the Christians were accused of causing these disasters, and Felicitatas was included in the accusation. Publius…proceeded against her. At the examination…finding her firm…(unwilling)to change her religion…The whole family were then condemned to die. Januarius, the eldest was scourged and pressed to death with weights; Felix and Philip. The two next, had their brains dashed out with clubs; Sylvanus, the fourth, was destroyed by being thrown from a precipice; and the three younger sons, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis, were all beheaded. The mother was at last slain with the same sword that had ended the lives of her three sons.”
“One of the most dreadful events recorded in the history of Christian martyrdom…took place at Utica…of ancient Africa….three hundred Christians were ranged around a burning limekiln ..the people were commanded either to sacrifice to the heathen gods, or to suffer the terrible penalty of being cast into the burning kiln…three hundred martyrs not only refused to sacrifice, but with one accord leaped forward to meet the fiery death which their enemies had prepared for them.”
And under the “5th general persecution under the Roman Emperors, A.D. 200”; we read about the “Conversion of a Roman soldier”…”Balisades, an officer belonging to the army…became a convert on witnessing(the fortitude of a Christian woman)..When he was required to take a certain oath, he refused, saying that he could no longer swear by the Roman idols, as he was a Christian…he was dragged before the judge, committed to prison, and on the next day beheaded.”
There were many “False charges (brought) against the Christians”…among these were “sedition…rebellion against the emperor, sacrilege, murdering of infants…eating raw flesh…worshipping the sun…because…they sung morning hymns to the Lord…and…worshipping the head of an ass(which was a)story…invented by the Jews. “
Under the 10th persecution there is this brave and brutal detailed account. “Maximus…three Christians were brought before him by…a military office…the eldest prisoner as asked what he was?…the governor…told him he ought to sacrifice to the gods, as that was the only way to get riches and honors…(he) replied…avarice was a sin, and gold itself an idol as hurtful as any other; for it brought about frauds, treacheries, robberies, and murders; it induced men to deceive each other, by which in time they deceived themselves, and bribed the weak to their own destruction…For his boldness of this speech…was struck violently with a staff, breaking his jaw.”
“…next brought before Maximus…(and was told)…your name Christian will be of little service to you unless you sacrifice to the gods and seek the favor of the emperor…(he)answered…he had already given up a considerable fortune to become a soldier of Christ, it might be evident that he cared little for the favor of the emperor…He was then scourged…he…said…the more my body suffers and loses blood, the more my soul will grow vigorous and strong. He was then committed to jail, loaded with irons, and his hands and feet stretched upon the stocks.”
“…next…brought up…said…I am a Christian…(he was) sentenced to prison.”
“Having been confined some days, the three prisoners were again brought before Maximus…(the eldest)Fire was placed in the palms of his hands; he was hung up by his feet and smoked with wet straw; and he was sent back to his dungeon…(the second)then called…(said when asked to sacrifice)…Employ you whole power upon me, and you will find, that neither you, nor the emperor, nor the idols you serve, shall oblige me to adore gods whom I know not…the governor ordered…(him to be)…struck upon the mouth…. His body was then seared with hot irons…and…he was sent back to prison.”
“…(the third prisoner) next was brought before Maximus, the governor tried to deceive him by pretending that (the 2 previous prisoners) had renounced their faith, and turned to the gods of the empire….the prisoner answered ‘lay not, O governor, such a weakness to the charge of those who have appeared before me in this cause, nor imagine it to be in your power to shake my fixed resolution with artful speeches. I cannot believe that they have disobeyed the laws of their God: nor will I ever fall behind them in faith and dependence upon our common Savior. I neither know your gods, nor fear your authority; fulfill your threats, execute your most bloody inventions, and employ every cruel art in your power on me. I am prepared to bear it for the sake of Christ’…for this answer he was cruelly scourged.” “The three Christians were after a time brought to a 3rd examination. They were again tortured, and at last sentenced for execution. Being brought to the circus or amphitheater, several beasts were let loose upon them; but it is related that none of the animals would touch them. Maximus was…angered at this…he severely reproved the keeper…the keeper then brought out a large bear, which had that day destroyed three men…this creature, and a fierce lioness also, refused to touch the Christians. Finding it impossible to destroy them by means of wild beasts, Maximus ordered them to be slain by the sword.”
Under the 10th persecution we also read this story. “Seven aged women…arrested for their faith…were examined before the governor…who…ordered them to assist…in the idolatrous rites of washing the goddesses…but (they), absolutely refusing to wash the idols, the governor was so enraged, that he ordered them to have stones tied about their necks, and to be pushed into the water intended for the washing…the…seven aged women were all drowned.”
The book then goes on to document Constantine in A.D. 306, his vision on “the 27th of October in the year 312.” , and this story under the chapter “Persecutions under Julian, called the apostate, A.D. 361”. “Marcus, the bishop of Arethusa…destroyed a heathen temple and had a Christian church built up in its place. This caused him to be much hated by the heathen…who…seized him while separated from his friends, stripped him of his clothing, and beat him cruelly with sticks…They asked him whether he would rebuild their temple which had been torn down. Marcus not only refused to rebuild it, but threatened to have it again destroyed should they restore it themselves…They bound Marcus with cords and placed him in a large basket, which they hung in a tree, after first smearing the poor prisoner’s body over with honey, to attract the wasps…Marcus was asked for the last time whether he would restore the temple; he again refused, and his tormentors left him to perish by the stings of the venomous insects.”
Were only at page 153 of 590 right now! The book goes on to document
“Rome and the Empire of the West, A.D. 375-400”,
“The invasion of the Huns, A.D. 453”,
“Heathen persecutions in various countries, A.D. 500-800”,
and the story of Boniface A.D. 685-755, who after many travels and “converting some thousands to the Christian faith” met his demise at Holland when “a band of barbarians…poured down upon him and his companions in the night…Boniface advanced into the midst of the threatening crowd, but had only spoke a few words to them when they rushed upon him and murdered him…in his seventieth year”
There are “Persecutions of various countries A.D. 1000-1200”, right up to the “Beginning of persecution by the Roman Church A.D. 1200” This brings us right up to some of our earliest Anabaptist forefathers, the Waldenses of France, and this “Account of their persecution and great slaughter”.
“These people take their name in history from their leader, Peter Waldo, a rich merchant of Lyons, who sold all his goods, gave the money to the poor, and went our to preach the gospel the way that he believed it should be taught.” “For more than 200 years the Waldenses found a refuge and continued to live in the country of Piedmont, on the eastern slope of the Alps…A body of troops sent from Rome suddenly appeared in the peaceful valley of Piedmont; they burned and plundered the houses of the inhabitants, murdered a great many, and drove the others into the mountains, where most of them perished from the cold, as it was in the depth of the winter.”
“The pope determined at last to take such measures as would crush the Waldenses, and put an end forever to the hatred sect which defied the authority of the Roman church. Accordingly he sent Albert de Capitaneis, archdeacon of Cremona, to France…(along with)…the king’s lieutenant…the Waldenses…hiding themselves among the rocks and caves…escaped for a time from the hands of the soldiers…The archdeacon and lieutenant…ordered firewood heaped up at the mouths of the caves…lighted…and the people inside were all smothered to death by the smoke and the heat. Upon searching the caves after the fires had gone out, more than 1000 dead bodies were found, many being those of women and children. Altogether 3000 persons were slain during this attack.” In about 1100 A.D. , we read about “The Albigenses: their rise and persecution”.
After several more chapters comes “The last persecution of the Waldenses”. It documents… “treaty of peace between the Waldenses and the duke of Savoy was made in 1561, and remained unbroken for nearly one hundred years. During all this time, however, the Waldenses suffered from petty insults and annoyances on account of their faith…in the year 1650…the ‘council for spreading the faith and destroying heretics’, established courts in the principal cities of France and Italy, admitting many females of rank to membership…After passing various laws, intended to injure and annoy the Waldenses an order was issued…during a winter of uncommon severity, all the inhabitants…were commanded to leave their homes and to retire to the mountains within three days, unless they would become Romanists…They gave up their dwellings, and wading through the snow…their persecutors…would not give up their bloody designs. An army of 15,000 men was soon sent into the valleys…In a few days the signal for a general massacre was given…English and Protestant nations of Europe now interfered…The English government…sent quite a large sum of money to the sufferers…Louis the fourteenth…persuaded the duke of Savoy to once more attack the unfortunate people…the Waldenses…offered to surrender…Their proposal was accepted; but instead of being allowed to depart, many who had thus surrendered were barbarously murdered. More than 12,000 men and women were shut up in gloomy dungeons, and experienced the most cruel treatment…they were purposely so crowded together that fevers and other diseases caused the death of a great many. While in this state of privation and suffering, their conversion to Romanism was often attempted…their number was, in a few months, reduced from twelve thousand to three thousand.”
There is a story of how the Waldenses were “drowned at Venice”, then Chapter 12 begins an introduction to “The Mohammedans” and the “Growth of Mohammedanism”. “Constantinople, the ancient, imperial city, which for more than 1100 years had repelled the attacks of the enemies of Christianity, was besieged for the last time by the hosts of Islam in the year 1453.”
The book documents “The Inquisition”…”from about 1200, when pope Innocent III, perceiving that the Waldenses and other sects differing from the church were increasing in numbers, sent among them inquisitors, or monks who were known to be devoted to the cause of the church…Torquemada was chief inquisitor…ten thousand two hundred and twenty persons were burned alive, and ninety-seven thousand three hundred and twenty-two punished with loss of property, or imprisonment.”
Chapter 15 begins “The Reformation in Germany” and “Martin Luther”, “Luther’s contest with the church of Rome”, “Luther’s translation of the Scriptures”, and Chapter 16 introduces us to “France and the Hugenots”
It records…”For centuries France had been the battle-ground of the Roman church and the sects opposed to it…the Waldenses and the Albigenses suffered in the struggle…the races of southern France always showed themselves ready to join any movement looking toward religious reform, until finally they were merged into the great Huguenot party…The first French Huguenot church in Paris was established in the year 1555, these were heroic days of the French Protestant, or Huguenot movement…king Francis II died in 1560, and his brother, a boy ten years of age, became king with the title Charles IX. On account of his youth, his mother, Catherine de Medici, was appointed regent, and under her rule the persecution of the Protestants was carried on with renewed ferocity…there raged a religious war, which with intervals of peace lasted eight years; the struggle being marked by frequent massacres and assassinations.”
“The night fixed upon for attacking the unsuspecting people was that of August 24, 1572, the eve of the church feast of St. Bartholomew, and therefore the dreadful event became known to history as the massacre of St. Bartholomew…The ringing of the bell of St. Germain was answered by the bells of all the churches, and by a discharge of fire-arms in different parts of the city…Bands of murderers swept the street in all directions, killing every one they met…they broke open the doors and spared neither age, sex, nor condition. A white cross had been put in the hats of the armed ruffians to distinguish them. Even some of the priests took part in the bloody work; and going ahead of the murderers urged them, in God’s name, to spare nine. When daylight appeared, Paris presented a most appalling scene of slaughter. Headless bodies were hanging from the windows; gateways were blocked up with the dead and dying; and whole streets were filled with mutilated corpses.”
There is the “Story of a Huguenot who escaped the massacre”, then “A general slaughter throughout France follows the Massacre of St. Bartholomew.” In Chapter 17, begin “Bible translators and revisers”. The “Discovery of the art of printing” is found here. “John Gutenberg…in 1450…was at work…and the first completed book issued from that press is said to have been the Latin Bible.” Other sections include “Forming of the English tongue”, and “John Wycliffe translates the Bible into English”; which includes statements such as “…the king and the pope were against him.” John Wycliffe “died of paralysis on the last day of the year 1384.”
John Wycliffe had a following though, and there were “Laws passed for the punishment of Wycliffe followers”, and Wycliffites were burned upon conviction. “…in the year 1400…William Sautre, parish priest of St. Osith in London, being condemned as a relapsed heretic, and degraded from the priesthood, suffered death…This was the first example in England of that barbarous method of executing offenders against Roman institutions.” Of course, as always happened with Christian persecution, there was an “Increase of the Wycliffites”.
Chapter 18 documents “England during the reign of Henry the 8th”. “King Henry the 8th …was 18 years of age when he took the throne, in 1509.”
Soon after comes “The Reformation”. It says “Martin Luther…was living in Germany at this time, and was writing and preaching against the pope, bishops, and clergy for not ruling the church according to the Bible.”
About this time in history, “The king becomes the head of the church”, and “In 1526 William Tyndale printed part, and ten years later Miles Coverdale printed the whole of the Bible. A copy was ordered to be placed in every parish church, and to be fastened with a chain so that no one could carry it away.”
Still only 200 pages left of the book, but as you can see it is a necessary history lesson that all Baptists or Christian fundamentalists must be properly exposed to, so we can know countless tens of thousands gave their lives so we can have our very own copy of the Word of God for ourselves, and so that we can have the intimate relationship they also craved with the Christ we now claim to serve.
The question to be pondered at this point is this, is the teaching available in this day and age in human history where any of us could also grow spiritually to the level of these mature saints of old? Yes, and that teaching is found in the Word of God itself! Get your eyes off the Pastor, off his creativity, ingenuity, intellect, knowledge, boastings of preparations, appearance and delivery, and fix your eyes on God and Jesus Christ!
The Pastor’s job is merely(as a sinner), to get the Word of God to our ears. It is then the Holy Spirit’s job to take the Word from our ears to our hearts, to change, mature and grow us. If our thoughts are fixed on the building, the music, the social class we seek to befriend within the congregation; we wont’ stand nearly as strong as these martyrs did should we be brought before an evil potentate and asked to give “an answer for the hope that lies within us”.
As it is often said, those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. Are we ignorant? Can we not take hold on these stories, drop on our knees thanking God for these brave souls, and ask Him to give us this same resolve? We need to get into our Bibles and know why the road is road is truly narrow, know why true followers of Jesus stand out among us as “odd-bods”. We need to get into our Bibles, know how to reach this point as a walking testimony so that the person of Jesus Christ will just radiate out from within us no matter where our witness is given; be it with our own family members, to a co-worker, or a powerful politician with the authority over us to order an execution.
Immediately after the rapture, the Bible tells us the fate of those who rejected Jesus Christ and our witness with these words…“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” in 2 Thessalonians 2:11. Is this the same fate for the unbeliever, who has rejected this book of martyrs, and has created a false Jesus of their own making; one whose church will never see persecution and has no doctrinal differences?
Those left behind after the rapture will most certainly have a concrete opportunity to recreate these same scenarios as anti-Christ gathers power and influence all over the Earth against those who would dare to say the Word of God is true, and Jesus is the rightful deed-holder to this planet. Let these stories be an example to us, and those we witness to. According to most who have sit under proper teaching of Daniel’s interpretation of Nebechanezzar’s dream know the last great world empire that will exist and rule will be a revived Roman Empire.
I believe Foxe’s book of Martyr’s gives us clear insight as to exactly how they will behave once again, towards those who reject revived Romanism. Especially towards separated, fundamentalist, Bible-believing Christians. Either we make ourselves aware that a great many popular evangelical pastors, preachers, and scholars of this day are unashamedly linking themselves to the papacy in a great ecumenical movement right before our very eyes(that FOX News endorses and promotes), or we simply stick our noses in our Bibles and take everything we see and hear back to the Scriptures as the Berean Christians did.
We need to bathe our desires to know and Him and worship Him the way His holiness is to be properly revered in prayer. We need to ask His hand of protection on us as we seek to pull lukewarm believer’s out of churches the Holy Spirit has abandoned. We also need to guard ourselves from getting caught up in gossip(since we have nothing better to do when we’re not being persecuted); that type of behavior only leads to tearing down your own walls and soon you will get swept up into the modern day compromise of Christ’s New Testament church.
The Bible says “I am the Lord, I change not”, and Ecclesiastes points out there is nothing new under the Sun. Idol worship is idol worship, God hates it, and we are much more separated from Him whenever we have idols in our lives.
The new Rome is nearly upon us, the political environment exists, and the modern day ecumenical movement is willingly getting into bed with them without discernment. The Roman church of today doesn’t have any tolerance towards us if we take a stand against their blatant disobedience or white-washing of the 2nd commandment, or their cannibalistic mystery Babylonian doctrines that brain-wash people towards and un-gospel of works in order to get into Heaven. If new evangelicalism isn’t going to take a stand against the same practice of infant baptism, and welcome in and embrace the Romans under the Christendom umbrella because now they’ve installed full adult size baptistery’s, where do we fit in? Have they already bought into the lie of the Antichrist? By what percentage will their regular attendance drop the Sunday immediately following the rapture of Christ’s true church?
Are we verbally expressing to those all around us who are trusting in their infant baptism as their ‘ticket to Heaven’ that ‘unless a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven”? In the one world church of anti-Christ, developed during the tribulation, all denominational sects, names, and religions will be compromised and merged; it’s happening right now; where is our burden for these spineless men-pleasers? Only those who name the name of Christ, as these dear Christians did before us will enter into the presence of the King of Kings immediately upon their expiration to hear these words “Well done, thy good and faithful servant”. There may be more unsaved people in church, than out of church, lets not forget that!
John E. Eleniewski