In my frustration in conversing with my fellow Christians who fear standing on Biblical truths in matters of homosexuality, tattoos, the Trinity, and which Bible translation is the inspired word of God (if any), I decided to see how our brothers and sisters in Christ were treated as the Church was first formed. I turned to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for inspiration. What I read convicted me, and I hope it might do the same for you.
Martyrs for Christ
All of Christ’s disciples, save for John “the beloved”, were executed. They were stoned, stabbed, boiled in oil, beheaded, had their heads smashed in, were drug through the streets until they fell apart, and crucified. Peter was crucified upside down because he felt “unworthy” to be killed in the same way as his Savior.
Other early Christians who were martyred during the time of the Roman Empire from 33AD to around 300AD were beheaded, set on fire, tarred and burned, flayed, and beheaded.
Quentin, an early Christian:
“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.”
Romanus, a Casarean deacon:
“was scourged, put to the rack, his body torn with hooks, his flesh cut with knives, his face scarified, his teeth beaten from their sockets, and his hair plucked up by the roots. Soon after he was ordered to be strangled, November 17, A.D. 303.”
This is how the pagan polytheistic Roman Emperors treated early Christians who were guilty of nothing more than rejecting the pagan gods and refusing to renounce Christ. However, the Catholic Church – who are not a branch of Christianity as they claim to be – were no better on our early Church forefathers.
Under decree of the Pope Alexander III:
“one John Clark set up a bill on the church door, wherein he called the pope Antichrist. For this offence he was repeatedly whipped, and then branded on the forehead. Going afterward to Mentz, in Lorraine, he demolished some images, for which he had his right hand and nose cut off, and his arms and breast torn with pincers. He sustained these cruelties with amazing fortitude, and was even sufficiently cool to sing the One hundredth and fifteenth Psalm, which expressly forbids idolatry; after which he was thrown into the fire, and burnt to ashes.”
The same year:
“two men of the reformed religion, with the son and daughter of one of them, were apprehended and committed to the castle of Niverne. On examination, they confessed their faith, and were ordered to execution; being smeared with grease, brimstone, and gunpowder, they cried, ‘Salton, salt on this sinful and rotten flesh.’ Their tongues were then cut out, and they were afterward committed to the flames, which soon consumed them, by means of the combustible matter with which they were besmeared.”
While we modern Christians are afraid to knock on a stranger’s door to invite them to church, Ignatius, when placed in an arena to be fed to the lions said,
“Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!”
And if that wasn’t enough, as the roaring lions approached to violently murder him, he responded by saying, “I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread.”
Hundreds of Christians were brutally slaughtered over the centuries since Christ was crucified. The same practices that began with Stephen continue in some parts of the world today. The United States of America has historically been one of the very few nations in the history of the planet that has accepted Christianity with open arms – but that it changing. What will we do when real persecution comes to our doorstep?
No More Martyrs in America
While we modern American Christians are afraid to call homosexuality a sin to placate the LGBTQQIAA2+ crowd, Polycarp willingly stood tied to a stake and praised God as the flames encircled his body but did not touch him. He died when the executioner pierced his side with a sword until his blood quenched the flames.
While we modern American Christians do what we can to make our churches look and sound like worldly “self-help” sessions and try to empower one another to “think positive” and praise “prosperity” as if wealth is a sign of our salvation, Christians in the Middle East are having their heads removed by swords or explosive devices.
Americans have become fat and lazy in our excess. We are a weak class of “Christian” – sinners afraid of upsetting other sinners, even though being convicted by God’s word is what led to our salvation.
We are no longer God fearing, but man fearing.
We are an army comprised of weak soldiers. We are not unified in God’s words, but are divided by preferences. We have an abundance of churches, while our ancestors literally died to preach.
If we cannot appreciate our Christian heritage on a visceral level, then the continued dilution of God’s Church will snuff out the waning flames of Christianity in America and around the world.
So called “Christians” have done horrific things in the name of destroying the credibility of the Church, while true Christians fight against false prophets, spiritual wickedness in high places, and the world system simultaneously.
Would You Die for Christ?
What are you doing to advance the cause of Christ? Would you suffer imprisonment for Him? Would you die for Him? Would you be willing to endure torture so intense that the pain would fracture your sanity?
What does your Faith resemble? A fearful whelp, or a roaring lion? Are you an Osteen or a Polycarp? A Furtick or Ignatius?
I know that I fail in comparison to these martyrs. I wish I could say with confidence that I would stare down the throat of a hungry lion proclaiming that Jesus is LORD.
But I would want to.