Would we, or could we—be willing to martyr ourselves for our beliefs? For our religious or political principles that we hold sacred and/or inviolable? Ah, that is a question to ponder, isn’t it? The definition of “martyr” is: One who willingly endures extreme persecution, suffering, torment or death for a religious or a firm political belief. Obviously, history tells us of untold numbers of men and women who have done just that—who have stood firm for God or Country (or both)—who wrapped themselves in “the full armor of God”, or in their own definitions of “political principles”, or perhaps in the flag of the country that they lived and died for, and who withstood the worst that the enemies of God and man, or their own personal enemies, could inflict upon them, even unto death! So once again I ask: Would we be willing to do likewise? Could we—you and I-- allow ourselves to be martyred? Would that the answer was that simple.
God’s Word, in 2nd Timothy 3:12 tells us: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. For Christians, then, there seems to be no exception—no escape clause to avoid some form of persecution for living Godly for our Savior, Jesus the Messiah. Scripture and world history are full of examples of this, including our Savior, Jesus, Himself. In His human persona He willingly laid down His life for those who would sincerely follow Him. He followed The Father’s Plan. And there are others throughout God’s Word, and into secular history, who became martyrs for God, willingly or otherwise:
- ABEL: Murdered by his brother, Cain, because his sacrifice was more acceptable to God than was Cain’s (Genesis 4);
- ZECHARIAH THE PROPHET: Stoned to death near the Temple (Matthew 23:35, Luke 11:51, 2nd Chronicles 24);
- JOHN THE BAPTIST: Beheaded by Herod the Tetrarch
- STEPHEN: The first Christian martyr, killed by Jewish religious leaders (Acts 7:54-60);
- JAMES: Son of Zebedee, killed by King Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2);
- ANTIPAS: Killed for “God’s sake” (Revelation 2:12-13);
- ANDREW: Brother of Simon Peter—crucified for preaching about Jesus;
- SIMON PETER: Crucified by Emperor Nero, ca. 64-67 A.D.;
- POLYCARP: Refused to burn incense and worship the Emperor. Burned at the stake (ca. 155-167 A.D.);
- JOHN WYCLIFFE: Persecuted for his stand against Papal authority and for translating God’s Word from Latin into English. He died naturally but his body was exhumed and desecrated before being burned;
- JOHN HUSS: Burned at the stake in 1415 A.D. for “heresy” against the doctrines of the Catholic Church;
- WILLIAM TYNDALE: Choked to death and then burned at the stake in 1536 A.D. for opposing many teachings of the Catholic Church, and for his opposition to King Henry V111’s divorce;
- PASTOR DIETRICH BONHOEFFER: Hanged by the Nazis in a concentration camp on June 9, 1945, because of his brave opposition to the Nazi persecution of Jews, and because of his involvement in the July, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler;
- JIM ELLIOTT, NATE SAINT, ED McCULEY, ROGER YOUDERIAN: Christian missionaries killed by the Auca Indians (now called the “Waudani People”), in Ecuador, Jan. 8, 1956.
How tragic it always is to behold the deaths of anyone killed, murdered, and/or martyred for any reason. But those brave souls who profess strong religious and/or political beliefs have almost always held to those beliefs, even in the face of their imminent deaths. One such true story has been passed down the ancient annals of history. It involves a brave young woman who was martyred for her belief in her Savior, Jesus.
A MARTYR’S DEATH
(I am indebted to ‘Eyewitness to History’s” web site for “Death of a Martyr, 203 A.D.” for the details of this story). All of us know, I assume, that the Roman persecution of Christian believers began during the reign of the totally evil Roman Emperor Nero, and lasted until Christianity was accepted as a State sanctioned religion by Emperor Constantine ca. 313 A.D.; almost 250 years of terror, persecution, torture, and brutality usually leading to the deaths of Christian believers.
“Vibia Perpetua (ca. 181 A.D.-203 A.D.) was a young woman of noble birth. She was 22, a wife, a mother of a young son, AND A CHRISTIAN. In the city of Carthage in North Africa on March 7, 203 A.D., she was put to death for her religious convictions. Her story comes to us from three eyewitness accounts written shortly after her death.
Vibia was one of five Christians condemned to death in the arena. Her father was a pagan and came often to the prison (many times with Vibia’s son in his arms) to plead with his daughter to renounce her religion and save her life (and make a “sacrifice” to the Emperor)---to no avail. On March 7 Vibia Perpetua and four companions were led to the arena, where the crowd demanded they be scourged. Then a boar, a bear, and a leopard were loosened upon the men while the women were attacked by a wild bull. Wounded (gored), Vibia was then killed with a sword (by a gladiator).
Vibia’s martyrdom story is but one of millions that have taken place since our Lord Jesus returned to Heaven. Millions of Christians and political prisoners were martyred in the 20th century alone. The evil and malevolent influence of Nero and his modern counterparts has reaped the deaths of so many innocents that God alone knows how many died with His name on their lips. That “malevolence” still exists today, and NOT just in countries like Communist China, Communist North Korea, or Communist Cuba, or Middle East Islamic countries, where the persecution is open and part of government philosophy, but also exists in the supposedly “free” countries of Europe, Canada, and sadly, the United States, where the persecution is more subtle, more nuanced, more clever, and only recently is it becoming more intimidating and violent in some states and cities of our fracturing country! (The hatred of Christianity and Christian believers---and of course the unending malevolence directed at our Creator God and against Godly people by Satan’s children---has never ceased since the days of the totally depraved and evil Roman Emperor Nero, and was greatly intensified beginning in Bavaria in 1776 by the followers of Adam Weishaupt and his Order of the Illuminati, who openly proclaimed their hatred of God and all religions, particularly Christianity, and whose “spiritual” descendants, the violent and deceitful socialists/fascists/Nazis/communists, continue their Satanic, anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish hatreds to this very day.)
And that leaves US: you, me, our family, our friends, fellow Christians, fellow patriots—determined to follow our Lord and Savior, determined to do what we can to assure that the Constitutional Republic we inherited can be passed as intact as possible to our descendants. Following our Lord Jesus—trying our best to live for Him—participating in educational and political activities designed to preserve our liberties—all these are relatively easy when the sun is shining and our freedoms are protected and still fairly intact. But some of us see a great dark cloud approaching this land—a cloud that is ominous and threatening; a cloud that contains such evil—such threats to our Constitutional liberties and our very lives—that we recoil from even contemplating the possibility that our way of life—our freedoms and even our own lives—might be “on the line”.
What is this threatening cloud, you ask? It might be the unending growth and power of the Federal government, a monstrosity that, under the tyrannical control of certain presidents/political parties/progressive courts & judges, could snuff out the people’s liberties (for their own good, of course); it might be the threat of mobs of violent and radical AntiFa fascists, modern brown shirts/black shirts (like the Nazis and Fascists of the 1920’s and 1930’s) who respond to the sinister agendas of their ultra-wealthy masters, creating chaos and lawlessness and destruction in their desire to destroy our free constitutional republic and replace it with a harsh collectivist tyranny of their choosing, under their control. It could conceivably be an invasion by a large and strong nation or the savage and undisciplined military of a “One World Government” determined to eliminate the U.S. as a threat to its control of the world, and the hegemony of its decrees for “the good of mankind”. It might be a combination of all the above, for ALL of these forces are extant in our world today to one degree or another, and can become an existential threat to our Constitutional Republic and to each one of us!
I conclude as I began by asking the question: Would we be willing martyrs for God or Country? Could we allow our lives to be plucked from us by the collectivist evil that has ravaged mankind since history began, if it came down to that? I ask myself those questions. I wish I had a satisfactory and realistic answer. I’d gladly sacrifice my life in some form of “violence” in opposition to the enemies of freedom if it ever came to that. I’d like to believe that most patriots would do likewise. However, I would never submit WILLINGLY to being a martyr. I couldn’t, because that’s not in my beliefs—nor in my genes, and I’d prefer to “go out fighting” with a weapon in my hands, all ammo expended, and dead enemies of liberty in front of me. Untold numbers of people—many of them Christians and patriots—have been martyred over the ebb and flow of freedom throughout history. In many cases they made the enemies of God and liberty pay a steep price to conquer their spirit of resistance. If it ever comes to that here in the increasingly disintegrating United States, may we make the enemies of human liberty pay a high price for attempting to conquer a people steeped in freedom, and may we acquit ourselves honorably, as Christians and patriots, just as our forbears have done since April 19, 1775.