MM00061 Commissioned to be martyrs
Mentoring Manna: Commissioned to be martyrs
© 2003 Pastor Keith Hassell
Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The baptism with the Holy Spirit is given to us so that we might have power to be witnesses unto Jesus. The Greek word for “witness” is martus from which we get the English word, “martyr.” Originally the word meant to bear record or testimony of something. A person who bears testimony before others is called a “witness.”
As early believers were persecuted and killed for their testimony of Jesus Christ, the word “martyr” soon began to denote someone who was willing to die for their faith at the hands of another. The definition of a martyr has been subjected to great distortion due to the use of the word to describe radical suicide murderers among the Muslims and other religions. Religious zealots who intentionally kill are not worthy to be compared to Christians who die for their faith at the hands of their persecutors. Any hint of comparison should be soundly protested.
The readiness of believers to suffer for the sake of righteousness and truth is illustrated throughout the pages of the Bible. Indeed suffering for Christ’s sake is not an option for anyone who professes allegiance to the truth. It is the essence of taking up the cross and following Jesus. Truth that is real is truth worth dying to uphold. On the flip side, a truth that is worth dying for is a truth worth living for. Any unwillingness to adjust our lifestyle to conform to the truth is a denial of truth. Any unwillingness to suffer for truth is also a denial of truth. No witness can be taken seriously who is unwilling to conform to the truth he or she professes. Neither can a witness be taken seriously who is unwilling to suffer for the truth they profess. Words ring hollow when a witness is unwilling to suffer hardship, persecution, and even death for the sake of the truth they proclaim. Indeed, many persecutors of the Christian faith came to faith in Christ by observing the steadfast commitment to the truth found in the lives of Christian martyrs. A faith that is not worth suffering for cannot be a genuine Christian faith.
Christian martyrdom may not be common in the United States at the moment, but it seems inevitable that the time may soon come if revival tarries. The degrading of our culture along with its growing rejection of God’s righteous standards is leading to a showdown between this world and true believers in Jesus Christ. Are you ready for this showdown? Are you willing and able to be a martyr for Christ’s sake? The answer to that question will be determined by whether or not we are willing to take a stand for Him now. Consider the words of Hebrews 11:36-12:3: “Others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented---of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
Application: Being a witness for Christ is not an option for a true believer. Being a witness is not always easy. We cannot do it in our own power. That is why we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. His power is received by faith and is sustained through a daily communion with Christ. What truth do you profess? Does your lifestyle bear witness that it is true? Are you experiencing suffering and hardship for the truth you profess? Remember: true faith is first worth living for and finally worth dying for. Only those who embrace this kind of faith will experience the power to be effective witnesses unto Jesus in all of the world.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, grant me the courage and the anointing to be Your witness. May I live for the truth now and, when necessary, be willing to suffer and even die for Your sake. In living and in dying, may my life bear witness unto You before all men. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”