WHEN YOUR NAME IS CALLED (LIBERATION 104)
When the enemy comes knocking at your door, it might be: "Your life or your soul!" If you will kneel, offer your cooperation, and curse Christ, then you might be permitted to live - at the cost of your soul. If you resist, refuse to cooperate, and do your best to represent your Lord, you will likely be transported to one of the concentration camps which are already staffed and waiting across our nation where you will die, either by your enemy's hands or by exposure and starvation while lying in cold mud like those millions of German families in Eisenhower camps after the war. The great General Ike ordered civilian families to be herded into large fenced pens where there was to be no shelter or food. That happened in my lifetime, not long ago. Strange, isn't it, how we can put such things out of our minds and think it won't happen to us, even when we know nearby camps await us while plans are being finalized in America. I also remember Stalin, who killed so many millions of white race Christians in northern Russia. Now, I am watching such a pogrom beginning in our nation. Should I not expect a knock at my door? Or should we all be naive and blind to it?
What will you do?
The reason that I am writing recent articles about martyrdom is because we are all part of God's end-time act of the Kingdom of World, the death of an old civilization which is essential before a new one can be born. We are soon to be confronted with the same enemies who killed millions of our ancestors, enemies who are blindly obsessed with killing us. You might envision the coming confrontation with great fear, as is natural to humans who love life. You might fear what you will do as a single individual, all alone, without support or encouragement. What I wish to share with you is the knowledge that you are not alone. First, your Lord stands with you. Second, there is a vast multitude of martyrs (witnesses) who have gone before you. It is a well-worn path to Golgotha which you might walk, if you are so privileged. It is your Liberation from this hellish World which is being offered. It is your reward for your faith. It is your Father welcoming you, His prodigal, back home. It is the glorious end of many centuries of persecution and injustice.
I invite you to imagine those millions, who went before you to die on crosses, racks, and burning pyres, along with the millions of Ukrainians who were starved to death, all looking down upon you and anxiously cheering you on, sending you their compassion and love, and praying that you will not weaken. Imagine the angels offering you their support and energy. Imagine yourself as a flower being picked for your Master's Bouquet. Imagine God's Spirit filling you with courage and faith. And consider that the agonies of your death are but a brief moment in time, just a hazing before you are exalted in a most exclusive Club, a Round-Table headed by our Lord.
Imagine that the moment will finally come when God will command His angels to release (your name), and to send enemy Liberators to your door. The enemy serves His plan, too! You've served your time in World long enough; the prison door opens as your name is called. What will you do? Wouldn't it be helpful to contemplate this question in advance? Wouldn't you benefit from learning how others handled it, who went before you? Wouldn't you like to convert your fear into enthusiasm? Wouldn't you like to know the fullness of the joy of your Liberation?
It is the rejection of this world which Jesus calls us to. It is the Head of Christ's body, of whom we are members, who calls us to share Crucifixion with Him. It is the ultimate mission of each member of God's family to willingly release the World and exit from its bondage. It is our great blessing to learn of God's will for us, and to have an opportunity to do it. There is no other purpose of life equal to this grand purpose which our Father has given to us. It is such a shame that Christian preachers are not preparing their flocks for this blessed event. It is a crime against God's family that they have turned Christianity into a religion of prosperity gospel. It is up to you to stand up alone, and to walk alone up your blessed path to God's reward; keeping in mind the spiritual presence of those who went before you. In my articles, I am merely trying to share some of my own personal thoughts, hoping that you might find some encouragement or perhaps be prompted to seek more information for yourself. It would be easy for you to think that Roger's recent articles about martyrdom reflect some kind of death wish. Perhaps they do. I think sometimes about how Jesus engineered His own death by challenging the Edomite Jews at the Temple (Jn 8:44), telling them their father was the devil. I think about Jesus' words to His disciples, in the Nag Hammadi collection, the Apocryphon of James (Jesus' brother), saying: "Verily I say unto you, none will be saved unless they believe in my cross. But those who have believed in my cross, theirs is the kingdom of God. Therefore, become seekers for death, like the dead who seek for life; for that which they seek is revealed to them. And what is there to trouble them? As for you, when you examine death, it will teach you election. Verily I say unto you, none of those who fear death will be saved; for the kingdom of God belongs to those who put themselves to death." I do not believe He is commending suicide, but rather we should seek death as a consequence of representing our Father in a world which outlaws Godly values. In Matthew 16:25 Jesus says, "Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it."
I've been reading a book which details the martyrdoms of many individuals, from the time of Christ through the early centuries, and then during the reign of Bloody Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII. She ruled England from 1553 to 1558, attempting to destroy all Protestant teachers and preachers in order to return England to the Papal tyranny from which her father had recently freed his people. The book is FOXE'S BOOK OF MARTYRS, written by John Foxe who lived at that time and personally knew many of those who died under her reign of terror. Most of the book consists of chapters which detail the lives and deaths of individuals under Mary's bloody rulership. The first chapters deal with persecutions of the early centuries, then the medieval Roman Catholic Inquisitions, then those persons killed by Bloody Mary. The last chapter lists some others outside of England.
Here are a few witnesses:
Ignatius died 108AD. He was leader of the church at Antioch. Because he professed Christ he was given to wild beasts to be devoured. During the transport to Rome for his death, it was from Smyrna that he wrote to the Christians at Rome, "exhorting them not to use means for his deliverance from martyrdom, lest they should deprive him of that which he most longed and hoped for. '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 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 even when he was sentenced to be thrown to the beasts, such was the burning desire that he had to suffer, that he spake, what time he heard the lions roaring, 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.'"
John Rogers died in February 1555, the first preacher to be killed during Bloody Mary's reign. He was asked to revoke his doctrinal errors, to which he answered, "That which I have preached I will seal with my blood." He then recited the 51st Psalm before he was burnt to ashes. Many faithful martyrs of Christ who died by Mary are remembered in FOXE'S BOOK OF MARTYRS.
Lady Jane Grey was selected by the dying King Edward VI to succeed him. She was a distant cousin, only 17 years old. Bloody Mary deposed her after nine days of being Queen in July 1553, sending her to the block for beheading. This young girl, who never sought Royal office walked serenely to the block and asked permission to recite Psalm 51, after which she knelt over the block and stretched out her arms to signal the axeman. Does she not now serve Him as a special flower in His grand bouquet?
The last chapter of the book contains brief presentations of martyrs of other European nations who witnessed for Christ before the Roman Catholic killers. Following are a few brief excerpts.
Lord Schilik, a nobleman about the age of fifty, was told he was to be quartered and his body parts scattered in different places. "He smiled with great serenity, and said, 'The loss of a sepulchre is but a trifling consideration.'"
Lord Viscount Winceslaus, seventy years of age, a learned and wealthy man, said in response to the seizure and confiscation of his house, property, and belongings, "The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away." and "You have long thirsted for my blood: take it, and God will be my avenger." He then approached the block, stroked his grey beard, and said, "Venerable hairs, the greater honour now attends you; a crown of martyrdom is your portion." Then laying down his head, it was severed from his body, and afterwards placed upon a pole in a conspicuous part of the town."
Lord Henry Otto was at first quite agitated when coming upon the scaffold for beheading, but then grew calm and spoke, "A few minutes I was greatly discomposed, but now I feel my spirits revive; seem to invite me to participate of some unknown joys." Then kneeling before the block, he said, "Almighty God? to Thee I commend my soul, receive it for the sake of Christ, and admit it to the glory of Thy presence."
The Earl of Rugenia spoke from the scaffold prior to beheading: "We who drew our swords fought only to preserve the liberties of the people and to keep our consciences sacred. As we were overcome, however, I am better pleased at the sentence of death than if the emperor had given me life; for I find that it pleases God to have his truth defended, not by our swords, but by our blood." He then went boldly on the block, saying, "I shall now soon be with Christ."
Sir Gasper Kaplitz, a nobleman 86 years of age, said as he came to the block: "Behold an unworthy and ancient man, who hath often entreated God to take him out of this wicked world, but could not until now obtain his desire; for God reserved me until these years to be a spectacle to the world and a sacrifice to Himself; therefore God's will be done."
Dionysius Zervius, 56 years of age, was educated as a Roman Catholic but embraced Protestantism. He said to the Jesuits before his death: "They may destroy my body, but cannot injure my soul; that I commend to my Redeemer."
Tobias Steffick was serene as he spoke a few minutes before being killed, "I have received, during the course of my life, many favours from God; ought I not therefore cheerfully to take one bitter cup, when He thinks proper to present it? or rather, ought I not to rejoice that it is His will I should give up a corrupted life for that of immortality?"
Christopher Chober no sooner stepped upon the scaffold, than he said, I come in the name of God to die for His glory. I have fought the good fight, and finished my course; so, executioner, do your office."
Maximilian Hostialick seemed terrified when first coming onto the scaffold. Then he spoke: "Christ will wash me from my crimes. . . . Lord! now let Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."
Simeon Sussickey was to be hanged. "He appeared impatient to be gone, saying, "Every moment delays me from entering into the kingdom of Christ."
Dear Christian brothers and sisters, are we not moved to feelings which we cannot describe when we hear of such witness? Are we not humbled to depths which we cannot describe? Are we not frightened that we might fail to stand upright before our enemies? that we might not witness of our faith without shame? We might also feel shamefully humbled before such witnesses who preceded us because it was the daily witnessing of their lives which brought such penalties upon them; is your witnessing bringing attention to yourself in your daily life? Might the enemy consider you to be worth killing, or are you too harmless? Reading of such witnesses, as I have been doing lately, stirs me to ponder how simple people could witness so marvelously when facing cruel deaths. I am convinced that something very wonderful happens to them when they yield to God in their final moments; they seem to be filled with Spirit, with Joy and Peace, with a blessed countenance that carries them above any need for courage. It seems that their Father is enveloping them in His loving hand and providing a comfort which replaces their fears. Many of them sang hymns while fires were consuming their bodies. Many recited favorite scriptures. Many praised God and looked upward with heavenly joy. Jesus told us not to fear. Are we hearing Him?
It is my blessed pleasure to share these thoughts with you, these weeks or months before the Liberators call our names. The magnificent witness of those who went before us can now serve to encourage and support each of us at our times of trial. We can be assured that our loving Father will receive us with open arms into His Glory as we pass through that final door into His Light.
For the last words of some other men who died as witnesses of their faith, see http://divinepageant.com/mystic__passion.htm . At the index you can click on the names of Giordano Bruno, Michael Servetus, Hans Denck, Sebastian Castellio, Thomas Muntzer, and Sebastian Franck.
by Roger Hathaway, February 20, 2009
We have all been taught by parents, peers, teachers, and preachers to value our lives in this world. We have learned that life is the most precious gem of all values, so we should perform any extreme measure to protect and nourish it. No one dares question the high value of life. So, when Jesus teaches just the opposite, calling us to follow Him willingly to death, we don't know how to reconcile His words with our deeply held belief. Other religions, whether animistic, humanistic, or legalistic all place highest value on this worldly life. The Cain race of Edomite Jews believe in this life alone; see how they wail when a family member dies. Islam is a legalistic religion, valuing its prescribed lifestyle above all else and promoting it to any extreme with the sword. In order to attract men to die for its cause, it promises ultimate sexual gratification for martyrs in an afterlife.
We all march happily in the parade which exalts life in this world because we understand it consciously. We have some difficulty turning away from that which we know toward something promised by God but hardly even defined at all. We are like the monkey who can't pull his hand from the bottle unless he releases the cookie first, even if he is promised an endless supply of cookies that are not in sight at the moment. He won't give up the known for the unknown.
Cognitive dissonance is the term which describes our inability to hold two conflicting beliefs at the same time. I cannot believe that this life has a high value, something I have learned well, and at the same time believe that this life should be despised and rejected. Two contrary beliefs. And we have also learned that it is honorable and noble to defend this life. Consequently, we right-wing conservatives vow to defend our lives and those of our loved ones with guns if necessary. We think we are being noble.
Jesus taught that Godly values are noble. Righteousness is a word often used by Him. Jesus would not compromise his values. His implicit message was that Righteousness is more valuable than this life and should not be compromised. He would yield up His life before denying His values. And he did.
In paragraphs above, you read the words of martyrs who willingly died because they would not recant their beliefs. Their beliefs in Jesus, and the Truth which He represents, were more important than their physical lives. Because they took such a firm stand, boldly and openly, they were blessed with the presence of God which miraculously enabled them to abide the momentary suffering. Their willingness to yield up their lives, for His Name's sake, brought them a confirmation that they did the right thing even before passing through the exit door.
So, for all of us who are wanting to do the right thing, how do we distinguish between conflicting values? How do we separate the value of this life from the value of Faith in Christ? How should one defend himself? The answer to this is that we must play a gambit. In chess, a gambit is the sacrifice of an important piece which then permits a victory. Jesus taught us that we must sacrifice this life in order to gain the victory. While our enemy thinks he is taking our highest value, our lives, he doesn't understand that he is the one enabling us to gain the victory. He is, unwittingly, unlocking the prison door so we can fly free. He is releasing us from physical bondage so we can know spiritual freedom. He is liberating us from Satan's dominion (the pig-pen) so we can return home to our Father. While he thinks he is defeating us, he is actually defeating himself. The glory of this truth is that he can do nothing about his dilemma; he cannot do war against anything except that physical vehicle which has been our prison. He is powerless except to liberate us from his dominion.
The martyrs, through history, must have realized this. They must have, else how could they have stood so boldly against their killers? Our people today have never contemplated this concept because preachers promote religion, not death. Contrary to that, Jesus promoted and encouraged death, in order to rise afterward to a different kind of Life with our Father. We must die first.
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