Tuesday, June 7, 2011

..."we’ve learned to deny our bodies where the welfare of our souls is at stake.” -40 Martyrs of Sebaste

My Pastor, while preaching expositionally through 1 Peter on Sunday mornings, gave the "40 Martyrs of Sebaste" illustration during his sermon this week.  He read a lot of it, and I was truly moved by it.  He said he first heard it while listening to a John MacArthur sermon, which prompted him to research it further.  I'm not sure what sources his illustration was from, but it was an excellent illustration of how one mark of Christian Martyrs throughout the ages has been that they "die well"...These 40 Martyrs were part of the 12th Legion of Roman soldiers who refused to offer the sacrifice ordered by Emperor Licinius.  They were reportedly flogged, put in a dungeon, then eventually made to stand naked and cold on a frozen lake till they died, or deserted their fellow 40 to warm themselves in either hot baths, or by a fire (some stories I read said hot bath, or fire).  Here's a sample of their response when offered a way out of persecution for Christ:
Nothing you can offer us would replace what we would lose in the next world. As for your threats, we’ve learned to deny our bodies where the welfare of our souls is at stake.
Here's a link to a site I read about the 40 Martyrs, but am not necessarily endorsing the website, because I haven't had time to look at any other material on their website:

Maybe those more familiar can point me to better web articles about this story.

I also read somewhere recently, I think it was in "The Voice of the Martyrs", that there are about 150,000 Christian Martyrs per year in our modern day.  That's about 400 Christians per day  (TODAY) being killed for the cause of Jesus Christ, and refusing to deny His Lordship in their lives.  Here's part of my Pastor's text from Sunday morning
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. 
May we learn from those who have gone before us, to "die well" for Christ if we're ever put in that position.  And may we say today, as Joshua said to the Children of Israel,
Joshua 24:14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness...15 ...choose this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Please leave comments, links to website articles, etc. that would point us to more thorough or better historical accounts, or anything else relevant to the topic at hand.   Thanks!     

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