Be encouraged to not be afraid to suffer for Jesus!
8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. 9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. 11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.”
HOW THE FIRST DISCIPLES DIED
- Stephen was stoned.
- James, John’s brother was beheaded.
- Philip was crucified.
- Matthew was beaten to death.
- James, Jesus’ brother, was stoned.
- Matthias was beheaded.
- Andrew was crucified.
- Mark beaten to death.
- Peter was crucified upside-down.
- Paul was beheaded.
- Jude was crucified.
- Bartholomew crucified.
- Thomas was speared.
- Luke was hung on a tree to die.
- Simon was crucified.
- Timothy, disciple of Paul and bishop of Ephesus where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later. was beaten and stoned.
- Polycarp, disciple of John and venerable bishop of Smyrna, hearing that persons were seeking for him, escaped, but was discovered by a child. After feasting the guards who apprehended him, he desired an hour in prayer, which being allowed, he prayed with such fervency, that his guards repented that they had been instrumental in taking him. He was, however, carried before the proconsul, condemned, and burnt in the market place. Before his death he was given the chance to renounce his faith in Jesus, he responded, “Eighty-six years have I served Christ, and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”
For the first 300 years after Jesus Christians were martyred by the tens of thousands by the Roman Empire. Please note the following three stories from Foxe’s book of Martyrs:
(1) “Peter, a young man, amiable for the superior qualities of his body and mind, was beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to Venus. He said, “I am astonished you should sacrifice to an infamous woman, whose debaucheries even your own historians record, and whose life consisted of such actions as your laws would punish. No, I shall offer the true God the acceptable sacrifice of praises and prayers.” Optimus, the proconsul of Asia, on hearing this, ordered the prisoner to be stretched upon a wheel, by which all his bones were broken, and then he was sent to be beheaded.”
(2) “Agatha, a Sicilian lady, was not more remarkable for her personal and acquired endowments, than her piety; her beauty was such, that Quintian, governor of Sicily, became enamored of her, and made many attempts upon her chastity without success. In order to gratify his passions with the greater conveniency, he put the virtuous lady into the hands of Aphrodica, a very infamous and licentious woman. This wretch tried every artifice to win her to the desired prostitution; but found all her efforts were vain; for her chastity was impregnable, and she well knew that virtue alone could procure true happiness. Aphrodica acquainted Quintian with the inefficacy of her endeavors, who, enaged to be foiled in his designs, changed his lust into resentment. On her confessing that she was a Christian, he determined to gratify his revenge, as he could not his passion. Pursuant to his orders, she was scourged, burnt with red-hot irons, and torn with sharp hooks. Having borne these torments with admirable fortitude, she was next laid naked upon live coals, intermingled with glass, and then being carried back to prison, she there expired on February 5, 251.”
(3) “Trypho and Respicius, two eminent men, were seized as Christians, and imprisoned at Nice. Their feet were pierced with nails; they were dragged through the streets, scourged, torn with iron hooks, scorched with lighted torches, and at length beheaded.”
(4) “Julianus, an old man, lame with the gout, and Cronion, another Christian, were bound on the backs of camels, severely scourged, and then thrown into a fire and consumed. Also forty virgins, at Antioch, after being imprisoned, and scourged, were burnt.”
(5) “At Utica, a most terrible tragedy was exhibited: three hundred Christians were, by the orders of the proconsul, placed round a burning limekiln. A pan of coals and incense being prepared, they were commanded either to sacrifice to Jupiter, or to be thrown into the kiln. Unanimously refusing, they bravely jumped into the pit, and were immediately suffocated.”
There are roughly 250 million Christians living in persecuted nations such as China, Nigeria, India, North Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia.
- Every day 8 Christians worldwide are killed because of their faith.
- Every week, 182 churches or Christian buildings are attacked.
- Every month, 309 Christians are imprisoned unjustly.
- 50 nations comprise 260 million Christians suffering high to severe levels of persecution, up from 245 million in last year’s list. Source.
- Christians all over the world experience: (1) Verbal Mockery, (2) Public Shaming, (3) Discrimination, (4) Shunning, (5) Loss of property, (6) Imprisonment, (7) Loss of Basic Human Rights, (8) Physical Beatings, (9) Torture, & (10) Death.
- God told those who suffer to: (1) Rejoice, Matthew 5:11-12. (2) Pray for Your Enemies, Luke 6:28. (3) Endure it For the Sake of Christ, Hebrews 12:1-3. Things we can do to support those being persecuted: (1) Acknowledge them, (2) Pray for them, (3) Support them and the organizations who help them.
IN ROME CHRISTIANS WERE KILLED FOR ENTERTAINMENT BY WILD ANIMALS IN ARENAS. SOURCE.
IN NIGERIA CHRISTIANS HAVE BURNED ALIVE. SOURCE.
IN IRAQI CHRISTIANS WERE KILLED IN A SUICIDE BOMBING BY MUSLIM JIHADISTS. SOURCE.
MANY CHILDREN WERE BURNED (AND KILLED) IN THE CHURCH BOMBING OF INDONESIA. SOURCE.
TWENTY EGYPTIAN CHRISTIANS WERE BEHEADED IN LYBIA. SOURCE.
PRAYER CHART: TOP 50 NATIONS THAT NEED OUR PRAYERS TO STOP THEIR PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS. SOURCE.
HOW MPI HAS SUFFERED
Matthew 5:11-12, “11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 10:22-23, “22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Mark 10:29-31, “29 Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
John 15:18-25, “18 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”
John 17:14-15, “14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
1 Corinthians 4:8-13, “8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! 9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.”
Philippians 1:29-30, “29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.”
2 Timothy 1:16-17, “16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. 17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.”
1 Peter 4:12-15, “12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.”
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot, 29 years old, martyred by the indigenous people of Ecuador (who later came to Christ).