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Ten Lessons Learned from Martyrs
Victor M. Eskew
A. In the recent past, we have presented three lessons on the subject of Martyrdom.
1. We began with the definition of martyr and Bible examples of martyrs.
2. In our second lesson, we examined the common factors found within martyrdom.
3. In our last lesson, we studied ten qualities possessed by martrys.
B. In this lesson, we will be examining “Ten Lessons Learned from Martyrs.”
I. TRUTH HAS ENEMIES
1. The actual state of a matter
2. That which conforms to fact or reality
B. Jesus said: God’s Word is truth (John 17:17).
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
C. It is hard for us to imagine that people will oppose the realities of God’s Word, but they will (Phil. 3:8).
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ.
II. HUMANITY CAN BE EXTREMELY DEPRAVED
A. Depravity involves evil, wickedness, and perversity.
B. Again, it is difficult for righteous people to imagine how evil and despicable human beings can become.
C. But, we see how low man can sink when we watch how the martyrs were treated.
1. The enemy’s heart devises and schemes about ways to dispose of his opposition.
a. The ultimate end is death.
b. Torture and torment are the means.
c. Long and painful. These are part of the process that leads to death.
D. The torment of Jesus (Mark 15:12-14)
And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews. And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
III. WE COULD HAVE TO GIVE OUR LIVES FOR CHRIST
A. In our minds, we think that this will never happen.
B. The Bible, however, teaches that it is a possibility.
1. “And it was the third hour, and they crucified him” (Mark 15:25).
2. Matthew 10:24-25a
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.
IV. TRUTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN LIFE
A. This is a truth that is easy to say. But, when we say it does it spring from a heart that embraces it? Do we genuinely believe it?
B. Several passages in the Word of God tell us that the Word of God is more valuable than riches.
1. Psalm 19:10
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold.
2. Psalm 119:72
The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.
3. Proverbs 3:14-15
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than find gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
C. But, is truth more important than life itself? The martyrs cry out: “Yes, truth is more important than life!”
1. Without truth, life means little.
2. Life is going to ultimately end anyway.
3. Truth is wrapped up in God who is truth.
4. Acts 20:24
But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself…
V. WE CAN HAVE THE COURAGE NEEDED TO DIE FOR CHRIST
A. Courage is the mental fortitude that enables us to stand against threats to our security.
B. The Bible teaches us that God has “not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7), but we all know how overbearing fear can be in our lives.
1. We shy away from Bible questions others ask us.
2. We are silent when individuals oppose our beliefs.
3. We refuse to get actively involved in personal work.
4. Can you imagine having to literally die for Christ?
C. Jesus tells us not to fear man (Matt. 10:28).
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
D. At the close of Hebrews 11, unnamed faithful are mentioned. Listen to Hebrews 11:37.
They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword.
1. These individuals had the courage to die.
2. So can we!
VI. HOW TO ACT UNDER PRESSURE
A. “Pressure” seems like a very mild word. Here are some other words we could use: arduous, burdensome, exhausting, grueling, harsh, painful, punishing, severe, exacting, demanding.
B. The martyrs teach us how to respond to oppressive people and circumstances.
1. With courage like Peter and John (Acts 4:19-20)
2. With spirituality like Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25)
3. With grace, like Jesus Christ (I Pet. 2:22-23)
4. With great faith like the three Hebrew youths (Dan. 3:16-18)
5. With hope like the apostle Paul (II Tim. 4:6-8)
VII. WE MUST ALWAYS LOOK TOWARD OUR REWARD
A. We might seem to be leaving a lot behind if we die. We will have to pass though several hours of trial and tribulation. But, what awaits us on the other side will be worth it.
B. Jesus promised it (Matt. 5:11-12)
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, Rejoice, and be extremely glad: for great is your reward in heaven…
C. The apostle Paul saw it (II Tim. 4:8)
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day.
1. We close our eyes to this world, but open them to a new world.
2. We cease from pain here, and experience great joy over there.
3. The darkness of death is replaced with the light of deity.
4. Condemnation is turned into triumph and victory.
VIII. DYING BRINGS LIFE TO THE CHURCH
A. The enemy seeks to destroy the church through death.
B. The result is that the church is brought to life through persecution and execution.
1. Saul of Tarsus did all that he could do to destroy the church of God, but he could not (Acts 8:4).
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
2. Paul’s tribulations strengthened others (Phil. 1:14).
And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
IX. THE CHURCH IS INDESTRUCTIBLE
A. The church was not constructed by man.
1. In Hebrews 8:2, the church is called the true sanctuary. The conclusion of the verse states: “…which the Lord pitched, and not man.”
2. Jesus said: “Upon this rock I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:18).
B. This divine kingdom can never be destroyed (Dan. 2:44). It shall stand forever.
1. Storms will pound against it, but it will stand.
2. Enemies will assail it, but it will endure.
3. Problems will infect it, but it will prevail.
4. Death will threaten it, but it will die not.
X. JESUS IS ALWAYS WITH US
A. Jesus has promised: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
B. Two examples:
1. Stephen (Acts 7:55)
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.
2. Paul (II Tim. 4:16-17)
At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me…Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me…
A. I am thankful for the martyrs who have laid down their lives for the Lord, the church, and the Word of God.
B. Their examples teach us so many things.
C. Perhaps you might still be doubtful whether you could really be a martyr for Christ. Let’s consider one passage as we contemplate this thought (Phil. 4:19).
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.