They Loved Not Their Lives Unto the Death
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death"
What you are about to read, you
will know when it is appropriate...
"for the time is at hand"
by Tom Stewart
Martyrdom is witnessing for the LORD Jesus Christ, where that witness causes you the forfeit of your life.
1. The word "martyr" comes from the Greek word "martus", which means "a witness" or "one who testifies", especially "one who witnesses through his death". "I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth" (Revelation 2:13).
2. Death is the price you pay to give testimony for Christ. You do not seek death, of itself, merely to die. If the Holy Spirit leads you to flee, then you are not being led to seal your testimony with martyrdom. "Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains" (Matthew 24:16).
3. Some are led by the Spirit to die-- "And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death" (Luke 21:16), while some are led by the same Spirit to flee-- "Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto" (Luke 21:21).
Martyrs Are Promised the Crown of Life
1. Life is the very thing that you, the martyr, gain by the loss of your earthly tabernacle, ie. your body. "Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
2. Love of Christ is the only appropriate reason for you to endure the trial of laying down your life as a witness for the LORD Jesus. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the LORD hath promised to them that love Him" (James 1:12).
3. Like deacon Stephen, your spirit will be received by the LORD Jesus when you are martyred. "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, LORD Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59).
4. Like the Apostle Paul, your martyrdom is a gain that only those who have lived for Christ can fully appreciate. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
The LORD Will Avenge His Martyrs
1. Vengeance is not the job of man, but of God. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the LORD" (Romans 12:19).
2. The days of God's vengeance on earth occur when the Antichrist unleashes his final fury upon you in his attempt to steal the divinity of the LORD Jesus. "For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled" (Luke 21:22).
3. Be assured, you who are called to lay down your life for the testimony of Jesus Christ, that the LORD requires your blood to be avenged-- much as the wages of sin earn death. "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation" (Luke 11:51).
4. The LORD's wrath and fury are reserved for His enemies, who have martyred His people. "God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies" (Nahum 1:2).
5. You will rightly call for God to avenge your martyrdom on your impenitent persecutors as you stand before the throne of God. "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Revelation 6:10).
6. Because prophecy records in advance what will be history, be assured that the impenitent murderers of your body will certainly be judged by the Righteous God. "For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand" (Revelation 19:2).
God's People Can Be Shown By the Holy Spirit When They Will Be Martyred
1. The Apostle Paul knew the time of his martyrdom.
2. The Apostle Peter knew the time of his martyrdom.
3. As an end time Christian, you can also know when you will be martyred. "And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled" (Revelation 6:11).
Jesus Is Our Example in Martyrdom
- 1 Timothy 6:13 "I give thee charge in the sight of God, Who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession."
The Martyrs Reward Is Gladly Placed at the Feet of Jesus
- Revelation 4:10-11 "The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."
Love for Jesus Is the True Motivation for Martyrdom
1. True martyrdom is Christ-centered. "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (1Corinthians 13:3).
2. True martyrdom is not self-centered. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11).
Martyrs Are to Look to Jesus-- the Joy Set Before You
1. Focus on Jesus, not your martyrdom. "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
2. Happiness comes from your endurance. "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the LORD; that the LORD is very pitiful, and of tender mercy" (James 5:11).
3. Praise and honour and glory of the Lord Jesus is the result of your martyrdom. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1Peter 1:7).
4. Your sufferings will beget joy when you shall shortly stand in His presence. "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1Peter 4:13).
Fear is Good Only When Placed in God
1. All men ought to fear God. "Sanctify the LORD of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread" (Isaiah 8:13).
2. To fear God more than you fear man is the same thing as to not fear man. "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" (Matthew 10:28).
Denying Christ Is Your Alternative to Martyrdom
1. Confessing the Lord Jesus Christ is implicit to your martyrdom. Your confession has brought you your plight. "Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8).
2. If the Holy Spirit has led you to witness a good confession by the relinquishing of your life, then to refuse to lay down your life is to deny the LORD Jesus Christ. You have been promised by no greater authority than the LORD Jesus Christ that you will be denied before God, ie. "I never knew you", if you deny Him. "But he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:9).
Martyrdom Is the Price of Your Opportunity to Testify for Christ
1. Tribulation saints have more certainty of martyrdom than of deliverance. "But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for My Name's sake" (Luke 21:12).
2. Escape is no longer an issue for you. Testimony for the LORD Jesus, that He alone is the only true God, is the course laid for you. "And it shall turn to you for a testimony" (Luke 21:13).
3. Trust your LORD to give you the words to speak at the time of your martyrdom. Only be fully persuaded that your life and death will testify of your LORD Jesus. Regardless of how many, or who actually, witnesses your martyrdom, your LORD Jesus sees, and is pleased. "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer" (Luke 21:14).
4. Know that the LORD Jesus has promised to give you the irresistible words of wisdom, via the Holy Spirit. "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist" (Luke 21:15).
5. Do not be surprised or confused by the identity of your betrayers. Remember that our LORD was betrayed by one of His own hand chosen disciples. "And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death" (Luke 21:16).
6. You have no better testimony than to be hated by Antichrist. "And ye shall be hated of all men for My Name's sake" (Luke 21:17).
7. In spite of all the pictures that you may have had, of the seemingly total martyrdom of the early Church, deliverance has been the normal course throughout the rest of Church history. "But there shall not an hair of your head perish" (Luke 21:18). Martyrs have been traditionally the select few. These end times are like the early Church because martyrs have again become the norm.
8. Of all times, now is the time to possess your soul in patience. Trust the LORD Jesus to work this grace in you. "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19).
You, God's Martyrs -- Of Whom the World Is Not Worthy
1. When called by the LORD to lay down your life, to disobey would place you in prospect of the resurrection of the wicked. "Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection" (Hebrews 11:35).
2. Notice how simple God is concerning the unspeakable evils that befell His martyrs. Dwell not upon the manner of dying, but upon the LORD Jesus. "And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented" (Hebrews 11:36-37).
3. Those who murder your body are not worthy of your LORD, or you, who they have pursued to even the deserts or mountains. "(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Hebrews 11:38).
4. The promise of the resurrection of the just will not be attained by you, or the other departed saints, until the last trumpet sounds towards the end of Daniel's Seventieth Week. The body of Christ will not be complete until then. "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:39-40).
The Power to Be a Martyr
1. Only God's grace (help) can make you capable of being a martyr. "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1Corinthians 15:10).
2. Believe that God calls upon you to be a fellow labourer with Him in your martyrdom. "But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17).
3. Even when you acknowledge God's purpose within you, to walk the path of a martyr, that righteous purposing in you is of the Holy Spirit. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
You Are a Select Group, But ... Why Are You Here?
1. You have entered the Tribulation Week -- what is known as the Seventieth Week of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). You missed, what many call, the pre-tribulational rapture. I prefer to call it the (First) "Come Up Hither" (Revelation 4:1). Either, because:
2. You are about to enter the fellowship of the martyrs. Most of those who have gone before you have not earned what many have called the martyrs' crown because they were not called to martyrdom. Your opponent, the Antichrist, though he is willing to rid himself of you, cannot fully appreciate how "the wrath of man [his wrath against you] shall praise Thee [the triune God]: the remainder of wrath shalt Thou [Jehovah] restrain" (Psalm 76:10). Though your martyrdom is obviously the immediate focus of your concern, as "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) settles upon your heart, you will be assured that this is a blessing in disguise. "And I heard a voice from Heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the LORD from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13).
How Do You Prepare to Be Martyred?
1. Clear your conscience of any known sin -- any offence toward God or man -- by confessing it. "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts 24:16).
2. Keep the Word of faith in your heart and mind as much as possible. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2Timothy 4:7).
3. Mingle your thoughts with prayer. "Pray without ceasing" (1Thessalonians 5:17).
4. Keep looking to Jesus. "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).
5. We, your brothers and sisters in Christ, have already prayed for you. We are watching from heaven, and are looking forward to greeting you at your happy arrival home! "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
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