By: Scott Adkins, Sling ‘n Stone Ministry
Carter County Times
This week we have our third installment covering persecution and martyrdom. Why three?
Because the Lord said much about it, in the Beatitudes; the Gospels; Acts; and Revelation. See, e.g., (Matt. 5:10-12); (Matt. 24:9) (“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake.”); (Mark 8:35) (“Whoever loses their life for Me and for the Gospel will save it.”); (Acts 9:16) (“For I will show him [Paul] how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.”); (Rev. 2:10) (“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: . . .be thou faithful unto death[.]”).
Normally, Scripture describes the Lord as “seated at God’s right hand.” (Luke 22:69): (Hebrews 12:2). Yet Scripture tells us that when the crowd stoned Stephen, Stephen looked into heaven, saw “the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55). As Stephen died for the Gospel, the Creator Himself welcomed Stephen with a standing ovation. Notably, after the Lord returned to heaven, He called-out very few individuals by name – among them: “Antipas . . . My faithful martyr.” (Rev. 2:13). Yet Stephen, Antipas, and Polycarp (last week’s focus) stand not alone in the martyrs’ hall of fame; many have joined them, including three teenage American martyrs: Rachel Scott (1999); Cassie Bernall (1999); and Rebecka Ann Carnes (2015).
Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall, both devout Christians, both shot and killed during the1999 Columbine High School massacre. Early accounts from Columbine survivors stated that, in both Rachel’s and Cassie’s case, the shooters asked the girls about their faith; and when those two valiant young Christians refused to deny their Lord, the shooters executed them. Shortly after Rachel’s and Cassie’s deaths, media and authorities acted quickly to discredit any account of martyrdom. Nevertheless, the fact remains that immediately after the massacre, first-hand accounts testified that both Rachel and Cassie unhesitatingly sacrificed their lives for Christ.
Similarly, on October 1, 2015, an avowed Satanist tore through an Umpqua Community College writing class, executing Christians. Several survivors’ accounts confirmed the shooter challenged Christians’ faith, demanding, “If you’re a Christian, stand up.” Rebecka, facing certain and immediate death, unhesitatingly stood to her feet, refusing to deny the Lord Jesus, and was immediately shot in the head. Several Christian classmates followed her.
Admittedly, Rachel, Cassidy, and Rebecka present isolated examples of martyrdom in today’s America, but lesser forms of persecution increase daily.
Our Lord requires we remain “faithful unto death,” (Rev. 2:10), to not deny Him under any circumstances, just like Stephen, Antipas, Polycarp, Rachel, Cassidy, and Rebecka whose examples should inspire us all to be faithful no matter how dire the circumstances or how high the cost.