The power of God unto salvation
Published 10:12 am Thursday, April 7, 2016
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
As we read again of the brutal expressions of extreme terrorism all over the world, it’s becoming increasingly clear that radicals are targeting Christians. In the passion week preceding Easter alone there were 80 killed in Pakistan, Scotland, Bangladesh and Egypt, all singled out for their faith in Christ Jesus.
We mourn here the loss of these men and women, and even children of such great faith, such precious souls who would not deny Jesus even with death as the reward. The assurance for the Saint is great is their reward in heaven, that there is great honor laying on the other side of the veil for the martyr. (Rev. 6:9-11)
However, this is by no means a new occurrence, since the beginning of Christendom, and down through the Middle Ages, Christians have been brutally tortured and murdered often publicly for their faith. All it takes is a quick thumbing through history books, the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, or Foxe’s book of martyrs and you are immediately faced with a very different reality than the one we know today. The truth is, 10 of the remaining eleven disciples of Jesus, were executed in martyrs fashion. Many more following the same fate for centuries to come were burned alive, some covered in oil or gun powder to make the final pain more excruciating, even worse are the stories of those sewed in animal skins while alive and feed to wild dogs.
While these stories are gruesome, the most awe-inspiring part is that most of those mentioned are noted for praying forgiveness for those persecuting them, and then being heard preaching the love of Christ until their last breath.
The account of James the lesser, tells that the Roman who lead him to execution was converted on the road and then asked to be beheaded at his side, and was.
The truth is that the Gospel has always stood in the face of persecution. Paul was even quoted in the book of Acts as having said “by many persecution see enter the Kingdom of God.” Understand though, the quote above would have been the equivalent of an Al-Qaeda member proclaiming his willingness to die for the truth. Paul was formerly the terrorist. Here, and many other places in scripture Paul (formerly Saul) recalls his conversion and names it joy, in comparison to the comforts he once knew in his life before Christ.
In this well known verse from his letter to the Romans, inspired by the Spirit of God, he writes not only is he not ashamed, but that God’s righteousness is revealed by those who remain in faith. Having known shipwreck, imprisonment, and multiple attempts on his life, he continued to preach the Gospel of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, knowing the cost.
Also, knowing that his responsibility was to the one thing he could not and would not abandon, his faith, his faith in the providence and purpose of God.
My simple question to the western believer, in light of all this, is: Did Christ pay for your salvation with any less a sacrifice than His life? Moreover, in perspective, what keeps us from sharing our faith? In the face of what great adversity have we become ashamed? Rejection, ridicule, or is it indifference and apathy?
Did not Jesus say: “If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 10:33.
David Malcom is the pastor of Trinity Gospel Church. He can be contacted at email@example.com.