The Bible-believing Christian has many reasons to be confident in their faith – however, there is one that defies any rebuttal and is an irrefutable proof of the reality of salvation in Jesus Christ. This is the refusal of Christian converts to recant their faith and go to their deaths as a direct result of their testimony.
With the rise of ISIS, we have heard account of Christian’s enduring horrific executions for refusing to recant their faith in Jesus. History is littered with examples that began with earliest believers such as Stephen (see Acts 7) and have continued ever since. Perversely, these murders have often been carried out by the ‘church’ itself over the centuries. Ever since the resurrection and ascension of Christ, believers have been persecuted on the pain of death even though this aggression often seems to achieve the opposite – the good news of Jesus often grows the more it is attacked!
This phenomenon makes no sense at all UNLESS there really is a powerful God at work in these peoples lives. Why would someone go to their death when they simply need to recant their faith to live? Even more incredibly, why do these believers often go to their execution praying for the forgiveness of their murderers? We could understand this more if being a Christian was an identity you were born with and could not lose – for example, those who wish to murder Jewish people do so because they are something they cannot change and although this is just as evil, a Jew cannot stop being a Jew. However, a Christian is NEVER born a Christian – a Christian has to be re-born a Christian! It is also an identity you can walk away from as the Bible plainly teaches you can deny the name of Jesus. Every instinct dictates you would walk away if your life depended on it UNLESS it was such a powerful truth, you would be prepared to die for it – there really is something uniquely special about the name of Jesus Christ.
Another remarkable aspect of this is where this happens – often in places where by human thinking the gospel would have no route into. For example, even in the strictest Islamic environments, Jesus Christ is appearing to Muslims in dreams or answering prayers made in Jesus’ name and they are committing their lives to Christ – this often results in being shunned by family, friends, losing jobs and can lead to violence or death. How is this possible?
There really is no explanation for this other than the inescapable conclusion that there is both genuine truth and immense power in the name of Jesus and this continues more than 2,000 after He ascended to be with His Father. Jesus promised he was coming back to execute judgment over an unbelieving world followed by the restoration of this broken and fallen world. Each person will be judged on whether they have accepted or rejected the Saviour Jesus.
At present, life for the Christian in the developed world is fairly comfortable, although this is changing and life will become much harder for the believers. Despite this, it is rare that a Christian will be asked to pay with their lives as those in other parts of the world do. The BIG question for every believer is are YOU ready for His return? Many believers suffer horribly for their profession of Jesus Christ – in the western world, there is no excuse at all for failing to at least investigate the truth and power in Jesus that causes His followers to lay down their lives on profession of their faith.
Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)