Monday, March 31, 2008

Fallen...

The following is an excerpt from here, an article written by the false teacher, Pastor Williams. As part of an effort to combat his materials, the following article has come to light.

Older sermons that are no longer on the Hephzibah House website can be found HERE on the Internet Archive.

First of all, the title, Why No Modern Day Martyrs, certainly sustains ex-Hephzibah House Girls claims of Pastor Williams seeing Hephzibah House as an exclusive outpost of God's light in a dark and stumbling world. Claims have been made that Williams understands himself to be the great reformer of fundamentalism. The article claims that there are "no modern day martyrs..." or at least churches today are unwilling to die for Jesus Christ. Sadly, Williams forgot the names of many fallen heroes of the cross when he wrote this. This article attracts persecuted Christians everywhere, and since the article uses the word we when speaking about if we would suffer death, apparently speaks against fundamentalists as well. Please read it with caution.

Also, keep in mind that more Christians were killed for their faith in the 20th century than have been martyred in the previous nineteen centuries combined. Does that statistic sound like Pastor Williams article, below?

A message from this blog to any who read is: Be praying for broken Christians. Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. --Hebrews 13:3

(For further reference on historical martyrdom, please see the adobe .pdf file, here)

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Why No Modern Day Martyrs?

I recently finished a book entitled Martyr of the Catacombs, an historically based fictional account of what life was like for Christians in Rome in the second century. In those days the roman emperor, Decius, executed severe persecution upon believers in all the empire, and especially upon the church in Rome itself. Slaughters in the Colosseum, burnings at the stake, and various methods of torture and imprisonment drove hundreds if not thousands of believers into the catacombs, a labyrinth of ancient passageways that sprawled beneath the city. Despite the years of suffering the church survived and grew, but not without a price. Many of the Christians who ventured out from the dark catacombs to find food and other necessities were arrested by Roman soldiers and given mock trials in which they could recant. When they refused, and nearly always they did refuse, they were put to death in unbelievably cruel ways.

The Example of Young Pollio
The book focuses on one Roman soldier who was charged with the Christians' capture but providentially became a believer himself and joined the Christians. Eventually he was arrested and put to death, this after he voluntarily revealed himself, when he witnessed the death of another believer. That other believer was a young 13-year-old boy named Pollio. I was moved by the willingness of this young boy to stand so firmly when facing severe persecution and eventually a death sentence. I wondered as I read his account, if I would be willing and so steadfast when facing such a death? As I look at the condition of Christianity today, I wonder why more of God's people -- especially our youth-- are not standing for right as young Pollio did so many centuries ago?

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy "...that in the last days perilous times shall come." (2 Timothy 3:1) Perilous carries the idea of fierce and dangerous, and certainly the times in which we live bear out Paul's prediction. Violence, rising crime, drive by shootings, rioting, genocide, infanticide) all point to the fierce nature our society. But it appears the perilous times of which Paul speaks refer not only society in general, but to Christ's church as well.

The Real Threat to the Church
The approaching apostasy that concerned Paul would eventually cause great harm to the church, much more than a Roman emperor could ever accomplish. Every believer would do well to carefully study the list of apostate characteristics that would infiltrate and permeate the church. It reads like a 20th century newspaper -- humanism, covetousness, pride, selfishness, unholiness, God-rejection, outward religion ... and no real Holy Spirit power. Such sinfulness weakens the church and saps our spiritual resolve. In the Martyr book, we never see young Pollio with such traits. Instead, he is selfless, giving, bold, and fervently in love with his Lord and Master. How did it happen?

Although Paul warned Timothy of the terrible times ahead, he did not encourage him to despair and hand wringing. Rather, he outlined some key defenses which believers can use to resist the encroaching apostasy -- defenses which will prevent us from being swept away into error and compromise. Here are two of these defenses:

God's Defenses against Apostasy
1. We need to "turn away" from the evil around us (v.5). This phrase means to "deflect" something thrown at us. Satan hurls his "fiery darts" toward us, and we need to defect them ... with the Word of God, faith, righteousness, etc. (Eph 6). Parents have an added responsibility to help deflect the devil's darts aimed at their children. I can imagine young Pollio's mother instilling in him a genuine hatred for sin and compromise. Oh, that it were so today! Few parents, even the unsaved, would ever verbally endorse sin; however, their actions might do otherwise. And today many Christian parents teach their children to love sin, through their own love of the world: for example, spending hours a night watching television or videos, too much time with the sports page or magazines, or getting overly involved in hobbies or other amusements. This is hardly "deflecting" Satan's darts. The error of false teaching, compromise, and wicked behavior must be addressed. If we fail in this area, we fail to "turn away" Satan's darts, and our children and churches will fall.

2. We need to continue "...in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of" (v.14). This means clinging tenaciously to Bible principles. To "continue" means to abide, dwell, or remain in solid teaching. This is more than just reading our Bibles -- i.e. knowing what is right. It is also obeying what God says -- doing what is right. Obedience today means we will be in a much stronger position to obey tomorrow.

Timothy was taught the scriptures as a child (v.15) by a Godly mother and grandmother. Believe me, it was much more than just Bible memory. We can be assured it was backed by a demand for obedience as well. It seems that many Christians "dwell" in the Word on Sundays, and in the world the rest of the week. Why then are we surprised that there are so few Pollios among our Christian young people today?

To sum up these two points, we need to "love righteousness and hate iniquity" if we hope to survive and to please God.

Before a Roman court, young Pollio fearlessly stood for his Lord and Savior, despite threats and inducements to turn away. When it was clear he wouldn't budge, Roman soldiers mercilessly cast the boy to the lions in the Roman Colosseum. And even there, Pollio boldly stood ... trusting that the Savior who had cared for him thus far would care for him in death.

Would our children stand for right, if the lions, and the tortures, and burnings at the stakes were brought back? A more probing question is, would we?

Photos...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30197283@N06/http://www.flickr.com/photos/30197283@N06/