“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Mathew 10: 29-31.)
Jesus Christ commands every believer to boldly preach the gospel. Some will be despised and rejected; many will be ridiculed and threatened; still others may even face death. No matter the consequence, the faithful must never remain silent. Those who fear man cannot obey God, for men may kill the body, but God has the power to condemn the soul for all eternity. The ancient Israelites feared God and in turn suffered great hardship. They were conquered by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Each new conqueror imposed laws that made honoring God punishable by death. At one time circumcision was outlawed; Jewish mothers caught circumcising their children were crucified. Another law made it a requirement for the Jews to make sacrifices to pagan God’s; the many faithful followers who refused were immediately put to death.
In the sixth century B.C., three young Jewish men feared God more than men. A powerful King named Nebuchadnezzar resurrected a large golden statue in his own likeness. On the day it was unveiled he called together the rulers of the provinces and the peoples of every nation; they were commanded to bow down and worship his image. The multitudes were warned that anyone that refused would be burned alive. Three faithful believers named, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego refused to obey (choosing to offend the king rather than to anger God.) They were bound hand and foot and cast into a fiery furnace. As the king watched he saw a fourth person with them in the flames; somone who protected them; a man who looked like the ‘Son of God.’ When the boys emerged from the furnace unharmed, the king pardoned them and proclaimed the awesome power of the one true and living God. Much like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, the apostles remained faithful. Many were beaten, humiliated, imprisoned and tortured because they refused to remain silent. Eventually, eleven of the twelve disciples were put to death for the sake of the gospel. According to church history, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. Andrew, Simon, and Thaddeus were also crucified. Bartholomew was crucified after having his skin cut off. Philip was crucified and then stoned to death. James was beheaded by King Herod. Thomas was stabbed to death and Mathew was killed with an ax. James the less was clubbed to death and Mathias was burned alive. Although they perished for the faith, they are not dead; they are alive with Christ, in his eternal kingdom.
Every disciple is called to boldly preach the gospel; to speak the truth in love no matter the consequence. Today many are suffering persecution; in Muslim countries, Christians are being attacked and beheaded; in communist countries they are being imprisoned and tortured. Yet in the United States, many professing Christians won’t even lean over and tell a stranger that Jesus loves them. Won’t you reach out in love today? Won’t you speak up and tell your friends and family about Jesus Christ? Present the gospel to your neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances; for when you honor God, God will honor you; and you will walk in eternal fellowship with Him in His kingdom.
“Heavenly Father, take away our fear of death and our fear of others; may we fear only You. May Your words and Your message burn within our hearts and may the gospel freely flow from our mouths. May we share eternal life with all those who have been persecuted and put to death for their faith in Your Son. Provide us with opportunities to share the truth with others in love. We thank You Father, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.