Many of you have read Foxe's Book of Martyrs. It’s certainly not light bedtime reading, but is nevertheless inspiring and relevant as we look at this passage of scripture this morning.
It’s important to remember that each of the apostles suffered persecution, and most died as martyrs. Tradition says Peter was crucified upside down, Paul was beheaded. Andrew, after being ordered by a Roman governor to stop preaching Christ or face execution, reportedly told the Romans:
"I would not have preached the honor and glory of the cross if I feared the death of the cross."
Foxe writes: "Death was not considered enough punishment for the Christians, who were subjected to the cruelest treatment possible. They were whipped, disemboweled, torn apart, and stoned. Plates of hot iron were laid on them, they were strangled, eaten by wild animals, hung, and tossed on the horns of bulls. After they were dead, their bodies were piled in heaps and left to rot without burial....Nevertheless, the Church continued to grow, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and watered with the blood of the saints."
The foundation of the doctrine of the apostles that Foxe wrote of was the resurrection. How in the world did the church continue to grow in the face of treatment like this?
Today, so many of our churches seek to grow by telling people to come here, we'll help meet your needs, you'll be happy here. Can you imagine one of those cute church signs with ...
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