Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Do you know why you believe? Are you willing to die for that belief. Teh Apostles faced horrible deaths for their proclamation of the resurrection.

Difference Makers Know why they believe.

Acts 23:1-11

Do we know why we believe? Are we willing to die for what we believe?

Chuck Colson, "henchman" of the Nixon Administration, former Marine Officer was converted to Christ. His story is fascinating. It was not a Biblical passage per se that convinced him. He, according to his own testimony, knew he was a sinner. He knew there was something more, but he was not sure what there was other than this life.

During his imprisonment for his part in the Watergate scandal he read a book about the early Christians. He was fascinated by the stories of the martyrs. He knew what it was to believe a lie, he knew people did not go on suffering proclaiming a lie to be true. He saw that in the Watergate scandal. The stories of how the people died proclaiming to have seen the resurrected Christ spoke to him.

In a book by Grant Jeffrey called "The Signature of God" he recounts how the Apostles died proclaiming the resurrection. These men who knew Jesus personally never denied their testimony about Him, despite the threat and the reality of death. These men possessed an absolute unshakable personal knowledge about the truth of life, death and the resurrection of Jesus. Each of them paid the ultimate price to prove their faith.

As someone has correctly pointed out, hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff. Men may willingly die for what they believe to be true...even at times if what they believe is actually false. But no one will die willingly for something they know to be a lie!! Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Jesus, committed suicide. Only John, of the other 13 Apostles, did not die by homicide, a martyr. Yet, all the others died horrible deaths proclaiming to have seen the resurrected Christ.

It is not so important how the apostles died. What is important is the fact that they were all willing to die for their faith. If Jesus had not been resurrected, the disciples would have known it. No one will die for something he knows is a lie. The fact that all of the apostles were willing to die horrible deaths, refusing to renounce their faith in Christ is tremendous evidence that they had truly witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The only apostle’s death the Bible records is James (Acts 12:2). King Herod had James put to death “with the sword,” likely a reference to beheading. The circumstances of the deaths of the other apostles can only be known based on church traditions, some are written by early church leaders.

Apostle Peter was crucified upside-down on an x-shaped cross, in Rome, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy (John 21:18). Following are the most popular “traditions” in regards to the deaths of the other apostles.

Matthew The gospel writer, suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.

John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos. He wrote his prophetic book of Revelation on Patmos. The apostle John was later freed and returned to what is now modern-day Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.

James, the brother of Jesus (not officially an apostle), the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was thrown from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple (over a hundred feet down) when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a club. This was the same pinnacle Satan had shown Jesus during the temptation.

Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed in present-day Turkey and was martyred for his preaching in Armenia, being flayed to death by a whip.

Andrew The brother of Peter, was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Greece. After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony, he actually hung there for two days. His followers reported that when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: "I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it." He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he died.

Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church there.

Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.

The apostle Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero in Rome in A.D. 67. There are traditions regarding the other apostles as well, but none with any reliable historical or traditional support.

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