Remember the Fallen

Text: Revelation 6:9

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have died while serving in the armed forces. It is good to appreciate the sacrifices that helped make it possible for us to live “a tranquil and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:2). The New Testament tells of some who died, not for a country, but for the kingdom of Christ. In this lesson we will remember these martyrs and consider some lessons from their deaths.

Stephen (Acts 7:54-60)

  • Direct result of Stephen’s preaching – he preached a history of the Jewish nation, condemning them and their fathers (Acts 7:51-53); if we suffer, it must be for Christ (1 Peter 4:15-16); no other reason to target Stephen (Acts 6:3, 5)
  • A future convert participated – Stephen’s killers laid their robes at Saul’s feet (Acts 7:58; 8:1); he was later converted (Acts 9:1-6, 17-18); anyone can be saved (1 Timothy 1:12-16)
  • Attitude of forgiveness – his last words showed an attitude of forgiveness; same attitude of Jesus (Luke 23:34; 2 Peter 3:9); if we want God to forgive us, we must be willing to forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15)

James (Acts 12:1-3)

  • Civil authorities may target the church – not necessarily specific people, the church in general may be a target (cf. Acts 8:1, 3); if that happened, would there be evidence to show that you are a part of the church? (Matthew 5:16; Acts 2:42, 46; Hebrews 10:25)
  • Death can come quickly – persecution may include a long imprisonment, but it seems that James was killed quickly; life is uncertain (James 4:14); we must always be ready (Hebrews 10:35-36)
  • Persecution may be viewed favorably by the public – we should strive to be at peace with others (Romans 12:18), but it is not always “possible“; do not be surprised if the world hates you (John 15:18-19); many will call evil good (Isaiah 5:20)

Antipas (Revelation 2:12-13)

  • Hold fast to the Lord’s name – we must be willing to confess Christ before others (Matthew 10:32-33); hold fast to His word in a wicked world (Philippians 2:15-16), even if it means suffering (2 Timothy 1:8)
  • Be faithful until death – Smyrna told this (Revelation 2:10); they were warned about persecution, but it was already in Pergamum; have the attitude of Paul (Acts 20:24; 21:13)
  • Persecution does not remove the guilt of sin – despite the persecution, the church needed to repent (Revelation 2:14-16); error cannot be tolerated (2 John 10-11); we must not tolerate error among liberal brethren or denominations just because we have a common adversary (civil authorities, jihadists, etc.)

Unnamed Martyrs (Revelation 6:9-11)

  • We do not endure persecution so we will be remembered – some martyrs are remembered, most are not; these were unnamed individuals; we should not be seeking the praise of men (Galatians 1:10); even if no one knows/remembers, God does (Revelation 14:13; Psalm 116:15)
  • Desire for justice to be done – it is just for the Lord to punish those who persecute His people (2 Thessalonians 1:6); these martyrs had a perfect sense of what is just/right (cf. Hebrews 12:23)
  • God will punish the wicked in His time – martyrs were eager for God to avenge them (Revelation 6:10); John wanted the Lord to come quickly (Revelation 22:20); but we must wait (Revelation 6:11); God has appointed a day for judgment (Acts 17:31)

Conclusion

  • We must be willing to take up our cross and follow Christ (Luke 9:23) – for some, this meant giving up their lives for Christ; it could mean that for us as well
  • No matter what is in store for our future, we must be willing to surrender our lives to the Lord so we can have something far better in the next life

When you subscribe, you’ll also receive 3 free PDF’s: Plain Bible Teaching on Government, the latest issue of Plain Bible Teaching Quarterly Review, and Social Issues.