Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
What would you do if a local authority operating under the edict of the central government of your nation ordered you to recant your testimony about the resurrection of Jesus and renounce your faith in him, on pain of torture and death? What would you do? I mean, really, what would you do? Would you have the faith and the courage to look them in the eye and say, “Go ahead, do your worst, but I will never renounce my Jesus!” ? That’s what Antipas, the first Christian martyr in Asia Minor, near the end of the first century, actually did.
The City of Pergamum was the ancient capital of Asia and the center of emperor worship in the Roman Empire about the time John the Apostle wrote his Revelation. In an effort to coerce Christians in Pergamum to recant their faith in Jesus and follow the national practice of emperor worship, the Emperor Domitian seized Antipas, one of the Christian leaders in Pergamum, and roasted him to death in a bronze kettle, slowly over an open fire. No doubt the Christians in Pergamum were forced to watch this horrific scene. Antipas, who had refused to bow to the emperor, was called “my faithful witness” by Jesus himself in Revelation 2:13. Jesus also commends the Christians in Pergamum, “I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.”
Later in Revelation, we learn how first century Christians living in the Roman Empire throughout Asia were able to stand strong for their faith and overcome Satan even in the face of death. “They overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:11)
Here is the key to their faithfulness:
- The blood of the Lamb—they were inspired by Jesus’ example of his willingness to die for them. They knew his blood, his death, had saved them.
- The word of their testimony—they knew what they believed was true; the Lamb who was slain was alive and reigning with God.
- They did not love their own lives so much that they were unwilling to die for Jesus. They did not shrink from death.
Our Christian ancestors gave faithfulness a new definition. Faithfulness, if it is not unto death, is not faithfulness at all. Think about it… How faithful are we? How faithful are you? How faithful will you be?