Yesterday we began to look at lessons we could learn from Justin Martyr’s defense of the faith in the second century. This should be of utmost importance to any Christian because live in a time where brothers and sisters around the world are dying for their faith and standing before judges for Christ’s sake. The majority of the unevangelized world lives in areas where it is illegal to preach the Gospel. If we are going to send missionaries there, they must be prepared to answer the authorities even when threatened with death. Justin provides some great lessons that won’t keep us from death but will inspire a generation to stand for Christ…
Lesson #2: I stand in behalf of all believers
Chapter 1: “I, Justin, the son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius, natives of Flavia Neapolis in Palestine, present this address and petition in behalf of those of all nations who are unjustly hated and wantonly abused, myself being one of them.”
Whether there were many Christians present or not, Just recognized that there were thousands of believers in the empire for whom he stood. When he gave defense he defended them. The opposite side of the same coin is that when he stood, they stood with him. Justin didn’t consider his life his own but considered himself an ambassador for all born again Christians.
How does this knowledge affect my response?
Fear begins to enter our hearts when we stand before judges and kings thinking that we stand alone and that the only thing at steak is our own freedom and our own lives. No, the case against you is much greater and far reaching than that. The case against an individual Christian for his faith and preaching is a case against all Christians. So a Christian standing before a judge can have the confidence that he stands for all men. He can imagine all the churches and believers next to him. Though they may not be present, oh what joy there will be as they share their stories in heaven. The victories we gain in freedom we gain for all believers. The trials and persecutions we go through we go through with all believers.
What believers do I stand in judgement with?
This is not only believers in our country (as Justin spoke for believers in the Roman Empire) but for believers in other countries as well. Your testimony will inspire and challenge them. The change effected by your trial may affect other countries and governments in this world market. The fact that God has allowed you to stand before judges for his name’s sake is a great honor for he has chosen you a spokesman for all Christians in your country and the world! And not only that but Hebrews 11 connects all generations of persecuted believers. Could you imagine that the defense you give for Christ today will affect Christians for hundreds and maybe thousands of years to come! What a great honor.
Some verses to remember:
*Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. Phil. 1:7
*Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. Heb. 13:3
*And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Heb. 11:36-40
*For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Heb. 10:34
*I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Phil. 10
*Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: Col 4:3
*And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Phil 1:14
Some examples to remember:
*Fransisco Penzotti, the Italian preacher in Peru
*John Bunyon, the unlicensed English preacher
*Ignatius, the willing martyr of Antioch
*Marcellus, the faithful centurion of Tangier
*Richard Wurmbrand, the Romanian Jewish convert in prison 14 years