Am I being sure to never be ashamed of acknowledging Jesus or his words before men?
32 "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. - Matthew 10:32-33
Many Christians will boldly stand up for their favorite sports teams, even in the face of opposition, yet cower at the thought of defending their faith in Christ. We must be courageous to speak up for our Lord. Think about this: He made the person we are afraid to talk to about Him. Can we agree that this is ridiculous? Courage is not the absence of fear; it is action in spite of the fear. Courage says, “This is uncomfortable to me and could be risky, but I have faith that God is in control and He will help and protect me.” If you lack courage, ask the Lord to help you. Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.
Under the intense persecution of the Roman Empire, the early church suffered more than is imaginable. There were countless opportunities to really lose your life for your faith in Christ. There were those who held on and acknowledged their faith in Christ and those who disowned Him.
In around A.D. 250, a weak Christian, Nichomachus, was brought before the governor of Asia, Optimus and ordered to sacrifice to their pagan idols. Nichomachus replied, “I cannot pay the respect to devils that is due only to the Almighty.” He was immediately placed on the stretching rack, and after enduring his torments for only a short time, recanted his faith in Christ. As soon as he was freed from the rack, he was seized with great agony and fell to the ground and died (Mat 16:25). Seeing his terrible decision, Denisa, a teenage girl exclaimed, “O unhappy wretch, why would you buy a moment’s ease at the expense of a miserable eternity!” When Optimus heard this he called her to himself, and when Denisa confessed she was a Christian, he had her beheaded.
Contrast Nichomachus with Ignatius A.D. 110, who was a disciple of John and the overseer of the church in Antioch. He was sent to Rome to be tried for his faith. He asked the church in Rome not to try to save him from being martyred. He wrote, “Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing of visible or invisible things so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limb, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus.” Even when he was sentenced to be fed to the lions and could hear their roaring, he was filled with such desire to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41) that he said, “I am the wheat of Christ; I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread.”
Perhaps Nichomachus depended on his own strength to sustain the testing of his faith, or perhaps he was not even a true Spirit filled believer. May that never be the case with us, but that we would humbly ask Christ for the dying grace to stand firm with integrity, to the very last breath. I do not like the idea of the pain, but I love the idea of dying for Christ as a Martyr. However, most agree that living for Him can be even tougher than dying for Him, hence why we desperately need His grace (power) either way, so that we ever acknowledge Him and never deny Him in word or lifestyle.