By GF Herrin
They were world beaters, maybe not in the traditional or worldly sense, but for sure in the manner that they went about their work. The original eleven disciples, hand-picked by the Lord Jesus when He walked the Earth, possessed boldness, courage, and determination to spread the Gospel despite the obstacles that stood in their way. Perhaps the most determined of all of them was an uneducated fisherman, a man of action, who, as far as anyone knew, had always been that way. Never content to sit around, Peter had an energy about him that was apparent to everyone. If a matter presented itself to be talked about, discussed, debated, and pondered, he wanted to resolve the question quickly so that the real work could begin.
After he met Jesus, Peter knew (Matt. 16:16) he had met God in the flesh, the Messiah, and also knew that the long awaited anointed one who was prophesied from long ago (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 42:1-4;Dan.9:25; Mic.5:2) had finally come.
It was Peter who offered to build tabernacles (shelters or booths) for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on the high mountain (perhaps Mount Hermon) when Christ was transfigured (Matt. 17:1-9). It was Peter who got out of the boat to join the Lord in walking on the water (Matt. 14:20) it was also Peter who, filled with dismay, spoke up at the thought of His Lord being struck down by the chief priests, elders, and scribes (Matt. 6:21-22).
But, even Peter, in his moment of weakness had denied Christ, and along with most of the other disciples, had avoided the scene of the cross. What had occurred to transform the disciples from doubtful, un-motivated men mourning their dead teacher into determined, fearless witnesses for Christ? One event was the indwelling of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The major event, though, was the Resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus and His appearance to the disciples three days after He died.
The disciples must have felt the change inside of them. A boldness rising up within….A need to proclaim the Gospel….As if their very souls were bursting with joy and the power that His Spirit gave them all at once…and all their doubts had been erased in an instant…By His glorious appearance and Resurrection on that Sunday after the Passover. In one instant Christ had made everything new. No longer was there any uncertainty of what awaited each of them after they died. The disciples knew that they would be resurrected just like their Savior and Lord. Death’s grip would never truly have a hold over anything they did again.
“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55)
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15).
Regarding the early followers of Christ’s willingness to surrender their lives for their faith, the second century Greek satirist, Lucian wrote, (these) “creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all times, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them.”
We can see from the Acts of the Disciples that the certain belief that they had in their own resurrection made a significant difference in their actions as well:
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words… Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know– Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:14, 22-24).
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
“Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them–walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 6:7-8).
Today, we are live in a dark time. Many Christians worldwide are persecuted on a daily basis for their faith in Christ. Christians in Iran and other Muslim countries choose to stand for Jesus and willingly die rather than deny Him and live in a world where there is no hope. Many Chinese brothers and sisters gladly gather together in secret so that they can worship the Lord, encourage each other, and continue to live boldly for Him. In the United States, now, many are concerned that we will be persecuted for our proclamation of biblical values and pointing out sins to our neighbors in order to tell them how they can be saved.
It is interesting to note that the word witness in Greek is “martyr”, which means, testimony. In the English language, the word, “martyr” brings up connotations of someone who has died for what he or she has believed in. They have paid the ultimate price. To witness or testify for Christ means that you in a sense do become a martyr. You die to yourself, so that you are faithful and loyal to Jesus who loved you and paid the ultimate price for your salvation. This should not be a strange concept to us, as we all die to ourselves when we come to Faith in Jesus Christ.
“He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39).
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Though we have died to ourselves, God’s spirit now lives in us, regenerating us and giving us strength and assurance that we belong to Him, no matter what happens now or in the days to come.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Be bold and encouraged to live and stand for Christ. Remember, you are essentially immortal and unstoppable!