October 19, 2017

The Martyr's Oath: Living, and Dying, for Christ

The Martyr's OathThe Martyr’s Oath: Living for the Jesus They’re Willing to Die For, (published 2017, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Carol Stream, Illinois, 240 pages) by Christian (Evangelical) pastor, author, speaker, media personality, communications executive, and humanitarian Rev. Johnnie Moore, examines the escalating genocide against those who profess belief in Jesus Christ. From the publisher’s website:

"We are witnessing an astonishing escalation in Christian persecution like we have rarely seen since the first century. Some estimate that every five minutes, a Christian is martyred for his or her faith. Countries like Egypt have experienced more Christian persecution in the last five years than in the previous six hundred years combined. And who could have missed the atrocities of ISIS in Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the continued persecution of Christians in North Korea?

Johnnie Moore, like many American Christians, didn’t fully appreciate the extent of what was going on—until he witnessed the graduation of theology students in India. Unlike graduation ceremonies in America—where feel-good speeches made by visiting celebrities are common—this one featured a remarkable oath. It wasn’t an oath to excel or succeed. It was an oath to be willing to die, if necessary, for the cause of Christ. This was no empty promise. This was a choice, choosing the eternal over the temporal.

Johnnie knew he was witnessing a raw, first-century Christianity that his comfortable American version had shielded him from. 'For the first time, I really understand my faith,' says Johnnie Moore. Now, he’s on a mission to give this same experience to others. He and his team have crisscrossed the world, recorders in hand, gathering eyewitness accounts from dozens of people who survived persecution—and the stories of some who didn’t."

The book revolves around the "The Martyr's Oath", and vividly documents the courageous sacrifice and steadfast resolve of Christians throughout the world. They strive to live out the Good News and profess their faith in Christ despite increasing threats of violence and daily intimidation, often under the penalty of death. Given that the persecution of Christians is worse now than at any time in history, The Martyr’s Oath... is timely and inspirational. Lest we forget that, "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church." May the martyrs' willing sacrifice of their lives lead to the conversion of others. Sts Perpetua and Felicity pray for us.

THE MARTYR’S OATH

I AM A FOLLOWER OF JESUS. I believe he lived and walked among us, was crucified for our sins, and was raised from the dead, according to the Scriptures. I believe he is the King of the earth, who will come back for his church.

As he has given his life for me, so I am willing to give my life for him. I will use every breath I possess to boldly proclaim his gospel. Whether in abundance or need, in safety or peril, in peace or distress, I will not—I cannot—keep quiet. His unfailing love is better than life, and his grace compels me to speak his name even if his name costs me everything. Even in the face of death, I will not deny him. And should shadow and darkness encroach upon me, I will not fear, for I know he is always with me.

Though persecution may come, I know my battle is not against flesh but against the forces of evil. I will not hate those whom God has called me to love. Therefore, I will forgive when ridiculed, show mercy when struck, and love when hated. I will clothe myself with meekness and kindness so those around me may see the face of Jesus reflected in me, especially if they abuse me.

I have taken up my cross; I have laid everything else down. I know my faith could cost me my life, but I will follow and love Jesus until the end, whenever and however that end may come. Should I die for Jesus, I confess that my death is not to achieve salvation but in gratitude for the grace I’ve already received. I will not die to earn my reward in heaven, but because Jesus has already given me the ultimate reward in the forgiveness of my sins and the salvation of my soul. For me to live is Christ; for me to die is gain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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