Words Of Life From The Not Really Dead

There are countless dead people who are still living. I am not talking about ghosts, but those who personally knew God and took a stand for Him. Some of these speak to us by their “last words”. Let us hear from three of them who were killed for their faith in God through Christ around five centuries ago.
Words Of Life From The Not Really Dead
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2016 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete)

One day the Sadducees, a Jewish sect that did not believe there would be a resurrection of all the dead, tried what they thought was a trick question on Jesus the Messiah regarding the deceased. After rebuking them for not knowing the power of God nor the Holy Scriptures He pointed out to them that the written Word of God referred to Him as “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” and said that He was not the God of the dead but of the living (Matthew 22:32). Along with that is a host of Holy Scripture that clearly shows

people most certainly do exist after death {1}. If we study the texts further we will find that those who truly placed their faith in the one true God but have passed from this life have a very living existence in the presence of the ever living God.

These were people like you and I, born in sin and plagued with iniquity and weakness, but at some point in their lives they yielded themselves by faith to God. Elijah is somewhat well-known even by the unsaved for his spectacular ministry. Many look at him and others in the Word of God as “super good,” so good that God could use them. No. Elijah, Moses, Enoch, and the rest were like you and I. It is written of Elijah in James 5:17 that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours...”. What happened with Elijah and the others is that they permitted God in their life to work within them and through them.

While Elijah was taken into heaven by a whirlwind, and Enoch was also taken by God, the rest met with physical death. Many were persecuted and were killed. Many stood boldly for Christ in the face of death and through torments that led to death. Since Stephen, the first martyr for Christ, there have been countless others who did not give in but stood firm in the faith of Christ. The last moments on earth of some have been recorded in works like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and Martyrs Mirror. In these troubling times when persecution of Christians is on the rise worldwide, including in the United States, it does us well to look at some in the past, and hear encouragement to us from them based upon God’s Word.

For this message we will look at the last moments and read the last words {2} (modified slightly for better understanding) of one brother and two sisters in Christ who would not budge in their stance for Christ. These three are Leonard Bernkop, Catharine, and Anna Of Freiburg. We will focus upon certain things they said or prayed before they were martyred and find the basis of each in the written Word of God. From these martyrs we will glean the following admonitions. In presenting this, I have taken the liberty to present the last moments and last words of these three as if they were in front of us now and what they might tell us if God would permit them to materialize and have a chat with us.

I. Receive God’s Power - Ephesians 6:10

If God would permit Leonard Bernkop to speak to us we might hear the following:

It was the year 1542, and I, Leonard Bernkop, was apprehended for the faith, at Salzburg. Many tried to turn me away from faith in Jesus Christ, but my mind was made up! I was going to keep trusting in Christ and no one was going to stop me. 

My captors saw that I steadfastly persevered in the narrow way of the truth of God, and there was no hope that I would turn away. So they condemned me to death, led me out to the place of execution, and built a fire close to me so that it roasted my side. But by God's grace I hung on firmly to the Lord.

I then said to the bloodhounds and executioners, "This side is roasted enough; turn me around, and scorch and roast also the other; for through the power of God this suffering is insignificant in comparison with the eternal." 

Thus, by the grace of God I gained the victory over the beast and his image, over the abomination of desolation and his mark. Rather than receive his mark, or do anything which was contrary to God my heavenly Father, by His grace I gave my body to be roasted and executed by fire, which could in no wise separate me from the love of God. I look to the time when I will be raised from the dead together with all conquerors in the faith, who have come out of great tribulation, and shall have my mouth filled with laughter, and my tongue with praise, and I shall sing the new song with the servants of God, the song of the Lamb, and  forever behold the Almighty God.

-  -  -  -  -

Brother Bernkop knew the written Word and risen Lord and was able to say, “through the power of God this suffering is insignificant in comparison with the eternal." He did not say he was going through the torment by his own strength, but pointed to the power of God within him by Christ. This reminds me of Ephesians 6:10 (KJV), “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Brother  Leonard could not have fearlessly endured that fire in the natural, but was able to do so through Christ.

Please be very much aware that if you call yourself a Christian you will be tested at some point. If you really live as a true Christian you will be persecuted. But, throughout life each Christian encounters troubles which, in reality, are “little” when compared with being persecuted for the cause of Christ. Learn to endure the little problems now by letting Christ live through you by the power of the Holy Spirit. As you obey God in these little matters when the time comes you will be better able to apply the grace of God to your life when you meet with heavy persecution.

One thing that will help us is to remember Christ endured much more for us so that we might be redeemed. This is one reason why we should let Christ dwell within. When He does we will endure troubles and persecution by the strength of Christ because we love God.

We are also to remember that trouble now is minor, insignificant, when compared with eternity, and there are two facets of eternity, eternal damnation or Eternal life. If we are in Christ we have abundant life now and Eternal Life. With Christ truly within we will understand what the Holy Spirit moved upon Paul to write in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

II. Stand Firm - Ephesians 6:13

Next, let us hear what Catharine might have to say.

My name is Catharine. In the year 1551, eight days after a number of other Christians were executed by being burned at the stake, I was also sentenced to the fire. I spent a number of days in prison, during which time I was greatly tormented by the monks in order to make me turn my back upon Christ. They made many attempts to destroy my relationship with God through Christ and have me adhere to a lifeless religion. However, I told them, "I stand so firmly to my faith that for it, to the honor of God, I will permit myself to be burned at the stake. What would you do for your faith? not much, I think. Hence repent, before you be brought to shame."

On my way to be burned at the stake a Christian brother was kind enough, and brave enough, to greet me. When I got to the scaffold I asked that my hands be untied and my captors agreed. I then knelt, and prayed fervently to God for strength, and God answered my prayer.

When I got up and was tied to the stake, by the power of God I boldly said, "I am put to death for the truth's sake; whatever you are able to inflict upon me, I am freely ready to suffer." Someone came up to supposedly comfort and strengthen me, but this person was trying to get me to turn my back on Christ. So I said to him, "Be still, I am tired of your tormenting; forbear comforting me, and comfort yourself; for He whose name I suffer, shall now be my comfort."

After that, with a firm confidence I called upon God. They then lit the fire and I was burned alive in the sight of all the people, steadfastly offering up my soul and body to God, as a burnt sacrifice.

-  -  -  -  -

"I stand so firmly to my faith that for it, to the honor of God, I will permit myself to be burned at the stake,” proclaimed Catharine before her death. The Holy Scriptures have much to say about taking a stand for God. As persecution of the godly increases we should be more determined to follow the exhortation of Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”

For those truly in Christ, “having done all" would include the precious instructions that followed in verses 15 to 18, which begins with “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” The Truth is the written Word and Christ Himself, the Living Word. With Christ within we can then have the righteousness required by God and have “put on the breastplate of righteousness.” This is not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ within.

Next, “. . . and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace . . .” shows us that each true disciple has a message of true peace to proclaim to all. This does not mean agreeing with sin or  agreeing with other religions (John 14:6). It does mean knowing the peace of God through salvation in Christ, and proclaiming to all the peace of God through salvation in Christ.

As we read the entire Holy Bible we see that faith in God is required to


please Him. In Ephesians 6:16 we read, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” By the faith (or faithfulness) of Christ within (Galatians 2:20) we may be spiritually protected against temptation, attack, trouble, fear, despair, and whatever else there might be to try to throw us off course in following Christ.

We must make sure we put on “the helmet of salvation”. That is, we are to personally know Christ, have the mind of Christ and objectively focus upon Christ. In this, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” will help. Read it. Study it. Know it. Memorize it. Meditate upon it {3}. Trust it. Revere it for what it is, the Word of God. Above all, by His Life live it.

Constantly commune with God through Christ, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit," constantly listening to God (“being watchful to this end"). By the grace of God through Christ within persevere and intercede (“with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints").

Yea, in all of this, stand! Stand inwardly and thus avoid sinning and by His grace stand outwardly, proclaiming unashamedly and unapologetically the entire counsel of God whether people are pleased or perturbed by it.

III. Rejoice In The Lord - Mt 5:11-12

Finally we will hear what Anna of Freiburg might tell us.

I am Anna and I lived on earth in the early 1500s. There came a time when I heard the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ and made Him Savior and Lord of my life. I was zealous for the fear of the Lord. I was baptized upon faith in Him, and thus sought to arise with Christ; and walk in newness of life.

However, the adversary could not endure it, therefore I was envied, accused, and apprehended by those who claimed to be His ministers. Soon afterwards, after steadfastly suffering many torments, I was sentenced to death, drowned in the water, and afterwards burned with fire at Freiburg in the year 1529.

While in prison, just before I was to die, I prayed a prayer to God, and left admonitions to all of His children. This is what I prayed, and these are the admonitions I spoke:
 "Dear, eternal heavenly Father, I call upon Thee, from the depths of my heart; do not let me turn from Thee, but keep me in Thy truth unto my end. O God, keep my heart and mouth; guard me, that I may never separate from Thee, on account of impending sorrow and anguish, or any manner of distress; keep me cheerful and glad in my sufferings: Eternal God, my dear Father instruct and teach me, Thy poor, unworthy child, that I may heed Thy ways and paths. O Father, this is my sincere desire, that through Thy power I may press even unto death, through all sorrows, sufferings, anguish and pain, and in this let me persevere, O God, that I may not be separated from Thy love.
     “There are many who now walk in this way; but the cup of suffering is given them to drink. We are also accused of false doctrine, in order to draw us from Christ our Lord. But O God, I lift up my soul unto Thee and trust in Thee in every adversity; do not let me be confounded, lest my enemy exalt himself over me in this earth. I am now imprisoned here by him, but, O God, I sincerely wait for Thee with great desire, until Thou wilt awaken, and deliver Thy prisoners. 
     “O dear heavenly Father, make us prepared with the five wise virgins, that we may prudently wait for the bridegroom with His heavenly host. O heavenly King, feed and refresh us according to the spirit with Thy heavenly meats, which never perish but abide in life eternal; for if Thou should withdraw Thy food from us, all that we do, would with ourselves be in vain and perish. But, through Thy grace, we trust in Thee, that we shall not fail. I do not doubt in the least, the power of God; for His judgments are honored. He will forsake no one who firmly holds to Him in faith, and seeks to walk in His true ways.”
   “O ye Christians, rejoice, and always be of good cheer in the Lord Jesus Christ; may He increase love and faith in us. God comfort us by His holy word, in which we may firmly trust. I commend myself to God and His church; may He be my Protector today, for His holy name's sake. O my Father, let it be done through Jesus Christ, Amen."

-  -  -  -  -

“O ye Christians, rejoice, and always be of good cheer in the Lord Jesus Christ; may He increase love and faith in us. God comfort us by His holy word, in which we may firmly trust.” This exhortation to rejoice is needful for the Body of Christ as we enter the age of darkness, but look forward to the dawn.

As recorded in Matthew 5:11-12 Christ said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The Authorize Version has “revile” for “insult”. The Greek word used means {4} . . .
1) to reproach, upbraid, revile 
1a) of deserved reproach 
1b) of undeserved reproach, to revile 
1c) to upbraid, . . . 

As already stated, persecution of Christians has certainly increased. So has the slander against them. The world will term a true Christian unloving because they come against sin. The world has concocted fake mental issues as “homophobic” and “islamaphobic”. The truth of the matter is that the world has a very unhealthy fear of God, the things of God, and the people of God.

To rejoice upon that, along with persecution and slander certainly goes against our natural human nature. However, it is possible with Christ dwelling within. And the phrase, “be exceedingly glad”, indicates that more than just a smile or a mere chuckle should come from us, but we are to learn to rejoice in such a way that the unsaved might say that we are “going overboard.”

We are in good company with the “prophets before you.” While there is the office of the prophet, each true Christian to a degree becomes a prophet when they speak in anyway about the will of God and His commandments. Just as each true Christian is as human and frail as were those before us, viz., Elijah, Enoch, David, and countless more, if we remain in Christ we will be rewarded with those who have gone before. While there will be many wonderful blessings in the coming Kingdom of God, the greatest blessing will be to be with Jesus Christ for all eternity.

Notes:

{1} Please read You Still Exist After Death at http://thesureword.expertscolumn.com/article/you-still-exist-after-death .

{2} Martyrs Mirror relates the account of the martyrs in the third person. I have taken those words and rewrote them as in the first person. See Martyrs Mirror at http://homecomers.org/mirror/ .

{3} Please read Bless Your Mind at http://holybibletreasures.expertscolumn.com/article/bless-your-mind .

{4} From an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong incorporated in the Online Bible program, and so throughout the article whenever the ancient language is referred to and no other authority is cited.

This article was written in the form of a sermon (message) outline with comments. God willing by December 8, 2016 (hopefully much sooner), you should be able to hear the actual message (sermon) by selecting a link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M426 .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the New American Standard Bible changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. * = For other versions the spelling of some words is updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates.

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.



Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Posted on 29-10-2016 67 1

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  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    The mission of Christians is to be involved in all areas of life as yeast among the masses, in spite of the fact that will find temptations and errors among many unscrupulous people. Our lives may be in danger, but as long as we stand with God we will be victorious.
    reply 0
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