Guests: Zdravko Stefanovic and Bozana Stefanovic
Relevant Passages: 2 Chronicles 24; Jeremiah 26; Matthew 14; Acts 7; John 21
Martyrs and Murderers solemnly remind us that God does not always protect his children nor preserve them from tragic sin. The number of martyrs recorded in Scripture raise significant questions for those of us who remain active and relatively comfortable. Consider the stories then the questions:
- Zechariah, son of Jehoiada: death in the temple (2 Chron. 24).
- Uriah, Jeremiah’s colleague: unsuccessful flight (Jer. 26).
- John the Baptist: Jesus’ forerunner slain (Matt. 14).
- Stephen: first Christian martyr (Acts 7).
- Peter: crucifixion of the denier (John 21:18-19).
- Promises of protection. How does the frequency of martyrdom relate to the glowing promises of protection found in Scripture, especially in the Psalms (e.g. Ps. 91)?
- Seeking martyrdom, avoiding martyrdom. Is there any guidance in Scripture on the question of whether believers should make extraordinary efforts to court martyrdom or to avoid it?
- Pondering the stories of martyrs. What practical value is there in dwelling on the violent deaths of those who were slain while seeking to be faithful to God? What principles of selectivity should one use in determining whether or not children or adults should be confronted with the painful record in Scripture?
- The effect of martyrdom. It has often been said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. But has violent persecution always served to build the church? Has it not also destroyed much that is valuable? If such is the case, should that tell us anything about whether to seek or avoid circumstances that could trigger a violent response to the Gospel?