TODAY, FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO

SEPTEMBER 13, 2017
     On September 13, 1567, four men surrendered their lives "For the testimony of Christ and for our conscience." 
     So wrote Christian Langedul to his wife just before he died. 
     Three other men were executed with him: Cornelis Claess, Matheus De Vick and Hans Symons. 
     The four men were brought to the "great market place" in front of the city hall in Antwerp, a city in present day Belgium.
     The men were given the "medium" severity execution for their day. Beheading was the most merciful. Being burned alive at the stake the most severe. 
     These men were each tied to a post inside a hut likely made of straw and wood. They were first strangled. (Typically, the executioner tied each victim's neck to the post with a cord, then twisted the cord with a stick until asphyxiation ensued.) 
     The executioner then set fire to the hut and those "Four friends came to a blessed end, according to the Word of the Lord: 'He that endureth to the end shall be saved.'" 
     I suggest you dust off your Martyrs Mirror and read the entire account. (P. 704-714)
     Three of the men wrote letters to their wives in the days leading up to their execution. These letters are preserved in the Martyrs Mirror and to read them is very affecting. 
     Reading the accounts and letters of the martyrs can do several things for us:
     1. Their clear view into the next world strengthens our faith.
     2. Their incredible grasp of the Scriptures motivates us to absorb the Word like they did.
     3. We're reminded to praise God for the freedoms we enjoy.
     4. We're reminded that persecution could visit us again.
     5. We're called to pray for those thousands of believers around the world who are suffering and being harassed for their faith right now. 
    Cornelis the Shoemaker was one of the four men who died at the stake in Antwerp. Here are excerpts from  letter he wrote to his wife just before he died, 450 years ago today: 
     "Thus my dear wife, follow Christ and take up your cross with patience and joy and follow Him all the days of your life, for he had to suffer so much for our sakes to save us. Therefore, let us suffer for His sake, since it is our  hour."     
     "Hence, let us be satisfied in Him and take our cross upon us with joyfulness and patience and wait with firm confidence for the promises which He has made us, and that we may be crowned upon Mount Zion, and adorned with palms and may follow the Lamb."
      "Herewith I bid you adieu, my dear lamb, adieu till in eternity. Adieu and farewell to all that fear the Lord." 
     Here in America, we are facing tests that are perhaps much more of a threat to the true faith than the persecution of 450 years ago. 
     In a thousand subtle ways, God's people are being pressured to give up their faith in God and lose their love for Jesus. Acquiescence to the spirit of the age happens very gradually, almost imperceptibly. 
     Let us take courage from our four faithful friends of four hundred and fifty years ago, and let us Resist with all the Strength His Grace gives us! 
     How can we "Always be ready to give an answer to every man that asks a reason of the hope that is within  us?" (1 Peter 3:15
     The next time someone asks you how you're doing, try this: Say, "He's crucified, buried, risen, ascended, interceding, returning, Hallelujah!, I'm banking my whole life on that, so I'm WONDERFUL!
     Peace to all,
     Ken Miller