2002-09-02 - Faith Worth Dying For

Encore 1997-08-12

He was only 28 years old in 1527, but Patrick Hamilton would not live to see 29. Patrick Hamilton became the first and most eminent martyr of Christian Scotland. He was burned at the stake. I am fond of remembering those in the faith that have walked before me. Martyrs especially are, for me, my veterans. Patrick Hamilton is one of my favorites. I have stood on the very spot where he was burned at St. Andrews in Scotland and it is a beautiful spot, overlooking the North Sea. They have a nice write-up there in his memory. When I think of sacrifice I often think of Hamilton who, when he was burned, did not die at first, and sadly his killers had to send out for more wood to finish the job. John Fox, in his book of martyrs, calls Hamilton's execution, "awkward"; seems it was. Hamilton preached throughout his martyrdom until he expired and the effect upon those who were witnesses furthered the cause of the Reformation in Scotland more than any other single event. He is one who we would have to add to the hall of faith in Hebrews 11. He was a man of whom the world was not worthy and one whose example of dedication to Christ serves as an example to everyone who learns of his travail.

Lest we think Hamilton's case is a rare instance it should be noted that Martyrdom is common for followers of Christ. It would be unthinkable for congress to pass an act that, because of their faith, Baptists were "fair game" or for the President to use his privileges to end the plight of Lutheranism, declaring them a threat to our nation. Unthinkable today, but throughout history it is really rather common. Mary Queen of Scots killed so many for their faith in the 1550's that she is known as "Bloody Mary". King Charles IX, on August 24, 1572, killed so many Protestants throughout France in the St. Bartholomew massacre that the streams and rivers in France flowed red from the blood of the bodies. Killing Christians, for being Christians, has been a common event in history.

We need to thank God for the freedoms we enjoy here in America, seek to preserve them and work to see such freedoms extended throughout the rest of the world.

Martyrs have a resilient faith, one to die for, so should we. A martyr for Christ is a hero, often one who has died with the same faith commitments that we have. We should be as willing to die for our faith as they were. "Faith that is not worth dying for is not worth living for." (I don't know who said that but I am sure someone did.)

We should learn from the example of those who have gone before us and resolve to live more for Christ and less for self. Martyrs are selfless, in a costly way, so is our Lord, who emptied Himself and gave His life for our sake. Christ is the arch-type of Martyrs, He did not need to die, but choose to die for our sake. Of all facts in history, this should change the way we live.

Soli Deo Gloria,

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