Sunday, May 19, 2013

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

 Luke 9:23-26 "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 

 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.  

 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 

 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."

  My husband & I have been reading through some writings of Origen. It was interesting to me to come across a bit of his history as I was reading in the Martyrs' Mirror.  I also read again about Perpetua & Felicitas. Felicitas response to the jailer stood out to me here so I wanted to share it also. As I read these accounts it stands out to me that these believers in Christ had a faith that worked, a faith that lived, a faith that loved. What I mean by this is that their faith was not only in their heart but manifested in their choices, in their daily life, it was made public for the love that they had for their Lord, who was truly LORD of their desires. They were not restrained by the natural affections of human nature as so many are today. God was apparently their first love as He should be to every one who is named after Him. Many today say they are Christian & moral people but they look, act, & think like the world around them with one exception-they claim to be saved by the blood of Christ. These Martyrs are an example to the modern day "Christian". They show that to claim Christ as your Lord, is to make Him LORD over your entire existence. When we claim Christ we are to take on the mind of Christ: we are to die to the cares, affections & pleasures of this life. That is not to say we can never show affection, never care for things here, or have pleasure here--but rather, we graciously let go of these things rather than have them come between us & our faithfulness to the One who died to give us the true life which is eternal. These Holy Women of Old did not allow their love for father, mother, husband, or children to cause them to waiver when faced with the penalty of temporal earthly torments as a result of their faith in Christ ( Y'shua ha Mashiyach). They did not waiver because they sincerely believed that this life on earth is temporal & that there is an eternal life to come. A life of eternal peace to all who lived faithful to the teachings of Christ; and a life of eternal torment to those who refused to give Him all. To the fearful & unbelieving...-Revelations 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. 

What does it mean to be fearful & unbelieving? We must examine ourselves (1Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? )
 daily --(Hebrews 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.)  

We must not let the things of this life become so precious to us that we fear to meet the life hereafter--we must labor now to enter into eternity with confidence. We must labor daily to weed the garden of our heart, diligently keeping out the weeds called "Burdened with Earthly Cares". Lord God who should sit as King of every desire of our heart, have mercy on us, & make us as the Holy Women of Old--fearless of the after life, confidently believing the Promises of Christ, faithfully keeping His commandments, living our lives for Him alone, our first love, not seeking our own but His. That means denying our-self, taking on the divine nature, & forsaking those desires that hinder the kingdom of God on earth. That hinder the Kingdom of God in our homes--the negative responses to our husbands, children, brethren, family members, the lack of meekness & humility in our everyday responses to situations & people must be crucified that we may rise on our last day to be with the Savior of the World.

We must take time to stop & consider: what have I been thinking--are my thoughts profitable to the Kingdom of God?

Has my speech been seasoned--or has it been rash, harsh, irritable?

Am I spending my time to  God's glory?

Am I being a good & sincere example to children, to unbelievers ?

Am I loving my husband as I would Christ?

Am I loving my neighbor as myself?

Am I worshiping God in sincerity & truth; am I truly rejoicing in the Hope of Salvation?

There are many questions like these we should keep in mind so that we can walk worthy & be found of God in peace.

The following are testimonies of those whose sincere faith triumphed over the Cares of this life, & fears of the after-life: 


Perpetua and Felicitas were two very pious and honorable Christian women, at Tuburbi, a city in Mauritania, a province of Africa. Both were very untimely apprehended, to suffer for the name of Christ, as Felicitas was very far advanced in pregnancy, and Perpetua had recently given birth to a child, which she was nursing. But this did not make them fainthearted, nor so surprise them that they forsook Christ, nor did it prevent them from going on in the way of godliness; but they remained equally faithful disciples of Christ, and became steadfast martyrs.
According to the Roman laws, they waited with the pregnant woman, until she was delivered, before they sentenced her and put her to death. When the pains of labor seized her in prison, and she cried aloud for fear and anguish, the jailer said to her, "Thou art so much afraid and distressed now, and criest aloud for pain; how then wilt thou behave, when, tomorrow, or the day after, thou wilt be led to death?" Felicitas replied thus, "Now I suffer as a poor woman the punishment which God on account of sin has laid upon the female sex; but tomorrow I shall suffer as a Christian woman for the faith and the confession of Jesus Christ." ,By these words she sufficiently indicated that she had firmly and immovably founded her faith upon Christ, who never forsakes His own, even though they be in the midst of the fire, and are consumed, God also specially strengthened her, that she might be able to endure her sufferings. With reference to this, Tertullian says, "Perpetua, the very strong and steadfast martyr, had a revelation or vision of the heavenly paradise, on the day of her sufferings, in the which she saw none but her fellow martyrs. And why no others? Because the fiery sword which guards the door of paradise gives way to none but those who die for Christ." In the meantime these two pious heroines of Jesus Christ were martyred, that is, they died a violent death, for the name of their Saviour; for which they will afterwards be crowned with the unfading wreath of immortality, as a triumpth over the foes they overcame, namely, the cruelties and pains of death.
The names of their fellow martyrs are Revocatus, Satyrus, Saturninus, and Serundulus. It is supposed that the last-mentioned one of these died in prison from extreme hardship, but that the others were all thrown before the wild beasts, such as, bulls, lions, bears, leopards, etc., to be torn by them. Thus these exchanged their dear lives for death, for Christ's sake. Idem., fol. 26, col. 3, 4, ex August. in Psal. 74, and de Tempore Barbdrieo, cap. 5, Beda Usuard. Ado Martirol. Rom. 7. Martii. Also, 1. Pregnatis de Pen. Also, in Antiquo Lectionario. Also, Tertull. de anima, cap. 5. That the dead bodies of the two afore-mentioned women were brought to Carthage, and were buried there is testified to by Victor Uticensis, Pers. Vandal., lib. 1.


Leonides, the father of Origen, was according to the testimony of Suidas, a bishop of the church of Christ, and also became a martyr, at Alexandria in Egypt. His imprisonment, suffering, and death occurred on this wise: When from nearly all the cities and villages of Egypt and Thebes, Christian champions, that is, martyrs, were brought, to fight and suffer for the name of Jesus Christ, Leonides was also one of those who were brought prisoners to Alexandria, the capital of Egypt.
When he had been imprisoned for some time, his son Origen, then but seventeen years old, sent him a very comforting letter, in which he exhorted him to constancy, writing, among other things, "Be strong in the Lord, my father, and endure valiantly the suffering which awaits thee. Let not regard for us induce thee to do otherwise." He means to say, " (3 father! do not grieve too much for thy wife, or dear mother, or for us, thy seven beloved children, of whom I am the oldest; or become so wavering, that through desire to usward thou shouldest forsake thy faithful God and Saviour." This was in brief the import of the letter which Origen wrote to his father. It acted as a healing medicine in the wounds of the sorrowful mind of his father, so that he resolved to patiently suffer death for the honor of his Saviour. He was finally sentenced to be beheaded, and all his property was confiscated for the treasury of the Roman Empire. This happened in the time of Emperor, Severus, about the year 201. Compare Euseb., lib. 6, cap. 2, with Abr. Mell., 1st book of the Hist., fol. 57, col. 1, ex Hieron. Catal. in Orag. Also, P. J. Twisek, Chron., Zd book, for the year 195, page 51, col. 2. Also, Introduction to the Martyrs' Mirror, edition
Page 128


At this time, Origen, though but eighteen years old, was a teacher of the faith, at Alexandria, in Egypt, where he taught with such excellence, not only to begin with Christ, but also to die with Him, that many of his disciples laid down their lives for the truth of Christ. Among these are mentioned, by name, Plutarch, Heraclides, Hero, and two other men, both called Serenus. Their suffering and death happened in this manner: Origen, the teacher of these pious people, was in the habit of going into the prison to the martyrs who suffered for the name of Jesus Christ, to strengthen them in the faith. Yea, even when they had already received their sentence of death, and were making their last defense, he stood by them, and, at parting, gave them the kiss of peace, as a token of his sincere love.
When Plutarch, his beloved disciple, was led forth to death, he, according to his custom, comforted him, for which the raging multitude would have killed him, had not divine Providence protected him. This having happened, Plutarch was put to death for the name of Jesus Christ, and died as a martyr.
After the death of Plutarch, the first of the two men named Serenus, was brought forth and burned. His faith, as is stated, was tried with fire, notwithstanding he was still a catechumen, that is, one who, though he had been instructed, had not yet received baptism.
The third of these martyrs is called Heraclides, and of him the same is stated that is recorded of Serenus, concerning his faith, namely, that he too was still under instruction, and had not yet been baptized, but was preparing for it. And thus he sealed his faith not with water, but with his blood. He was beheaded with the ax.
The fourth that was put to death for the same faith, was Hero, who is called a novice in the faith, that is one who had only lately accepted the faith with baptism. Having commended his soul into the hands of God, he was likewise beheaded with the ax.
Besides these four martyrs, there is mentioned a fifth, who was the second of the aforementioned men named Serenus. Refusing to apostatize, he, after many severe torments, was beheaded, like the last-mentioned two; and thus attained to a blessed end, together with his slain fellow brethren. Compare Euseb., lib. 6, cap. 4, with Abr. Mell., lst book, fol. 57, Col. 2, 3. Also, Joh. Gys. Hist., fol. 18, Col. 3, after Leonides, the father of Origen. Also, Introduction, fol. 39, Col. 1, from Eusebius.


Among the disciples of Origen, who became martyrs, there are also mentioned several women as faithful martyrs. However, we shall only refer to two of these, one called Rhais, the other Marcella, who suffered their faith and lives to be tried with fire, like gold that is refined.
Rhais was a catechumen, that is, one that was receiving instruction preparatory to baptism, and hence, had not yet sealed her faith with water; however, as Origen himself declares, she was baptized with fire, that is, burned alive.
Marcella was the mother of Potamiena (of whom the ancients speak in such commendatory terms, as having also laid down her life for the faith; but whom we pass over, on account of certain remarks which she addressed to Basilides, her executioner.) After insufferable and dreadful torments, she was burned by degrees, in great constancy, until she was reduced to ashes; and thus she exchanged this temporal for an eternal life. See the above-mentioned authors, as compared with Mellinus, fol. 57, Col. 4.


Not long after the death of Potamiena, who had died with the above-mentioned Rhais and Marcella, one of the executioners, named Basilides, who had brought her to death, was converted to the faith in Christ. Eusebius writes, "Being among his companions, and an oath being demanded of him on some special matter, he said, that he dared not swear at all, because he was a Christian, and did openly confess it before them. When they heard this, they thought at first, that he was joking; but when he persistently asserted it, and showed that he was in earnest, he was seized and cast into prison. When some of the brethren came to visit him, and inquired how it happened that he had become changed so suddenly, he fully satisfied them in regard to the. matter. Having heard this, they gave him the sign of the Lord, that is (as A. Mellinus explains it), he was baptized in the name of Christ. The following day he was beheaded for the confession of the Lord. Compare the preceding accounts concerning the disciples of Origen, with Eusebius, lib. 6, cap. 5, fol. 107, cot. 1, 2. Also, A, Mellinus, lst book, fol. 58, Col. 1, 2. Also, P. J, Twisck, Chron., 3d book, for the year 204, fol. 55; Col. 2, above. .Also, Introduction M. Sp., fol. 39; Col. 1.
Page 129              Philippians 1:21"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."

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