We don't know when Jesus will come back, but we know what will hasten it

Marko Joensuu         No comments

The 2nd century Church Father Tertullian wrote: "The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church". Certainly, the Early Church grew either because or regardless of martyrs. And today, more Christian martyrs are made than ever before.

“Today’s world is sprinkled with martyrs: men and women who are put behind bars and killed just because they are Christian. And there’s more of them today than there were in the early days of Christianity,” Pope Francis said recently. 

It has been estimated that at least two thirds of Christian martyrs have died after the beginning of the 20th century, and even these estimates are rapidly changing. At least 100,000 Christians are killed for their faith each year.

What is striking about these figures is that Christian martyrdom should be one of the main human rights concerns in the Western world, expect it isn't. There is very little campaigning for persecuted Christians, and only rarely is Christian martyrdom discussed in mainstream media.

Tertullian was probably right in his observation about the power of martyrdom as witness, although it is likely that Christianity could have spread even more rapidly without it.

Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-2,

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."

Paul wasn't looking for martyrdom; instead, he was looking to preach the gospel. In fact, he fled martyrdom in many occasions, and there is no shame in fleeing it when possible. And it is for this reason much of the Middle East is now emptying of Christians.

Although the Early Church rose victoriously through martyrdom, persecution has also wiped out Christian witness from many nations for hundreds and sometimes for over thousand years.

But our job is to preach the gospel, regardless. Jesus said in Matthew 24:14,

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

Although martyrdom should never be our goal, the multiplication of martyrs and preaching the gospel to the nations point to the same point in time.

Revelation 6:9-11 says,

"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, 'How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?' Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."

Rather than being the sign for the advancement of the gospel, martyrs point to the last judgment. It is because of the blood of martyrs that Jesus will have to come to bring judgment.

Peter says in 2 Peter 3:9 about the coming of Jesus,

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."

The second coming of Jesus will bring the final judgment. It will be God's final assessment on mankind. It will bring a point of no return.

In His love and mercy, God wants to delay that day. He really doesn't want to judge people according to their works. But one day, because of martyrs, He will have to do it.

Published by Marko Joensuu

Marko Joensuu has worked for over sixteen years in the publishing and media ministries of Kensington Temple. He is an author, publisher and screenwriter.
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