By: Derrick P. Rodgers

A martyr is a person who willingly suffers persecution, tribulation or even death rather than renounce his or her religion or deep core beliefs. A martyr is a person who is put to death or endures great suffering on behalf of any belief, principle, or cause: such as the cause of social justice or human rights.

While martyrdom to a great degree has always been synonymous with authentic Christianity, many of today’s church structures that we see have evolved into self-centered, anti-martyrdom mindsets, thereby, producing chronic fables and philosophies that are geared solely towards entertaining “self-theology” with the advancement of “self-preservation.”

Due to the colossal glamorization of the gospel and the thrust to merge the church with the world, a hybrid type of church has been erected and many therein have worked relentlessly to secure the office of ministerial leadership to receive prestige, influence, riches, popularity, accolades and benefits with the hopes of securing what they deem as success. Regrettably, these individuals almost never even consider themselves as taking on the mantle of martyrdom for the sake of Christ’s name. The posture of martyrdom to them is merely reduced to a historical act of history that was necessary for a few men of times past. In defiance of today’s counterfeit presentation of Christianity, authentic Christianity is tantamount with martyrdom, sacrifice and self-denial.

Martyrdom can be carried out in different forms from being brutally massacred by hostile opposition, constantly under malicious ridicule and persecution of opposing world views or from being attacked from a more insidious demonic strike that produces bodily harm. Nonetheless, Martyrdom is required for certain assignments to produce a change in a gross miss-guided movement and or way of life.

Suffice it to say, there are different kinds of martyrs who fulfill different types of categorical accounts, the ability to sacrifice unto death provides breakthrough and freedom for generations to come. While some are called to the conviction of social justice, many others are called to contend for the faith, expressing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although, martyrs reconcile in their heart that death can be a result of their convictions, they understand that if they lose their life they will save it. The losing of life will produce a type of salvation not only for the martyr but for others who proceed in future generations as well.

All martyrs who are called to stand for the principles of core Christian beliefs or those called to uphold the cause of social justice or human rights know their days are numbered whether they vocalize it or not. Foreseen circumstances effectively communicate through a combination of one or more items such as; intuitive Holy Spirit awareness, intelligent academics and mature life development in conjunction with severe challenges.

Through the martyrization process, martyrs develop to a place of peace and acceptance to follow onward with the ultimate sacrifice to fulfill the charge about which they have deep conviction. Different men and women from different time periods in history, from social justice advocates, the apostles and prophets, to our very Lord Jesus Himself, all accepted and followed through with their assignment, knowing or coming to the knowledge that at some point that martyrdom was embarking upon their lives.

Given the tremendous sacrifice from previous saints of Christ from times past— I believe any confessed leader who is called and chosen by God to be a true follower of Christ must calculate the cost and consider the possibility of becoming a martyr for the sake of Christ’s name. Stephen, a man full of the Holy Ghost, was martyred for launching a prophetic assault upon the religious status quo in his day [Acts 7:51-58]. Martyrs for Jesus and the Kingdom of God usually become an apostolic threat to the religious status quo, the apostate church and the false religious systems of their day. Has your assignment grown to a place where martyrdom is required and inevitable?

While martyrdom is basically defined as one who suffers persecution and physical death as a result of their core beliefs, the comprehensive scope of martyrdom also expands to men and women of righteousness who willingly decides to submit themselves to Christ by dying to their own will and desires and choose to give up their life for the sake of Christ. Thereby becoming a bond slave of Christ, which can be seen and described as “living martyrs” who die to their own self-ambitions, and deny themselves so to take up their cross and relentlessly follow Jesus Christ. Martyrs concisely functions out of the mentality that “they have been purchased with a price” and they no longer operate on the frequency of self-indulgence.

The assurance that stabilizes the martyr to follow through with his or her convictions is the intelligence to capture the peace and confidence of knowing one has kept the faith and finished their race. Although, in most cases the ability to personally witness the full aftereffect or even partial results of the sacrifice almost certainly eludes the martyr and is pronounced well in the future after their departure. The assurance of peace and confidence enables one to gracefully embrace martyrdom with the knowledge of being in the presence of the King and knowing that the sacrifice will produce a profound effect that will affect the lives of mankind [2 Timothy 4:6-8].

Whereas, history will record the sacrifice of the martyr, their unshakable convictions can produce reverberation effects throughout years to come or even centuries. Individuals who accept the call to martyrdom must count the cost that will be charged as a result of fulfilling the process of martyrdom.

Although it’s clear that the martyr will suffer persecution, it is equally fair to say that the family members of martyrs will also become what I describe as “silent co-martyrs” which often times bears rejection and prejudices that are leveled towards them. Nonetheless, the greatest loss for the family, particular the immediate family, is the loss of a spouse, father, son, mother or daughter because of the inevitable separation of being absent and even being emotionally disconnected as a result of lost quality time that comes with building and cultivating a family, not to mention the restless nights and battles of mental exhaustion that often accompany family members. This is difficult, if not the most difficult sacrifice of the process for some. Children growing up without one or both of their parents or one parent raising the children without the spouse has been a staple sacrifice within martyrdom.

Martyrdom is indisputable evidence of one’s convictions. The process classification of being martyrized includes being rejected, persecuted, imprisoned and even hated when fulfilling the actual task. However, the faithful completion of the task usually leads to a remarkable celebration of such individuals once they are no longer alive and present.

Let us pray for the rise of saints and leaders who are willing to be developed by God to endure the process classification of being martyrized for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:34-35)

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. (Ephesians 1:7)

You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]! (Acts 7:51)

Now upon hearing these things, they [the Jews] were cut to the heart and infuriated, and they ground their teeth against [Stephen]. (Acts 7:54)

Now upon hearing these things, they [the Jews] were cut to the heart and infuriated, and they ground their teeth against [Stephen].

But they raised a great shout and put their hands over their ears and rushed together upon him. Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses placed their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. (Acts 7:54, 57-58)

And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (I Corinthians 6:20)

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (1 Peter 1:18-19)

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” (1 Peter 3:14)

I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (Revelation 2:13)