Many Roman Emperors tried to destroy Christianity. One of them, Diocletian, was particularly violent in his hatred of the
Bible and Christianity. He killed so many Christians, with such outrageous cruelties, and destroyed so many Bibles, that many
Christians "went underground" and hid themselves from his wrath. When it seemed to Diocletian that he had made an end of them,
he had a medal coined with this motto on it: "The Christian religion is destroyed, and the worship of the (Roman) gods is
Millions of Christians were put to death in the Dark Ages by Rome in her effort to keep unity. In Spain alone between 300,000
and 400,000 died in the Spanish Inquisition.
And one does not have to go back to the Dark Ages to see a demonstration of this principle. In the 1940s and 1950s, hundreds
of Christians died at the hands of Rome in Columbia, South America.
There is a third century A.D. letter, written to one Donatus, which shows the remarkable life of the early Christians—
"If I should ascend some high mountain, you know what I would see—armies fighting, brigands on the highways, pirates
on the seas, men murdered in the amphitheater to please the applauding multitudes.
"But in the midst of this, I have found a quiet and holy people. They are persecuted, but they care not. They have found a
joy a thousand times greater than any pleasure. These people are the masters of their own souls. They are the Christians,
and I am one of them."
Eusebius: "Nothing To Lose"
When the Emperor Valens sent messengers to lure Eusebius into heresy by fair words and glowing promises, the saint answered
them: "Alas, sirs, these speeches are fit to catch children; but we, who are taught and nourished by the Sacred Scriptures,
are ready to suffer a thousand deaths, rather than permit one tittle of the Scriptures to be altered."
Then the emperor threatened to take by force all his goods, to torture him, banish him, and even kill him. Answered the courageous
"He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when
his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow."
Hitler And the Church
When Adolph Hitler began his conquest of the world, he quickly recognized that there was one formidable power which stood
between him and his goal of controlling the government—the confessing church and the men who were the spiritual descendants
of Martin Luther. To neutralize the criticism of the church, Hitler spoke of himself as a believer and sought to win the church's
support for a White Paper—a position paper outlining the supremacy of the Arian or white race, denouncing Jews as inferiors.
Few men, however, would compromise. Hitler knew they had to be destroyed. Thousands of German pastors were among those sent
to the concentration camps, including an outspoken German minister by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In prison, Bonhoeffer
had time to reflect on the true nature of the Gospel and what it costs to be a Christian. Out of that experience came Bonhoeffer's
book, The Cost of Discipleship.
Like Being Whipped With Roses
In 1651 in Massachusetts, Rev. Obadiah Holmes, because he held a prayer meeting in his home, was ordered to be whipped by
Governor Endicot. So severe was the whipping that for days he could lie only by resting on the tips of his elbows and his
knees and yet when the last lash had fallen, he looked at his tormentors and through bloodstained lips cried, "Gentlemen,
you have whipped me with roses!"
Only The Exceptions Healthy
In describing the Nicene Council, Vance Havner said that not more than a dozen of the 318 delegates had not lost an eye or
a hand or did not limp upon a leg shrunk in its sinews by the burning iron of torture.
Poor Governor Pliny!
Pliny, Roman Governor in Asia Minor in the early Second Century, was so puzzled about the Christians brought before him for
trial that he wrote his famous letter to the Emperor Trajan asking for his advice. This was the kind of thing he found himself
A certain unknown Christian was brought before him, and Pliny, finding little fault in him, proceeded to threaten him. "I
will banish thee," he said.
"Thou canst not," was the reply, "for all the world is my Father's house."
"Then I will slay thee," said the Governor.
"Thou canst not," answered the Christian, "for my life is hid with Christ in God."
"I will take away thy possessions," continued Pliny.
"Thou canst not, for my treasure is in heaven."
"I will drive thee away from man and thou shalt have no friend left," was the final threat.
And the calm reply once more was, "Thou canst not, for I have an unseen Friend from Whom thou art not able to separate me."
What was a poor, harassed Roman Governor, with all the powers of life and death, torture and the stake at his disposal, to
do with people like that?
Primer Still There
One of the most blood-thirsty leaders in the French Revolution was a ferocious character by the name of Carrier. He was largely
responsible for the horrifying drowning at Nantes. One day he told a peasant of Brittany, the district noted for its strong
"We are going to tear down your belfries and churches."
"That could be," replied the Breton, "but you will have to leave the stars, and while that primer is left, we shall teach
our children to spell from it the name of God."
Wearing Out The Hammers
The French reformer, Theodore Beza, made a famous retort to King Henry of Navarre. "Sire, it is truly the lot of the Church
of God, for which I speak, to endure blows and not to strike them. But may it please you to remember that it is an anvil which
has worn out many hammers."
What Have You Suffered?
We do not know who it was who had this dream, quoted in the Presbyterian Survey. But the unknown dreamer could be any one
of us, could it not?
I saw in a dream that I was in the Celestial City—though when and how I got there I could not tell. I was one of a great
multitude which no man could number, from all countries and peoples and times and ages. Somehow I found that the saint who
stood next to me had been in Heaven more than 1,860 years.
"Who are you?" I said to him. (We both spoke the same language of heavenly Canaan, so that I understood him and he me.)
"I," said he, "was a Roman Christian; I lived in the days of the Apostle Paul, I was one of those who died in Nero's persecutions.
I was covered with pitch and fastened to a stake and set on fire to light up Nero's gardens."
"How awful!" I exclaimed.
"No," he said, "I was glad to do something for Jesus. He died on the cross for me."
The man on the other side then spoke: "I have been in Heaven only a few hundred years. I came from an island in the South
Seas—Erromanga. John Williams, a missionary, came and told me about Jesus, and I too learned to love Him. My fellow-countrymen
killed the missionary, and they caught and bound me. I was beaten until I fainted and they thought I was dead, but I revived.
Then next day they knocked me on the head, cooked and ate me."
"How terrible!" I said.
"No," he answered, "I was glad to die as a Christian. You see the missionaries had told me that Jesus was scourged and crowned
with thorns for me."
Then they both turned to me and said, "What did you suffer for Him? Or did you sell what you had for the money which sent
men like John Williams to tell the heathen about Jesus?"
And I was speechless. And while they both were looking at me with sorrowful eyes, I awoke, and it was a dream! But I lay on
my soft bed awake for hours, thinking of the money I had wasted on my own pleasures; or my extra clothing, and costly car,
and many luxuries; and I realized that I did not know what the words of Jesus meant: "If any man will come after Me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Mark 8:34)
Antichrist's Foremost Type
The Jew-hater Antiochus IV Epiphanes is history's foremost type of the Antichrist. He was the first person in history to persecute
a people exclusively for their religious faith. Always before, a conquered people was required to accept the god of the conqueror,
or the god of the conquered people was, added to the list of other gods already worshipped. But the malevolence of Antiochus
IV (ca. 212-163 BC) is truly unique. The Jews called him "the devourer, the unjust one in purple, the cruel, the rejecter
Here are some instances of his malevolent actions: A big group of faithful Jews were caught in a cave observing the Sabbath.
The entrance was sealed and fires set to suffocate them. Two mothers had circumcised their infants. They were paraded about
the city with the infants tied to their breasts and finally thrown over the wall. Eleazae, an aged scribe, was put to death
for refusing to eat swine's flesh. A mother was forced to watch as her seven sons were tortured to death. She followed them
to the grave as she too refused to conform to the edicts of Antiochus IV.
These are but an indication of the horrors perpetuated upon the Jews by Antiochus IV, who murdered with abandon.
"Beware Of Bible Distributor!"
"Beware of the man!" exclaimed one Moslem to another. "He distributes the Scriptures. He is far worse than the preacher who
speaks and walks away. That man leaves a Book that can convert you to Christianity!"
—Walter B. Knight
Hated But Happy Young Girl
"Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake" (Matthew 10:22). The Russian newspaper published by the Young Communist
League once printed a letter from Nina K., a sixteen-year-old girl, quoting her as saying, "I am a young Communist League
member. I am a normal girl, but at the same time I am unusual. I'm a Baptist! Frankly, I do not consider myself a member of
the Young Communist League. I have Komsomol members pass me without greeting. Let them look on me with contempt. My brothers
and sisters in God treat me very well. I believe them and I believe God." The paper captioned the letter "The One Who Has
—Tom M. Olson
Love On River Kwai Bridge
In the "Bridge Over the River Kwai," Ernest Gordon tells how prisoners of war on that infamous Railway of Dead during World
War II managed to survive. They called on God to help them pray for those who tortured and degraded them. And the moment came
when they learned to forgive and love their enemies. They survived by loving instead of hating.
Japanese Admiral is Baptized
Admiral Sato commanded the Japanese submarine fleet at Pearl Harbor. He said that he really believed the Emperor was divine
and ardently indoctrinated the cadets in this belief. When asked what happened to him when the Emperor announced he was not
divine, his reply was:
"The world turned upside down. I had been 'purged' by the occupation, my rank as admiral taken away, my income cut off, and
I has forced to work on a farm.... And now my faith was gone. I felt tripped of everything—orphaned, estranged, alone.
I thought of suicide...."
Then he saw the Christian faith at work in a peasant family, bringing peace and joy amid poverty. He broke down and wept at
the sight of it.... He was baptized at Easter—befitting, for it was the resurrection of dead hopes, a dead soul.
—E. Stanley Jones
Story Of Pilot De Shazer
Jacob de Shazer was sent as one of Jimmy Dootlittle's raiders on Japan on April 18, 1942. He was an atheist, believing in
no God. During the air attack his plane was hit by enemy anti-aircraft bullets and he was forced to bail out. He was captured
and imprisoned by the Japanese and thought certainly his life was approaching the end. He saw two of his companions shot by
a firing squad and saw another die of slow starvation.
During the long months of imprisonment he pondered the question of why the Japanese hated him and why he hated them. He began
to recall some of the things he had heard about Christianity.
Boldly, he asked his jailers if they could get him a Bible. At first they laughed boisterously as at a good joke, grew ugly,
and warned him to stop making a nuisance of himself. But he kept asking. A year-and-a-half later, May 1944, a guard finally
brought him a Bible, flung it at him, and said, "Three weeks you have. Three weeks, and then I take away." True to his word,
in three weeks the guard took the Bible away and de Shazer never saw it again.
However, in those three weeks of intensive searching, meditating, and delving into the meaning of life and humanity's ultimate
destiny, a change came about. Later he was released from Japanese captivity and returned home. In 1948, de Shazer, his wife,
and infant son were on their way back to Japan as missionaries, all because he asked for a Bible and a Japanese guard gave
him one for three weeks. He had searched the Scriptures and found life.
—Earl C. Willer
Chrysostom Fears Nothing But Sin
When the Emperor arrested Chrysostom and tried to make him recant, he shook his head.
The Emperor said to his guards, "Throw him into prison."
"No," said one of them, "he will be glad to go, for he delights in the presence of his God in quiet!"
"Well, execute him," said the Emperor.
"He will be glad to die," said the soldier, "for he wants to go to heaven, I heard him say so the other day.
"There is only one thing that can give Chrysostom pain, and that is, to make him sin; he said he was afraid of nothing but
sin. If you can make him sin, you will make him unhappy."
Art Depicts Christ As Conquered And Conqueror
Early Christian art represented Christ as erect, even triumphant, carrying the cross as if He felt a renewal of power at its
touch. However later Christian art depicted Christ bending under His cross, sometimes stumbling on the knee, even lying at
full length on the ground—outwardly conquered. Both are right. Outwardly, He was overwhelmed, but inwardly He "set his
face like the flint." (Isaiah 50:7)
Religious Liberty Cases Declined
When the U.S. Supreme Court closed its term in June 1992, it refused to hear several important cases involving church and
state issues. Of the thousands of cases presented to the Supreme Court each year, only a few hundred are accepted for review.
Among the cases that the Court declined to examine—
Roberts vs. Madigan: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the tenth Circuit backed up a principal who ordered a fifth grade teacher
to remove two Christian books from his classroom library of more than 240 volumes. Books concerning Greek mythology and Native
American religions were not censored. Further, the teacher was ordered not to keep a Bible on his desk, and was forbidden
to read his Bible in view of his students.
Bishop vs. Delchamps: A University of Alabama physiology professor was prohibited from making occasional comments about the
application of his Christian beliefs to the subjects he taught. He was also prohibited from conducting optional meetings outside
his classes to discuss the "Evidence of God in Human Physiology." The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit held that
university officials had not violated the instructor's academic freedom or his free speech rights.
Constangy vs. North Carolina Civil Liberties Union: Judge H. William Constangy had routinely begun daily court sessions with
a brief prayer since his appointment in 1989. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered an end to his prayers.
The ruling sharply contrasts with a 1989 Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of prayers being offered
at the opening sessions of legislative bodies.
"These cases are a disaster for freedom of religion," warned Robert K. Skolrood, executive director of the National Legal
Foundation. "Our reluctant Supreme Court Justices must regain the courage and the vision to protect religious freedom—our
most fundamental liberty."
Actual Court Case Of Early Christians
The following is an excerpt from an actual court case which records the trial of four Christians captured in 304 A.D. The
verbatim proceedings are preserved in Migne's Patrologia Latina, VIII, 688:
Officer: These persons, being Christians, have held an assembly for the Eucharist, contrary to the edict of Emperors Diocletian
Magistrate (to prisoner): What is your rank?
Dativus: I am a senator.
Magistrate: Were you present at the Eucharist?
Dativus: I am a Christian, and I was present at the Eucharist.
Magistrate: You are to be suspended on the rack and your body torn by hooks.
Magistrate: (To Felix, a layreader.) Were you at the Eucharist and do you possess any copies of the Scriptures?
Felix: We always convene at the Eucharist, and the Lord's scriptures are read.
Magistrate: You will be beaten with clubs. (To Hilarion, the seventeen-year-old son of Saturninus) Will you follow your father
and your brothers?
Hilarion: I am a Christian. Of my own free will I join the assembly with my father and my brothers.
Magistrate: We shall sever your hair, your nose, and your ears, and then you will be returned to prison.
Hilarion: Do what you please! I am a Christian. Thanks be to God!
The Statue Went Away
On a designated day, Hitler was to visit a cathedral. In preparation for his entrance into the cathedral, the officiating
clergyman announced to the audience: "All those whose fathers are Jewish will now withdraw from the cathedral!" Many arose
and moved dejectedly toward the exit. Then the clergyman announced: "All those whose mothers are Jewish will leave the sanctuary!"
With this announcement, according to the allegory, the marble statue of Christ at the front of the cathedral became animated,
descended from the cross, and sorrowfully left the cathedral.
—Walter B. Knight
Crucifixion In Japan Signal Light
E. Stanley Jones, the late missionary, once wrote about a unique kind of mirror employed by Japanese Christians when it was
forbidden by the government to follow Christ. Without churches, the people had cleverly devised mirrors that were used in
the family worship services.
When the sunlight was permitted to fall on the mirror, the reflection on the ceiling was that of the Savior hanging on a cross
within a circle of light. When a knock came to the door, the mirror was quickly pushed aside out of the sun's rays.
Do Or Not Do—Just Can't Win
Man comes into this world without his consent, and leaves it against his will. When he is little, the big girls kiss him,
and when he is big, the little girls kiss him. If he makes a lot of money, he is dishonest; if he is poor, he is a bad manager.
If he needs credit, he can't get it; if he is rich, everyone wants to do something for him. If he is religious, he is a hypocrite;
if he doesn't go to church, he is a hardened sinner.
If he gives to charity, it is for show; if he doesn't, he is a stingy cuss. If he is affectionate, he is a soft specimen;
if he doesn't care for anyone, he is cold-hearted. If he dies young, there was a great future before him; if he lives to a
ripe age, he is an old fogy. If he saves money, he is a tightwad; if he spends it, he is a spendthrift. If he has money, he
is a grafter; if he hasn't got it, he is a bum. So what's the use?
Milton Undaunted by Persecution
John Milton, the chief of poets, held the post of Latin secretary under Cromwell. At the Restoration, he was dismissed from
his office. He was now poor and blind, and to these afflictions, Charles II added political persecutions: he fined him and
doomed his writings on liberty to be publicly burned.
Not daunted by these fierce and multiplied trials, the great poet retired into private life, evoked his mighty genius, and
produced "Paradise Lost."
Have They Spit On You?
A minister was so harassed by members of his church, and so sharply criticized that he went to his bishop telling him it could
no longer be endured, and he would resign. To his surprise the bishop said, "Do your people ever spit in your face?"
"No, of course not," he replied.
"Do they ever smite you?"
"Have they dressed you up, mocked, and befooled you?"
"No," he said.
"Have they stripped and scourged you, crowned you with thorns—cruci—?"
The minister interposed his reply, "No. God helping me, until they do, I'll hold on."
Bunyan—No Formal Schooling
John Bunyan's complete works are found in three large volumes. This is incredible when you consider that Bunyan had no formal
schooling, and his basic library was a Bible and a concordance, along with Foxe's Book of Martyrs. He was a Puritan and a
courageous man who would rather go to prison than compromise his faith. It was during his nearly twelve years in Bedford jail
that he conceived and wrote The Pilgrim's Progress.
Bunayn was born into a poor family, and when he married he was never poorer. A tinker by trade, he came to Christ through
the witness of some godly women and the ministry of the local minister, John Gifford. Wherever Bunyan preached, huge crowds
gathered to listen. He published at least sixty books, some of which are classics.
The Child Apostle
When the late Bishop of Madras was visiting Travancore, there was introduced to him a little slave girl called "The Child
Apostle." She had won this title by the zeal with which she talked of Christ to others. Her quiet, steady persistence in this
had won several converts to Christ. But she had suffered persecution too brutal to relate. When she was introduced to the
Bishop, her face, neck and arms were disfigured and scarred by stripes and blows. As he looked at her, the good man's eyes
filled, and he said, "My child, how could you bear this?"
She looked up at him in surprise and said, "Don't you like to suffer for Christ, sir?"
Fearing His Scars
Adoniram Judson, the renowned missionary to Burma, endured untold hardships trying to reach the lost for Christ. For 7 heartbreaking
years he suffered hunger and privation. During this time he was thrown into Ava Prison, and for 17 months was subjected to
almost incredible mistreatment. As a result, for the rest of his life he carried the ugly marks made by the chains and iron
shackles which had cruelly bound him.
Undaunted, upon his release he asked for permission to enter another province where he might resume preaching the Gospel.
The godless ruler indignantly denied his request, saying, "My people are not fools enough to listen to anything a missionary
might SAY, but I fear they might be impressed by your SCARS and turn to your religion!"
—Henry G. Bosch
A Greater Enemy
Long ago, William Law warned that the world is now a greater enemy to the Christian than it was in apostolic times:
It is a greater enemy, because it has greater power over Christians by its favors, riches, honors, rewards, and protection
than it had by the fire and fury of its persecutors.
It is a more dangerous enemy, by having lost its appearance of enmity. Its outward profession of Christianity makes it no
longer considered as an enemy, and therefore the people are easily persuaded to resign themselves up to be governed and directed
—Robert H. Lauer