490) Early Christian Testimonies

From The Early Christians: In Their Own Words , (ch. 3, #28);  Selected and Edited by Eberhard Arnold (1883-1935)

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    …We do not give up our confession though we be executed by the sword, though we be crucified, thrown to wild beasts, put in chains, and exposed to fire and every other kind of torture.  Everyone knows this.  On the contrary, the more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever-increasing numbers become believers and God-fearing people through the name of Jesus.  –Justin Martyr,  Dialogue with Trypho, (approx. 135 A. D.)
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The Martyrdom of Justin, Rome, approximately 163 – 167 A. D. :
    Rusticus the Magistrate asked, “Which branch of knowledge do you study?”
    Justin answered, “I endeavored to acquaint myself with all systems.  In the end I surrendered to the true teachings of the Christians.  These teachings do not please those who are caught up in false beliefs.”
    Rusticus answered, “And you enjoy the teachings of these people, you utterly wretched man?”
    Justin replied, “The worship of the God of the Christians consists in our belief in the one God who has made and brought forth the whole creation; and in the Lord Jesus Christ whom the prophets foretold in this way:  He would appear to the human race as the herald of salvation and the proclaimer of precious truth.”
    Rusticus said to Justin, “Listen, you who are called a learned man.  You think that you possess true insight; if you should be scourged and beheaded, do you believe you will ascend into heaven?”
    Justin answered, “I believe that if I endure these things I shall have what he promises.”
    Rusticus said, “Do you suppose, then, that you will ascend into heaven and receive some reward there?”
    Justin said, “I do not suppose it; I know it.  I am certain of it.”
    Rusticus, said, “We have to come now finally to the matter in hand.  It is getting urgent.  Come here and with one accord offer a sacrifice to the gods.”
    Justin answered, “No right-thinking person slanders communion with God by going to godlessness.”
    Rusticus said, “Unless you obey, you will be mercilessly punished.”
    Justin answered, “It is our wish to be martyred for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and so be saved.  This will be our salvation and our confidence at the much more fearful judgment seat of our Lord and Savior, who will demand that the whole world come before his forum.”
    So also said the other martyrs, “Do what you will, for we are Christians and do not sacrifice to idols.”
    Then Rusticus, the city Magistrate, pronounced sentence:  “These people, who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and do not obey the command of the Emperor, shall be scourged, and then taken away to be beheaded according to the law.”
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    That we for the most part must be considered poor is no disgrace to us but an honor.  A life of luxury weakens the spirit.  Frugality makes it strong.  And yet, how can anyone be considered poor who does not feel any want, who does not covet what belongs to others, who is rich in God’s eyes?  Much more should he be considered poor who always craves for more while he already has much…  Just as a man traveling on the road is the better off the lighter his bundle, so too, he who makes himself light by poverty, who does not need to pant under the burden of wealth, is happiest on his journey through life.  If we regarded wealth as useful we would ask God for it.  He surely could give us a share of it, for everything belongs to him, but we would rather despise wealth than have it in our hands.       
–Minucius Felix   (late second century A.D.)

 Reprinted from http://www.bruderhof.com  Copyright 2003 by The Bruderhof Foundation, Inc.  Used with permission.  View this book and many others from Plough Publishing at http://www.plough.com

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Matthew 5:10-12  —   (Jesus said), “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
 
Romans 8:31-32…35…37  —  What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?…   Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
 
I Peter 4:12-16  —  Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.   But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
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    Almighty God, whose beloved Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption:  Give us courage to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.    –Book of Common Prayer