John the baptizer declared upon seeing Yeshua – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:39). Paul says “Christ [the Anointed one] our Passover was sacrificed for us.” He did this even while we were still unrepentant and ungodly sinners and enemies of His way – the godly dying for the ungodly (read Romans 5:6-8).
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The books of Revelation and Daniel make it very clear there will be major scale martyrdoms of the righteous in the years ahead. If you or I were given an opportunity to spare the lives of our own wife or children or grandchildren if we would just renounce our faith, or our belief in Jesus Christ, would we?
He died for you. Would you die for Him – even if it meant the death of your very own loved ones?
As we come to Passover, read the rest of this blog as part of your Pre-Passover self-examination.
I think we can glibly say “yes, I would die for Him”, but I think it’s a question we should seriously ponder as we come to Passover. Right now in Iran, there is 34 year old Christian pastor – Youcef Nadarkhani – who has been arrested, tortured, released, and then re-arrested – all stemming from his refusal to renounce Yeshua the Messiah. He’s a pastor of a small “house church” of believers who put their lives on the line every day for their beliefs. Now just for a minute take time to pause and pray about this. Our turn will come in the western world. It certainly will come. It matters little to me right now if I would agree with all of his beliefs. What matters right now to me is his impressive stand to be willing to be imprisoned, and even to die for the Lamb of God who died for him.
Would you and I go to jail for Christ right now? Would we put our children and grandchildren’s lives in danger because of being a believer? Would we be willing to be tried for apostasy – for which the penalty in Iran is death by hanging? Don’t think it’s not coming here someday. The time of worst trouble since creation – is just ahead of us (Mark 13:19).
If we’re not willing to speak up and witness for our belief in Yeshua now, will we then when our lives or the lives of our grandchildren are on the line – or will we just try to blend in the woodwork? We are to confess Yeshua. We know about confessing our sins (1 John 1:9; James 5:16, etc.), but we need to learn about confessing Christ as well. If we will confess Him, He will confess our names before the holy angels (please read Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8). Don’t be like the parents of the blind man who was healed but who would not confess what Yeshua had done, because they sought the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43). They went to church services for the social club it has become. I hope you go to worship, not to just have a place for your kids to play with other kids, or to laugh together over the coffee after services. I fear “church” has become a social club for many who call themselves believers in Yeshua.
We must confess Him in word but also in action. Why am I talking about confessing Him? Because if we’re not willing to do it now when it is safe and calm, will we do it when our lives are on the line? But we also confess Him by our actions. Titus 1:16 says “they claim to know God, but in works they deny Him” as they continue to practice a way of life that is opposite God’s way. Is that you? Is that me? As we come up to Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread, are we putting sin itself out of our daily lives, and not just the leavened bread? Are we practicing the Kingdom Way of life everywhere we go, thereby confessing Christ by our lives and actions?
I’m not referring to things you did years and years ago. I’m referring to things you or I do NOW. Nobody should go digging in the blood of Messiah to uncover the forgiven sins of our past. HE put that as far as the east is from the west. He’s covered our sins in His blood. He made us new – until Christ is fully formed in us. But as we deleaven this year, let’s be sure we truly are repenting of present sins, bad habits and ways we don’t bring glory to God. All of the old way needs to stop. And then let’s throw THAT leavening of sin out of our lives, even as we throw out the leavened bread – thereby confessing who our Redeemer is.
I realize— sin can be very attractive, like a leavened pastry or baking. Sometimes we just have a tough time giving up ways we enjoyed. But if God calls it sin, it must go. This is one way we confess Him now. It’s one way we die for Him now. When Yehowah sees us dying to self, to our fleshly desires and lusts – perhaps He will know we will also be willing to die for Him literally. If we’re not willing to die to the self, if we’re not able to say with Paul “I no longer live, but the life I live is Christ in me” (Gal. 2:20), how can we claim to be willing to someday literally die for Him?
So we confess Him now in words and in our changing lives, in our actions. NOT everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23). He must know us and we must know Him, and show it by living like He lived, walking as HE walked — otherwise we’re a liar (1 John 2:3-6). I confess. I’ve too often lived a lie myself. Does that shock you? Well, if you’re honest, you’d have to say the same thing. Because while we are flesh and blood, we fail from time to time. Even Paul says in Romans 7:15-20, “that which I hate, I do”. But at least he did hate sin. That’s why we have the footwashing at Passover – to acknowledge our need to be cleansed (John 13:1-10). As we wash one another’s feet, we are proclaiming that person as washed, as cleaned by the Master. We’re just affirming that we see this brother or sister now as clean and no longer what he/she was.
Paul says there’s a birthing process going on “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). We should be looking more like Him today than a year ago. We should be living more like Him today than 10 years ago. This is one way – besides words -- how we confess Him. And yes – I am preaching to myself very much right now. My blogs and sermons always start out first as a study for myself, to self-examine myself. I have a lot of changing yet to do by God’s spirit. You and I are not yet what we shall be at the 7th trumpet. But thank God, neither are we what we were – as more and more we grow in His image, by His spirit and by His grace. I hope we can point to some sins in our past which are no longer problems for us. We are overcomers in some arenas of our lives at least so far as we confess Christ and let HIM live in us, let HIM cleanse our hearts and minds as we submit to Him.
On your own, read Revelation 6:9-11; Rev. 7:9-16; Daniel 7:19-27. There’s coming a time of trouble greater than any since creation (Mark 13:19). How does one get ready for that? By dying to self now, living for Him now, letting Him live in us now. By discarding all the junk in our lives. By shedding everything not necessary or that is not to His glory now. By giving up sins and spiritual leaven now. By showing we’re willing to die for Him – now.
Then, by His power and by His helping grace, when He asks us to die for Him as His witness, we will be able to step up to the plate and take our place about the faithful witnesses, faithful martyrs if need be.
Now, are you ready for this? The Greek word translated “witness” – is martus. It’s where we get the word “martyr” from. The early witnesses to Yeshua so often ended up witnessing to their own death sentence, that the word “Martyr” became synonymous in English at least, with one witnessing for Christ. Interesting, eh? After all, Yeshua is called the faithful martus, the faithful witness (Rev. 1:5; Rev. 3:14). We all have to be his witness as well, even if it brings death (Acts 22:20; Rev 2:13; Rev. 20:4). But keep this distinction in mind: their witness did not consist in their dying for Christ. No, think of it as their confessing of Christ resulted in their death as a penalty for that witness to Yeshua. The witness is to confess Yeshua as the Messiah. The witness is not so much that we die as a result! But nonetheless, in English the word “martyr” points more to the death nowadays than for the REASON for the death. That’s unfortunate.
So – He died for us. Yes, we must be willing to die for Him. Ponder that, as you come to Passover and prepare to drink of the Master’s cup and eat of the Master’s bread.