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Who will stand?

Posted by appolus on January 15, 2022

A number of years ago I came across the story of the Decian persecution of Christians while I was doing research for a book I was writing. I did not include this in the book but it is interesting to consider the facts. Decian was the Roman Emperor in 250 ad. He issued an edict that required everyone in the Roman empire to perform a sacrifice. The sacrifice was to be made to the Roman gods, and also included a loyalty oath towards his rule as Emperor. (See above image) The sacrifice had to be carried out before a Roman magistrate who would then sign a certificate which would allow them to carry on with whatever business they were involved with. This certificate would enable them to buy or sell.

The particular region I was studying was Carthage. It was expected that there would be great resistance to this from the Christian community and indeed this was part of the motivation for the decree in the first place. Imprisonment and death were the penalties for those who refused to participate in the sacrifice. The Carthaginian authorities settled on the days that the city was to participate. They were totally taken by surprise by the large numbers of “Christians,’ who rushed to “get their certificate.” They had to extend the time they had allotted for the sacrifices and certificate signing.

Out of the group that refused to be involved in sacrificing to gods, many were martyred, others were imprisoned and still others went into hiding. Interestingly, at the same time as this “empire wide,” persecution, a plague had broken out and was killing up to five thousand Romans per day. This only added to the hatred of Christians as they were deemed to be in some way responsible for this. And so, when this particular persecution ended, there was a great deal of tension between those who had stood their ground for Jesus and those who had capitulated in order to save themselves.

This was not the first time this had happened, nor would it be the last. The Diocletian persecution would be the most intense staring at around 300ad and last for around a decade. Again the spit would happen. A large majority would capitulate and deny the faith, the smaller minority would be killed, imprisoned or flee. When the smoke cleared from this latest persecution, the larger group that had capitulated to the state would be the group favored by Constantine. No surprise that the Emperor would choose the group who he could count on to bow the knee to him and the State. That group were the Catholics. The minority group, the group that had refused to hand over their scriptures to the State and to bow the knee, were known as “Donatists.’ They refused to acknowledge anyone who had capitulated to Rome as a Christian. For this they were hunted down and killed.

I would just like to say that some things never change. There is and always has been a large group, a majority group, within the world that identifies itself as Christian, that will not “stand in the evil day.” It is such an evil day that separates the sheep from the goats. It is the storm that tests the foundations of the house. It is not what a man or woman calls themselves that counts for anything, it is who they actually are. Those who have received the love of the truth, who are genuinely born again, will stand in that day. They will be martyred, they will be imprisoned or they will flee. What they will not do, what they could never do, what they have never done, is to deny their Lord. As it was, so it always shall be until that glorious day when Christ returns.

8 Responses to “Who will stand?”

  1. Prayergate said

    Very timely message, Brother!

  2. bcparkison said

    There is nothing new under the sun.

  3. Anonymous said

    Amen..

  4. kaykay53 said

    Interesting
    Sent from my iPad
    >

  5. Definitely a timely post brother Frank, thank you and God bless you.

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