Eyes on Eternity
Yesterday I learned that another Christian was recently beheaded for his faith in Jesus Christ, the gruesome details of which were recorded on video and distributed to the world via the Internet.
Christianity is controversial and costly in a world who has rejected God. Since the very genesis of the church in Acts 2, believers have faced and endured persecution. But, no matter how hard he tries, satan cannot conquer the church.
In fact, the church grows in strength and number in the midst of persecution. Jesus said: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!”
Acts 12 records the death of one disciple (James), followed by the imprisonment of another (Peter).
“About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.
Acts 12:1-3 ESV
James’ death and Peter’s imprisonment are not merely a record of history; they also reveal a glimpse of prophecy.
James was faithful to Jesus and ultimately “died in faith” (to borrow a phrase from Hebrews). Upon his death he was immediately in the presence of Jesus to receive his eternal reward.
Peter, on the other hand, was rescued from death and was delivered from prison. Although Peter would later also give his life as a martyr for Jesus, the picture in Acts 12 seems to reflect the prophetic promise for the church.
For many believers, their fight of faith will conclude with death, which will then usher them into eternal life.
But some will not experience death, because, like the angelic visitation that resulted in Peter’s release from prison chains, Jesus Himself will come with a shout from Heaven and rescue His church from the prison and chains of this world into an eternal reign with our King.
One day I will either die, or Jesus will catch me away. it doesn’t really matter to me how I go, as long as I go with Jesus.
Father- please strengthen your church today to stand firm in the face of persecution, temptation, and opposition. Help us keep our eyes on You – the author and finisher of our faith. Let us be ever mindful of eternity.