Morganton Seventh-Day Adventist Church
By Rick and Cindy Mercer
Have you ever been tested and tried for your faith? Has your allegiance to Christ ever been challenged? If you are like most people, our “trials” to defend our faith position has been limited and certainly has not caused us to face severe ridicule, imprisonment or even death.
But we have certainly read the multiple stories of those who have died a martyr’s death. And it seems that every time these stories resurface the question remains, “Is my faith that strong?” Other thoughts come quickly to our mind…like, “Where did that kind of courage come from?”
Maybe our courage can be like Pieter Beckjen who made his living by ferrying people and goods on the river Amstel. There were times when he would sail down the canals of Amsterdam with fellow believers—so they could worship in secret.
When Peter and his wife had their first child, the couple tried to keep the infant hidden so they wouldn’t be forced to have it christened in the state church. But neighbors eventually betrayed them to the magistrates.
Peter was tried, convicted for “crime against the divine and secular majesty…which disturb the peace,” and condemned “to be executed with fire…and his entire property confiscated.”
They put this earnest ferry operator on the rack in one last fiendish effort to bend his faith. But it proved unshakable. Pieter was burned in January of 1569.
A close friend of his, Willem Janss, heard about the planned execution and hurried to the site from a nearby town. Wanting to offer some encouragement, he arrived at Amsterdam’s gate, but the bar had already been let down. Willem had to bribe the gatekeeper to let him in.
He rushed to the site of the execution and arrived just as Pieter was being led out to the stake. Willem called out, “Contend valiantly, dear brother.”
What gave Pieter such death-defying faith? Why was he willing to stand “heartily” for the Lord without wavering? There is one significant reason. He believed that Jesus was divine and that His offer of eternal life was real. To reject Jesus was to reject eternal life. Pieter accepted the Savior’s words to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26). Eternal life is life forever in the joyful presence of God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, the Holy Spirit, and all the heavenly hosts.
The martyrs of the past saw beyond the flames to eternity. By faith they grasped the promises of God.
The promise is ours today: “He who believes in Me…shall never die” (John 11:25, 26). Our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). His promise of the resurrection is certain. We can have absolute confidence that He will fulfill His word.
We can certainly praise God that because of Resurrection Day, we all too can have “victory in Jesus!” We can be assured that at the end of all of the promises from God’s word there is a period. There are no question marks. We can believe that the promises are true. Encourage each other to keep their hands on the plow “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”— (Col. 3:23).
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”— (Luke 21:28)