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The Altar of the Souls of Martyrs

John Foxes’ Book of Martyrs was first published in 1528. While attending Seminary part time back in the late 1990’s, one of my classes studied martyrs not mentioned in the Bible. Men and women of faith suffered horrific deaths during Nero’s persecution of Christians. These tragic deaths intensified in early 300 AD under the oppressive Roman Emperor Diocletian. These individuals will be rewarded by their ultimate sacrifice.

When the Lamb broke open the fifth seal, I saw at the foot of the altar the souls of those whose lives had been sacrificed for [adhering to] the Word of God and for the testimony they had borne, Revelation 6:9.

As John witnessed Jesus break open the fifth seal in the book of Revelation, there was an altar dedicated to the souls of martyrs. At the foot of this altar, the souls of dead Christians who were killed for not compromising their faith began to share their testimonies. While most of these individuals aren’t mentioned in the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11, this scene reminds me of the lyrics of the hymn Blessed Assurance, “This is my story, this is my song.”

They cried in a loud voice, O [Sovereign] Lord, holy and true, how long now before You will sit in judgment and avenge our blood upon those who dwell on the earth? 11 Then they were each given a [b]long and flowing and festive white robe and told to rest and wait patiently a little while longer, until the number should be complete of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed as they themselves had been, Revelation 6:10-11.

The apostle Paul devotes the opening chapter of his letter to the Church at Galatia to promote sharing your faith. Paul uses a teachable moment to express why Christians should strive to please the Lord and not other people, Galatians 1:9-10. Paul then transitions to three keys parts of any testimony: Galatians 1:11-24. The first step is conveying how you lived prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus. This past leads to what event(s) led you to trust Jesus as Lord and conclude with how Jesus has transformed your life. May the altar of the souls of martyrs inspire you to share your own testimony.

by Jay Mankus

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