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CHAPTER II-II

THE TEN PRIMITIVE PERSECUTIONS

II. The Second Persecution, Under Domitian, A.D. 81

The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians. In his rage he put to death some of the Roman senators, some through malice; and others to confiscate their estates. He then commanded all the lineage of David be put to death.

Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and St. John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos. Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus; and a law was made, “That no Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion.”

A variety of fabricated tales were, during this reign, composed in order to injure the Christians. Such was the infatuation of the pagans, that, if famine, pestilence, or earthquakes afflicted any of the Roman provinces, it was laid upon the Christians. These persecutions among the Christians increased the number of informers and many, for the sake of gain, swore away the lives of the innocent.

Another hardship was, that, when any Christians were brought before the magistrates, a test oath was proposed, when, if they refused to take it, death was pronounced against them; and if they confessed themselves Christians, the sentence was the same.

The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution.

Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and educated in all the useful and ornamental literature of Greece. He then travelled to Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the great and supernatural eclipse, which happened at the time of our Savior’s crucifixion.

The sanctity of his conversation and the purity of his manners recommended him so strongly to the Christians in general, that he was appointed bishop of Athens.

Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian’s persecution.

Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan.

Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.

John Foxe-Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

CHAPTER I-XVI

HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN MARTYRS TO THE FIRST GENERAL PERSECUTIONS UNDER NERO

XVI. John

The “beloved disciple,” was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian after wards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.

John Foxe-Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Born Againism

“Born Againism”/ Richard R. Ochs Via (Christian Soldiers Ministries Blog)

There is much talk these days about the rapid growth of the cults. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Mormonism, the Unification Church, and a host of lesser-known groups are making converts at astounding rates. Yet, the combined effect of all these groups is overshadowed by a movement that in the last few years has grown to include over 30% of the U.S. population. The amazing development of what might be called “Born-againism” is affecting all sectors of our society. In fact, if the latest figures presented in the religious polls are accurate, the current Born-again phenomenon could well be viewed as the fastest growing cult in America. Born-againism has permeated fundamentalist denominations as leaven in dough, and expanded into the culture at large. Candidates espouse it in order to get votes, entertainers use it to attract crowds, pro-football players proclaim it to give respect to their Sunday afternoon brutality, and the business world promotes it in order to make money. Even the secular press, radio, and T.V. have found it fashionable to occasionally slip the little words “born again” into their speech and print.  

You must be Born Again

There are multitudes today, who gather in our church assemblies every week, who do not understand the simple words that are presented in our title of this article. Multitudes have been duped into believing that they somehow can or have effectuated their relationship with God. They were told to sign a card and say a little prayer and you will be alright with God. Therefore through the deceitfulness of false teachers among us, who want to increase their church rolls, many have believed a false gospel.

The gospel of which we preach is the same gospel that Jesus preached. The gospel which we preach is the same gospel that Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. The same gospel we preach is the same gospel which Paul preached on his missionary journeys. Our gospel is not a man made one. Our gospel is not a man centered one. Our gospel is centered upon the work of Christ on our behalf. It is a gospel that declares that a man must be born again, that he must bring forth or manifest the fruits of repentance, and that he must declare that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Saviour.

What does it mean to be born again, you might ask? We will turn to John 3 and see what Jesus tells Nicodemus. Let’s read John 3:1-8.

 

3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

 

First I want to say that we have many preachers today telling sinners that all they have to do to be saved is come to Christ on there on. They will tell them that Christ has taken 99 steps and if they will just take one, then God will save them. But Jesus told Nicodemus in the above scriptures that unless a man is born again, then he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus confused the natural birth with the spiritual birth by responding with his question about whether a man can enter a second time into his mother’s womb.

Jesus responded again by saying something similar to his first statement. Jesus said the second time that unless a man is born of water and Spirit then he cannot enter the kingdom of God. This really confused Nicodemus, but Jesus clears it up by telling Nicodemus that that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. In other words just as a man is born in the flesh, he is also born in the Spirit.

When we were born of the flesh we did not choose to come into this world. Yet this birth came about through a fleshly conception. There had to be a seed planted and there had to be a quickening of that seed by God. Even so when men are born of the Spirit there is a seed planted. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6 “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” The seed is the word of God. Once this seed is planted God and God alone must quicken it and bring it to life. Paul told the Ephesians in Ephesians 2:1 “You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

Notice the word dead in Ephesians 2:1. Where did this deadness come from? We can go back to the beginning and look at Adam’s life to find out. God made Adam and Eve and placed them in a garden. God did so with only one restriction. God said that they may eat from every tree of the garden except for one and the day they eat of that tree, they shall surely die. Adam and Eve ate of the tree and died a spiritual death. A corrupt nature and spiritual death was one result of their punishment for disobeying God. They eventually died physically and had it not been for God’s mercy, they would have suffered eternal death in Hell.

When Adam and Eve had children, then their children came into this world, with the same nature as their parents. This nature is dead, blind, and ignorant to the things of God Eph. 2:1; 4:18. It is alienated from and an enemy of God. This nature refuses to seek God Romans 3:11. The only hope is for God too intervene and birth that individual into the kingdom. In the new birth one is given a new human nature. He is made alive to the things of God.

Jesus told Nicodemus to not marvel that he said one must be born again because just as the wind blows where it wants and all we can hear is the sound of it, but can’t tell where it comes from or goes, even so is everyone who is born of the Spirit. What is Jesus saying? Jesus said that when the Spirit begins to work on individuals and bring them to life, no one knows it, but all anyone can see is the results of what the Spirit has done. The results will be a changed person who bears the fruits of Galatians 5:22-23.

I have spent this entire article explaining to you what Jesus meant when he said that one must be born again. I will say that natural men who have not been born again cannot see the kingdom of God, nor can they enter it. First one must be born again or receive a new birth from God, then he can see to enter the kingdom. The ordo salutis or order of salvation is that a man is first born by the Spirit and is given faith in the process and then he reaches out for Christ.

 I will conclude by saying that unless a man receives the new birth, by God’s mercy, then he can sign all the Church cards he pleases and say all the little prayers that he chooses, and will still bust Hell wide open.

Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.