We Will Be True To Thee Till Death

12 min


WE WILL BE TRUE TO THEE TILL DEATH
1. Faith of our fathers! living still In spite of dungeon, fire. and sword, O how our hearts beat high with joy Whene’er we hear that glorious word, Faith of our fathers! holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.

2. Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, Were still in heart and conscience free; How sweet would be their children’s fate, If they, like them, could die for thee; Faith of our fathers! holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.

3. Faith of our fathers! we will love Both friend and foe in all our strife, And preach thee, too, as love knows how, By kindly words and virtuous life. Faith of our fathers! holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.

Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

THE MARTYRDOM OF ABEL

“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Hebrews 11:4. Abel saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and God. He brought the slain victim, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to Christ dying on the cross. Trusting in the atonement there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous and his offering accepted. From Eternity Past 38.2

Instead of acknowledging his sin, Cain continued to complain of the injustice of God and to cherish jealousy and hatred of Abel. In meekness, yet firmly, Abel defended the justice and goodness of God. He pointed out Cain’s error and tried to convince him that the wrong was in himself. He pointed to the compassion of God in sparing the life of their parents when He might have punished them with instant death, and urged that God loved them or He would not have given His Son, innocent and holy, to suffer the penalty which they had incurred. All this caused Cain’s anger to burn the hotter. Reason and conscience told him that Abel was in the right, but he was enraged that he could gain no sympathy in his rebellion. In fury he slew his brother. From Eternity Past 39.4

So in all ages the wicked have hated those who were better than themselves. “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20. EP 40.1

The murder of Abel was the first example of the enmity between the serpent and the seed of the woman—between Satan and his subjects and Christ and His followers. Whenever through faith in the Lamb of God a soul renounces the service of sin, Satan’s wrath is kindled. The holy life of Abel testified against Satan’s claim that it is impossible for man to keep God’s law. When Cain saw that he could not control Abel, he was so enraged that he destroyed his life. And wherever any stand in vindication of the law of God, the same spirit will be manifested. But every martyr of Jesus has died a conqueror. See Revelation 12:9, 11. EP 40.2

THE MARTYRDOM OF STEPHEN

When Stephen was questioned as to the truth of the charges against him, he began his defense in a clear, thrilling voice, which rang through the council hall. In words that held the assembly spellbound, he proceeded to rehearse the history of the chosen people of God. He showed a thorough knowledge of the Jewish economy and the spiritual interpretation of it now made manifest through Christ. He repeated the words of Moses that foretold of the Messiah: “A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear.” He made plain his own loyalty to God and to the Jewish faith, while he showed that the law in which the Jews trusted for salvation had not been able to save Israel from idolatry. He connected Jesus Christ with all the Jewish history. He referred to the building of the temple by Solomon, and to the words of both Solomon and Isaiah: “Howbeit the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool: what house will ye build Me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of My rest? Hath not My hand made all these things?” The Acts Of The Apostles 99.2

When Stephen reached this point, there was a tumult among the people. When he connected Christ with the prophecies and spoke as he did of the temple, the priest, pretending to be horror-stricken, rent his robe. To Stephen this act was a signal that his voice would soon be silenced forever. He saw the resistance that met his words and knew that he was giving his last testimony. Although in the midst of his sermon, he abruptly concluded it. AA 100.1

Suddenly breaking away from the train of history that he was following, and turning upon his infuriated judges, he cried: “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” AA 100.2

At this, priests and rulers were beside themselves with anger. Acting more like beasts of prey than human beings, they rushed upon Stephen, gnashing their teeth. In the cruel faces about him the prisoner read his fate; but he did not waver. For him the fear of death was gone. For him the enraged priests and the excited mob had no terror. The scene before him faded from his vision. To him the gates of heaven were ajar, and, looking in, he saw the glory of the courts of God, and Christ, as if just risen from His throne, standing ready to sustain His servant. In words of triumph Stephen exclaimed, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” AA 100.3

As he described the glorious scene upon which his eyes were gazing, it was more than his persecutors could endure. Stopping their ears, that they might not hear his words, and uttering loud cries, they ran furiously upon him with one accord “and cast him out of the city.” “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” AA 101.1

No legal sentence had been passed upon Stephen, but the Roman authorities were bribed by large sums of money to make no investigation into the case. AA 101.2

ROME DREADFUL INQUISITION

In the sixth century the papacy had become firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 13:2. And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7. (See Appendix.) Christians were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headsman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: “Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.” Luke 21:16, 17. Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet: “The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three-score days.” Revelation 12:6. The Great Controversy 54.2

The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation of human laws and traditions was manifest the corruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God. GC 55.1

Those were days of peril for the church of Christ. The faithful standard-bearers were few indeed. Though the truth was not left without witnesses, yet at times it seemed that error and superstition would wholly prevail, and true religion would be banished from the earth. The gospel was lost sight of, but the forms of religion were multiplied, and the people were burdened with rigorous exactions. GC 55.2

They were taught not only to look to the pope as their mediator, but to trust to works of their own to atone for sin. Long pilgrimages, acts of penance, the worship of relics, the erection of churches, shrines, and altars, the payment of large sums to the church—these and many similar acts were enjoined to appease the wrath of God or to secure His favor; as if God were like men, to be angered at trifles, or pacified by gifts or acts of penance! GC 55.3

Notwithstanding that vice prevailed, even among the leaders of the Roman Church, her influence seemed steadily to increase. About the close of the eighth century, papists put forth the claim that in the first ages of the church the bishops of Rome had possessed the same spiritual power which they now assumed. To establish this claim, some means must be employed to give it a show of authority; and this was readily suggested by the father of lies. Ancient writings were forged by monks. Decrees of councils before unheard of were discovered, establishing the universal supremacy of the pope from the earliest times. And a church that had rejected the truth greedily accepted these deceptions. (See Appendix.) GC 56.1

The few faithful builders upon the true foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11) were perplexed and hindered as the rubbish of false doctrine obstructed the work. Like the builders upon the wall of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day, some were ready to say: “The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build.” Nehemiah 4:10. Wearied with the constant struggle against persecution, fraud, iniquity, and every other obstacle that Satan could devise to hinder their progress, some who had been faithful builders became disheartened; and for the sake of peace and security for their property and their lives, they turned away from the true foundation. Others, undaunted by the opposition of their enemies, fearlessly declared: “Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible” (verse 14); and they proceeded with the work, everyone with his sword girded by his side. Ephesians 6:17. GC 56.2

The same spirit of hatred and opposition to the truth has inspired the enemies of God in every age, and the same vigilance and fidelity have been required in His servants. The words of Christ to the first disciples are applicable to His followers to the close of time: “What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:37. GC 56.


In the thirteenth century was established that most terrible of all the engines of the papacy—the Inquisition. The prince of darkness wrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secret councils Satan and his angels controlled the minds of evil men, while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearful record of their iniquitous decrees and writing the history of deeds too horrible to appear to human eyes. “Babylon the great” was “drunken with the blood of the saints.” The mangled forms of millions of martyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate power. GC 59.3

Popery had become the world’s despot. Kings and emperors bowed to the decrees of the Roman pontiff. The destinies of men, both for time and for eternity, seemed under his control. For hundreds of years the doctrines of Rome had been extensively and implicitly received, its rites reverently performed, its festivals generally observed. Its clergy were honored and liberally sustained. Never since has the Roman Church attained to greater dignity, magnificence, or power. GC 60.1

But “the noon of the papacy was the midnight of the world.”—J. A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, b. 1, ch. 4. The Holy Scriptures were almost unknown, not only to the people, but to the priests. Like the Pharisees of old, the papal leaders hated the light which would reveal their sins. God’s law, the standard of righteousness, having been removed, they exercised power without limit, and practiced vice without restraint. Fraud, avarice, and profligacy prevailed. Men shrank from no crime by which they could gain wealth or position. The palaces of popes and prelates were scenes of the vilest debauchery. Some of the reigning pontiffs were guilty of crimes so revolting that secular rulers endeavored to depose these dignitaries of the church as monsters too vile to be tolerated. For centuries Europe had made no progress in learning, arts, or civilization. A moral and intellectual paralysis had fallen upon Christendom. GC 60.2

PERSECUTION COMING AGAIN
Every Earthly Support Will Be Cut Off
Hoarded wealth will soon be worthless. When the decree shall go forth that none shall buy or sell except they have the mark of the beast, very much means will be of no avail. God calls for us now to do all in our power to send forth the warning to the world.—The Review and Herald, March 21, 1878. Last Day Events 148.2

The time is coming when we cannot sell at any price. The decree will soon go forth prohibiting men to buy or sell of any man save him that hath the mark of the beast. We came near having this realized in California a short time since, but this was only the threatening of the blowing of the four winds. As yet they are held by the four angels. We are not just ready. There is a work yet to be done, and then the angels will be bidden to let go, that the four winds may blow upon the earth.—Testimonies for the Church 5:152 (1882). LDE 148.3

In the last great conflict in the controversy with Satan those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off. Because they refuse to break His law in obedience to earthly powers they will be forbidden to buy or sell.—The Desire of Ages, 121, 122 (1898). LDE 148.4

Satan says … “For fear of wanting food and clothing they will join with the world in transgressing God’s law. The earth will be wholly under my dominion.”—Prophets and Kings, 183, 184 (c. 1914). LDE 149.1

Some Are Imprisoned for Their Faith
Some will be imprisoned because they refuse to desecrate the Sabbath of the Lord.—The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, 118 (1907). LDE 149.2

As the defenders of truth refuse to honor the Sunday-sabbath some of them will be thrust into prison, some will be exiled, some will be treated as slaves. To human wisdom all this now seems impossible, but as the restraining Spirit of God shall be withdrawn from men and they shall be under the control of Satan, who hates the divine precepts, there will be strange developments. The heart can be very cruel when God’s fear and love are removed.—The Great Controversy, 608 (1911). LDE 149.3

If we are called to suffer for Christ’s sake, we shall be able to go to prison trusting in Him as a little child trusts in its parents. Now is the time to cultivate faith in God.—Our High Calling, 357 (1892). LDE 149.4

Many Will Be Put to Death
The best thing for us is to come into close connection with God and, if He would have us be martyrs for the truth’s sake, it may be the means of bringing many more into the truth.—Selected Messages 3:420 (1886). LDE 149.5

Many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ’s sake in standing in defense of the truth.—Selected Messages 3:397 (1889). LDE 150.1

There is a prospect before us of a continued struggle, at the risk of imprisonment, loss of property and even of life itself, to defend the law of God.—Testimonies for the Church 5:712 (1889). LDE 150.2

Men will be required to render obedience to human edicts in violation of the divine law. Those who are true to God will be menaced, denounced, proscribed. They will be “betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends,” even unto death.—Prophets and Kings, 588 (c. 1914). LDE 150.3

We are not to have the courage and fortitude of martyrs of old until brought into the position they were in…. Should there be a return of persecution there would be grace given to arouse every energy of the soul to show a true heroism.—Our High Calling, 125 (1889). LDE 150.4

The disciples were not endowed with the courage and fortitude of the martyrs until such grace was needed.—The Desire of Ages, 354 (1898). LDE 150.5

How to Stand Firm Under Persecution
We shall find that we must let loose of all hands except the hand of Jesus Christ. Friends will prove treacherous and will betray us. Relatives, deceived by the enemy, will think they do God service in opposing us and putting forth the utmost efforts to bring us into hard places, hoping we will deny our faith. But we may trust our hand in the hand of Christ amid darkness and peril.—Maranatha, 197 (1889). LDE 150.6

The only way in which men will be able to stand firm in the conflict is to be rooted and grounded in Christ. They must receive the truth as it is in Jesus. And it is only as the truth is presented thus that it can meet the wants of the soul. The preaching of Christ crucified, Christ our righteousness, is what satisfies the soul’s hunger. When we secure the interest of the people in this great central truth, faith and hope and courage come to the heart.—General Conference Daily Bulletin, January 28, 1893. LDE 151.1

Many, because of their faith, will be cut off from house and heritage here, but if they will give their hearts to Christ, receiving the message of His grace, and resting upon their Substitute and Surety, even the Son of God, they may still be filled with joy.—The Signs of the Times, June 2, 1898. LDE 151.2


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