Worthy to Suffer
A few decades ago a song entitled, “Everything is beautiful” hit the popular music charts. It remained popular for some time and reflected the sentiment of many then and also many today. It painted a rosy picture of life, nature and love; it lifted the spirits of those who heard it and that if nothing else gave it some redeeming value.
Many today walk through life with the naive idea that Christianity is a comfortable routine of attending church on a regular basis, staying on good terms with their neighbors, keeping their family in line and their lawn cut. Everything that’s good is supposed to happen to those who belong to the local church. Conflict in the home, trouble in the workplace, financial pressures and illness just aren’t supposed to happen to those who live quiet, orderly lives as professing believers.
When the storms of adversity strike those in this comfortable niche, the reaction is one of total surprise. Immediately, they feel that God has broken some unwritten agreement with them and they feel that, like Job, this trial is unfair. Some turn to other church assemblies that lay claim to a closer, more powerful relationship with the Holy Spirit; one that allows them to order up a miracle. Sometimes they get this miracle, but often they don’t. So disillusioned, they abandon their weak and fruitless walk with God altogether. Their attitude is, if God was really there, if he was really who he said he is, then he would have solved my problem the way I wanted him to.
Often, they’ve had their head so pumped up with the health and wealth doctrine that they’ve reduced the miracles of God to a simple name it and claim it formula by just using the right words. It’s kind of a type of witchcraft using incantations which include the most influential names in creation without regard for their will.
They usually begin, “In the name of Jesus, I command you;” the you that’s being commanded is usually some perceived demonic force which had gained control and is causing destruction in the life of the Christian under attack. Without a doubt Jesus is the right name to use when appealing to God, our heavenly father, for help and yes, we should seek his help whenever we’re overthrown by life’s problems.
Also true, is the reality that indeed we may be given divine help in whatever situation we’re seeking it, but there are no guarantees. All the promises of God are made in covenant with his children. This means God is a something-for-something God. The largest little word in scripture, one with enormous implications is the word “if”. “If you walk in the light.” “If you keep my commandments.” “If you continue in my word.” Etc.
When we accept Christ, we give ourselves to God.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (KJV)
We are no longer our own but have been bought with a price.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (KJV)
Therefore, any circumstance that befalls us happens by God’s plan or his permission. The story of Job clearly illustrates this point. To think that Satan could touch anything that belongs totally to God without his permission diminishes the very power and authority of God. Why does God allow us to suffer and be tested? Why did he allow the children of Israel to suffer under Pharaoh for four hundred years? Why did he allow the prophets to be stoned or his only begotten son to be crucified? Why did he allow the Apostles to suffer a variety of horrible deaths or the early Christians to be used for sport in the Roman arena? Christ learned obedience throughout the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Is it possible that God allows us to be tried, tempted and persecuted to fashion us into the image of Christ? Yes, it is!
Christ, himself, as our high priest, had to be taken from among us to represent us before God.
1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: (KJV)
Because he was taken from among men he was touched with the feelings of our infirmities and was in every way tempted as we.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (KJV)
Christ himself felt the pain of being tempted and this is able to comfort those who are experiencing these trials. As a man he had no special advantage but like us, was made lower than the angels.
9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (KJV)
Jonah discovered that once you’ve given yourself to God there’s no going back. If you think that God can’t bring judgment upon a man’s life then ask yourself who prepared the large fish that swallowed Jonah.
17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (KJV)
God will either allow the forces of his enemy to test you or if need be, he will test you himself. God tempts no man to do evil, but he will allow a man to be tried.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (KJV)
The Christian must no think that all trials are Satan inspired; all are for our good, however. We are still the clay and he remains the potter. His work on our life continues as we feel his hands on our lives, molding and fashioning us into the image of Jesus. For this reason we should be at peace with our circumstances no matter what they are, once we have checked our relational position with God and found it not to be lacking.
1 Peter 4:12
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (KJV)
We have the comfort of knowing always that our trials have been carefully weighed and formulated by God who will not allow anything to come upon us that we, with his help, can’t handle.
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (KJV)
If we’re to die with a fatal disease then let us die to his glory and if we are to live then let us live to his glory for we are not our own, we are his, to do with as he pleases.
The incredible truth that Jesus taught us reveals clearly that he was not trying to sell anybody on becoming a Christian. It had to be our choice. As a salesman, Jesus would have been a complete failure for he begins by asking all who are considering this step to first count the cost.
28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. (KJV)
Then, he reminds us that if the world hates us it hated him first and if they have persecuted him they will also persecute us.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. (KJV)
The first rule of salesmanship is never discuss cost, only benefits; sounds like health and wealth doctrine. Another no-no is discussing any of the negative features of the product and clearly Jesus wants each of us in possession of all the facts. Only when we fully realize the seriousness of our decision and the possible consequences of it, can we truly give ourselves completely to it and to him.
In most of the so called “free world” Christians have lost the concept of suffering for their faithfulness to God. If any among us are being persecuted by the civil authorities we generally believe that they deserve whatever punishment befalls them for breaking the law. Little attention is given to whether or not the law violates any of God’s commands. It never occurs to many of us that we should obey the law of God rather than man.
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (KJV)
We think that what is legal is also moral but this is not so. Today, we kill unborn babies legally and we can buy pornography legally, etc. Many of us are spoiled, lulled to sleep in the arms of compromise and contentment and willing to let others fight the good fight for us.
If we stand against the tide of deception it will surely bring us enemies. This is true! Our families and friends will turn against us not to mention our neighbors, co-workers and spiritual leaders.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (KJV)
No wonder Jesus said, “Count the cost.” Let’s remember that while salvation is free, having been bought and paid for by Christ, discipleship is not. Discipleship will cost you whatever life you have left and you can’t have salvation without discipleship; one grows out of the other. You can’t be saved and not serve God as a disciple. If you think you can, you’re already deceived (Matthew 12:50) (Matthew 7:21-22) (Luke 6:46). As we grow and mature in Christ we begin to understand the workings of God. Though we will never in this lifetime fathom the mind of God, we will grow in our relationship to him and thus come to terms with some of his ways. The first thing we’ll understand is that his ways are not our ways (Is 55:8-9).
Like most fathers, our heavenly Father delights in working with and through his children. This is to say, that he is more of a do it with us than a do it for us God. If he does it all for us how do we grow; how do we become like him? If we think we can’t do it alone, we’re right, but all things become possible when we work together with him (Ph’p 4:13). If, as disciples, our only goal in life is to please God and accomplish his will, then we can take comfort in the fact that in any endeavor we consider to be God’s will, we cannot fail. If in our own eyes we think we have missed the mark, we in fact may have hit it. Often our perceived failures are God’s greatest victories in our lives for in these we learn, grown and are changed.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (KJV)
This concept will be difficult for many to understand, but the heart that truly seeks to please God, with no regard to self, can never fail. The outcome of any situation in which God is first, is that outcome God intended. If it’s the outcome that God intended then how can we, as his servants, regard the outcome, no matter what it is, as failure? If God’s will was for us to fail, then by failing we have, in spite of ourselves, succeeded.
As spoiled children accustomed to getting our own way and getting it when we want it, we have come to expect that God and Santa Claus are the same person. We make out our list of wants and he is supposed to deliver them on time according to our schedule. Like the fast food industry has taught us, we want it “our way” and we want it now! Not only do we want what we want, when we want it, but we want to be able to throw it away when we’re tired of it. Any who are unprepared to accept any consequence of discipleship should seriously consider if they might be better off continuing in the pursuit of pleasures and treasures of this life. Half way is no way with God.
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (KJV)
Perhaps it would be better for you to enjoy sin for a season and suffer God’s everlasting contempt. Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “I would that you were hot or cold,” it makes no sense at all to be in between. Again, like children, we want our cake and eat it, too, and we want it now! If any who read this simply-written, easy to understand text, are able to lightly brush it off and return to churchianity. They will have chosen to embrace a form of godliness which has no power.
They’ve already passed though the wide gate and are now traveling on the broad way that leads to destruction. Their denomination can’t save them. Their parents can’t and their profession won’t. They stand alone when it comes to the day of judgment because like the Pharisees before them, they say and do not, they talk the talk but don’t walk the walk (Matthew 23:3). Many think, I don’t have to be persecuted or endure hardship to be a Christian. Jesus told us that we must take up our cross and follow him (Matthew 10:38). Anyone who does not forsake all he has cannot qualify for discipleship (Luke 14:33). The promise of scripture is that all who live Godly in Christ will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).
You say, I don’t want to be a radical, a Jesus freak. I just want to quietly serve the Lord by attending church and reading my bible. What you’re really saying is, I want to hide my head in the sand, my light under a basket and become a secret Christian. Like the unprofitable servant you just want to take your talent (salvation) and bury it. Take a look at the consequences that servant paid (Matthew 25:30). Maybe when you finish that, you can read the fifteenth chapter of John, especially verse two, six and eight. There is no standing still in God; either we’re growing in him or retreating away, there is no middle ground upon which to compromise.
We say we want to be like Jesus. Do we? Do we really? Will we follow a man so intent on accomplishing his God’s will that we, like him, will give up our home, abandon any chance for monitory comfort, travel and teach free of charge and endure the ridicule of those esteemed among our own people? Are we willing to live by faith accepting the charity of others for our daily bread, confident that God will touch someone’s heart daily so our needs will be met? As previously stated, will we make Christ part of our life and be satisfied that that’s all that’s needed or will we, holding back nothing, be prepared to give our very lives for the sake of the gospel; will we make Christ the very center of our existence, the core of our being and the heart of our life? Perhaps you’re not ready yet for such a commitment. Don’t be discouraged, just make sure you’re still moving; moving toward him. If you’re moving forward, you’re not dead yet. If you’re sliding back, you’re dead already. If this is your condition, it’s still not too late, we serve a God that raises the dead, assuming your soul can still be touched by his Spirit and these words on this page have the power to reach your heart.
A quarter of a century or more ago, a man sat on the steps of the Massachusetts state house drenched in gasoline protesting something he felt strongly about. He lit a match and became a human torch before the horrified eyes of watching spectator. No one could doubt his commitment to whatever cause he served, but in most circles, he was labeled a radical. Most who are willing to put their life on the line for an unpopular cause are labeled fanatics or radicals. Each of us as Christians must follow whatever course God has set for us. Not all are called to live exactly as Christ did in the day to day sense, but we are called to live as radically as his call on our lives demands. This means being willing to do what’s unpopular, politically or socially unwise, in other words, be courageous enough to take a stand. Not all are called to live exactly as Christ did but all are called. Not all are required to endure crucifixion but all are required to take up their cross. Not all are called to bear the pains of loneliness and torture as Jesus and the Apostles did, but all who live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (KJV)
All means all!
Christianity is neither a spectators sport nor a club for cowards. Since his fall from grace, Satan has never ceased to hate Christ in any form. Being a Christian means being like him and that’s an invitation for all the powers of hell to come against you.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)
There is no conventional way to defeat the forces of evil without demonstrating a willingness to do whatever may be necessary. To some, what may be required might seem radical. When Peter, James and John left the family business to follow Christ it was a radical decision. When Matthew left his profitable job as tax collector it was radical. When Paul divorced himself from all the honor, glory and power that was his as a Pharisee to follow the teachings of a dead itinerant preacher it was a radical decision and a radical life followed it; one of imprisonment, shipwreck, beatings and sacrifice (2 Corinthians 11:25-31). Discipleship is not for wimps!
One the day of Pentecost, Peter preached his first Spirit-filled sermon and three thousand came to know and follow Jesus. Not bad for a first effort. This came as no surprise, for Christ, himself, had prophesied that upon Peter the church would be officially launched (Matthew 16:18). Standing before three thousand people and holding their attention is no easy task for an unlearned fisherman; in the flesh he must have been scared half out of his mind. Of course, he wasn’t speaking in the flesh but in the spirit. That same spirit had given him such command, such boldness that one couldn’t help noting that the only explainable reason for this miracle would have to be the influence of Jesus on Peter’s life.
It’s not easy to take that kind of responsibility, to exercise that kind of boldness even with the proper spiritual gifts. It takes character, trust in God and courage. Discipleship is not for shrinking violets, it’s for the radical, the committed, those who have completely sold out to Christ. It’s for those who have no image to preserve but desire only to cast the shadow of Christ over all they meet. Their boldness is a sign for all that they have been with Jesus. Not all are called to preach as Peter did, but no matter what your calling, you must carry it out with determination, lay self aside and accomplish it with a boldness which goes beyond the flesh.
If you succeed in yielding to the spirit in this way, speaking truth in boldness whenever opportunity and the leading of the Spirit permit, you will undoubtedly develop a rare but well known social disease we call spiritual leprosy. This can cause a great deal of suffering to those who must bear it. Like Jeremiah the prophet, you’ll find that you’re no longer welcome in many social and even religious circles. Friends, having heard of your radical stand for Christ, will not want to associate with the “Jesus freak” you’ve become. We’re not speaking here of those immature types newly saved who run around without plan, purpose or permission, thumping their friends, neighbors and anybody who will listen over the head with their new found faith. We’re talking about mature Christians who are fully prepared and qualified to reach into those closed, sensitive areas of your life and by love, God’s word, and their example, draw you closer to the Lord.
Those disciples carry and demonstrate truth, that which is sharper than a two edged sword. For this reason people will back away from them, ignore or insult them and treat them like lepers. Why? They're terrified of being cut by the surgical edge of that sharp two edged sward of truth. It hurts when family and friends laugh behind your back or poke fun at you. It hurts when they speak lies about you behind closed doors. Often, they discourage those seeking God’s help from listening to you because, in their words, you’re a religious fanatic or worse, they’ll claim you’re part of a cult. Many will go as far as forbidding you to talk to them or any of their family. Even clergy will begin to warn their congregations about your heresy. If you’re armed with sound doctrine, the enemy of God will do whatever he can to keep those he’s deceived locked securely in his camp. He knows if their able to hear the truth without a prejudiced mind, their likely to cross over to God’s real kingdom and one more for God is one less for him.
Not many are counted worthy enough to suffer for the Lord; most of the suffering we experience comes as a direct result of our own improper behavior. For most, suffering for the sake of righteousness is a foreign concept. The most widely held belief is that we suffer for wrong doing and get rewarded for doing right. Real servants of God’s kingdom have come to realize, however, that this is not always true, especially in the service of the Lord.
In the service of God we can often measure the damage done to the satanic world by the amount of persecution coming against God’s disciples. Conversely, we can determine how effective our contribution to God’s kingdom is by the personal attention given us by its enemies.
The sermon on the mount is considered by many to be the heart of Christ’s teachings. If this is so then the beatitudes found in Matthew, chapter five would have to be the very center of this heart.Step by step, these very important truths are built one upon another. Consider particularly the promise given in verse six, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Compare this verse with verses ten and eleven.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (KJV)
Notice the promise given in verse six is followed by its normal consequences found in verse ten and eleven.
No sooner had the church begun at Pentecost when the persecution began. In Acts two, Peter’s sermon got things underway but by Acts four, they’re being interrogated by the high priest Caiaphas together with other rulers, elders and scribes. In Acts five, the Apostles are imprisoned (Acts 5:18), in Acts six, a young believer names Stephen is being falsely accused (Acts 6:13) and in the seventh chapter, they drag this same young man out of the city to stone him. Wrapped in the serenity of the moment, caught in the vision he had of Christ standing at the right hand of God, the Father, Stephen never wavered, never acknowledged the pain inflicted on him as he closed his eyes to sleep in Christ (Acts 7:55).
Giving ones life for ones belief is not something new, men have been throwing themselves on the altar of sacrifice since they understood the meaning of love. They’ll die for love of God, love of country, love of family, love of freedom and love of friends. We’ve seen this inspiring gesture made throughout the pages of history. There is nothing more noble, more unselfish than this but before offering this one time gift, we should make sure that reason is worthy of the sacrifice. If we, as Christians, are to be prepared to die as Stephen did, we, like Stephen, should experience the joy of giving that goes with it. If we are to lay our lives down for the brethren, then we should be certain in our own heart that they are brethren and not just men playing church.
I John 3:16
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (KJV)
Returning to the beatitudes, Jesus not only reminds us that we will be persecuted for righteousness sake but that we should rejoice when we are (Matthew 5:12). In fact, we are not only to be glad, but exceedingly glad. All gifts given to God must be gifts from the heart. Any who give grudgingly would be better off not giving at all; if the gift is not given from the heart, it’s not acceptable to God. Those who worship God through giving must worship him in Spirit and truth, in deed and in truth, with the hand and the heart.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (KJV)
Alright, we may be called upon to give our life for God or even a brother, but must we be happy about it? Yes, but we must understand the reason why in order to truly rejoice. Jesus tells us that if we are persecuted for righteousness, we should be very happy because great is our reward in heaven. He reminds us that when we do this we stand in the company of the persecuted prophets that came before us. Not bad company to be in and good reason to be happy (Matthew 5:12). Few Christians are called upon to give their lives but all are required to suffer and to rejoice in the occasion.
Maybe this explains why the Apostles, after being imprisoned, interrogated, beaten and released left the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy the suffer the shame of imprisonment and punishment for the sake of Christ.
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (KJV)
In fact, the next verse reveals that this experience may have actually inspired them. Maintaining an attitude of joy during persecution does not mean pretending to rejoice; it does not mean putting the best face on a bad situation, either. It means to be in full awareness of the privilege that is ours if we, as His servants, are fortunate enough to be honored by being awarded this select kind of service. It is the same as being given the position of personal attendant to Christ. Can there be any better reason to rejoice?
We may never know how the Apostle Peter really died but it is believed by many that he, too, was crucified. According to one account he was crucified upside down at his request because he didn’t feel worthy to be crucified in the same position as his Lord. Peter was an Apostle and as an Apostle many believe that he was some kind of superman with special protection not afforded the common folk, but this is not true, for many have done the way of Peter. Since the first century, God’s blueprint has been stained repeatedly by the blood of martyrs who, like Peter, offered their lives with joy. Documents centering on the Roman Arena record many Christians who, while being devoured by lions, died singing praises to God. They didn’t sacrifice their lives, they gave them as an offering of love. They were worthy to suffer!
John Hooper was also worthy. During King Edward’s reign, John Hooper served as bishop over two dioceses, his conduct was a model of Paul’s requirements set down in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:1-9). He had no thought for personal wealth; his life was completely absorbed in the care and salvation of God’s flock. He was a generous man who was known to give away whatever money came his way. On two occasions, John Foxe, a teacher at Oxford, who had embarrassed Protestantism, was a guest at Hooper’s house. It is Foxe that receives the credit for recording the story of Hooper. On both visits, Foxe recalls how he saw Hooper’s house filled with beggars and poor folk eating meat at Hooper’s table. A servant told Foxe that this scene took place nightly before John Hooper sat down to eat his own meal.
For more than two years Hooper served as bishop during King Edwards’s reign. After Edward’s death, Mary was crowned queen and remembering her Catholic roots, she turned the country back to Catholicism using whatever force necessary to achieve her purposes. It is little wonder she became known as “bloody Mary”. Mary had no sooner come to power when she ordered Hooper to report to London where he was at once imprisoned. He remained in prison for eighteen months. In poor health and forced to spend his limited resources on food, Hooper waited for trial.
On March 19, 1554, John Hooper was called before the bishops of London, Llandalf, Winchester, Chichester and Durham and temporarily stripped of his bishoprics. On the 22 nd day of January, 1555, the Bishop of Winchester sent for him and demanded he forsake his beliefs and recognize the Pope as the spiritual leader of the Church of England. To do so would mean pardon. Others had already been pardoned for renouncing their former belief and pledging their loyalty to the Pope, but not Hooper; he refused.
It was January 28, 1555, when Hooper appeared before Winchester and company. At this time he was given another opportunity to accept the Pope and the Catholic Church as his spiritual authority. On this same day another Protestant brother who’s name was Rogers was also being interrogated. As they left accompanied by their guards both men came face to face. “Brother Rogers,” said Hooper, “Should we take this matter in hand and begin to fry these faggots?” Hooper knew the fate of both Rogers and himself would be that of burning at the stake if he did not recant. It was to this he refereed when he called himself and Rogers faggots (kindling wood).
Rogers reply was, “Yes, Sir, by God’s grace. Be sure, God will give strength.” Hooper was then taken back to Newgate Prison where he spent six days. On February 4 th, the Bishop of London officially stripped Hooper of all his church offices and responsibility and Hooper was sent to Glouster to await execution.
Finally, on February 5 th, 1555, Hooper was brought to the stake. To ease the suffering and bring death quicker, one of Hooper’s guards had given him several packages of gun powder. Hooper placed the packages under his arms and between his legs. Three irons were brought to fasten him to the stake. One was to be placed around his neck, one around his legs and a third around his waist. These would hold him tightly to the stake but Hooper refused the neck and leg irons and suggested that the waist iron would be enough. Just the one around his waist was used.
Hooper then took the opportunity to forgive the man whose job it was to make the fire. The wood was placed around Hooper and set afire, but the lumber was green and it did not flare up quickly as it was supposed to. Instead it went out and had to be re-ignited the wind did not favor the flames and blew them away from Hooper and once again did not flare up quickly as it was supposed to. The fire was started for the third time. The gunpowder exploded but did not do it’s intended job because of the wind.
Cooking slowly in the flames, Hooper's mouth was black, his tongue swollen but his lips continued moving until they shrank to the gums. Hooper pounded on his chest with his hands until one of his arms fell off. He continued pounding with the other. Fat, water and blood began dripping from the ends of his fingers until his hand became stuck to the iron band around his waist.
Hooper was in the fire for over forty five minutes, suffering agony beyond description until the lower part of his body burned away and his intestines poured out. Now, John Hooper has been crowned in glory, clothed in the white linen of righteousness as a blessed martyr. Now he knows the joys of being made worthy to suffer; now, he is ready to receive the reward of all those who have been faithful to Christ.
Christ was ready to die for us, are we now ready to die for Him? Have we counted the cost? Are we worthy to suffer?
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (KJV)
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (KJV)