While the media has continued a constant barrage of cameras and reporters who have besieged this small town of 600 souls, causing chaos and confusion, they have failed to accurately report the horrendous actions that took place at the beckoning of Satan, himself. Based on local and first-hand reports, the massacre was orchestrated straight from hell. As always, the Sunday morning service was recorded, and when the gunman entered the sanctuary with a semi-automatic carbine, among the first victims were those recording the service. So the cameras kept rolling.
I know that the promoted storyline is that the attack was based on a domestic dispute with the gunman's in-laws. But they were not even present at the church that day, and what occurred at the scene could only have been carried out by a satanically influenced individual. It is beyond comprehension that if the intended victims were not there, that any person (even a mentally ill one) would empty magazine after magazine into the crowd and then systematically apply an execution-style shot to each victim.
The Apostle Paul warns us of these days in 2 Timothy 3:13, when he writes, "But evil men and seducers will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." No one knows for sure how the gunman became seduced by evil, but it is obvious that he was deceived into thinking he had a right to do what he did.
It is commonly accepted that we are in the last days before Jesus's return. The world is in chaos, and our sense of security is being tested. I mean, if you can't feel safe at church, then you know that evil is on the rise, right? But it is exactly because this attack was so evil and took place against Christians that we must identify these saints as modern-day martyrs. Jesus, Himself, said, "Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. And you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake" (Matt. 24:9).
It is natural that as these kinds of events become more commonplace, that Believers begin to fear for their lives. But we must face the fact that lawlessness the Bible predicts is indeed increasing, and that the Bible also tells us that we must be prepared to "overcome him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony; and love not our lives unto death." That is exactly what those 26 innocent saints did one week ago. They are those who are written about in Revelation 6:9-11 ... "I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed".
That may be a frightening picture for some, if not most, of you. But we must realize that Death was the price the faithful in Sutherland Springs paid for the testimony of their faith in Christ. And we can rejoice that as Revelation 2:10 tells us, because they were faithful until death (martyred) they will receive the Crown of Life. the martyr's crown. And just like Stephen, who was martyred, their spirits were received by Jesus, Himself. In truth, they have no better testimony than they were hated by the Anti-Christ and his human agent. We can take some comfort in knowing that they stood in the presence of Jesus immediately upon their martyrdom.
Did any of these people wake up that morning and think it was going to be the day they would be called to martyrdom? I seriously doubt it. But martyrs they are, nonetheless. And their numbers will rise as we close in on the Day of the Lord. We must not be surprised nor dismayed. The Holy Bible tells us this will happen. So how do we prepare for martyrdom should we be called to that fate?
These are just a few suggestions, but we can begin by confessing all known sin to God and asking for forgiveness. Next keep the Word of God in your mind and heart as much as possible, staying focused on our Lord instead of fearing the Enemy. Pray for the Lord's Grace to keep you strong in your faith until the end. Pray for our Lord Jesus to be glorified by your death and martyrdom. As difficult as it might be, pray for the murderers. And above all else, keep looking to Jesus.
None of us want to think that we will be faced with the possibility of martyrdom for our faith. But if we can fear God more than we fear evil men or the Enemy who wishes to kill and destroy us, then we can endure what this world brings against us for the sake and purpose of glorifying Him. And if nothing else, last week's tragic event should tell us that we cannot expect advance notice -- it is time that today's Christian be prepared to confess the Lord Jesus Christ every moment of every day. Such is the course laid before us.
Revelation 14:13 Then I heard [the distinct words of] a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes, [blessed indeed],” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest and have relief from their labors, for their deeds do follow them.”