The answer to that question demands serious thought. Glibly the Apostle Peter said he would die for Christ; then within a few hours denied Him.
People are dying daily for their faith rather than recant. According to syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, more Christians are being martyred today than at the height of the Roman persecution, and most of them, he says, are dying at the hands of Muslims.
So the question is, would we die for our faith? If given the ultimatum to recant and live or refuse and die would we go to the guillotine? Our decision would have eternal consequences for our soul.
What about leaving an aging parent who looks to you for sustenance; or a wife who would have no way of making a living; or your small child who is ill?
On the night of the Betrayal, the disciples faced those decisions and decided to save themselves. A short time earlier, they all emphatically said they would die for Christ.
The Record says, “Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you! And all the other disciples said the same” (Matthew 26:35).
Sherman Johnson commented: “He who risks his life and hands it over to God will share in the life of the world to come ... but cowardice is certain death for the soul.”
Christ predicted that His followers would face persecution and death. He warned: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me.”
And then the Lord reminds us that some of us, not fully committed to Him, will forsake Him, regardless of the consequences.
Christ continued: “At that time many will turn from the faith and will betray and hate each other” (Matthew 24:9, 10). Sadly, some of us would betray Him rather than suffer martyrdom.
Men have died for Christ down through the centuries, but one wonders how many of us Americans in our soft, persecutionless lifestyle would lay down our life if necessary. Many of us probably would.
However, it still takes courage to live for Christ today when there is not severe persecution. The kind of commitment required today is the type that prompts a person to maintain a vibrant prayer life, regular Bible study, helping others, faithfulness to God with finances and church attendance; and constantly demonstrating the Lord’s way to others.
Perhaps you have read of the persecution some years ago on the island of Taiwan. In a mountain village a policeman became infuriated because the natives were secretly becoming Christians.
To stop them, he decreed that all of the villagers must come to the police station within three days and swear: “I will not be a Christian.”
Meeting at midnight to discuss the edict, some of the people were considering forsaking Christianity when a teenage boy stood and said, “But don’t you remember Jesus said to “fear not them which are able to kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 24:9, 10).
A vote was taken and the faithful mountain people voted to a person to die rather than recant. The next day, the villagers did not go to work, but visited with one another praying, weeping, but none turning back.
Word of their decision to die was delivered to the policeman who coldly replied that the next morning all of them would be bound, weighted, and thrown from a bridge into a river.
Then a spectacular thing happened! That afternoon, the policeman went fishing, fell into the rushing water of the river, and was drowned.
What a glowing example of the sovereignty of God; and that we don’t die by men’s will, but by the will of God.