Are Christians who renounced their faith under duress, like early Christians under Roman rule or those at the Salem witch trials, still subject to salvation? If so, what biblical references support this?
Did you know that there are more Christian martyrs today than in the first century B.C.? Just in 1999 more than 164 000 Christians were martyred.
Since it’s origin, Christians have been criticized and persecuted for their faith. Why? Are they doing something that is immoral and unacceptable? No, except loving others and helping them in their needs.
Jesus gives the reason of this hatred: John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. NIV
Christians do not belong to this world. They have discovered someone much better than what the world can offer them. Most martyrs could have saved their own lives if they had been willing to deny Jesus. “Why didn’t they just say they weren’t Christians and live?” Because they had discovered what true love means, through Jesus Christ who lives in them. 1 Cor 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? NIV
Once you know Christ and He lives in you, there is no way you will ever want to deny Him. You would prefer to die instead! John 15:13-14 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. NIV
Jesus our example was willing to lay down His own life to safe us, in order for us to obtain eternal salvation. No way we would want to disappoint Him!
Christian martyrs do not fear what to say while they are being tortured as they have assurance that Matt 10:18-20: “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. NIV
Most amazing of all is that when Christians are being tortured instead of mumbling about their unfair treatments, they reach out towards their torturers and their jailers, hoping to share with them the joy they have experienced through Jesus Christ. They literally follow what Jesus recommended them: Matt 5:44: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”
Just like Jesus forgave those who crucified Him Luke 23:34: “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots,” they are just doing the same.
These martyrs were more concerned with saving their torturers than their own lives. God has not called us to hate those who hurt us, but to pray for them and bring them into the family of God.
To Christian martyrs to die is not a loss, but a gain. Here is the testimony of a few of them:
“We shall not end our lives in the fire, but make a change for a better life.” Julius Palmer, Burned at the stake in England, 1556.
“This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Hung in Germany, 1945.
These believers were absolutely sure of eternal life. They were convinced that they were not ending their lives but exchanging them for a life with their Lord in heaven.
“I was in the central highlands in Vietnam when someone remarked about how the Christians suffer there. One Vietnamese Christian remarked, “Suffering is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Disobedience to God is the worst thing.” Tom White
Those persecuted Christians do not fear suffering. They fear more to disobey Jesus! Luke 12:4-5 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” NIV
Real followers of Christ know Jesus. Though they may not have seen Him with their own eyes, they have felt His power, love, peace and joy in their lives. He is so real to them that they would never deny Him, no matter the cost.
They rejoice, because they know the reward that is waiting for them: Matt 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. NIV
While suffering, many of them receive assurances from Jesus Himself that they are not alone, just like the first Christian martyr Stephen: Acts 7:55-56 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” NIV
Martyrs are quite aware of Jesus words: John 12:25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. NIV Matt 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. KJV There is just no way they will deny someone they know is real and who lives in them.
Now the following question comes up: “If a Christian denies Jesus during duress, can this person be saved?”
First of all, anyone who knows Jesus and whose Holy Spirit lives in him/her, will never deny His Saviour. Those who deny Him, may pretend to be Christians, but in reality they do not really know him.
Look at the apostle Peter for example. He had followed Jesus for more than 3 years and when Jesus was arrested he denied Jesus not once or twice, but three times! Luke 22:34 “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” NIV Wasn’t he a disciple of Christ? Yes. But it wasn’t until Jesus was resurrected that He fully started to realize who Jesus was. Once he had accepted Him fully as the Messiah and was filled by God’s Holy Spirit, he became bold and preached Jesus wherever he went. He even died as a martyr crucified with his head upside down, as it was too much of an honor for him to die of the same death as His Saviour! The once denier of Christ had become a bold advocate of Jesus and death could not stop him from his mission!
His example also gives hope to anyone who denies Jesus for any reason, may it be under duress or not. Peter had denied Jesus, but still was saved. Jesus words hold true: 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. NIV
Do you know Jesus as your personal Saviour my friend? If you know Him as your personal friend, nothing will stop you from loving Him. It is still not too late to accept Him into you life. Will you accept Him now?
A Christian is NEVER to renounce their faith in Christ. In doing so, don’t expect God to accept the excuse, “I didn’t really mean it…” 2 Timothy 2:12 says……..If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us. MAY ALL BE BLESSED!
If it was just a verbal renunciation, then yes they will still have their salvation. If they did some form of sin to substantiate their renunciation then maybe their salvation is lost. Salvation is totally dependant upon God. As it says “On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord. Lord, we prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many other miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, I never knew. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.” MATTHEW 7:22-23(NLT)
Also the idea of renouncing Jesus is pretty well covered in the verses in Matthew 26:69-75, speaking of Peter’s denial of knowing Christ at all. So if Peter, whom Christ choose to build His church on, can deny Christ and still have his salvation, or seek to receive salvation, then I would say that the old Christians that were killed by the Romans, or the Salem witch hunts have a pretty good chance at receiving salvation. “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. “Matthew 26:75b(NLT)
Dear Friends: The ultimate answer to rejection and denial is probably beyond the scope of our understanding, despite the oft quoted Hebrews text. With that said, the ultimate teacher, Jesus Christ our Lord, did not take the opportunity to make Peter the ultimate object lesson for condemnation for denial. Therefore I conclude, for my own understanding, that people overlook sin more often than we should and GOD forgives more often than we can believe.
My answer would be yes, if they later repent. Here are a couple of scriptures concerning sin and forgiveness: 1 John 1:8-9 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and thr truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God, Who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”-(RSV) Joel 2:13 “Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil.”-(RSV) Renouncing Christ is indeed a serious sin. However, we must remember that one of Jesus’ friends did this under duress himself.
Matthew 26:69 “While Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, a servant girl came up to him and said “You were with Jesus from Galilee” 70 But in front of everyone Peter said, “That’s not so! I don’t know what you are talking about!” 71 When Peter had gone out to the gate, another servant girl saw him and said to some people there, “This man was with Jesus from Nazareth” 72 Again Peter denied it, and this time he swore, “I don’t even know that man!” 73 A little while later some people standing there walked over to Peter and said, “We know that you are one of them. We can tell it because you talk like someone from Galilee.” 74 Peter began to curse and swear, “I don’t know that man!” Right then a rooster crowed 75 and Peter remembered that Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will say three times that you don’t know me”. Then Peter went out and cried hard.” (CEV)
Peter, one of Jesus’ most devoted followers, denied Him three times out of fear of what the authorities would do to him. However, we later learn that Peter was commanded to take care of Jesus’ followers (John 21:15-17), so he apparently hadn’t lost his standing with God. From these verses, I can conclude that a person who renounces Christ under duress can still receive salvation if they repent and continue to live a life pleasing to God. May all who have renounced Christ in a similar way come back to His fold. Your sister in Christ,
Dear prayer partners,
I ask all of you to please remember my mom and myself in your prayers. May God continue to heal both of us.
God Bless all of you
Perfect love casteth out fear. I John 4:17-19
Nobody likes the thought of being tortured or killed for their faith.
Stephen was smiling and his eyes were riveted on Jesus standing at the Gates of Heaven that he did not even feel the pain. It is a physical impossibility to smile while you are being stoned. The martyrs sang hymns and praised God while being burnt at the stake. They could not do that if they were in great pain.
Satan uses fear to great effect to scare people into submission to his will, then they usually suffer a worse fate than if they had been faithful to the Lord.
We don’t have to stand in our own strength, Jesus stands with us. We have to love Him enough to die for Him, just like He loved us enough to die for us If we don’t love Him that much we allow unbelief to take away our faith. We may get another chance but most likely we won’t.
Christians are being persecuted every day for their faith in some countries our turn will come in the very near future. Most of us will die anyway ,I would rather die for Jesus and Righteousness than live for Satan and evil..
Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand alone, Dare to have a purpose true, Dare to make it known.
God bless Noeline