“Dying For What You Believe In”

Is there anything that you feel strongly enough about that you would die for it? A cause, a belief? Few of us today in American really know much of anything about sacrificing to the point of death, but there are stories in history that tell us amazing accounts of those who have suffered and died for a cause or belief. One such story took place in 328 A.D. in a city high in the icy mountains of Armenia.

It was a bitterly cold winter, and in the middle of that winter an order came from the Roman emperor that every man, woman, and child under the rule of his empire must bow down to him as a god.

Now there was a powerful force of Roman soldiers in that Armenian city known as the “Thundering Legion”, and their reputation as a powerful military force was well known throughout all the Roman Empire. But the emperor was not satisfied with just their military service – he wanted each soldier to bow down to him.

But, when the time came for each soldier to bow down, 40 could not. They were faithful soldiers, but they were Christians – they could not obey the emperor’s order to make him their god. They said, “We can only worship the one true God.”

Well, when the word of these 40 soldiers refusing to bow down and worship him was received by the emperor, his command back was simple, “Bow down to me, reject your Christian God, or die”. But the 40 soldiers did not bow down – so the decision was made that they would die.

But how should they die? Should they be fed to the hungry lions? Should they be burned at the stake? These were both terrible ways to die, but an even more cruel death was prescribed –

they were to be frozen to death in the bitter cold winter.

So, they took the 40 soldiers to a frozen lake in the middle of a terrible winter storm. They stripped them of all their clothing and left them to freeze to death.

But the general in charge did not want to lose these 40 good soldiers. He said, “Simply bow down to the emperor and save your life?” But they would not.

The other soldiers taunted and laughed at them saying, “soon you will be back; you will bow down”. But the laughing stopped when these 40 Christians bravely walked barefoot across the icy freezing lake.

Well, through the night the soldiers lit a fire and cooked food to tempt the Christians to give up. But the Christians prayed to God to make them brave, and they began to shout,

“Here die 40 men for Christ”!

The freezing bitter cold night went on until finally, the cold was too much for one of the men. He staggered back to the fire and agreed to denounce his God and to bow down to the emperor. But the remaining 39 Christians would not give in, even though they were literally freezing to death.

Then, amazingly, something happened that they could not believe – one of the Roman soldiers sitting by the fire, having watched the bravery and courage and faith of these dying Christians, he stood before the general and uttered these words,

“I will take that man’s place – I will be a Christian.”

As the general watched in amazement, this Roman soldier removed his clothing and walked onto the icy lake to join the other 39.

Well, the Roman soldiers sat by that fire all night long, and the last thing they said they could remember hearing through the howl of that terrible freezing winter storm was the now 40 Christian men shouting,

“Here die 40 men for Christ”.

In the morning, sadly, there were 40 frozen bodies; men who had sacrificed and died for their faith and belief in Christ.

A full 350 years later, in the chapel in the forum of Rome, there was dedicated to these 40 soldiers a plaque, a simple plaque which still hangs there today. It has these powerful words engraved on it,

“Here Die 40 Men for Christ”.

 

What cause would you be willing to die for?

Today we’re talking about the founding of our America. And we’re celebrating our free nation, with thankful hearts, thankful to God for seeing those first Americans through and all of their effort and sacrifice, thankful for the people who sacrificed all they had to make our free America, not just a dream – but real!

But after the war was won, what then? Well, most Americans today have no idea that in many ways, the building of our new America with rules and laws and the coming together of the 13 colonies to become 13 States, that in many ways that may have actually been harder than winning the war itself. Wow! But why?

Well, remember, our Founding Fathers plan for our free America, was to build a Nation owned by the people, We the People, with each State free, yes, but each State responsible to all the other States, to work together freely, but in harmony as one Nation, America.

And if they had determined to make a democratic nation where the majority always prevails, then in many ways it would have been much easier – just count the votes, and the majority always wins – that’s pretty simple. But that’s not what our Founders wanted. They were determined for America to be a Republic, not just a Democracy.

And how is a Republic different from a Democracy? Well,

1) In a Democracy – majority rules. But when you have a Republic, the power is in the hands of the citizens, We the People, and the majority does not always prevail.

Another difference?

2) In a Democratic System, laws are made by the Leaders, and passed down to the People – while in the Republic System, elected representatives are given the authority by the People to represent the People with the rules and laws passed as needed for the betterment of the Citizens.

Well, as the representatives from each of the 13 colonies came together, they immediately could see problems sure to come. Like what?

  • What would the rules and laws be to govern our new nation, our invention, America?
  • How could our American Citizens be protected not to be just run over by the majority.
  • And these Constitutional Representatives did not have a solution. They had no other country, no other previous Constitutional documents to follow – our nation was an all-new invention, needing all new ways to make it work.

So, some of the Representatives began to see that if America became a majority rule Nation, they may not want their State to be a part of this new Nation, because they would have no say, if they were too small. For example, according to my research, Delaware, the least populated colony, had only about 59,000 population, while the largest populated colony, Virginia, had almost three quarters of a million people – you can see the problem facing the smaller colonies.

So with States Rights as the number one concern of the Representatives, and with seemingly no way to fix the majority rules roadblock, a number of the representatives began to make plans to pack their bags and go home – just be an individual body of people, not part of America. It seemed crazy and really sad that all of the work and all of the sacrifice that had been made to get all of America to this point, and now it seemed like it would all be lost.

One of the representatives there at that convention was Benjamin Franklin. Now, Benjamin Franklin had been around since the beginning. By now he was in his 80s. And he had seen it all. He was there, even before the revolution at the drawing up and signing of the Declaration of Independence. He had been there during the war, as the first US Ambassador, sailing to France to ask the French to help us in our war for freedom – France had helped. And here he was now watching the whole plan of an all-new free American nation just falling apart. It didn’t seem that it could be possible that this was going to happen.

But then as he thought, he knew that there was one big part of the Plan missing in this Constitutional Congress meeting. He knew there was something else that must be done before they gave up and just went home.

So, he stood and began to talk.

He said “Sirs, I’ve lived a long time in this world. And if it’s true that a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without God knowing it, then surely a new empire cannot rise without His Aid.”. He said “Sirs, may we please stop and ask God to help us? May we pray? “

There was a motion and a vote, and amazingly, all agreed that they needed to bring Almighty God into this crucial matter of building a new Nation with no prior documents to follow. And they prayed and prayed and prayed and God helped them.

And just how did they resolve the matter of smaller states getting equal say? They made two different Legislative Branches. First, a House of Representatives with each State represented according to their population – and a second Legislative Branch, the Senate, with each State having an equal vote, each State being equal in their power in that Senate.

Wow. God had heard their prayers and he helped them.

Does our U.S. Congress today Pray? Really Pray? They may, but I’ve never see them on their knees praying – have you?

Do you spend time on your knees praying for God’s Help?

Lord, let it start with me!

About Jerry Stewart

I am a story teller. Since 1998, I have been telling the true stories of our nation and those Americans gone before us.  To say the least, these stories have been well received by Americans, both young and old.  So, here’s where the stories have taken me.  In 1998, I was broadcasting my stories on just one radio station in Washington State.  Today, from Texas 15 years later, these programs are now broadcast through a syndicated radio network to over 400 radio stations all across America, with literally millions of listeners.

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