The ones who are born of God have become partakers of the nature of God. The children of God are called to tackle the problems of this world with the same agape love, the nature of God. Christ united HImself with His brethren in a union that is comparable to His union with the Father. Christ lives in them and continues His work in the world through them.
When the ambassador of Christ speaks the truth in love, and meets death with joy, a strange miracle occurs — the eyes of the unbelievers are opened, they are enabled to see the truth of God, and this leads them to believe in the gospel. Ever since the centurion’s eyes were opened at Calvary, ever since he believed that Jesus was the Son of God because he had seen the manner of His death, thousands and thousands of Christian martyrdoms over the centuries have produced the same results. This is precisely what Tertullian had in mind when he wrote that the blood of the martyrs is the seed out of which new Christians are born.
Jesus saw His own coming into this world as an invasion of the strong man’s house to spoil his goods. He saw the Prince of this world being cast out at His own death. Jesus taught His disciples to not be afraid of the ones who can kill only the body, and He charged them to bravely lose their lives to gain the victory. John was simply confirming this when he depicted the casting out of Satan and his defeat through the deaths of the martyrs in Revelation.
The sins of people are Satan’s “certificate of ownership.” But this document was nailed to the cross of Calvary and was canceled by the death of Christ. Satan’s second instrument is the fear of dying.
This is the wisdom of God which the world considers utter foolishness — that He sent His Son to die on the cross.
Jesus describes the outcome of His crucifixion as both His own glorification and as the glorification of God. Yet death by crucifixion was one of the most shameful and barbaric modes of execution – how could that be considered an act of glorifying God?
The glory of God shines through the beauty and splendour of self-sacrifice as nowhere else, and most importantly, this glory of God, the glory of His self-sacrificing love, shines out in each martyrdom. Just take a look at John’s reference to Peter’s martyrdom. It was also the reason Paul was so determined to glorify Christ by his own dying.
Herein lies its power to convince and to persuade – people see the love of God in the death of the martyr and are compelled to believe in God’s love and sacrifice for them. Paul expressed the same idea in the concept of reflecting the image of Christ or the glory of God to other people through our suffering and our loving self-sacrificing for others.
As the knowledge of Christ and the grace of God is spread to more and more people through the sacrifice of the children of God, there is more and more thanksgiving, praise and glory given to God.