Devotional Readings

Heartily Unto the Lord

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men. Colossians 3:23.

Pieter Beckjen made his living by ferrying people and goods on the river Amstel. Sometimes he would sail down the canals of Amsterdam with fellow believers–so they could worship in secret.

When Pieter and his wife had their first child, the couple tried to keep the infant hidden so they wouldn’t be forced to have it christened in the state church. But neighbors eventually betrayed them to the magistrates.

Pieter was tried, convicted for Acrimes against the divine and secular majesty . . . which disturb the peace,” and condemned Ato be executed with fire . . . and his entire property confiscated.”

They put this earnest ferry operator on the rack in one last fiendish effort to bend his faith. But it proved unshakable. Pieter was burned in January of 1569.

A close friend of his, Willem Janss, heard about the planned execution and hurried to the site from a nearby town. Wanting to offer some encouragement, he arrived at Amsterdam’s gate, but the bar had already been let down. Willem had to bribe the gatekeeper to let him in.

He rushed to the site of the execution and arrived just as Pieter was being led out to the stake. Willem called out, “Contend valiantly, dear brother.”

What gave Pieter such death-defying faith? Why was he willing to stand “heartily” for the Lord without wavering? There is one significant reason. He believed that Jesus was more than a good man. He believed that Jesus was divine and that His offer of eternal life was real. To reject Jesus was to reject eternal life. Pieter accepted the Savior’s words to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26). Eternal life is life forever in the joyful presence of God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, the Holy Spirit and all the heavenly hosts.

The martyrs of the past saw beyond the flames to eternity. By faith they grasped the promises of God.

The promise is ours today: “He who believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26). Our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). His promise of the resurrection is certain. We can have absolute confidence that He will fulfill His word.

from On Solid Ground
Mark Finley | Review & Herald (2003)
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