"But God forbid that I should boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
Boasting in the Cross only
We have nothing in our lives to boast about that is greater than the Cross and the One who was crucified on it. We boast in the Cross because it is the power and wisdom of God, "For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God ... but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Co 1:18,23,24) By the Cross, the greatness of God's love was manifested (John 3:16) as when we were still sinful, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8) By the Cross we were saved, and Christ bought us by His precious blood, and paid our debt for divine justice. (1 Pet. 1:18; 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Cor. 7:23) By the Cross, the curse of the law was abolished. (Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13) By the Cross, the middle wall of separation was broken. (Eph 2:14) And we were reconciled to God the Father. (Eph. 2:14; 2 Cor. 5:17-19) Moreover, Jesus unified the Jews and the gentiles, and made them one in Himself by the Cross. (Eph 1:16-18) By the Cross, we are empowered to conquer Satan and his armies, and to obtain all the graces of the new covenant, and to eat from the tree of life.
The story of martyrdom in the history of the early church is the story of early Christianity and its spread across time and everywhere. It illuminates the way to the kingdom with the light of true faith granted to us from the Father through His only begotten Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This great love was manifested on the cross, as He made Himself a sacrifice of atonement for the whole world, in order to bestow salvation and eternal life to all who believe in him and want to live a life of holiness. The pure life, deeds and virtues of those martyrs are luminous before our eyes, encouraging us to walk in their footsteps to enjoy our eternity.
The heavenly crowns, prepared for the martyrs, are the crowns of martyrdom, victory, chastity, ministry, giving, sacrificial love and witnessing to Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us to bring us holy and blameless before Him in love.
The Christian martyrdom is a practical proof on the truthfulness of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). Justin Martyr says: “Here you can clearly see that when our heads are cut off and we are crucified, thrown away to the wild beasts, or tied by chains, and put into fire, and suffered all kinds of torture, we do not leave our faith. But as far as we are punished by these tribulations, more Christians are added to the believers in the name of Jesus Christ. The vinedresser cuts vine branches bearing fruit, even to let other branches grow, and this process makes it livelier and more productive. This is what happens with us. The vine implanted by God our Savior, Jesus Christ is His people.”
The Second Coming and Judgment
Longing for the 2nd coming of Christ to judge the living and the dead is a settled part of the Christian Creed. The appearance of the sign of the cross will precede the 2nd coming (Matt24:30). Christ will come on the clouds of heaven and the Archangel, with a great sound of a trumpet, will gather all people for judgment (1Thes4:16). Then all the dead will rise in the flesh (Jhn5:28, 29) who died by different methods (Rev20:11-13) while those who will be alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will all be changed (1Thes4:15-17; 1Cor15:51, 52). Therefore, the resurrection of the body is a must for judgment (Isa26:19; Dan12:2) since man will be judged as one being of body and spirit. In the resurrection, all these bodies will be spiritual not physical (Matt22:30-32) to live eternally either in eternal joy at the kingdom or eternal condemnation at hell… and this will be determent by the general resurrection.