Stephen did wonders and signs among the people. Some Jews started to argue with him, but they couldn't stand against the Spirit or wisdom by which he spoke. So his religious opposition falsely accused him of blasphemy, which was punishable by death. Stephen was the first Christian martyr.
The Bible teaches before the rapture occurs, two things will transpire: (1) The great apostasy and (2) The revealing of the antichrist.
Spiritual safeguards are real, very important and should be taken seriously.
If you know much about Christian history or have even read through the Book of Acts, then you are aware that saints have shed their blood, spent time in prison and/or died for the cause of Christ. The truth is, even at this point in time (2008), there are Christians suffering and dying like this, especially outside the USA. Such a mentality of commitment to death is virtually lost in today's church world of ease, comfort, pleasure, ear-tickling sermons, entertainment, amusements, softball ministries, the ecumenical movement, rampant lukewarmness and Scriptural ignorance.
Around 111 AD, in the days of Pliny the Younger and Emperor Trajan, early Christians were subjected to the ultimate test of fidelity to the Lord Jesus Christ -- worship the emperor's statue and the images of the pagan gods or be led away to execution.
Marcellus was a native of Tingis (now Tangier), and a centurion during the reign of Diocletian. He cast away his arms and declared himself a Christian, for which he was sentenced [in 298] by the govenor Fortunatus to be beheaded. At the time of Marcellus's trial Cassian was a shorthand writer in the court. He declared that the sentence of Marcellus was unjust, for which heresy he himself was imprisoned and a little later suffered the same martyrdom.
Once saved always saved proponents face many difficult passages of Scripture, that is, difficult for them because they clearly contradict their treasured and beloved doctrine. The contradictions from Scripture concerning their teaching exist either by specific example or simple declaration pertaining to this subject. Regarding examples that contradict eternal security, perhaps the Apostle Judas Iscariot is most difficult for them.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
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