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The Roman Empire was the most tolerant, the most liberal, the most wise, and the most accurate in its handling of the many provinces and religions of its empire of any kingdom that ever existed. Men could worship, have temples, and do as they pleased.

And yet the Roman Empire and the Caesars persecuted the Christians. Why?

For one simple reason: the Christian refused to compromise his faith with any other religion whatsoever.

When the Romans invited them to place Jesus in their Pantheon beside Jupiter, by the side of Juno, by the side of Neptune, by the side of Isis, by the side of Osiris, the Christian flatly refused. It is Christ alone.

When the Christians were invited just to bow down before the Roman image, their lives could be spared if they would merely take a pinch of incense and put it on the fire that burned in the presence of the image of the Roman Caesar. The Christian died rather than compromise with a pinch of incense.

I am telling you what is the faith of the New Testament, the faith of the martyrs, and the faith of the true men of God through the centuries. That kind of a faith is uncompromising. There is no salvation in any other.

The depraved heart of humanity does not change… The offense of the cross and the scandalon of the message of Christ ultimately is no more acceptable today than it was in the generations that have passed. Nor will it be more acceptable in the generations that are yet to come until the Lord returns from heaven and brings righteousness to the war-weary, sin-cursed earth.

– W. A. Criswell, The Offense of the Cross

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4 thoughts on “Just a Pinch of Incense”

  1. Steve Martin says:

    Great post.

    We do compromise and give in here and there to the culture.

    But those steadfast believers who would not cry out against us when we do.

  2. Wesley says:

    It has always been telling to me that Christianity was the only persecuted religion in Rome. That ALONE tells us there is something different going on there. Solus Christus.

    1. Was Christianity the ONLY persecuted religion in Rome? Is this historically accurate? Do we know this for sure? Were there literally no other cults which experienced pressure from culture and state? I don’t know either way, I’m just wondering.

      I just know that I’m liable to say something similar to brother Wesley in a sermon only to have somebody tell that I’m wrong afterward.

  3. Humbling, convicting; truly. Thank you for posting this much needed reminder of how blessed we are in the US, at least for now.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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