Mature Class Study, teacher Rick Coleman.

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Brother Rick recently visited a little town called Gettysburg where Confederate and Union armies fought a famous battle on July 1-3, 1863. There were more than 50,000 dead, wounded, or missing in action after the 3-day battle. The dead were estimated at 3,155 for the Union and 4,700 for the Confederacy. Some later died from wounds or on prison ships. There was an expediency to get the 8,000 dead bodies buried so they were buried in shallow graves. Most Confederate dead were taken south but some were buried in a mass grave. About 5,000 acres of the entire 11,500 acre battle area were preserved for posterity in what is called The Gettysburg National Military Park. There are monuments representing every state that had men who fought there. The National cemetery was mainly for Union soldiers.

On November 19, 1863 there was a dedication of the cemetery. A famous orator Edmond Everett spoke for 2 hours, then Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg address. He only spoke for 2 or 3 minutes and it was very quiet when he finished. One newspaper man wrote that it was like the audience held its breath. Lincoln thought it was a failure but to applaud would have been like applauding the Lord’s prayer. Lincoln respected the men of both armies. He felt his job was to bring the Union together and preserve it. A soldier needs to know that what he’s fighting for is worth giving his life.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Abraham Lincoln

November 19, 1863

More Jews and Christians have been martyred than any other people in history. It is said that 900,000 Christians were martyred in the last decade. Stephen is considered the first martyr of the early church. Of the twelve apostles, only Judas and John were not martyred. Jesus gave a “full measure of devotion” for us when he died on the cross to give us salvation.

Isaiah 53:4-5 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Jesus had a great cause and willingly gave his life for his friends.

Galatians 1:3-4 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

Are you willing to give the last measure of devotion to the cause for which we are dedicated? Are you willing to give the ultimate sacrifice of your life? Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Death doesn’t have a sting for us because God gives us the victory!

I Corinthians 15:55-58 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.