Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 25, 1949
NUMBER 16, PAGE 6a-7b

They Were Expendable

Geo. True Baker

During the recent war certain pieces of armament and equipment were designated as "expendable." This was particularly true of landing craft. The commanders calculated in advance that most of the craft would be lost in then assault on the beach. But they considered the gaining of a beachhead as an objective worth the destruction of the landing craft. The loss of the boats was considered as a part of the price of victory.

In the eternal struggle between righteousness and wickedness there have been great men and women who have considered their lives expendable. They were willing to die that righteous truth might live. Paul described such characters as persons "of whom the world was not worthy." (Hebrews 11:38) In our age of easy tolerance we need to be reminded that men have died for the truth, that in ages gone by the blood of righteous men has been the price exacted that the truth might live and be preserved for us.

"And Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him." (Gen. 4:8) This was not merely the tragic consequence of family jealousy or a brotherly quarrel Cain and Abel were representatives of two distinct classes of individuals. Abel was a martyr to the cause of righteousness — the first in a long and illustrious line. "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." (Mat 23:35) Abel was a man of faith. Cain was not. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous." (Heb. 11:4) Since faith comes by hearing; the word of God (Rom. 10:17), Abel must have obeyed God; and Cain refused. For his courageous obedience Abel died. The disobedient still persecute the obedient.

John The Baptist

John lived and died under the Old Law, but his life story is recorded in the New Testament. Herod had taken Herodias his brother Philip's wife. John the Baptist denounced this unholy union in these words, "It not lawful for thee to have her." (Matt. 14:4) Herod would have silenced his bold accuser in death but "he feared the multitude, because they counted him as prophet." So instead of death, he placed John in prison. The more depraved Herodias was not to be deterred by any such fear. Her beautiful daughter Salome danced before Herod on his birthday. So charmed was the lecherous old king that he impulsively promised her, under oath, "whatsoever she would ask." Having been previously prompted by her mother, she asked, "Give me John Baptist's head in a charger." John was forthwith beheaded, and his head presented to the queen. John could have pandered to the lust of Herod and Herodias and lived. Instead he chose to condemn their adultery, and lost his life. He died a martyr for the cause of marital purity. How long could a John survive in this adulterous generation in which we live?


When the seven were chosen within the Jerusalem church one of those selected was a man by the name of Stephen. He is described as a man "full of faith and power." (Acts 6:8) He engaged in hot debate with the "synagogue of the libertines." And "they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake." He won the debate, but lost his life. Overwhelming testimony seldom brings conviction to the thoroughly bigoted. False witnesses were suborned to testify against Stephen. In his conclusion of a defense before the council he struck out boldly at his opponents in these words, "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:51) This is not the language of a timid man, but of a courageous fighter for the truth. Stephen was not fighting for his own life; he must have known that was already forfeited; he was fighting for the truth. Others would seize the blood-drenched banner from his lifeless fingers; he must have died in the supreme confidence and assurance that his life had not been given in vain. "They gnashed on him with their teeth," and they "cast him out of the city and stoned him." Stephen died, but the cause for which he died lived and prospered. He was expendable; his life was forfeited. But in the long, long fight for truth, Stephen had made his contribution to eventual victory.