Hey friend...come to Jesus!! He promises you health, wealth, and ease and comfort! Just look....
- Philip: Crucified, Phrygia, A.D. 54
- Matthew: Beheaded, Ethiopia, A.D. 60
- Barnabas: Burned to death, Cyprus, A.D. 64
- Mark: Dragged to death, Cyprus, A.D. 64
- James (the Less): Clubbed to death, Jerusalem, A.D. 66
- Paul: Beheaded, Rome, A.D. 66
- Peter: Crucified, Rome, A.D. 69
- Andrew: Crucified, Achaia, A.D. 70
- Thomas: Speared to death, Calamina, A.D. 70
- Luke: Hanged, Athens, A.D. 93
(--From the book, Way of the Master by Ray Comfort, p. 23)
And let's not forget about the Neronian Persecution of the early church prior to 70AD. From the Annals of the Roman historian Tacitus (not a Christian):
“And so, to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up [i.e., falsely accused] as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for a moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Judea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome…. Accordingly, arrest was first made of those who confessed [to being Christians]; then, on their evidence, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as because of [their] hatred for the human race. Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or drove about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.”
Or maybe the story of Polycarp will show us the wonderful plan. From Foxe's Book of Martyrs:
"Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, hearing that persons were seeking for him, escaped, but was discovered by a child. After feasting the guards who apprehended him, he desired an hour in prayer, which being allowed, he prayed with such fervency, that his guards repented that they had been instrumental in taking him. He was, however, carried before the proconsul, condemned, and burnt in the market place.
The proconsul then urged him, saying, "Swear, and I will release thee;--reproach Christ." Polycarp answered, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?" At the stake to which he was only tied, but not nailed as usual, as he assured them he should stand immovable, the flames, on their kindling the fagots, encircled his body, like an arch, without touching him; and the executioner, on seeing this, was ordered to pierce him with a sword, when so great a quantity of blood flowed out as extinguished the fire.
But his body, at the instigation of the enemies of the Gospel, especially Jews, was ordered to be consumed in the pile, and the request of his friends, who wished to give it Christian burial, rejected. They nevertheless collected his bones and as much of his remains as possible, and caused them to be decently interred."
Hmmmm....maybe the "wonderful plan" doesn't fit a modern definition of "wonderful"....
Mark 8:34-38 (ESV) - And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (35) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. (36) For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (37) For what can a man give in return for his soul? (38) For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."