By Ron Bartanen
The following is included in a letter written by Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, as quoted in “The Founders’ Bible,” explaining his motivation in seeking a new sea-route to the East Indies —
“If those who heard about my enterprise rejected it with laughter, scoffing at me… Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that He, with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the Holy and Sacred Scriptures—a strong and clear testimony, with forty-four books of the Old Testament, and four Gospels, with twenty-three Epistles of those blessed Apostles encouraging me to proceed. (Bibles in that age included the intertestamental books of the Apocrypha) … No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior if it is right and if the purpose is purely for His holy service…. I stated above that some of the prophecies remained yet to be fulfilled, and I say that they are great things in the world. And I say that the sign which convinces me that our Lord is hastening the end of the world is the preaching of the Gospel recently in so many lands.”While Columbus was not correct in his assumption that the end of the world would occur soon, he was correct in believing that the preaching of the Gospel would spread to many lands. Freed from the spiritual bondage of state-churches, in the “new world” emphasis was placed upon Scripture as the guide, not denominational creeds. People were free to search the word of God themselves without clerical dogmatism. I am convinced that the hand of God was providentially guiding him, as well as those who would follow, in founding a nation where freedom reigned, a nation that could, more than any other nation, be identified as a “Christian nation.”
From our nation has gone forth the word of God throughout the world, spreading the Good News of Christ, anticipating the time when Christ will indeed return. Second only to the church of our Lord, the United States has been “a city set on a hill,” to be a beacon to the world. Pray that this freedom to fully share the message of redemption-in-Christ both locally and worldwide will continue, and that hearts may be opened before the Day of the Lord arrives.
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/