What Was Driving Columbus?

Christopher Columbus labored for seven years to convince European monarchs to finance his seaborne explorations. Finally winning the support of Queen Isabella of Castille and King Ferdinand of Aragon, he set sail on August 3, 1492. Thinking he was on the way to India, he “discovered” the new world on October 12, 1492. In his Libro de las Profecias (Book of Prophecies), Columbus recorded a remarkable set of perspectives on his voyage. He was not sailing or exploring for himself; he was sailing by the will of God. Columbus wrote:

“I prayed to the most merciful Lord about my heart’s great desire, and He gave me the spirit and the intelligence for the task: seafaring, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, skill in drafting spherical maps and placing correctly the cities, rivers, mountains and ports. I also studied cosmology, history, chronology and philosophy,”

He went on to profess,

“It was the Lord who put into my mind (I could feel His hand upon me) the fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration

was from the Holy spirit, because he comforted me with … the Holy Scriptures … encouraging me continually to press forward, and without ceasing for a moment they [the Scriptures] now encourage me to make haste…”


His continuing remarks give evidence of an unshakable confidence in the purposefulness of his “calling”:


“All things must come to pass that [have] been written by the prophets.… I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy.… I have found the sweetest consolations since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence.… No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior.… The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord.… The fact that the gospel must still be preached to so many lands in such a short time, this is what convinces me.”


If one did not know the source of these statements, it would be easy to think they came from a same-generation protégé of the apostle Paul. Christopher Columbus lived many years after Paul, but he had a remarkably similar outlook on life: God is the ruler of all things; we are his servants; he communicates his will to us; we are responsible to fulfill it; the Scriptures are our guide; the Holy Spirit is our strength; courage is our banner; and the gospel is our message. While no one should claim that Christopher Columbus was a perfect Christian, or that he had apostolic credentials, one thing can be said: his identity as a faithful servant of God is clear. Unfortunately, history books have removed much of his Christian identity, but the writings from his own hand make it clear. Nothing mattered more than to fulfill God’s will for his life.

Romans 1 reveals the same thing about the apostle Paul. There was no mistaking Paul’s identity by those who knew him, nor for those of us who read his writings. He was without question a charter member of the company of the committed.


Let Paul give you some guidance as your make prayerful considerations for 2016.
  1. Let us resolve to forget the past and to honor God more in 2016! Philippians 3:13b-14 says, “…forgetting whatlies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul, in this verse, underlines his denial of personal power or attainment and his single-minded focus. To describe that focus, he employs the image of a runner in a race who hopes to win the prize. He cannot look back. He cannot cloud his mind with past memories. He strains every muscle in his body to achieve forward motion. Eyes focus on the finish line. Paul forgets the guilt of persecuting the church. He forgets the pain of prison and physical punishment. He forgets the frustration of disobedient church members and false teachers. He looks ahead to see the resurrection, where he will meet Jesus face-to-face.[2]
  2. Let us resolve to live for Christ before we live for the world! Philippians 1:21says, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Many believe this verse to be the most important of the entire letter. It demonstrates that Christ is the source of meaning for Paul. In death the adversities of this life would be over, and he would be with Christ in heaven. Therefore, to die is gain.
  3. Let us resolve to trust God with a strong faith! Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is theassurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Eyesight produces a conviction about objects in the physical world. Faith produces the same convictions for the invisible order. Faith shows itself by producing assurance that what we hope for will happen. Faith also provides an insight into realities which otherwise remain unseen. A person with faith lets these unseen realities from God provide a living, effective power for every day.[3]
  4. Let us resolve to be faithful in worship! Hebrews 10:25: “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouragingone another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” To encourage one another in the Christian life, we must meet together. Some of the readers of Hebrews were neglecting to meet together for worship, and this limited their ability to give and receive encouragement. Christians who meet together promote godliness and love for one another. Regular fellowship with believers is an essential ingredient in Christian growth. The readers of Hebrews knew that the Day of Christ’s return was drawing near. The closeness of this day compelled them to stimulate one another in an outburst of energy and concern. Yes, persecution may have led some believers to drop out of the fellowship. The remedy they needed was to begin meeting again. The verses following in 26–31 showed the final outcome of neglecting to meet with other believers. Such careless living could produce a contempt for Jesus and a renunciation of their faith in Christ.[4]
  5. Let us resolve to honor God with our income! Malachi 3:10: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may befood in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” The reference to the “storehouse” is to “an extended hallway divided into numerous rooms or cubicles … for storage of tithes consisting of grain, wine, and (olive) oil.” The phrase “the whole tithe” is almost identical to that which occurs in Lev 27:30, “Every tenth of the land’s produce, grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord,” and Num 18:21, “I have given the Levites every tenth in Israel as an inheritance” (HCSB). But an even closer parallel is found in Deut 14:28, “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes [lit. “tithe”; but a different word for “bring” is used there] of that year’s produce and store it in your towns” (similarly Deut 26:12). Specifying “the whole tithe” suggests that many were either withholding part of the tithe or were bringing nothing.39 Reference to the “whole” tithe also echoes the guilt of the “whole” nation in v. 9.[5]
  6. Let us resolve to bear one another’s burdens! Paul, in Galatians 6:2, said: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” When we help carry the crushing burden of the one who has fallen in sin, we fulfill the law of Christ which is the principle of love (compare 5:14; John 13:34). When a fellow believer succumbs to temptation, it is not our place to judge and condemn them (Matt. 7:1–6). Rather, we are to make sure they know we love them and want to help them overcome their weakness and grow spiritually.[6]

Let us resolve to faithfully witness to the unsaved! Psalm 126:5-6, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

[1] Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Vol. 6: Romans

. Holman New Testament Commentary (17–18). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Anders, M. (1999). Vol. 8: Galatians-Colossians

. Holman New Testament Commentary (245). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Lea, T. D. (1999). Vol. 10: Hebrews, James

. Holman New Testament Commentary (200). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Vol. 10: Hebrews, James

. Holman New Testament Commentary (187). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Taylor, R. A., & Clendenen, E. R. (2004). Vol. 21A: Haggai, Malachi

. The New American Commentary (420). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Anders, M. (1999). Vol. 8: Galatians-Colossians

. Holman New Testament Commentary (78). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.