Christ Our Captain

The following is from Albert Barnes, Notes Explanatory and Practical on the Acts of the Apostles (New York, 1851), page vi.  Italics original.

***

Golgotha“This book [of Acts] contains unanswerable evidence of the truth of the Christian religion.  It is a record of the early triumphs of Christianity.  Within the space of thirty years after the death of Christ, the gospel had been carried to all parts of the civilized, and to no small portion of the uncivilized, world.  Its progress and its triumphs were not concealed.  Its great transactions were not ‘done in a corner.’  It had been preached in the most splendid, powerful, and corrupt cities; churches were already founded in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and at Rome.  The gospel had spread in Arabia, Asia Minor, Greece, Macedon, Italy, and Africa.  It had assailed the most mighty existing institutions; it had made its way over the most formidable barriers; it had encountered the most deadly and malignant opposition; it had traveled to the capital [Rome] and had secured such a hold even in the imperial city as to make it certain that it would finally overturn the established religion and seat itself upon the ruins of paganism.

Within thirty years, it had settled the point that it would overturn every bloody altar, close every pagan temple, bring under its influence the men of office, rank, and power, and that ‘the banners of the faith would soon stream from the palaces of the Caesars.’  All this would be accomplished by the instrumentality of Jews – of fishermen – of Nazarenes.  They had neither wealth, armies, nor allies.  With the exception of Paul, they were men without learning.  They were taught only by the Holy Spirit, armed only with the power of God, victorious only because Christ was their Captain, and the world acknowledged the presence of the messengers of the Highest and the power of the Christian religion.  Its success never has been, and never can be, accounted for by any other supposition than that God attended it.  And if the Christian religion is not true, the change brought about by the twelve apostles is the most inexplicable, mysterious, and wonderful event that has ever been witnessed in this world.  Their success will stand until the end of time as an argument for the truth of God’s plan, that shall confound the infidel and sustain the Christian with the assured belief that this is a religion which has proceeded from the almighty and infinitely benevolent God.”

[HT: Ray Ortlund]

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