To appease his benefactors, he found and took back with him to Spain enough gold, spices, strange new foods, animals, and captives to make a name for himself, and on September 25, 1493, our date to remember today, he set sail on his second voyage, this time not with just three ships, but with 17. His passengers included a small troop of cavalry and a group of priests for converting natives. He was at the height of his popularity, regardless of his mistaken notions about where he was going and where he had landed. Neither his second, third, nor fourth voyages ended as well as the first. He did not find what his royal sponsors had sent him to find—a direct route to India and China, King Solomon's gold mines, or possibly another unknown continent on the other side of the world (antipodean). Even his own crews had begun to doubt him when he maintained against all common sense that he had found Cathay, but he never gave up that claim. He had simply deceived himself into believing it.
In his last years, Columbus lived well on the 10% commission of the gold he brought back, but he seriously damaged his relationships with boasts that became more and more ludicrous to those around him. He felt used by the Spanish government and his persecution complex made him even more miserable as he followed King Ferdinand around (Isabella, his favorite royal, had died), making his claims of unfair treatment and trying to gain redress. One wonders how different it might have been for him if he had seen what was right in front of him—not the Far East, but a brand new world.
All of that reminded me of another victim of self-deception. An elderly lady we ran into a long, long time ago told us that the Holy Spirit had spoken to her the night before and gave her a new piece of information. Unfortunately, that information directly contradicted the plain statement of scripture. How do you correct someone who believes they have a direct line to God? You cannot, because no matter what you show them, they know better, and until they receive another "revelation" correcting the first, they believe they know more than you do.
It did not take long before I found others who would not listen to the plain truth of God’s word. I even discovered that good-hearted Christians will not always see the truth as easily as I had thought. And then one day not more than ten years ago I was slapped in the face with the realization that I had read a passage for years and completely missed a vital truth in it. When someone rubbed my nose in it I was appalled at how I could ever have missed it.
What has this taught me? It has not taught me that as long as you are a good-hearted person you can believe a lie and still be perfectly fine with God. Jesus said of the Pharisees, you compass sea and land to make one proselyte and when he has become so, you make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves, Matt 23:15.
God cannot lie, the scriptures tell us. He will not contradict himself. That first woman I mentioned needed to have heeded the warning of Paul in Galatians 1:8, Though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that which we have preached, let him be accursed. The Holy Spirit would never change the word of God. Just as Columbus wanted so badly to believe he had found China that he couldn't face the truth, we sometimes come to the Bible with our minds made up about what we believe it says and miss the obvious.
Jude tells us in verse 3 that the word was once for all delivered to the saints. Can you imagine how discouraging it would be to think that God might be changing things around night after night and no one ever told you about it?
He isn’t, and he won’t. Our job is to make certain we know it well, to check out those who teach it, and to never allow preconceived notions to keep us from seeing the obvious and deceiving ourselves.
Every word of God is tried; he is a shield unto those who take refuge in him. Add not to his words, lest he reprove you and you be found a liar, Prov 30:5,6.