In 410 A.D., after more than “eleven hundred years of growth and triumphant progress,” Rome was overrun and sacked by the Goths under Aleric I, an act thought impossible. Marcus Dods, English translator of Augustine’s classic, City of God, written in the aftermath and a “best seller” for centuries, said in his preface, “It is difficult for us to appreciate, impossible to overestimate, the shock which was thus communicated from centre to circumference of the whole known world.” Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible, said from his cave in Jerusalem, “A terrible rumor reaches me from the West, telling of Rome besieged … life and property perishing together. My voice falters, sobs stifle the words I dictate; for she is a captive, that city which enthralled the world.”

In spite of the legend of barbarians at the gate, Aleric was a Christian and he issued orders to his troops that no one found in a church in Rome was to be harmed. Somehow the word got around and all churches were jam-packed with true Christians, foxhole Christians, and fake Christians and all were spared.

Dods added, “But as Augustine contemplates the ruins of Rome’s greatness, and feels in common with all the world at this crisis, the instability of the strongest governments, the insufficiency of the most authoritative statesmanship, there hovers over these ruins the splendid vision of the city of God ‘coming down out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband [Revelation 21:2].’” 

The economic, moral and cultural decline of Rome actually made the city a walkover for the Goths. The world would be equally shocked today if the USA fell, but the similarities—economic, moral, cultural, instability of government and insufficiency of authoritative statesmanship—between Rome then and the USA now are sobering in the extreme. But over the chaos of a Christless America there still hovers the splendid vision of the City of God coming down out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband. It is very much alive, earnestly anticipated and prayed for in a dwindling minority of the churches of America that still preach the whole gospel of Jesus Christ undiluted, uncompromised, unyielding to the cultural fads and deviant fantasies of the age—scripture alone as the only rule of faith and practice. Dear friends, I hope I have just described your church. God has always preserved a remnant against whom the gates of hell will not prevail. Should America, beset with foes without and within, fall, a thought that has ceased to be preposterous, the true church will prevail as in ancient Rome. And when the City of God arrives true Christians will be welcomed in, but the fake and foxhole variants will hear, “I never knew you.” Dear reader, do you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength? (Mark 12:30) Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when he returns as Judge, will be infinitely more discerning than Aleric.

“Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

See you in church.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: