The Great Lisbon Apocalypse of 1755

On All Saint’s Day, November 1, 1755, Lisbon, Portugal was hit with an earthquake, tsunami, and then fire that destroyed a great part of the city.  Communication was slow in those days but when the other nations of the world heard about this tragedy, most promised to send aid.  In reality, very few nations actually sent aid. [1]  So who actually helped the people of Lisbon?  Was it the nations that promised to send aid but did not or the nations that promised to send aid and did?

Jesus’ parable of the two sons in Matthew 21:28-32 asks a similar question.  A man asked his two sons to work in his vineyard.  One said he would not but later did.  The other said he would but did not.  Jesus asked:  Which son did what his father wanted?

The same question applies to our salvation.  If we tell God we believe in Jesus and his death for our sins but then live a life that is contrary to his commands, do we actually believe in him?  Justin Martyr, one of the early Church fathers, answers this question very plainly.

“And let those who are not found living as He taught be understood to be no Christians, even though they profess with the lip the precepts of Christ; for not those who make profession, but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to His word:  ‘Not everyone who saith to Me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven’”. [2]


[1]   Mark Molesky, This Gulf of Fire, New York:  Vintage Books, 2015, p. 260.

[2]   Justin Martyr, “The First Apology of Justin Martyr”, Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, ed., Ante-Nicene Fathers, Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1994, p. 168.

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