Tuesday, July 04, 2006

About America

If you are a citizen of the United States, Happy Independence Day! If you are not, please tolerate my patriotism for a moment. In spite of her flaws, America is a beautiful country. Her ideals are primarily Christian. Even today, though veiled in secular terms, a significant number of America's values are Christian. For that, plus many other reasons, I am not ashamed to rejoice in the birth of that great nation. I am not ashamed to identify myself as American. I love America, I pray for America, and I continue to defend America as "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

I am going to include in this post an abridged manuscript from a message I preached in 2002, one year after that horrible tragedy that struck our nation. While some of the illustrations are now dated, the content and context is still valid.

One last word: God bless America!

What’s Right about America?
Proverbs 14:34

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

This message was born about 15 years ago, in the labor room of intercession. I was seeking a word from God regarding this country, the United States of America. Since that time and after many, many miles of world travels I have refined the message. Last year’s catastrophic events helped a lot to move me to continue to meditate on this important question.
As America wept, men and women all around asked rhetorically, “What’s wrong with America?” I stood on a rooftop in a Latin American country, where I watched a riot in progress; men shouted to me, “Death to the United States!” Two days later, as we attempted to sneak out of that troubled city under the cover of darkness, men who saw us shook their fists angrily at the bus carrying my friends and me to the airport. My heart cried, “What’s wrong with America?” Why do men and women want to dance in the streets when we suffer calamities that they would weep over? Why do countries who so readily receive our dollars offer us death in return?

That is the wrong question. It is not a question of what is wrong with America. Anyone can easily see the decadence and moral corruption that takes more time on the evening news than anything else. The question that needs to be asked in times like these is, “What is right about America?” I believe if we could rediscover what is right about this great country, then our greatness would loom even larger in the face of certain determined enemies. I believe it is what is right about America that makes madmen design attacks to bring us to our knees. I believe it is what is right about America that makes it even more imperative that we rediscover our roots.
In this message I want to share four truths that will speak to your hearts about America. Some of these are little known truths. Others have been “colored” to fit modern revisionist philosophies. Hopefully, this will help to set the record straight.

First, America has the right foundation. The foundation is the most important aspect of construction. Ask any builder. If the foundations are destroyed, the building will not stand. If the foundations are built without proper preparation, the building will not stand. So it is with a life; so it is with a family; and so it is with a country.

Before I describe that the foundation is, I need to tell you what the foundation is not. Unlike what some want to believe, the foundation of America is not freedom from taxation. The colonists did not completely oppose taxation. They understood the need to tax in order for a government to function. What the colonists opposed was taxation without representation.
The foundation of America is not freedom from government. Our founding fathers said repeatedly that any society needed government to help maintain and preserve order. This is not to laud the monstrous government we have today; it is just to debunk one of the many myths out there, that the colonists were escaping government.

Not only is the above true, but the foundation of America is not freedom from moral restraints. We have all heard it all our lives: that cry to be free to do whatever you want. No society can function without moral restraint. Even the most primitive of the Amazon tribes have a set of mores that preserve the order of their societies. The writer of Proverbs said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish (29:18).” Modern translations state that as, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.” The founding fathers were very careful to ensure moral restraint.

The right foundation of America was freedom to pursue a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our founding fathers established a society and government which was intended to protect this, the most valuable of all pursuits of life.

Unlike what Mr. Michael Newdow, that infamous atheist of California, believes, America’s foundation is not freedom from religion. All of the original 13 colonies’ constitutions insisted that one had to believe in God in order to hold public office. Almost all the states insist on Godly not godless leadership. Our founding fathers believed very strongly what we have cast aside: righteousness exalts a nation. Righteousness can only be found in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

In spite of a small group of small-thinking, mean-spirited, godless senators who refuse to appoint to the Federal Courts anyone with moral integrity, America’s foundation is still the moral convictions found in Scripture. One senator recently opposed the nomination of one candidate for the appellate court, based on the candidate’s recommendation that her pastor serve as a chaplain in her home state. How low can you go? Try refusing to appoint men and women who think most forms of abortion is murder, but who still swear to uphold the law. What are these senators afraid of? Are they afraid that someone might insist that our leaders be godly once again? This is one citizen who does!

From the Mayflower Compact to the Constitution itself, you will find repeated evidence of a hunger for one nation under God. These documents are pregnant with Bible references.
Kenneth Woodward and David Gates, writers for Newsweek magazine, said in 1982, “Historians are finding that the Bible, perhaps even more than the Constitution, is our founding document.” How often do you hear that discovery voiced in the classrooms of today? Noah Webster said, “[O]ur citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the New Testament, or the Christian religion.” This, dear friends, is the foundation of America.

Secondly, America had the right founding fathers. From the Pilgrims to the Puritans, the founding fathers of this country followed what is today called Evangelical Theology. They were almost entirely Evangelical Christians. To be sure and fair, there were a few whom we would not consider to be Christian. Some were considered to be Deists. They believed in God, but would not embrace Jesus as God come in the flesh. Still, many of them attempted to govern themselves according to the moral principles outlined in the Bible. Others were Christians, but of other denominations, such as Anglican, including the Father of our Nation, George Washington. But there were no atheists among the founding fathers. There were no Buddhists. There were no Muslims. There were no Hindus. The founding fathers were overwhelmingly Christian.

Listen to some of their statements of faith taken from David Barton’s book, Original Intent:
“My hopes of a future life are founded upon the Gospel of Christ….” – John Quincy Adams.
“[T]he religion I have [is] to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor, and myself that I can, do as little harm as I can help, and trust on God’s mercy for the rest.” – Daniel Boone.

“I desire to bless and praise the name of God most high for appointing me my birth in a land of Gospel Light where the glorious tidings of a Saviour and of pardon and salvation through Him have been continually sounding in mine ears.” – Robert Treat Paine

“Principally and first of all, I recommend my soul to that Almighty Being who gave it and my body I commit to the dust, relying upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins.” – Samuel Adams, in his last will and testament (lwt).

This is all the inheritance I can give to my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed.” – Patrick Henry, lwt.

Unto Him who is the author and giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His manifold and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by his beloved Son…. Blessed be his holy name.” – John Jay, lwt.

Barton’s book holds many more examples of the founding fathers’ faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evidence abounds that reveals that the founding fathers fully expected this nation to be a nation, not only under God, but especially under the Lord Jesus Christ. Even at that, it is the freedom of Christ which allows any man to pursue whatever other false god he may wish to follow.

I was equally amazed to learn of some of the founding fathers’ personal activities. Did I say personal? Some of these activities spilled over into political life. Dozens of our founding fathers were members of the American Bible Society, including such names as John Quincy Adams, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Benjamin Rush, and Chief Justice John Jay.
All of this and more makes me believe today that if the men and women who govern our country now were the men and women who founded our country, there would not be a United States of America! This nation would have foundered and disappeared in to insignificance decades ago.

The third truth I want to show you is that America had the right focus. Once again, let me remind you, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Our founding fathers had a vision for the new world. For about 7 generations, that vision predominated the drive of America. It was their vision that molded us and shaped us into the nation that slowly rose to world prominence.
At the turn of the 20th century, however, the vision began to get fuzzy. Don’t be mistaken. There were always moments when the nation had lost its focus. But there were always men who stood tall and called the nation back to its original intent. Still, it is in recent times that the vision has so blurred that we can’t seem to find the right “prescription” to correct the problem.
What was that vision that drove this great country? Was it financial prosperity? Not at all. Yet, because of the founding father’s vision, prosperity came to be commonplace in America. Was it world dominance? No. Leaders throughout modern times have accused America of empire-building, but that has not been the true vision of America. The vision of America was two-fold. It was to be a strong moral influence around the world, and it was to carry the Gospel into all the world.

John Winthrop, one of our founding fathers, wrote, “We are a company, professing ourselves fellow members of Christ. The end is to improve our lives and do more service to the Lord, that ourselves and our posterity may be better preserved from the common corruptions in this world.” John Adams wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Do you see those words, “only for a moral and religious people?” Hear me, the United States of America was founded a moral nation. The entire structure of its government depends upon moral restraint.

There are six words that do not exist in the Constitution of the United States: “The separation of church and state.” But if you asked most men and women in America today if these words were a part of the Constitution, they would tell you they were. Listen to the 1854 minutes of the House Judiciary Committee of the United States Congress: “[Religion] must be considered as the foundation on which the whole structure rests…. In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity; that, in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions.” Yet, in the name of church and state separation, we have effectively eradicated Christianity from the mainstream of America! To borrow the misspoken and ill-timed words of one of our elder senators of today, that is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!

Not only did our founding fathers hope to be a moral influence around the world, they also planned, prayed, and purposed to carry the light of the Gospel into all the world. In the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims stated they were planting a colony in the northern parts of Virginia (they missed by a few hundred miles), “for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith….” The first few presidents of the US, including Thomas Jefferson who was not a Christian, directed federal funds to mission efforts among American Indians.

You have to ask that if this was the original vision of this great nation, what happened? Well, that vision began to be actively reshaped at the turn of the 20th century, more particularly, in the 1920’s. This happened when the educational system began to be reshaped. Before then, your mind was to be developed, to be filled with knowledge and information. But educator John Dewey taught that schools were for socialization and that the mind was not the property of the individual, but of humanity. Did you get that? The man taught a new thing in America. That means schools are not for learning knowledge; they are for learning how to get along with others. That also means you should not be allowed to think for yourself. This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as socialism.

In order to accomplish this, the National Educators Association knew they had to get Christianity out of the school system. Why? Because Bible reading and prayer helped to keep our focus on the main things. Courses on the Bible taught us the morality that makes this nation great. It only took 3 generations to accomplish their goal to make our education system a godless one. Coupled with liberal, sin-satisfied, prayerless churches, the NEA took God out of public life. Add to that judges who began to legislate rather than to adjudicate and you have a nation with a skewed vision.

A nation with a godless and clouded vision gives way to heinous sins and hedonistic pastimes. Abortion is a product. Marital infidelity is a product. Premarital infidelity is a product. Homosexuality is a product. High murder rates are a product. Suicide is a product. Corporate scandals are a product. Cutthroat business practices are a product. The destruction of the family is a product. The loss of personal rights to an ever-growing government is a product.
Where there is no vision, the people perish!

If we were to end this here, the tendency would be to despair. I want to end on a positive note: America can have the right future. I believe that the future of America rests squarely on the shoulders of America’s Christians. God blessed this great country for years and years. As Christians grew cold and silent, however, God’s blessings grew leaner; we are mistaken to think that the wealth of America is a sure sign that God is pleased with us. Some, if not a lot, of that wealth has been obtained in ways that do not reflect the presence of God. You see, capitalism is a Christian way of doing business; but it does not accomplish its intended end without committed Christians running the businesses!

Deuteronomy 28 spells out much of this for us. God told Israel, his covenant people, that if they honored him, then he would honor them. He would bless them, protect them, grant them wealth and power, cause their enemies to flee from them, and in general watch over their borders. But, if their heart grew cold toward God; if they attributed their wealth and power to themselves, then God said he would send them diseases, disasters, death, and determined enemies who would cause them to flee. He said he would allow their enemies to penetrate their borders and carry them away.

You may wonder what that has to do with us. Our founding fathers made a covenant with God. They often referred to Deuteronomy 28 when they felt a need to call our ancestors back to God. Christians are God’s covenant people, too. We are grafted into the tree, as Paul says in Romans. God offers us a blessing or a curse; it is up to us.

We can have a future that is bright. On 9-11, a reporter asked a fireman how he got out of the falling tower #1 of the World Trade Center. He replied, “I followed the light.” America can have a bright future if it follows the light of Jesus.

Or America can have a future filled with fright. Compared to what we will face if we don’t repent, 9-11 was nothing. God will not bear much longer with an unrepentant America.
Historian Benjamin Hart said, “All gods require submission: either we will submit to the God of Scripture, immutable and unchanging, or we will submit to the ever-shifting god of human convenience. Agnostic pluralism, too, is a jealous god. It is a militant philosophy, a closed system that in the end cannot tolerate other creeds.” Joshua told Israel to put away its gods and decide whom they would serve. Elijah told Israel to quit wavering between two opinions and choose whom they would serve. God tells America’s Christians to put away their idols, to quit wavering, and to choose whom they will serve. Todd Beamer – “Let’s pray. Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.” To the men and women who hear my voice now, “Let’s pray and let’s roll.”

1 comment:

PHicks said...

Thank you for sharing your love for your country.

I wish LIFEWAY would include more of our christian heritage in its publications... VBS would be a great opportunity.