Title: "Voices From the Past"
Theme: America's Foundational Truths
Introduction: It is that time of the year when we take time to celebrate our nation's independence. For those who have ears to hear, there is a patriotic whisper in the air, speaking the heartbeat of our founding fathers, which reflect their revenant fear of the Lord.
Proposition: I would propose to you there are voices from the past, voices spoken clearly by the founding fathers of the United States of America.
Interrogative Sentence: Just what are those voices saying? Could those foundational truths be birthed forth by the influence of the Word of God? What influence should their words have on us today?
The foundation of this country is clearly spelled out in the words of William Bradford who became governor of the Plymouth Colony as he described the mission of the Pilgrims. Mr. Bradford said, “They cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying a good foundation… for the advancement of the gospel of Christ in the remote parts of the world…” (Founding Fathers Quotes, The Mayflower Compact - authored by William Bradford, 1620)
It is very evident that the men whom God used to lay the foundation of this nation were men who had a fear of the Lord. Consider these quotations from our founding fathers and other national leaders. George Washington once said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” (Famous Quotations, According to 580 websites, George Washington Stated; Wikipedia)
In his farewell speech in 1796, Mr. Washington said, “Of all habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. (America's Providential History, Page 179) …Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” (Wall-Builders, David Barton, George Washington's Farewell Address) George Washington was also a man of prayer who could grasp the heart of God. He prayed, “Direct my thoughts, words and work. Wash away my sins in the immaculate blood of the Lamb, and purge my heart by thy Holy Spirit… Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son Jesus Christ.” (Spiritual Life, CBN - Monday Morning Prayer)
Thomas Jefferson, The third president of the United States, said, “God …gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis…I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (The Jefferson Monticello - Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII) Thomas Jefferson knew the need of a nation to walk in reverence before God and to live with a Biblical understanding of what it means to live in the fear of the Lord.
The Psalmist understood this truth as well. He writes, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His Heritage! The Lord looks down from heaven; He sees all the children of man; from there He sits enthroned He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who forms the hearts of them all, Who considers everything they do." (Psalm 33:12-15)
King David illustrates to us the providence of God. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Ps 33:12). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) America needs to take to heart what our founding fathers knew to be an absolute truth: "The counsel of the Lord is greater than the counsel of men. Christians know that as a nation or as individuals, they have actually inherited His mighty plan. Therefore, they are blessed with His protection, guidance and provision." (Knight, G. A. F. (2001). Psalms (Vol. 1, p. 161). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.) When a nation and His people walk in obedience there is an unspeakable joy (Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 819). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.) because they have cooperated with God. (MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 596). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.) Exodus 19:5 gives us a clear promise: "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine."
Transitional Sentence: Thus far we have heard some powerful voices from the past, truths from founding fathers of this nation and Biblical promises. The prophet Isaiah has a truth that affects all the nations on earth. He writes, "The Lord has bared His Holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God." (Isaiah 52:10) Luke also wrote, "And all the people will see God's salvation." (Luke 3:6)
God's deliverance of Israel, in the past and in the future, will cause all nations to acknowledge the Lord. Luke writes about a time when God's people will enjoy His salvation now, and about a time to come when everyone will see God's salvation, the reality of His work in mankind's soul and life. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Is 52:10); Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 7, p. 497). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson) The Bible says, "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God." (Romans 14:11)
"Salvation" (Hebrew. yēša‘; Greek. sōtēria) here is "God's way of providing people deliverance from the bondage of sin and spiritual death. This includes revelation of God's plan to save the human race." (Tyndale Bible Dictionary; Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers)
John Quincy Adams knew these truths, "The hope of a Christian is inseparable from his faith. Whoever believes in the Divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures must hope that the religion of Jesus shall prevail throughout the earth..." (Life of John Quincy Adams, W.H. Seward, editor (Auburn, NY; Derby, Miller & Company, 1849), p.248)
Transitional Sentence: Voices from the past speak of the hope for every nation to learn about God's Salvation. These voices speak of the benefits of the name of the Lord as well. Proverbs 18:10 says, "The Name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to and are safe." The Bible says, "May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion." (Psalm 20:2) Psalm 91:4 says, "He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield..."
Here is the God of sufficiency for His children. Christians find rest when they become weary and they find refuge when they are being pursued by the flesh, the world and the devil. As they diligently seek His will for them through the counsel of His Word, they enjoy His attributes, have authority under His titles, embrace His covenant and cling to His promises. (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 995). Peabody: Hendrickson; Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Pr 18:10). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.; Garrett, D. A. (1993). Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of songs (Vol. 14, p. 165). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers)
Corrie ten Boom understood this truth: "When Jesus takes your hand, He keeps you tight. When Jesus keeps you tight, He leads you through your whole life. When Jesus leads you through your life, He brings you safely home." — Corrie ten Boom (Morgan, R. J. (2000). Nelson’s complete book of stories, illustrations, and quotes (electronic ed., p. 381). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Samuel Adams understood this truth: "Let us secure His favor and He will lead us through the journey of this life..." (Letter of Delegates to Congress: August 16, 1776 - December 31, 1776, Paul H. Smith, editor (Washington DC: Library of Congress, 1079), Vol. 5, pp. 669-670, Samuel Adams to Elizabeth Adams on December 26, 1776)
Transitional Sentence: Voices from the past tell us to run to the Lord; He will keep us safe as long as we are in the center of His will. Voices from the past urge us to intercession to the Lord. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Does America need to repent? Let us consider the loud, ignorant voice of today as well as voices of the past. Before that, Let us first consider the definition of ignorance: "Lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact" (Dictionary.com)
You might have heard people say that America is no longer a Christian nation; you might have even thought this yourself. It’s easy to see why one would think or say such a viewpoint, but let’s consider what history tells us about the birth of our nation and whether such a claim is merited or not. As we have already learned, the Christian faith has influenced many of our founding fathers, even so far back as the settling of Plymouth in 1620. Despite that, claims that America no longer being a Christian nation persist. Often those claims are not refuted due to widespread lack of knowledge of America's history and the foundation laid by our founding fathers. Even more significant, many of these claims fail to share a real idea of the concept of a Christian Nation. "Regardless of what today’s Americans think, it is unquestionable that four previous centuries of American leaders [strongly disagree with any statement that presents America as not being a Christian nation.]" (Wall-Builders, David Barton - 04/2009 - Is America No Longer a Christian Nation?)
Voices from our past—presidents, legislatures and court decisions—speak powerfully about America being a Christian nation. Research can tell you what a Christian nation is. A Christian nation is not one in which all citizens are Christians, neither are the laws required to be in accord with Christian theology, or where all the leaders are Christians. (Wall-Builders, David Barton - 04/2009 - Is America No Longer a Christian Nation?) Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explains:
"[I]n what sense can [America] be called a Christian nation? Not in the sense that Christianity is the established religion or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it. On the contrary, the Constitution specifically provides that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' Neither is it Christian in the sense that all its citizens are either in fact or name Christians. On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions, and many reject all. Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service, or essential to recognition either politically or socially. In fact, the government as a legal organization is independent of all religions. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world. (David J. Brewer, The United States: A Christian Nation (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Company, 1905), p. 40 )
So, if being a Christian nation is not based on any of the above criterion, then what makes America a Christian nation? ...Consequently, a Christian nation as demonstrated by the American experience is a nation founded upon Christian and Biblical principles, whose values, society, and institutions have largely been shaped by those principles..." (Stephen Cowell, The Position of Christianity in the United States in its Relations with our Political Institutions (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambio & Co., 1854), pp. 11-12, Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1847), p. 260, §442)
You cannot legislate morality; nor can you force people to be a Good Samaritan, but the Biblical teaching of the Good Samaritan has principles that shape a person's life. You cannot enforce the Ten Commandments, but the Ten Commandments have influenced the shaping of American values.
Voices from the Past: American Presidents Affirm that America is a Christian Nation:
Thomas Jefferson told a friend, "No nation has ever existed or been governed without religion. Nor can it be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has been given to man and I, as Chief Magistrate of this nation, am bound to give it the sanction of my example." (Hutson, Religion, p. 96, quoting from a handwritten history in possession of the Library of Congress, “Washington Parish, Washington City,” by Rev. Ethan Allen)
John Adams: "The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were. . . . the general principles of Christianity." (John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, pp. 45-46, to Thomas Jefferson on June 28, 1813)
Theodore Roosevelt: "[T]he teachings of the Bible are so interwoven and entwined with our whole civic and social life that it would be literally….impossible for us to figure to ourselves what that life would be if these teaching were removed." (Ferdinand Cowle Iglehart, D.D., Theodore Roosevelt, The Man As I Knew Him (New York: The Christian Herald, 1919), p. 307.)
Woodrow Wilson: "America was born a Christian nation – America was born to exemplify that devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from the revelations of Holy Scripture." (Paul M. Pearson and Philip M. Hicks, Extemporaneous Speaking (New York: Hinds, Noble & Eldredge, 1912), 177, printing Woodrow Wilson, “The Bible and Progress;” The Homiletic Review: An International Monthly Magazine of Current Religious Thought, Sermonic Literature and Discussion of Practical Issues (New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1911), Vol. LXII, p. 238, printing Woodrow Wilson, “The Bible and Progress,” May 7, 1911)
Herbert Hoover: "American life is built, and can alone survive, upon . . . [the] fundamental philosophy announced by the Savior nineteen centuries ago." (Herbert Hoover, “Radio Address to the Nation on Unemployment Relief,” American Presidency Project, October 18, 1931)
Consider the average American's lack of knowledge about the foundation of this country. Respecting the voices of the past, we need to have the same understanding as Josiah Barlett (Signer of the Declaration of Independence)
"Called on the people. . . to confess before God their aggravated transgressions and to implore His pardon and forgiveness through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ . . . [t]hat the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may be made known to all nations, pure and undefiled religion universally prevail, and the earth be fill with the glory of the Lord." (Josiah Bartlett, Proclamation for a Day of Fasting and Prayer, March 17, 1792)
Transitional Sentence: A people of God who are willing to confess their sins and turn from them are equipped to withstand the attacks of her enemies. The Bible says, "I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18b)
The Lord affirms that death will have no power over the members of the church. When all has been said and done, you will see; no evil designs had stopped the work of the Lord. (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2, p. 136). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.) The Lord will secure the labors of His saints, Satan's lies will not overcome God's truths, and our endeavors will reach its end. All fights being raged against the church, His principles, will be defeated in the end. What seems like victory won by Satan now will end in defeat. There will be a church to hold back the forces of evil until everything on this earth has run it course. (Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1696). Peabody: Hendrickson; Friberg, T., Friberg, B., & Miller, N. F. (2000). Analytical lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books )
The Congress, U.S House Judiciary Committee of 1854 wrote, "Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle... In this age, there can be no substitute for Christianity... That was the religion of the founders of the republic and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants." (Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives Made During the First Session of the Thirty-Third Congress (Washington: A. O. P. Nicholson, 1854), pp. 6-9.)
Any war against the church will not prevail and our founding fathers knew that; they also were willing to pay the cost for the freedom we enjoy today. David Barton of Wall-Builders writes, "Celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and festivities and parades - but also celebrate it by setting aside time to thank God for His numerous blessing upon our country.
While we celebrate our liberties this year, let us not forget that those liberties came only through great personal sacrifice: nine of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration died during the war; and five were captured by the British and tortured before their death; twelve had their homes destroyed by British troops; and three lost their sons to the enemy. Such sacrifices remind us that liberty is never free - every generation must defend it anew. We should remember the sacrifices, more importantly we should remember the proper manner to celebrate the 4th of July. What is the proper manner? The answer comes from John Adams, 'I am apt to believe that [this day] will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the 'Day of Deliverance' by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty."
In Closing: Voices from the past are whispering that this is a Christian nation, one purchased through sacrifice, bloodshed and out of a revenant fear of the Lord. God has promised, "Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord." (Psalm 128:1-4) The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing." (Psalm 34:7;9)
John Dickinson, Signer of the Constitution,knew this truth: "Rendering thanks to my Creator for my existence and station among His works, for my birth in a country enlightened by the Gospel and enjoying freedom, and for all His other kindnesses, to Him I resign myself, humbly confiding in His goodness and in His mercy through Jesus Christ for the events of eternity." (From the Last Will & Testament of John Dickinson, attested March 25, 1808. )
Let us pray!!!