19(Psalm 033)What is Right with America
Suppose this week you turned on the news & heard these announcements:
§ “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has just issued this statement: ‘Divine Providence (that’s God) has given to our people the choice of their rulers, & it is the duty of our Christian nation to select & prefer Christians for their rulers.’"
§ Secondly, “Inquiries by our reporters reveal that almost every state legislature has now passed a law requiring all elected officials to take this oath: ‘I do profess faith in God the Father, & in the Lord Jesus Christ His only Son… & I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old & New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.’"
§ Thirdly, “Legislation was passed today in Congress to affirm that, ‘The Congress of the United States approves of & recommends … the Holy Bible for use in the schools.’”
What do you think the response to these announcements would be, especially in the media? I think there would be more reaction to them than we could even imagine. But the amazing thing is this: Every one of these statements is historically accurate & factual.
§ It was John Jay, the first Chief Justice & “Father” of the Supreme Court, one of the primary writers of our Constitution, who wrote, "It is the duty of our Christian nation to select & prefer Christians for their rulers."
§ It was the state of Delaware (along with most of the others) which required officeholders to take an oath affirming their Christian faith before they could take office.
§ And not only did Congress in 1782 approve the use of the Bible in our schools, they even paid for them with tax dollars. And, in 1844, when someone sued to remove them, the Supreme Court ruled: “Why should not the Bible, & especially the New Testament, be read & taught as a divine revelation in the schools? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”
We’ve gone a long way from our roots as Americans. So, one of my goals this morning is to do a little bit of education. In fact, this message is more of a history lesson than a Bible lesson, & that bothers me because I’d rather preach Bible-based sermons where I take a passage of Scripture & explain what it says, & do my best to apply its message to the needs of our lives today. People need to know this, & if they don’t hear it at church, where will they hear it?
Our school systems & colleges & universities have become so secularized - so distanced from religion - that huge chunks of information about the spiritual roots of our nation are neglected, & unless you hear it from Christians, where will you hear it?
Here are some things worth knowing about our roots, about what’s right with America:
I. America Was Settled By People Looking For Religious Freedom (Psalm 33:4-5).
A. Other nations, for the most part, came into existence by conquest for selfish & ambitious motives.
§ But it was primarily in the atmosphere of God, not gold, that America was born.
§ In the early colonies the first public building to be erected was a church house & the first public exercise was the worship of Almighty God. When sorrow came they gathered at the church to appeal to God for help. When bountiful harvests filled their barns they gathered at the church for thanksgiving to God.
§ In 1643, as more people arrived on these shores, they joined together to form “The New England Confederation.” They wrote the first constitution written in the New World, & it began with these words: “Whereas we all came into these parts with one & the same end & aim, namely to advance the kingdom of our lord Jesus Christ, & to enjoy the liberties of the gospel in purity & peace…"
II. Our Founders Had A Strong Desire To Be Pleasing To God & Do His Will (33:10-15).
A. Around 150 years passed from the time of the earliest settlers to the beginning of our nation.
§ And we’re not very proud of some of the things that happened during those years.
§ You see, as time passed, & the original settlers died off, many of their descendants were more concerned with increasing their wealth & comfortable living than being faithful to God & His Word. And as wave after wave of immigrants arrived, many of them came for other reasons & with entirely different motives than those earliest settlers.
§ The end result of it all was that by 1730, only about 10% of the people in the Colonies attended church at all. By the way, much of what you hear derogatory about our early history comes out of this period. Those who oppose Christianity love to point out the faults of that time.
B. But then something amazing happened!
§ Beginning in 1734, a handful of preachers began to preach in the churches & in the streets & in the fields. These soon turned into great crusades & revivals that spread throughout the 13 Colonies.
§ So many people came to Christ that that era came to be known as “The Great Awakening.” Tens of thousands dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ & were baptized.
§ Benjamin Franklin wrote, “It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if the entire world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”
§ In fact, Franklin was so impressed with Jonathan Edwards’ preaching that he built an auditorium to accommodate the crowds of more than 30,000 that came to hear Edwards preach. By the way, Philadelphia had a population of only 25,000 at that time. People were coming from everywhere to hear these preachers preach! And it was not just in Philadelphia, it was all throughout the 13 Colonies. And openly-devout Christians were no longer just 10% of the population. Now they made up 50% or more.
C. Why am I telling you all this?
§ Because this “Great Awakening” was a precursor to the American Revolution. Our Founding Fathers grew up & came into leadership during this time. The generation that experienced the “Great Awakening” became the leaders of the American Revolution!
§ Check out this prayer recorded in the personal diary of George Washington, & in his own handwriting: "Let my heart, gracious God, be so affected with Your glory & majesty that I may ... discharge those weighty duties which thou requirest of me ... Again, I have called on thee for pardon & forgiveness of sins ... for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ offered on the cross for me. Thou gavest thy Son to die for me; & hast given me assurance of my salvation."
§ I don’t care what you have heard about George Washington from the modern debunkers of our history. He was a devout Christian! And he wasn’t alone in his faith!
§ Over a 10-year period, political-science professors at the University of Houston collected & cataloged 15,000 writings by the founding fathers. Their goal was to determine the primary source of ideas behind the Constitution by identifying the sources quoted most often by them. Guess what that primary source was? It was the Bible. 94% of the quotes of the founders of our nation were based upon the Bible.
§ The point of all this is that the cultural environment on the eve of the American Revolution was undeniably spiritual. And this focus dramatically affected the men & women who gave birth to this nation.
III. Founded By Men/Women Who Acknowledged God’s Supreme Rule (33:16-19).
§ Sometime you ought to read again the Declaration of Independence. Most of you are familiar with the prologue that says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
§ And then they end their Declaration with these words: “And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” (that’s God), “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes & our sacred honor.”
§ At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, often called the "Father of the Revolution," declared: "We have this day restored the Sovereign to Whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, & from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come."
§ By the way, do you know what the tallest structure in Washington, D.C. is? It’s the Washington Monument. And by law, nothing taller than the Washington Monument can be built there. And do you know what is inscribed at the pinnacle of the Washington Monument? These words from scripture: "Let God be praised."
§ There may be legislators who don’t know that. There may be presidents who don’t know that. There may be Supreme Court justices who don’t know that. But at the very top, the pinnacle of our nation’s capitol are these words, "Let God be praised." O America, lift up your eyes & praise God for the greatness & the blessings of this country in which we live. Let’s pray.
IV. Blessed is the Nation that Trusts in God (Ps 33:20-22).
A. 33:21; "In Him our hearts rejoice, for we TRUST in His Holy Name."
§ Psalm 20:6 “Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand. 7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
§ What do we put our trust in as a Nation? Our Military? Our intelligence? Our technology? Our history?
§ According to Scripture, Blessed is the Nation whose Trust is in the Lord. That Trust has to be more than a slogan on our currency. It has to be present dependence upon the Lord.