Our American Heritage
Lesson 4 in the series
Miscellaneous Lessons
Tim Temple


…stance that this very important holiday, which we are celebrating today, falls on Sunday this year, and as you can see, our service has been tailored more directly to that purpose this morning. As we worship the Lord together by thinking about the principles of His Word we want to continue along that line.

Something I would like for us to do before we think about the principles of God's Word, as they relate to our nation this morining, is that first of all I would like to ask all of those of you who are serving in the Armed Forces, if you would please stand, and remain standing. We would like to recognize you this morning. And then while these men are standing, I would like to ask all those of you who have previously served in the military, if you would stand, or if you have a defense related job at this time–you are a civilian, but you work with our Nation's defense– we would like for you to stand also. We would like to recognize these men and women, so I would like for us to give them a round of applause. Thank you. We appreciate what you have done, and what you are doing for our Nation.

Today is the day, that down through the years, Americans have paused in our hurried lives to celebrate our freedoms, and all that our nation stands for, and all that it means to us. Over the years a common thread has developed in these celebrations, and that is the theme of our American Heritage.

So this morning I want us to think about our American Heritage, and as we do that, we are not going to look at a particular passage of Scripture. In fact, it is not until toward the end of my message this morning that we will be looking at the Scripture together. Those of you who are here regularly, know that this is different than we normally do things, but I want us to think today about our American Heritage.

What do you think about when you think about our American Heritage? We've been reminded of that subject alot in the last few days, as we should be. I'm sure that we all think of the valor or our fighting men, and women in more recent days, who have first secured our freedoms for us, then who over the years have guaranteed and defended those freedoms again and again.

When we think of our heritage, we think of the God given free enterprise system of economics which has flourished in the freedom of this nation, and that has made us the financial and material envy of the world.

Perhaps you think about our abundant natural resources; the amber waves of grain, and purple mountains majesty, that we sing about in our National Anthem, but there is one part of our heritage, something that underlies everything else that we hold dear, that most of us don't think about very often, in fact to a great extent, in recent years we haven't even been allowed to think about it, and that is the underlying foundation of the Biblical principles upon which our Nation is built. The things that our founding fathers had in mind as they envisioned this nation.

I'm sure the nation has gone beyond even what they had envisioned, but as they thought about the kind of nation that God was giving them the opportunity to shape, it is abundantly clear that their thoughts were built along Biblical lines.

Now, that may come as a surprise to many of you, even to some of you who are gathered here today, but the fact that it comes as a surprise, if it does, shows how far we have come from the original intentions of our founding fathers. Very few in our society today realize the Biblical basis on which our nation was founded. But you can't read a legitimate version of the history of the United States without realizing that it was originally envisioned as a, not necessarily a Christian nation, but a nation built on the principles of God's Word. The founders of our nation would have forcefully opposed the separation of our nation from the Biblical principles which has come to pass in our day and time, and they would never have wanted a separation of Biblical principles from all of the national affairs, that we find so common in our world today.

Let me give you a few examples of this kind of thing. Fisher Ames was the man who did the actual wording of the first amendment to the Constitution. He wrote that on September 29, 1789. In January of 1801, writing in an article for a magazine which was called “The Nation,” Fisher Ames wrote the article to express his concern about the possibility that the Bible might someday removed from our educational system. And in that article he said this. “The Bible is the source of morality and behavior in America. It must be kept the most important text book in American schools.”

And as you know, in those days it was just that. It was not a matter of Bible study, but the Bible was used to teach English and to teach writing and to teach various other kinds of subject besides the principles that it contained.

Fisher Ames said, “Don't ever allow the Bible to be pushed out of our educational system.” He was the man who gave us the first amendment to the Constitution.

Another prominent founding father–one whose name is not as familiar to us probably as some of the others–but he was a man by the name of Benjamin Rush. Benjamin Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He served in three presidential administrations, under Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams. He was a great policy maker in those administrations, and he was also a great educator. And in his writings he gave, in various places, a dozen reasons why the Bible should never be taken out of schools in America. To summarize all of that, he pointed out that if we were ever to take the Bible out of schools in American, the nation would suffer from an explosion of crime. And he said this, “In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, if we were to remove the Bible from our educational institutions,I'll admit that we would be wasting so much time and money in punishing crimes, while at the same time taking so little pains to prevent them.” Does that sound prophetic? Doesn't that sound like the way that we live today?

These men, you see, envisioned a nation where the Bible would be used in a practical way, and they knew that if they took away religious standards, there would no longer be a control on the behavior of people.

Another founding father who is better known, is Noah Webster. Now Noah Webster is usually thought of as an educator, but he was also one of the founding fathers. He wrote Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, and he authored a history textbook that was used all over the United States for decades after the Revolution in the early years of our nation. In that textbook he emphasized in several different places what the major source of problems would be in America if we ever experienced serious national problems internally. He said this in one place in his textbook, “All the misery and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, from ambition, from injustice, from oppression, from slavery and war, proceed from despising or neglecting the precepts found in the Word of God.” This was one of the writers of our Constitution.

You see the founding fathers were very clear on this issue. There is abundant record of the fact that they did not want to see the separation of religious values and standards from our national life. And from purely a practical standpoint, their reasoning was that there are just too many practical values in the Word of God, to separate or take that away from our nation. The practical values that affect us as a nation, they said again and again, were morality and restrained behavior and they were not about to allow that to be taken away from us as a nation.

Now, I want to make clear that when the founders spoke of religion and its benefits, they were referring to the general body of overall Biblical principles. They did not elaborate and they did not focus on specific doctrines. They just thought in terms of the general principles, the foundational principles of the Word of God, and they spoke in terms of this, whether a person was a Christian or not. These founding fathers were not promoting Christianity per-say, they were simply promoting the wisdom of God in the Bible.

I mention that because when we talk like this, in this day and time, we are accused of trying to proselyte everybody into Christianity, and we are accused of trying to say that the United States is not a place of of religious plurality. And that is not what we are saying. As I read these quotations today, I hope it is clear from these men, that they were simply talking about Biblical principles that would apply to people whatever religion. Even some other faith other than Christianity.

The importance of these principles was made very clear by John Adams in a speech at the United States Military Academy in October of 1798. In that speech he told the cadets that there was no government in the world that was large enough to force every person to do what the government wanted them to do against their will. He said this, “There is no government armed with power strong enough to contend with human passions, if those passions are not bridled by morality and religion. Our constitution is made only (now notice this) for a moral and religious people, and it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

You see, this man who was intrically involved in the writing of the Constitution said, “Our constitution will only work for people whose standards are based on religious values. This government that we have designed in this constitution will not work if people are controlled by any other value system. If people are not controlled by religious values, this government is not going to work.” And that is why they never allowed the separation of religious influence from national affairs during their lifetimes and on, because of their influence for years in the future.

George Washington, of course, is the most famous of the founding fathers, far and away, and his farewell address for many years was published in textbooks as an example of speech making and as an example of rhetoric and logic, and all kinds of things that was used in those textbooks to teach various kinds of principles. It's not included in any of the textbooks used in public schools these days, because it is so full of religious references, and that of course has been outlawed. But in that farewell address he gave three prominent warnings to the American people. He was leaving public life. He had been there from the beginning, and in a sense in that farewell address he said, “Americans this is where we have been, this is where we are, and here is what we have to do to maintain the place that we have come to.”

The first warning that he gave to the American people, was that there were only two foundations for political prosperity in America, and those two foundations were religion and morality. He said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars.”

His second warning was also a very strong warning. In that second warning he said that we should not ever accept, in America, the concept that you can be moral without being religious. That is an interesting concept that we don't often think about. But he said a great danger is that people will try to be moral without being religious. And he pointed out that that is what the French revolution was all about, and because of that, because it was an attempt at morality without a basis in religious values, the French revolution became a blood bath. It was a travesty. George Washington said, “We can't accept that in American. We know better. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of education on minds, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Then in almost a rhetorical question, as he was relating the benefits of religious values to public affairs, he said this, “Let it simply be asked, where lies the security for property, for reputation, even for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert us? Where is our security if we do not have religious values.”

Let me give you one final quote from Robert Winthrop. He was a great American statesman. There is a college in South Carolina named for him. He was the Speaker of the House of Representatives at one point. He said, “Men in a word must necessarily be controlled, either by power within them, or by power without them. Either by the Word of God (the Speaker of the House saying) or by the strong arm of man. Either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”

Isn't it obvious in the writings of the founding fathers, that they would never have tolerated the seperation that we have embraced in our nation today. They knew that religious principles provided morality and self-control, both of which are absolutely essential to the survival of any governing community.

So the question comes, how in the world have we come to the place at the opposite end of the spectrum, where it is actually illegal to associate Biblical principles with national affairs? How did we come from the statements these men have made, to the situation where we are today, just a little over two hundred years later?

Well of course, the source of it all is in the little phrase, “separation of church and state.” I am sure you have heard that many times before. We have talked about it from this pulpit before. This is a phrase that has been so widely associated with the First Amendment to the Constitution that most people assume that that is where it is found. You ask the average person where that phrase, “separation of church and state,” is found and they will generally say, that it is in the Constitution. And if you press them, the ones who are educated at all, will say, “It is in the First Amendment to the Constitution.” But the actual wording of the First Amendment to the Constitution does not even contain those words. You will not find those words anywhere in the Constitution, not even in the First Amendment.

The First Amendment, as most of you know, says “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That is the whole amendment. That is all that it says. Nothing at all about separation of church and state. Those words don't even appear there.

Now many people, after learning that, will say, “Well but, that's what the Amendment really means, isn't it, even if the words aren't there?” Well if you were to ask the founding fathers about that, or if you know American history, you know that the founding fathers in the making of that amendment to the Constitution, were making an effort to preclude what they had experienced in Great Britain. They did not want, under any circumstances, the establishment by the government of one single denomination in exclusion of all others, whether it was the Baptist or the Anglican or the Catholic denomination. They did not want a state church.

Many of these men had left England in the first place because of the way the government was able to make use of the State Church, which all of the European nations had, to dominate their lives, and to control them even politically. And they didn't want that to even be a possibility in their new nation. So they wrote this first amendment to the Constitution to prevent that from happening in America. That is why the wording in the First Amendment specifically says, “Congress may not establish a national religion.”

Now, out of that background then where did this phrase “separation of church and state” come from? If it is not even in the wording and it is not even in the concept that the founding fathers had, how did we come up with that phrase that has come to be so powerful in our nation? Well, back in November before the elections we talked about some of these same concepts and maybe you remember we pointed out at that time that the origin of this phrase came because of an incident that happened in 1801. In 1801 the Baptist leaders in Danbury, Connecticut, the national headquarters of the Baptist denomination were there, and they heard that the Congregational denomination was going to be named as the national religion in America. That wasn't true, but they had heard that, and so they did what they should have done. They wrote a letter to President Thomas Jefferson asking about it, and the President didn't have as many responsibilities in those days as he has now, so he wrote a personal letter back to them on January 4, 1802. In that letter he said in so many words, “You have nothing to worry about. That is not going to happen.” He said, “The First Amendment has established the wall of separation between church and state, and so you don't have to worry. The government will not run the church.” The content of his letter was a full page of text like that. And that little phrase “a wall of separation between church and state,” was one part of one sentence of a full page letter.

What we never hear is, that Jefferson, in that same letter went on to point out that religious principles should remain a part of society. He said farther down in that letter, having said that the Constitution has established a wall of separation between church and state, he said, “We must still continue to moderate our behavior and conduct by these principles, but the Congress will not establish one denomination as a national church.” You see that is the context in which that phrase was found.

Interestingly enough that letter in its entirety was used in subsequent years by the Supreme Court in making decisions. For example in 1878 a case called “United States versus Reynolds,” came before the Supreme Court. And in giving their decision on that case, they printed the whole text of Jefferson's letter in the printout of their decision. The point that they were making was that the First Amendment very simply meant that we would not have a state church in the United States, but that we would use religious principles to govern our conduct, and they printed the whole text of Jefferson's letter. The court even stated in that case that this is the whole basis for our society; the importance of religious principles in governing our nation.

The Supreme Court continued to quote from Jefferson's letter accurately for decades. There are a number of cases where that letter was printed in its entirety in the printout of the Supreme Court decision. Actually until 1947, over a hundred years later it was always quoted in its entirety. That phrase “separation of church and state,” never appeared out of context until 1946.

But in 1947, in a case called Everson versus the Board of Education, the Supreme court for the first time in its history did not give the context of that statement. They only gave those eight words, “a wall of separation between church and state,” and that is where that phrase in and of itself came into the public record. It was in the public record in its proper context for over a hundred years before that, but that was the first time it was used as a statement by itself. And in that case they didn't even refer to the fact that the Supreme Court had always in previous years, printed this statement in its context, and had used Jefferson's whole letter in making their decisions. They didn't even refer to that in the text of the statement of the Supreme Court.

Well, once that thought was introduced into legal thinking in 1947, in 1962 in a case called Engel versus Vitalli, the Supreme Court specifically redefined the meaning of “separation of church and state.” For one hundred seventy years, that phrase in its context meant that we will not establish a national church, a state church. But the Supreme Court in 1962, in that case Engel versus Vitalli, said, “From now on the word church, in that statement ‘separation of church and state,' will be taken to mean any religious activity. It will no longer mean a nationally established denomination.” They simply changed what Thomas Jefferson had said, reworded Thomas Jefferson's thinking, and with that definition, saying that we can not have religious activities in public life, the whole principle of our nation was changed. With callous disregard for the hundreds, maybe thousands of clear statements of the men who wrote the constitution, with callous disregard for the contextual use of that very statement the Supreme Court in 1962, which labeled itself an activist court, which stated that they were out to right the wrongs in America, redefined the statement of the man who originally wrote those words.

Of course since that time we have seen all sorts of absurdities come down through the court. Things that are the opposite of what the founding fathers invisioned.

To give one example out of many, there have been six thousand cases along this line since 1962. Pandora's box was opened and everybody who had any kind of complaint against spiritual things began to file lawsuits. Six thousand cases since 1962.

But just one example. In the case Stone versus Graham, the Supreme Court ruled that it would be unconstitutional for a student to see a copy of the Ten Commandments hanging on a wall in the school. Somebody actually brought a lawsuit because the school in which their child was enrolled had a copy of the Ten Commandments framed and hanging on a wall in the hallway, of all things. And the Supreme Court ruled that if a posted copy of the Ten Commandments were to have any effect at all (this is the way the ruling is worded) it would be to induce the school children to read them. And if they were to read them, they might meditate on them, and if they were to meditate on them they might regard and obey them. And that would be unconstitutional because they would be obeying religious instruction which they had received in a public place. They might read and meditate on things such as “don't kill” and “don't steal.” But that would violate our national concept because it was religious instruction received in a public place financed by a taxpayer's money.

Now that seems absurd, doesn't it? But that is typical of the kinds of cases that have come down since the invention of the term “separation of church and state,” in 1962.

Now, you know without my telling you that there has been a dramatic change in our nations since that took place. But let me just cite some statistics for you. The dramatic change in our society that has taken place since the removal of religious principles from public life, is exactly what the founding fathers prophesied that it would be. There are all kinds of statistics to show this. Teenage pregnancies, for example, have increased by 500% since 1962. Violent crime has increased by 540% in thirty-one years, since 1962.

Benjamin Rush, you remember we mentioned him at the beginning of our message. Benjamin Rush said, if you take the Bible out of schools you will have a crime problem, and Fisher Adams said, if you take the Bibles out of schools you will have a morality problem. And we can see now that they were exactly right. In only thirty years they have been shown to be right.

Now, surprisingly enough, and I think it is only fair to mention this, in the past twelve years the courts have begun to return to the original meanings of the founding fathers, whether intentionally so or not, just as a practical matter in some cases, the courts have begun to make rulings that are at least more in line with the ideas of the founding fathers. Basically the court has realized, and so has the nation of thinking people in the whole nation, that even in instances of things that had previously been ruled by the court to be freedom of expression, such as nude dancing, and other types of pornography, the public good takes precedence over the freedom of expression.

The state of Kentucky, for example, recently passed a law that allows the teaching of Biblical based information, such as George Washington's farewell address, and the Ten Commandments, and the reasoning behind that law is, that it can be demonstrated statistically that teaching of moral principles has a positive effect on the stability of society, no matter where those religious concepts come from. So just as a practical matter, in an effort to try to tone down, and calm down the violence and the immorailty that is raging in our society, law makers have begun to return to some of those principles.

The Supreme Court, as you know, had ruled for many years over and over again that the teaching of an abstinence based sex education program was unconstatutional because “abstinence” is a religious value. The source of the teaching of abstinence is the Bible, and other religious concepts.

In 1981 the Congress passed the “Adolescent Family Life Act.” And this act allowed the teaching of abstinence based programs. Of course the ACLU immediately challenged it in the courts. It took five years for it to make its way through to the Supreme Court. But in 1986, a case reached the Supreme Court, and in that case, the Supreme Court said, “It is true that abstinence is a religiously based concept, but the court believes that this teaching is in the best interest of students and so it may be taught in the United States public schools.” In other words, they began to realize finally after the nation is starting to come apart, that there are some instances where religious principles, even if they are religious principles, are for the good of the country. And because they are for the good of the country, they can be taught even if they are the outlawed religious principles.

Since the Supreme Court made that ruling in 1986, eleven major curricula have been developed which teach premarital sexual abstinence only. There are at least eleven being used in the schools today.

Now, in the years before 1986, when they were not allowed to teach abstinence, several different non-abstinence programs had been developed, and those kinds of programs have been taken by the statisticians and lumped together and referred to as “Comprehensive Sex Education Materials,” and this material basically says, “Students there is really no right and wrong. Here is what is available. You take your choice. Don't let anybody legislate their morality upon you.” And they teach the basic anatomical facts of sex.

Since 1986, when the Supreme Court allowed sex education programs based on the teaching of abstinence, there has been enough time since 1986 to be able to accumulate statistics with which to compare these two kinds of programs. Now currently nearly sixty-five percent of public school students go through some king of comprehensive type sex education training, which says anything goes. Here are the facts. Here is how your body is made, here is what is available. You make your own decision.

Of those students who are taught those “Comprehensive Sex Education Courses,” for every one thousand girls who have been through a course such as that, one hundred and thirteen become pregnant. These are statistics built on a data base from 1986. For every one thousand girls in public schools, and this is limited to public school statistics, who goes through an abstinence based program, four become pregnant. You see the principles of God's Word are true, and they work in society whether people become Christians or not.

Now, what is the reason for that dramatic difference? It is because the teaching of Biblically based principles have been allowed in the schools of the United States.

Now, at this point, particularly those of you who are here regularly may be thinking, “Well this doesn't sound very much like a sermon. It sounds like a history lesson,” and to a certain extent that is true. But I want to tell you that there is a thread running through all of this, and I hope you have seen the thread that is running through all of this. The reason that we teach Bible in this pulpit the other fifty-one Sundays of the year is that the Bible is the basis for everything that we value in this nation. There are other reasons for teaching it too, but today is the day that we celebrate our independence and today I have chosen to talk about the cornerstones of that independence, which is the thing that we have devoted ourselves to in this church–the teaching and the study of the Word of God. Not only the values of this nation, but much more importantly the values for eternity are found in the Word of God.

I am glad that we are beginning to see a little bit of a turn around in the trends of our courts, but that really doesn't solve the problem. As you know in recent months people have been appointed to high authoritative policy making offices who are avowedly opposed to the principles of the Word of God, and people have been elected to the highest office in our nation who claim to be Christians, but in their statements and in their allegiances and in their friendships there is no evidence of being truly born again. And that illustrates our hope for a change in our nation must not be placed in men. We can not take total comfort in the fact that the Supreme Court and the other legislative bodies have begun as a practical matter to return to the principles of God's Word. If there is going to be any real lasting solution to the problems of our nation (now listen to me) if there is going to be any real and lasting solution to the problems our nation faces, it is going to have to be for you and me, individually, personally, to return to the principles and values of the Word of God, and to encourage others to do that. Because you see, the only thing that God has promised to honor is the repentance and faithfulness of His people. We are thankful that as a practical matter, the nation may seem to be turning around, and there are some statistics that reinforce that, but the thing that God has promised to honor is not a Supreme Court that as a practical matter returns to His Word. The thing that God has promised to honor, the basis on which God has promised to restore a nation is the repentance and faithfulness of His people.

So I want to leave you with four passages of Scripture to meditate on during the rest of your celebration of July 4th. Firth turn with me to Proverbs Chapter 22, and even though in each of these cases it is only one verse that we are going to look at, I want to turn to these so that you will see them for yourselves. Proverbs 22, and notice down in Verse 28:

Proverbs 22

28Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

Do you see that? “Do not remove the ancient landmark which your fathers have set.”

Now that proverb was given of course by King Solomon, the King of Israel. And although there is a general sense in which it would apply to whatever your forefathers may have done, in its immediate context though, that verse was addressing Israel and saying, “Do not tamper with the things that God has given you as a nation.” Now by application, even though the verse is addressed to Israel, since God included it in His Word for His people down through the years to meditate on, by application that would refer to our nation. It would apply to our nation as well. God in a unique happening in the history of the world, gave to a small group of men the privilege and the opportunity of fashioning a nation in a largely uninhabited huge piece of geography. And it is obvious from reading the writings of those men, just a tiny part of which we have quoted from here today, that those men depended on God for wisdom in establishing that nation. And God's Word says among the principles that those men depended on, “Do not tamper with something that God has allowed your forefathers to establish.”

I will tell you this morning on the authority of the Word of God, it is extremely important that the principles on which this nation was founded not lightly be tampered with. We have such a wonderful privilege among all these other privileges of electing our own authorities. And as we consider the men and women whom we will vote for in public office, we need to be extremely careful that we choose men and women who are not one to tamper with the ancient landmarks. God has told us to be careful of that, and I do not believe, though some of you may want to shoot me for this, I do not believe a man has to be a Christian to be a good legislator. I think a Christian who is well educated and on equal footing with a non-Christian, will be a better legislator than the non- Christian, but a man will be an adequate legislator if he does not tamper with the ancient landmarks. And that is something God tells us to be careful about. “Do not remove the ancient landmarks that your fathers have set.” Keep that in mind as you think about the opportunity that we have to govern ourselves.

Then a second passage to think about is in the New Testament. II Corinthians 6:17. While you are turning there let me give you the background for verses that we are going to look at. In II Corinthians 6, God is talking to His people about the importance of living holy lives in the midst of a terribly degenerate society. The society in Corinth was probably equally bad with the society in which we live. Conditions were deplorable there morally. And in II Corinthians 6:17-18, the Holy Spirit writing through the Apostle Paul said:

II Corinthians 6

17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We will stop our reading there with Verse 18. Those are familiar verses to most of you, but listen, if you and I are going to be used by God for the preservation of our nation, we can not just go along with the crowd. We can not sit idly by when others passively accept a Godless leadership. God doesn't demand perfect people, but He needs holy people, and God has said that the people that He can use are the people who keep their sins confessed and stay in fellowship with Him and live by His precepts. Those are the kind of people that God can use on a local level, and use our influence even to a national level. God will take care of the way our influence would proceed from the local level to the national level, but God's instructions to us is “come from among them and be separate.” No matter how bad the nation becomes, God says we are to continue to live by His principles.

Then let's go to II Chronicles 7:14. It is the one we sang about before we began this message this morning–a beautiful musical setting for that important verse. I had never sung that song before, in fact I have to confess that I did not know it was in our hymn book, but I hope that we will sing it again regularly because it is straight out of the Bible. The author of those words is God himself, and it applies so specifically to our nation.

II Chronicles 7

14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Let me tell you something this morning. Here is an awesome responsibility for us as Christians. God only promises to restore the nation when Christians turn to Him in repentance. Same thing I was saying a few minutes ago. We can't depend on the Supreme Court to turn things around. We can't depend on our legislators to come up with the kind of legislation that will turn our nation around. If we want to see God work in our nation, you and I as Christians must turn to Him in repentance and in faith and plead with Him for the restoration of our nation. He may want to use us in the process of that restoration, but the key to it is coming to Him in faith and repentance. It is good to elect good people to government positions. It is good to elect Christians if we can. It's good to back legislation that is in line with Scripture, but none of that will ultimately do any good if Christians are not depending on God as our true provider of good government.

Finally, in the book of Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3, we find seven letters that were written to churches which were extant in that day, and those churches are typical of churches down through the years since then. In each letter that God had John write to those churches, God pointed out some error in the church that needed to be corrected and pointed out something that could be praised in those particular churches, but each one of those letters ends with a fascinating little phrase. And that phrase applies to us this morning. That phrase at the end of each letter is, “He that has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Now the reason that I say this is a fascinating phrase is, that the letters that had preceded that phrase had been addressed to a group of people, but the conclusion of the letter says, “He” singular, individually. “He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit of God says to the churches.” And that reminds us–the reason that I am emphasizing those verses is–that even in principles of Scripture that are addressed to groups, God still looks to individuals to respond.

When he says in II Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray,” many times when we hear that verse or passages like it we think, “Well it won't do much good, because I know too many Christians who just aren't going to get right with the Lord.” But you see, a further principle of God's Word is, “You don't worry about what other people do.” God says, “If my Spirit convicts you about this principle then you repent. You obey, you do what I am telling you to do. You get right with Me, and you leave other people out of it. I will deal with the other people. If the Holy Spirit speaks to you, you respond.”

The best thing that you and I can do to celebrate our American Heritage today, on July the 4th, is to purpose in our hearts, individually before the Lord, that by His grace we, I, individually, am going to live by the principles of His Word, learn the principles of His Word, and be obedient to them, and trust Him to provide

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