Take your Bibles, please, and turn to John 8:32, in the King James Version of the Scriptures. The Bible says: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
This month we celebrated the 224th birthday of our great nation. Amidst all the fireworks and hoopla, it would behoove us to remember from whence our freedom came. I'm not going to add anything to what has already been written or said, but I hope that I can tell it to you in a different way than maybe you've heard before, and that it will challenge you , inspire you, and inform you. On July 4, 1787, at the Calvinistic Reformed Church of Philadelphia, the pastor, Rev. William Rogers, preached a sermon. He preached to 55 men who had requested him to do so in honor of the anniversary of American freedom. Those men were the delegates of the Continental Congress, the men who wrote our Constitution. Most every freedom-loving church in America preached a message that celebrates the liberty that we enjoy in this country, just like the Founding Fathers did that day on the 13th birthday of our nation. I want to continue in that tradition and preach a message on the subject: "What Made America Free."
First of all, let me say that GOD made America free!
America was founded upon the principle of religious freedom. There were those who came for the purpose of financial gain and commercial enterprise and did exploit those who were here before them. But primarily, this nation was founded by Christians and upon Christian principles.
The 1st real, independent Americans were the Pilgrim Fathers, who sailed on the Mayflower and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. They were known as Dissenters, Brownists, Separatists: Baptists! They were God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians, led by their pastor, John Robinson, and later Wm. Brewster.
The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock by what seemed an accident, but what really was the providence of God. They actually intended to settle the parts of Northern Virginia, but were blown off course by a storm at sea and found themselves off the coast of Massachusetts. They had a British charter that entitled them to colonize Virginia, but nowhere else. Being that they had no legal document by which to govern themselves, it was necessary for them to bind themselves together with some form of political framework. While anchored in Plymouth Bay on Nov.11,1620, they established the Mayflower Compact. William Bradford was voted by his peers to be Governor of Plymouth Colony. This was the 1st constitution of any kind in America and the 1st free election on American soil.
The Mayflower Compact said in part: "In the name of God, Amen...having undertaken, for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and of one another, covenant, and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid..." Those 'end aforesaid' were stated as being 'the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith.'
Thomas Jefferson said that at the time of the Revolution, 2/3 of the population was composed of Dissenters - another name for Baptists, the spiritual descendants of the Pilgrims. They were known for their love of freedom and their hatred of the religious establishment (that is, the joining of church and state, with one church favored over another. The Baptists were offered the position of being the state church of America and refused).
George Washington, "first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen," the "Father of our country," said: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion & morality are the indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness..." He believed that national morality based upon religious principle was the foundation of American liberty and prosperity. And he stated that by religion he meant the Protestant faith.
Patrick Henry said: "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Woodrow Wilson said: "America was born a Christian nation for the purpose of exemplifying to the nation of the world the principles of righteousness found in the revelation of God (the Bible)."
John Adams said: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion....Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
James Madison said: "We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."
Geo. Washington said: "It is impossible to rightly govern without God or the Bible."
Benjamin Franklin spoke to the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787. He made reference to the fact that during the Revolutionary War, they prayed daily for God's protection and He heard and answered their petitions. He went on to say: "I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?......I therefore beg leave to move - that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service."
Since that time, every session of both houses of the United States Congress have begun with prayer.
It is a crying shame that one day in 1962 the U.S. Supreme Court opened their session in prayer, and before the day was out they banned the Bible and prayer from our public schools. It is a pity that one day in the year 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court opened another session in prayer, and when the day was over, they had outlawed student-led prayer at High School football games. It was a sad day in America when, on another occasion, they opened in prayer with an engraving of the 10 Commandments above their heads, and by day's end had banned the 10 Commandments that James Madison said were necessary to our nation's survival from the public schools as well.
We have come a long way from what the Pilgrim Fathers & the Founding Fathers envisioned and established. Righteousness once exalted our nation, but sin is now bringing reproach (shame, disgrace) upon us (see Proverbs 14:34).
We have gone from George Washington, who said: "I cannot tell a lie," to Billy-Bob Clinton, who said: "I did not inhale." And we'll stop there for decency's sake.
America has been blessed more than any nation in modern times. America will reap the judgment of God for rejecting Him and His word.
Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1781: "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever."
At the same time that the American Revolution was taking place, the French were having their own revolution. Out of that a dictator arose who attempted to conquer Europe by the name of Napoleon. He said this: " I have seen men without God. You cannot rule them, you shoot them."
The Bible says in Psalm 9:17 - "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."
If the Bible is true and the Founding Fathers were right, then America is in trouble. We need to get back to God as a nation.
Solid Rock Baptist Church - Serving the Lord in the Memphis/Mid-South area