“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34
God Himself placed the American dream into the bosom of our Founding Fathers — that is my firm conviction. Our government, rooted in a belief in Almighty God, was formed by brave men who knew it was God Himself Who made man and gave him rights…“endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” they said. In fact, our Constitution was born in the heat of a revival. They knew that government doesn’t “give” anybody rights; it has no rights to give. God gives the rights. Government’s role is to protect those God-given rights.
The only reason our nation is great is because of the blessing of God. God exalted our nation from its beginning.
The Exaltation of a Nation
“Righteousness exalts a nation.” When people obey the Lord, God is free to bless. Many have forgotten that this nation is great because it was born in the very fires of a revival.
From 1740 to 1770, the flames of revival swept across this land. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and other great revivalists preached, and God gave America a mighty spiritual awakening. In fact, it was called “The Great Awakening.” Even secular historians were forced to admit that there was a great awakening.
Out of this awakening people gained character, and out of this character the Constitution came.
The Constitution was written by people who had character, for people who had character. They believed people must have character, for our Founding Fathers did not believe in big government; they believed that individuals must accept personal responsibility. Character is responsibility assumed. It’s just plain hard work. If the people of the United States of America do not have character, the Constitution will not work. Ultimately, our nation will fail without character. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, Jefferson said.
Curious about what made our nation so great and determined to discover what it was, the brilliant French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville set out in 1831 to tour America. He found that it was not our natural resources, ingenuity, nor wealth. He wrote, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard the pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." (Democracy in America, 1835) His words echo what Solomon said so long ago, “Righteousness exalts a nation.”
The Humiliation of a Nation
If righteousness exalts, surely the converse is also true. “Sin is a reproach to any people.” When there is a lack of righteousness, it will destroy a nation; it will lead to the ruin of any people.
I want to tell you that the greatest threat to America is God. He’s our only hope, but He is also our biggest threat. I’m not afraid nearly so much of what the Taliban or the terrorists are going to do to us as I am of what God Himself is going to do, through them or through someone else.
Character: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Character is the missing ingredient in our nation today — that “responsibility assumed.” We’ve lost our character as a nation. Look what we are doing to ourselves:
- Government dependence — Rather than depending upon God, self-ingenuity and responsibility, we have come to think Uncle Sam is our source. Our Constitution states that government is to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, not promote the common defense and provide the general welfare!
- Divorce — Family values have been scorned. Since 1920, the divorce rate has risen 1,420 percent. Baby boomers are divorcing at a rate twice as high as their parents.
- Abortion — The Vietnam Memorial has 68,000 names on it. It stretches for five hundred feet. If we were to build a similar memorial for the little babies who’ve died since Roe vs. Wade, it would have over 45 million names on it and would stretch over 63 miles.
- Pornography — A broken sewer pipe is being spewed out on America. Material that was once seen and sold in back alleys is now on open display in magazine racks and neighborhood drug stores and piped into the homes of America’s families through cable television and the Internet.
- Drugs and alcohol — We live in an alcohol‑soaked society. Advertisers have done such a good job that according to one statistic, 95% of college students drink beer. That’s not to mention the rampant drug use in our society and the problems it brings.
“Sin is a reproach to any people,” and when we lose our character, we lose our freedom. Liberty and responsibility are inseparably linked. We are humiliated as a nation, yet we sing “God Bless America.” It’s a wonder He doesn’t blot us off the face of the earth.
The Rejuvenation of a Nation
Even so, I refuse to say it is too late for America. There can be a new birth of freedom. If you study the history of revival, you find that God sends revival in dark days. What God has done before, He can do again. As God forgives sins for an individual, so He forgives sins for a nation. Pray for, look for, and expect revival!
Our nation was born in a revival. There can be a revival, and the answer is not in Washington. When we get right with God, God is going to hear us. 2 Chronicles 7:24 says, “If 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.”
We do not need a majority. Great numbers aren’t what we need. Lenin began his revolution in 1917 with a few thousand. Castro took over Cuba with a band of eighty cutthroats. Jesus began with twelve disciples. Joshua 23:10 says, “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, He it is that fighteth for you, as He hath promised you.” One praying Christian is worth more than a thousand of those who do not believe in God.We need to get in our prayer closets! Enter your prayer closet! Get on your face before God. Cry out for mercy. Say it, sing it, and mean it: “God bless America.” Believe God for revival. We need to say, “Lord, start a revival and let it begin with me.”
Just as plants need certain essentials to grow---light, water, and fertile soil---so do new Christians, babes in the faith. Without these essential basic truths of the faith, they will never establish strong roots or bear fruit.Adrian Rogers has written this book to give believers the nurture and care their faith needs to blossom and grow. What Every Christian Ought to Know seeks to give intellectual truth, and also provide the "spiritual nutrients" required to produce mature faith.