How to Live Out Your Christian, Biblical Heritage
Right now our nation is sick unto death because she has forgotten God. But I want you to listen to this. Let it burn itself into your soul. In 1821 John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, said,
“The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. From the day of the Declaration, the American people were bound by the laws of God.”
Our nation began as no other nation since the nation of Israel: America was founded by God. It was God who placed in the hearts of the pilgrims a burning desire to worship Him freely, without government restraints, so much so that they braved the journey from Europe to start from scratch in a distant land and establish a new land for his glory. The first words of The Mayflower Compact were: “In the name of God, Amen.” It goes on to say, “Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith….”
The principles of civil government and Christianity were linked together in an unbreakable bond. Nearly all citizens acknowledged Christian, biblical principles as the rules of their conduct.
In 1913 President Woodrow Wilson said,
“America was born to exemplify the devotion to the elements of righteousness which are derived from Holy Scriptures.”
In March, 1931, Congress adopted “The Star-Spangled Banner” as our national anthem. Do you know what the fourth stanza says?
“Blessed with victory and peace, may this Heaven-rescued land praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must when our cause it is just. And this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust.’”
Our Christian and Judaic heritage is written into the very fabric of America. God blessed America because she was rooted in spiritual principles and truths.
Alexis De Tocqueville was a French diplomat and historian who came to the United States in the early days of the republic. He traveled far and wide, observing daily life in America. He described what he saw in his famous work, Democracy In America. You may have heard this quote from de Tocqueville before:
“America is great because she is good. When America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
But de Tocqueville didn’t get that quite right. Yes, he saw men of God thundering the truth of the Word of God from America’s pulpits. Yes, he saw a level of righteousness in the citizens unheard of in his own land. He witnessed America’s goodness. But American could not be good without the grace and favor of God.
American was good because godly principles were planted in hearts. The people by and large were living according to the Word of God. The churches taught His Word. The schools taught His principles. America’s greatness came from God, not from her own “goodness.”
We see an example of God’s principles in 1 Peter 2:17
“Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
The answer to our nation’s problems is not in the White House, the Pentagon, the Capitol, the state house, or even in the schoolhouse, but in the church house.
In our social life, we are to honor all men. In our church life, we are to love the brotherhood. In our spiritual life, fear God. And in our political life, honor the king.
Do you know what's wrong in America today? We have a nation today where people no longer fear God. People laugh and mock at holy things. But it is character that produces liberty.
A reporter asked a pedestrian, “Can you tell me the two biggest problems in America?” The man said, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” The reporter replied, “You have them both.”
Ignorance and apathy! These are days when we cannot afford to be ignorant and certainly not apathetic.
Let me say it once more: It is character that produces liberty. The reason Americans have been free is because they began as people of character.
Responsibility and character are two ways of saying the same thing. Responsibility and character are inseparably linked together with liberty. For example, a little baby has no responsibilities. He doesn’t have to worry about anything. Everybody takes care of him. But he has no liberties. He does what he’s told to do. He eats that pabulum and those strained beets. He is bathed and put to bed. No responsibilities, but no liberties.
As he grows in responsibility, he gets more and more liberty. There comes a time when his father will give him the car keys. But if he takes that car and acts irresponsibly, the father takes the keys and his privilege away. If he acts really irresponsibly, he may wind up in jail and all his liberties are taken away. Liberty is responsibility assumed.
A republic is a government for a people with character, and only people with character can maintain it. If we lose our character as a nation, we are going to lose our liberty. And always, when there is a loss of character, there’s a growth of government. If you want to remain free, you must be men and women of character, and you must raise young men and women of character.
This month, Americans are going to make one of the greatest decisions we’ve ever made. We’re going to elect someone to the highest office in America. How important it is for believers to know the heart, the mind, the will of God!
We have a blessed land. The Lord Jesus said, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:48). Thus we have solemn responsibilities to fulfill as citizens of both an earthly kingdom and a heavenly one, and one of them is to vote.
I trust God every one of you will vote. The Word of God also says, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's” (Mark 12:17), and
“Therefore, to Him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
I want to tell you how to vote. Go into the booth, pull the curtain, and press the lever. That’s how to do it. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. Stop looking around and wondering what everybody else is going to do. Draw a circle on the floor, get inside that circle and say, “God, start a revival in this circle.”
Dr. Francis Schaeffer, brilliant mind, one of the foremost Christian thinkers of our time, has given us 5 principles to keep in mind when we vote. These principles don’t deal with personalities or parties. They don’t deal with politics as such. They are principles.
1. The dignity of human life.
2. The importance of the traditional family.
3. Religious freedom of speech in schools, both public and private.
4. Human rights and the need for justice in our world.
5. The compassionate use of accumulated wealth.
These five principles ought to be in the heart and mind of every child of God. You ought to pray over these things. Look over the party platforms and see which one takes these stands. God will give you wisdom in this matter.
Pray this from your heart, “God, bless America, and God, give us space to repent. And may the one of Your choosing be elected President to lead us.” Remember, “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” May God help us to be Christian citizens.
Father, stir our hearts, I pray. And Lord deliver us from both apathy and ignorance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Battle for the Soul of America contains timeless, foundational principles about human government, all rooted in biblical truth. Real truth never changes, and the truth about government is that it is God who ordains it, leaders who are responsible for it, and citizens who are accountable to it. In this book, pastor, teacher, and author Adrian Rogers reminds us that the privilege of being called Americans comes with significant responsibilities—to God, to each other, and to the world.