The founding of the United States of America was an amazing revolution for the establishment of personal freedom based on a written constitution, which in turn was largely based on the principles taught in the Bible. Let’s take a look at the dedication of those founders and learn some lessons that we can apply in our Christian lives.
If you looked at what is written at the close of the American Declaration of Independence, you would see this sentence: “And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
Freedom of religion was as important to our forefathers then as it is to us today.
Now let’s change this statement and make it read this way: “For the support of God’s work, for which I am called, with a firm reliance on the protection of His divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other and to God our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” You should also ask yourself, “Do I have the dedication, commitment and resolve necessary to pledge to God my life, my fortune and my sacred honor?”
During the writing of the Declaration of Independence, a total of 86 alterations were made to the proposed draft. After three days the vote was taken by the colonies. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted and was signed in Philadelphia on August 2.
The full title of the Declaration of Independence is “The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,” and it starts with this:
“When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“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 and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect theirs and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which thy are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
The Bill of Rights
From this declaration came the United States Constitution, which contains the Bill of Rights. Let us take a look at the first two Amendments, as these are the two that we hear a lot about. As you hear these words, think about where the Founding Fathers got the inspiration for these “laws.” (You may also want to read Deuteronomy chapters 4 through 31.)
Amendment 1: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Freedom of religion was as important to our forefathers then as it is to us today. They did not want the government to tell them who, what or how to worship. Therefore, we have the First Amendment, which was intended to allow worship without establishing any particular religion as the only one acceptable.
Amendment 2: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
We should examine the commitment to this country by these men, and compare it to our commitment to God.
You must understand the reason for the Second Amendment is to make sure that the people of this country never find themselves in a situation where they are unarmed against a government prone to tyranny. Patrick Henry is remembered for these words: “An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle sir, is not to the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”
Was Patrick Henry a Christian? In 1776, he wrote, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians: Not on religious, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.” But what of other American leaders?
“I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also.”
(Thomas Jefferson, from the front of his Bible)
“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.”
(John Quincy Adams, sixth U.S. President)
And it has not been just single leaders espousing this view. In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: “The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”
However, 1947 saw a radical change of direction for the Supreme Court. It required ignoring every previous precedent set by the Supreme Court in the past 160 years. For the last 60+ years, there have been multiple court challenges opposing the influence of religion, and especially anything Bible-based. The opposition is usually characterized as upholding “separation of church and state,” an ambiguous and misleading phrase. In the ways intended by the founding fathers, the United States has always practiced separation of church and state. Some of the legal changes that have taken place have been beneficial, but it is tragic that acknowledgment of God, the Bible, etc. have been completely pushed out of the classroom in the name of “separation of church and state.”
It has been said that our founding fathers created the constitution as a living and adaptable document, which would allow the changes that came about in 1947. But total prohibition of all things religious would seem to contradict what we know of those early patriots. What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the Crown? Most of us know little of the signers. Who were they? What happened to them?
Ben Franklin, at 70, was the only truly old man there. Eighteen were under forty and forty were in their twenties. Of the fifty-six, twenty-four were judges and lawyers, eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining twelve were doctors, ministers and politicians. With only a few exceptions, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th century. It was Ben Franklin who noted, “Indeed we must all hang together; otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.”
Setting an example
We should examine the commitment to this country by these men, and compare it to our commitment to God. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. These men wanted equality with the mother country, beginning with the principle of taxation with representation. As Christians, we too want to be a part of something better, ever committed to following the path of our savior Jesus Christ at any cost.
Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, and each case dealt with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his thirteen children. Two had wives that were brutally treated. All were, at one time or another, the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned, yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word.
When you were baptized, what kind of a commitment did you make to God? Because of what we know from the Bible prophecy about end-time persecution, all these things could happen to each one of us—and maybe will in the not too distant future. When you were baptized, you really pledged to the service of God your life, finances and your sacred honor.
The 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. “And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance of the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Why would these men do that willingly? Why did you willingly become baptized and make a commitment to God for His work?
In this Satan-blinded world, we as God’s people are responsible to be examples of God’s law in action.
Some look to the United States, seeking answers to painful and bitter questions. Americans have rarely been so confused about right and wrong, about what is acceptable and what is to be forcefully condemned. We are learning the hard way that a self-governing nation must consist of self-governing individuals. Violence, crime, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and out-of-wedlock births all undermine the blessings of liberty and prosperity. Galatians 6:7 tells us we reap what we sow.
If America makes the economic, political, and moral changes necessary to move forward in the years ahead, then the rest of the world has a much better chance of getting it right. America got a great start because of God’s blessings. Therefore, we carry a special responsibility to honor and obey God and to be a light to the rest of the world. God will hold us as a nation and individuals accountable for our failure.
Freedom is the presence of justice tempered with mercy (Micah 6:8). Freedom is following God’s laws, which insure the success of these things. That’s why James called God’s law the “law of liberty” (James 1:25; 2:12). Freedom is a priceless treasure that the state is supposed to safeguard, because human beings have an intrinsic right to be free that comes not from the state but from God. To the Founding Fathers, this was a “self-evident” truth.
The Founders believed that man’s place in the universe was no accident; that man himself and the world in which he lives were created and sustained by a just and loving God. George Washington wrote, “It is impossible to account for the creation of the universe without the agency of a Supreme Being and it is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being.” James Madison put it this way: “The belief in a God All Powerful, wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from many sources.”
Statements from the Founding Fathers
Our forefathers and leaders made various statements which when put together, give a message. These are great thoughts from great Americans and they have a lot of meaning for us today.
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
“The choices you make in moral and religious questions determine the way America will go. The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration. I am rather tired hearing about our rights and privileges as American citizens. The time has come; it now is, when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship. America’s future depends upon her accepting and demonstrating God’s government. It is just as plain and clear as that.”
“History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”
(General Douglas MacArthur)
“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 our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self government; ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; the order of these rights, first life, then freedom, and then the equal opportunity to pursue ones own happiness, was written with great care and precision. The founders understood the need to balance man’s right to be free with man’s responsibility to be honest, just and fair. Switch the order of these fundamental human rights putting the pursuit of happiness before liberty, or liberty before life and you end up with moral chaos and social anarchy. Deny the God-given nature of these rights and you open the door to tyranny.
“Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are the gift of God?”
“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.”
Modern liberalism rejects absolute moral standards and has abandoned the proper ordering of man’s fundamental rights. As a result, modern liberalism has undermined a long-held American principle: that the law should protect the weakest among us, not just the strong, the healthy, and the rich. Liberalism wrongly insists on parents’ freedom to choose an abortion while simultaneously denying parents’ freedom to choose the schools their children may attend. Its moral confusion over the sanctity of human life and the vital importance of the traditional family has consequently reshaped American law and society.
In this Satan-blinded world, we as God’s people are responsible to be examples of God’s law in action. We are to let God’s light shine through us to a dark world, showing the world that Satan will not win. Are we willing to accept the responsibility God has put on us—to demonstrate to America as well as to the world, that God’s way to live brings happiness, freedom, and productive life?
Each one of us needs to affirm, “For the support of God’s work, for which I am called, with a firm reliance on the protection of His divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other and to God our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”