Let us pray: Dear Savior, today we join together to thank You for providing us with Christian families, Christian homes, and a country in which we can practice our faith in reasonable peace—thereby helping to preserve our nation. May we never take any of these blessings for granted and may we also labor to preserve them for future generations. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!
TEXT: Exodus 20: 12: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Who Have Been Set Free By Christ’s Sacrifice:
This week we’re celebrating the 4th of July!—American independence day. You might wonder exactly why I am preaching on the 4th commandment? After all, it doesn’t seem to speak about political freedom, or citizen’s rights, but about God’s directives concerning the family. Well, based on numerous other passages from the Bible coupled with sound logic, Dr. Luther adds this explanation to the commandment: “We should fear and love God, so that we do not despise our parents or superiors, nor provoke them to anger, but honor, serve, obey, love, and esteem them.”
Let me ask you a question. What came first: parents or a nation? Does any nation, a political, geographical, and cultural entity give birth to parents, or do parents ultimately give birth to a nation? Well, the answer is obvious. God ordained the family unit way back in the garden of Eden. And from the family unit of one man and one woman united in life-long marriage, children are born and eventually nations are created. So, our country doesn’t get its power from itself, but that power and authority is derived from the many families, the many people who comprise it. Our nation’s framers said it this way: “Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
What does this all mean on a practical basis? It means that the president, the congress, the supreme court, the state, local and city governments—all of them are ultimately answerable to the families that helped create them and to God Who ordained such orderliness. In a sense, they don’t rule us, we rule them with God watching over it all. The founders of our nation knew this to be the truth. They incorporated such concepts in our nation’s founding documents. Recall the opening words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all people are created equal and have been endowed by their Creator with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those principles of life are a part of what we call: natural law. That is, natural truths that God puts into every human’s heart in order to create order out of sinful chaos. Our nation’s founders, contrary to popular opinion, were not all Deists who acknowledged some sort of vague “god” but were primarily Christians. They took the 4th commandment seriously. And from their heartfelt beliefs comes that famous phrase inscribed on every dollar bill:
IN GOD WE TRUST
Every human knows from experience and in-depth soul-searching that they are imperfect. Every human has the seed, the kernel, of evil within them. Likewise, every nation on earth, which are all comprised of people, also contains that kernel of evil within. For the many families that make up a nation are imperfect, selfish, and prideful. I want you to think about this: What family doesn’t have problems? What nation doesn’t have problems? What person doesn’t have problems that they bring upon themselves by their own arrogant attitude? That’s right!—None! Even a cursory glance at history confirms this to be true.
If history tells us anything, it is that human governments rise and fall. Some last longer than others, but eventually all of them change. Once upon a time the Egyptians were a superpower. They fell. The Persians were a superpower. They fell. Alexander the Great ruled the world. But his empire fell to the Romans. They lasted about 600 years until Rome fell. Likewise, the Holy Roman empire, the Hapsburgs, the French republic under Napoleon, the British empire and the old Soviet Union. Most of them were dictatorships, built around one man, the king or emperor, governing by decree. Some of them had democratic principles for a time, but eventually the cult of personality—the supreme Ruler—won out. But in every case, one thing stands out. That is, once government starts to ignore or trample upon individual rights—from whence they get their authority to begin with—the downward spiral ensues. And that is why that little phrase: In God We Trust is so vital. Because unlike human governments, God values the individual and never ignores him or her.
There is no greater upholder of human rights, individual rights, than God and His Word of truth as found in the Bible. I want you to really think about that. First, God created individual people—Adam and Eve—gave them a conscience and a soul, and also gave them complete freedom to order their lives—pursuing life, liberty, and genuine happiness. Then they lost that ability through the prideful exercise of their free will and became corrupted by sin and evil. But God still had His natural law written in their individual hearts with which to prevent them from giving themselves over to total chaos. This shows His care and compassion for fallen humans. Eventually, however, the corruption of sin became so great that God had to write His will down and spell it out—literally—in the 10 commandments. And note well that in those commandments individual rights and responsibilities are clearly spelled out. Christianity is vital to any nation or collective group of people because ultimately if you’re not personally responsible to God, you’re not going to be responsible towards anyone and chaos will ensue.
But, over time, the hardness and prideful condition of the human heart became so jaded that God had to act once again. And act He did! He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to come into this world and free us from the shackles of sin. Christ died on a cross to pay to God the debt of our irresponsibility. He set our souls free from sin. He showed us that self-sacrifice, born of a love which doesn’t quit, is God’s will for us. It is the only way to achieve a modicum of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while still on the earth. And it is this legacy that we recall today on our Independence Day, a legacy which has been handed down to us as American citizens by our forebears. Yes, In God We Trust.
Today our nation is gripped by a multitude of problems. We’re at war in various places around the world. Our economy is struggling. Our schools have layer upon layer of regulations which don’t seem to help much. Our infrastructure is crumbling. And most of all, the families which are the backbone of America are not as strong as in the past. It’s easy to be starry-eyed when watching the fireworks this week, but honesty compels us to ponder all these things. Where must we begin when it comes to fixing them? Should we look only to the “government” to solve our problems? Or should we look to ourselves and then to our God? You know the answer. In America the government ultimately rests on your shoulders. It derives its power from each of you. And you are given Godly good judgment and common sense through humble faith in Jesus Christ. So, yes it really is true that: In God We Trust! Amen