Let The Church Stand Up For America Let The Church Stand Up For America Let The Church Stand Up For America Let The Church Stand Up For America

The following is a sermon first preached Sunday, July 4, 1976 at First Baptist Church, Sumiton, Alabama in observation of America's Bicentennial. It was a time of great national upheaval, a crossroads in the future of our country. We were emerging from a very dark period in our national life and needed leadership to set the course for a better America, for all, not just favored groups, a leadership that would bring us together, help heal our divisions and appeal and inspire us to actions from the better nature within each. We are at that crossroads once again. Once again our nation stands on the brink!

Having seriously resisted posting sermons at Adam2.org since its founding in 1999, by myself and others, keeping it mostly instructional, devotional and informative, this one sermon has continued to bubble to the surface in my daily thoughts and prayers of late as this season of our national historic life rises in significance. It is one that has risen above all others previously resisted that I am now compelled within my spirit to share. I pray you will receive it in the heart and spirit it was then and now is offered.

Foregoing the Introduction to the original sermon, let me say now that when I speak of the church standing up for America, I am speaking not of any one established institutional body; I am speaking to the body of Christ represented by every individual Christian who makes up that body. Although there were efforts by competing forces to make their doctrinal persuasions and practices state religion in her early days of colonial and national life within many states, and some temporarily succeeded, realizing this mistake had been made before in history and many were now coming to her shores to escape that restrictive philosophy, America came together and threw off those tired and old ways of man in governing the body of Christ within a national government. Freedom would be given as freedom was won, to the individual, with liberty for each to worship, or not, as they choose yet recognizing as a whole our common Creator is the source of those rights and it is to His greater nature we all aspire in both our individual and collective lives as a people called, Americans. Our constitution was thus born and written in blood that is supposed to forever protect the people from government infringement upon the conscience in this aspiration and individual practice—infringement from the government itself and from any others, be they individuals or groups. Neither our speech nor our practice in matters of faith and conscience was nor is to be impinged.

The records show we acknowledged then as long as we honored Him in our endeavor and aspirations His favor would rest upon us. We came together, from all walks of life, from every religious and non-religious background—Protestant and Catholic, Christian and Jew, yes, even atheist and agnostic, etc., and chartered our course with this over-arching principle of government of freedom and tolerance, one where civil laws would not violate the Creator's natural laws nor give favor to one individual or group over another. As with any growing organic entity, we have struggled to make that a reality and have come far since those early days of discovery and declarations. Our history is replete with examples of that providential favor, especially in past times of conflict when we were united as a people and that better nature in each thrust to the forefront. Our recent memory is testimony.

For an ever brief period following September 11, 2001, all were Americans. Old rancorous division lines (most erected by those who sought to divide us) evaporated in the stark reality of our common threat. Each looked within. All aspired for the good. Neighbor helping neighbor. City helping city. State helping state. No matter our differences. No matter our heritage. No matter our backgrounds. No matter our beliefs! As an example, a New Yorker responded in an interview when asked how she had been impacted by that great and tragic event, she spoke of the deeper need she felt that her daily routine of Starbucks and yoga no longer seemed sufficient in providing. She longed for greater inward growth in her new found awareness and need for helping others. Collectively, it lasted only until those ambitious power-hungry voices of division raised to deafening decibels once again. Their drumbeat continues, ever threatening the clash that will eventually tear the common fabric of our nation irreparably apart. But for a flash we saw our greatness once again. The question remains, does it still lie within us or have those voices of division become so shrill and cancerous that our national life hangs on the tiniest thread of life-support? Has the true meaning of Philadelphia, once our national conscience, slipped from our shores? I have my own thoughts as I am sure you do yours, so, I will not speak much further solely to the political health of our nation.

I will, however, declare to you on Biblical authority the present nature of our Lord's body: It is alive and well, though the gates of hell lick with the hot flames from its ever-widening burgeoning furnace against her doors. She is secure! Be not dismayed. Her foes have already been defeated. As with any war, the vanquished will soon sue for peace but they will not find it when the Prince of Peace comes to judge at last the quick, the dead and all nations (II Tim.4:5). When called to account before His court, then, peace will not be possible. If there is to be peace then, for any one, it must be sought and obtained now before that great and terrible day of judgment. Great leaders of nations take heed! (Ps 9:17; Isa.5:14; Isa.14:9-20)

I am but one voice. I have spoken it. You have the freedom still to speak yours. Go and speak it. Let us renew the wick of our lanterns with the fresh oil of His Spirit that the individual lights from this city which "we built", we the people, on this hill, with His grace, shine bright once again as one to the darkness within and the distant shores of the farthest isles and continents.


(As you read, please keep in mind the sermon is not a complete manuscript consisting of all the extemporaneous contemporary remarks at that time. It is given in a redacted outline summary form as it was developed and delivered on that day.)

HR


TEXT: II Chron. 6:24-25; 7:14
II Ch 6:24 - And if thy people Israel be put to the worse before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee; and shall return and confess thy name, and pray and make supplication before thee in this house;
II Ch 6:25 - Then hear thou from the heavens, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which thou gavest to them and to their fathers.
II Ch 7:14 - 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.

I.
(INTRODUCTION. ∼ Redacted ∼ )
 

While the ARBELLA was plowing westward in the Atlantic on its way to a new continent in 1630, John Winthrop admonished the future Massachusetts Bay colonists aboard her with these words in his sermon:
"For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill--the eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going."
II.
TODAY, I HAVE CHOSEN (as a topic): "LET THE CHURCH STAND UP FOR AMERICA."
  A.
WE HAVE THE PEOPLE!
    As 1775 was drawing to a close, Washington was taking command of the armies in the field in preparation for battle.
The Second Continental Congress continues to deny separation from England.
The American Revolution is in full whisper and breeding throughout the colonies.
Skirmishes are beginning to break out here and there.
Thomas Paine, editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, penned these immortal words that appeared in his work published in Jan.1776, called COMMON SENSE, that outrightly called for separation from England:
"Everything that is right and reasonable pleads for separation...our present numbers (then, 2½ million) are sufficient to repel the force of all the world."
And so, a disunited band of colonies, people from all walks of life, heretofore incompatible settlers in a new world who came for as many reasons as their numbers, joined hands in one of the greatest freedom efforts known to the human race, surpassed only by those of an earlier time seeking freedom from Egypt.
  • America would stand up...
  • America would stand free...
  • America would stand firm...
  • America would stand forever!
America crawled from her cradle of infancy in one single defiant act, and stood, declaring to the world her maturity on July 4th, 1776.
She was of age!
To prove it, she enlisted her daring citizens into service to repel those who sought to keep her under foot and suckle of her mother country.
Fifty-six men etched their lives in history. Here is just a sampling of their fate:
  • Nine died in the war to follow...
  • Five were captured and tortured before finally succumbing...
  • Braxton, a wealthy Virginian, watched his personal fleet of ships swept to sea by the British, had sold his home and properties, dying in rags...
  • The wife of Francis Lewis was arrested and died in prison...
  • John Hart, as his children fled for their lives, was driven from his wife's deathbed!
All knew their individual outcomes would not be pleasant, but, that did not stop them from pledging three things to each other and their country:
  • Their lives...
  • Their fortunes...
  • And, their sacred honor!
Many lost their lives;
most lost their fortunes;
but NONE lost their honor!


Listen! Do you still hear them--the words of Paine echoing in our ears, even to this day:
"Everything that is right and reasonable pleads for separation...our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world."
Let them never be forgotten!

Today, OUR present numbers are sufficient.
Let US pledge our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor...
Let US repel the evil forces that have invaded OUR shores and threaten OUR liberty since that day!


Let the Church awaken from her slumber.
Let the Church rise from her knees and beds of complacency.
Let her join hands from all across this great land to turn the world upside down, and, righting her once again for her Lord!


We have the people!
Our numbers are greater!
If God be for us, who, who can stand against us?


I hear you whisper: "But I am only one. How can I...?"
 
  B.
WE HAVE THE POWER!
    One plus God doeth not just make 2, but a majority!
There is no greater strength than in this combination, no greater number!
History is replete with testimony to this.
  • Ask Noah...
  • Ask David...
  • Ask Paul...
  • Ask that "great cloud of witnesses" he spoke of in his Hebrews!
With what little faith you may think you possess, God can...God will!
Do not be discouraged with your little faith, rather be encouraged, for though it may seem small in your mortal eyes, in His hands it can work wonders beyond the human imagination!

As the war trudged on with the odds against them, Paine wrote to encourage Washington's discouraged troops:
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of men and women.
Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered: yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."
Since its inception, the Gospel has generally spread westward. Some have postulated had it gone eastward, China would be a Christian nation today and there would be no America.
At any rate, it left Jerusalem in that historic first century, spreading westward to Rome, eventually to England, and finally to America.

America Sinking America, wedged between two vast oceans, has arisen above their waters like a great ship, a Gospel Ship carrying her precious cargo ever onward...
  • Her bow to the Pacific...
  • Her stern to the Atlantic...
  • Her sails to the Heavens!
And as with any successful and great enterprise, lesser men, godless men, have attached themselves to her, eating like a cancer at her very hull. She has been filled since her launch with men's moral indifference, spiritual depravity and political corruption. When and if she seldom prays, it is no longer exclusively to the one True God, but as with whoring Israel in her many dark days of her past, to the many gods.

She lists, very heavily, in danger of capsizing, sinking below the tides of those who come to her without becoming her. They wish to remain separate, imposing upon her the failed ideas of disgraced mortals from nations God has long since been exiled from.

Faith and faith alone will right her. It must right her! Else, should she sink below the waters, all will perish and the world will be without hope--nations and their peoples left to be tossed into the furnace of passionate and powerful men's selfish ambitions.

With our combined faith, let us offer it to God that she may be turned upside down, righting her once again for Him!

During the year of our Bicentennial, an unusual number of major eclipses occurred of both the sun and moon; our greatest eclipse today, however, is the moral and spiritual eclipse of America's soul. His Light grows dim in the shadow of our darkness.
  • The Ship is dark!
  • Our sin is deep!
  • The enemy lies within!
Our back has been turned to God for too long...
The dark shadow of our sin has hidden us from Him.
As with the plague of the Dark Ages, it has stifled America far too long...
We languish in squalid waters, adrift with neither compass nor power to propel further.
We pant for a fresh breath of His Spirit upon us, a new wind in our sails, setting us aright, returning us to the course once charted for us!

To right America again, we need to begin by doing two things:
  1. We need to shut down our own power, to be STILL and know that God is our God, our propelling force, the unseen wind that fills and drives our sails. It is not our might that makes us great, but God's grace!
  2. We need to acquire and apply some good old Golden Ignorance.
Dr. Moody tells of a steamboat stranded on a sandbar on the Mississippi River and the captain could not get her off:
Eventually, a hard-looking man stepped on board and said: "I am told that you are in need of a pilot to help you out of this difficulty."
"Yes, we are" said the captain, "Are you a pilot?"
"Well, that's what they call me," answered the man.
"Do you know where the snags and sandbars are?"
"No, sir."
"Then how do you expect to run this steamboat if you do not know where the snags and the sandbars are?--if you are not familiar with the places of danger?"
"Easy enough; I know where they ain't."
" I believe in America. I believe it became great because of its faith in God, hope for independence, and its love for freedom.
I am grateful for America's glorious past; I am awed by its unbelievable present; I am confident of its limitless future.
I am not ashamed to take my hat off and to stand at attention when Old Glory passes by. I do not apologize for the lump in my throat when I repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.
I am not embarrassed by the tears in my eyes when I hear "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Like millions of Americans, I want a free choice, not a free handout. I prefer an opportunity to prove my abilities on the job rather than a license to demonstrate my frustrations in the street.
I am an old-fashioned American with a new-found determination to do my part to make democracy work."
And we join, William Arthur Ward, in saying, AMEN!

In his speech to the Southern Baptist Convention, President Gerald Ford said:
"In this Bicentennial year, we celebrate our independence from a foreign power, but we reaffirm our dependence upon a higher power."
 
  C.
WE HAVE THE PURPOSE!
    President Ford went on to say:
"This rekindling of religious conviction, the new appreciation for Biblical teaching we see in America today is an encouraging development as we move into our third century as a nation. It means that we will resolve to make our society not only prosperous but noble, not only progressive but constructive.
We may come to know peace, not as the mere absence of war, but as a climate in which understanding can grow and human dignity can flourish."
No greater mandate has ever been given to a people than:
Mat. 28:18-19 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"
In his first epistle, James tells us our faith is useless for others unless it speaks and acts:
James 1:22,27 "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves... Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."
James goes on to say:
James 2:15-16 "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?"


LISTEN CHRISTIAN

I was hungry
and you formed a humanities club
and discussed my hunger.
Thank you.

I was imprisoned
and you crept off quietly
to your chapel in the cellar
and prayed for my release.

I was naked
and in your mind
you debated the morality of
my appearance.

I was sick
and you knelt
and thanked God
for your health.

I was homeless
and you preached to me
about the spiritual shelter
of the love of God.

I was lonely
and you left me alone
to pray for me.

Christian,
you seem so holy;
so close to God
But I'm still
very hungry,
very lonely, and
very very cold!

Man's noblest hour was not:
  • the signing of the Declaration of Independence by 56 men
  • nor Lincoln's signature of the Emancipation Proclamation,
  • nor was it America's raising Ole Glory on the moon!
It can be seen, however, when we look close enough at the example of President Lincoln stopping on his way to deliver the Gettysburg Address, stooping and lifting a tiny fallen bird to its nest in a tree along the way. When questioned by witnesses, he responded:
"I could not have slept tonight without seeing that little bird crying for the warmth of its nest and comfort of its home."
May God give us the heart of Lincoln, and, to this end, we all have been called!
Let the "church" do what it should and let the government protect us in doing so.
Let us stop abdicating to the government what is our duty to perform.
 
  D.
WE HAVE THE PROMISE!
   
  • We are the PEOPLE...
  • We have the POWER...
  • We have the PURPOSE...
  • We have been given the PROMISE!
II Chron. 7:14 "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 have His promise found in the OLD TESTAMENT that:
  • He WILL hear from heaven...
  • He WILL forgive our sin...
  • He WILL heal our land.
And we have His Son's promise found in the NEW TESTAMENT:
...and lo, I AM with you always, even unto the end of the world. AMEN.


III.
CHALLENGE AND PRAYER - GOD SAVE AMERICA!
   
  • Let the church get on her knees for America...
  • Let the church pray up for America...
  • Let the church stand up for moral righteousness in America...
  • Let the church turn America upside down, righting her once again for our Lord!
  • We have the PEOPLE...
  • We have the POWER...
  • We have the PURPOSE...
  • We have the PROMISE!
WHEN? IF NOT NOW?    WHO? IF NOT YOU?

Are you willing?
Are you willing to:
  • pay the price...
  • pledge to her and to each other your lives, your fortunes, your sacred honor...
  • claim the promise...
  • use the power...
  • and fulfill His purpose for YOU in YOUR world today?
 
GOD SAVE AMERICA
(#387 Broadman Hymnal)
 
  GOD SAVE AMERICA!
New world of glory, Newborn to freedom and knowledge and power,
Lifting the towers of her lightning lit cities
Where the flood-tides of humanity roar!
 
  GOD SAVE AMERICA!
Here may all races Mingle together as children of God,
Founding an empire on brotherly kindness,
Equal in liberty, made of one blood!
 
  GOD SAVE AMERICA!
Brotherhood banish Wail of the worker and curse of the crushed;
Joy break in songs from her jubilant millions,
Hailing the day when all discords are hushed!
 
  GOD SAVE AMERICA!
Bearing the olive, Hers be the blessing the peacemakers prove,
Calling the nations to glad federation,
Leading the world in the triumphs of love!
 
  GOD SAVE AMERICA!
'Mid all her splendors, Save her from pride and from luxury;
Throne in her heart the Unseen and Eternal,
RIGHT BE HER MIGHT and THE TRUTH, MAKE HER FREE!
 
AMERICA!
ONE NATION UNDER GOD,
INDIVISIBLE,
SUSTAINED BY HIS GRACE,
AMAZING GRACE!
Our God Awaits!
Our Country Awaits...but it can't for long!   She lists.   She lists heavily!
Will you join with me?
Will you stand with me?
Will you go with me?
(Call and Prayer.)
- Ken Livingston
July 4, 1976

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