Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the June 30, 1957, edition of the Pentecostal Evangel.
On this Independence Day, may we pause to evaluate and appreciate the heritage which is ours. Surely we as a nation have precious liberties which have been left to us — an inheritance of inestimable value.
A brief look at history discloses the absolute folly of building upon any concept other than that of Christian principle. Pericles built a civilization upon culture, and it failed. Caesar built a civilization upon power, and it failed. Our forefathers founded our nation upon religion, and America will live so long as the Lord is our God.
When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, they knelt down upon the shore and thanked God for giving them a new country. As the first colonies developed, the Church of Jesus Christ was at the center. When the Continental Congress, faced great problems and difficulties, knew not which way to turn, Benjamin Franklin called the members of Congress to fall upon their knees and pray. The picture of Moses was upon the first coin circulated in America, and today we have the words, “In God We Trust,” on our money. Yes, our forefathers knew that they were building on a firm foundation when they built upon God and Christian concepts.
The Medo-Persians had a great nation, but they drank their way downward in one orgy after another. Their civilization came crashing to the ground and they perished from the face of the earth.
Egypt flourished under Joseph. After 400 years had gone by, the people forgot Joseph and his God, and Egypt went down. Greece, under Alexander the Great, conquered the world, but Alexander could not conquer himself. He died in drunken debauchery, and the civilization of Greece came tumbling down.
Rome was the proud ruler of the world, but luxury and lust ate at the center of its life and the city also perished.
These examples should be lessons to us, of which we should be constantly reminded. We must, if we are to remain free, put our roots down deep in God and live according to His laws.
How inspiring is the recollection of the picture of George Washington, the father of our country, at Valley Forge. His little army was starving and freezing. Everything they held dear was at stake. They were fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds. There in the snow Washington fell on his knees in prayer to Almighty God. That is the spirit which built America. The nation was founded on God, and if our liberties are to survive, we must continue to build on that firm foundation.
We need to be on guard, lest we allow to slip from us the basic factors of our national heritage. In many areas of our culture we have drifted far from our original moorings. In our position of strength, there has been a subtle shift from the original emphasis which made our nation great. The United States has pursued pleasure until today we spend more for entertainment than any other country. But it is only as we turn to God that we find lasting satisfaction and security.
Our position of strength is not in our material, cultural, or social attainments. Our strength today, as in the beginning, lies in our spiritual dedication. The pattern of security and strength is given to us in the pointed admonition of God’s Word: “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 I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV).
In other words, God says to sick nations: “If you will follow My directions and obey My commands, I will heal your land. Clean up your lives, your country, your homes, your businesses, and your churches, and I will make your country a delightsome land.”
If we flagrantly ignore and disobey the Word of God, we as a nation cannot expect the blessings of God. We, as other strong civilizations before us, will see the dread deterioration of our strength and the dissipation of those liberties which we hold dear.
In other days, God saw the wickedness of His people and sent the Chaldeans to persecute them. They were a fierce and terrible people, but God used them as His whip in punishing a nation.
The Psalmist said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12, KJV).
In the final analysis, the freedom that we enjoy collectively is but a reflection of the personal liberty which we have as individuals. The true aim of Christ is to make all people free. He saw around Him servitude in every form — man in slavery to man, and race to race. His own countrymen were in bondage to the Romans — slaves of both Jewish and Roman masters, frightfully oppressed. Those who were politically and ecclesiastically free were in worse bondage still — the rich and the rulers were slaves to their own passions. Christ, conscious of His deity and His Father’s intention, authoritatively declared, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, KJV). Thus Jesus pointed to the true nature of human bondage and proclaimed His emancipation.
The worst slavery is personal bondage to sin. Political coercion may imprison the body, or intellectual error degrade the mind, but the most abject and total bondage is that of the soul under the domination of passion and willfulness. Jesus declared, “The truth shall make you free.”
Ours is not a liberty to do as we please; rather it is liberation from the bondage of sin and selfishness and freedom to do the will of God. A knowledge of Christ as truth involves the acceptance of His life as the pattern for ours. It superimposes upon our lives a vision and appreciation of eternal objectives. It gives to us a new and proper sense of values, and establishes within our lives a sense of divine priority. We are loosed from the petty, the trivial, and the unimportant; we are enabled to devote ourselves to those things that are part of His will — those things which are eternal.
Only the truth can make us free. This truth is not mere information, or human wisdom, or natural knowledge; it is summation of truth as epitomized in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is more than a mental assent to correct doctrine and theology. Christ is “The Truth” — and His teaching accepted by the will and expressed in the life is the truth that makes us free.
The apostle Paul triumphantly declares, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit (Romans 8:1).”