Two hundred thirty-four years ago today, America was at a great crossroads even before she was formed. On this day in 1776, fifty-six men gathered in Independence Hall in Philadelphia to debate the fate of the American colonies. John Adams described it as “This morning is assigned the greatest debate of all.” Would we be a nation of free and independent states, or would we continue under the tyranny of King George? All knew what they were seeking and not all were in favor. If independence were to come, then surely war would as it was already upon them. Adams of all the founders knew that independence and war were connected at the hip:
“The object is great which we have in view, and we must expect a great expense of blood to obtain it. But we should always remember that a free constitution of civil government cannot be purchased at too dear a rate, as there is nothing on this side of Jerusalem of equal importance to mankind.”
What did Adams mean by “this side of Jerusalem”? Could it be he had Jesus’ sacrifice of blood in mind?
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?'” (Luke 4:16-22)
Being set free from oppression is not a manmade concept; it is God-breathed and blood-bought. The tyranny of man is a cruel slavemaster and yet it pales in comparison to the tyranny of sin and the damage it does to a man’s soul. The wrath of a tyrant brings terror and the shackles of imprisonment; the wrath of God because of our sin brings judgment, causing the gnashing of teeth and eternal damnation.
Our Founders fought for liberty, giving all they had willingly, acknowledging so in the last line above their signatures on our nation’s birth certificate:
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.
Those stirring words along with the rest of the document is our nation declaring to be free; the stirring words of Jesus in Luke 4 are His declaring to be Messiah.
John Adams understood the historical significance in what they were partaking. In a letter to a friend he wrote:
“Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, measures in which the lives and liberties of millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world.”
Jesus was well aware of His mission and of the eternal significance of His life as the Son of Man. When Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king…
“Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.'” (John 18:37)
So how does our nation’s independence relate to our liberty in Christ? Are we truly a Christian nation? No, we have never truly been a Christian nation, but we were founded on Christian principles and our heritage is certainly from Christianity. Again look at Adams’ words in a letter written to Thomas Jefferson after they had both left the presidency:
“The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite…And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity, in which all these Sects were United…Now I will avow, that I then believe, and now believe, that those general Principles of Christianity, are as eternal and immutable, as the Existence and Attributes of God; and that those Principles of Liberty, are as unalterable as human Nature and our terrestrial, mundane System.”
Our nation was founded on the Christian principle of Liberty, a liberty afforded to every man in the world. I speak not of American liberty, but eternal liberty, bought at the great expense of Christ’s blood. Our nation’s liberty has come at a great expense of blood and yet today we see that liberty being stolen from us by elected officials hell-bent on establishing a soft tyranny (to use Mark Levin’s term). Our Founders would be ashamed of us today, especially those of us who call ourselves Christians.
Many a First Century Christian gave his and her life for Christian liberty; very few American Christians give more than a hoot about American liberty much less Christian liberty. Our greatest critic would probably be John Adams’ son, John Quincy. One of his most famous quotes indicts us today:
“Posterity–you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”
A less famous quote of John Quincy Adams indicts the historical revisionists who try to claim we were not founded on Christian principles. In a speech given July 4, 1837, Adams asked:
“Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns to this day? Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of a nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact of the foundation of the Redeemer’s mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Savior and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before?”
Sunday is Independence Day and as Americans we will enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs, watermelon and fireworks. John Adams would have enjoyed that; he called for that (more on that Sunday). May we also remember not only the great expense of blood shed for our national liberty, but also and more importantly remember the inconceivable expense to our Heavenly Father for our eternal liberty, should we so choose to receive it.
Tomorrow the vote for independence…
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Copyright © 2010 David Jeffers
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