Sermon Sunday – J.C. Ryle – Freedom

July 3, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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Freedom
by
J. C. Ryle
(1816-1900)

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© Copyright 2001 by Tony Capoccia. This updated file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as
long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. All rights reserved.

Verses quoted, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION © 1978
by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

A copy of this sermon, Preached by Tony Capoccia, is available
on Audio Tape Cassette or Audio CD at www.gospelgems.com
___________________________________________________________________

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”–John 8:36

The subject before us today deserves our attention. It should ring in the ears of every person like the voice of a trumpet. We live in a land which is the very cradle of freedom. But are we ourselves free?

The question is one which demands special attention during the present state of public opinion. The minds of many are absorbed in politics. Yet there is a freedom, within the reach of all of us, which few, I am afraid, ever think of–a freedom independent of all political changes–a freedom which neither the prevailing government, nor the cleverest politician can bestow. This is the freedom about which I speak today. Do we know anything of it? Are we free? Continue Reading Sermon Sunday – J.C. Ryle – Freedom…

Persecution Fridays – Iran

June 24, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in VOM Fridays | Leave a comment
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For more news on what’s really happening to Christians around the world go to the Voice of the Martyrs website: www.persecution.com

Iran: Cleric Admits Failures

Iran’s religious leaders continue to denounce Christianity in their speeches and meetings. In an April 2011 speech, Islamist hardliner Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, who is known as a mastermind of the government’s strategy against Christians, called for greater government action against Christians in Iran. Yazdi admitted that government actions aimed at destroying Christianity have thus far failed.

“In connection with the growth of Christianity in some of the provinces, the actions taken by the government and the judicial authorities and the massive funding of such programs have not achieved the desired results,” Yazdi said during a meeting with the heads of the Islamic Propagation Center of Qum. Yazdi, who is famous for his extremist Shiite beliefs, blamed an undisciplined attitude and lack of proper supervision for the government’s failure to contain Christianity. “Today there are many websites that are fighting against Islamic ideology, and one must consider that responding to these sites is a very valuable thing,” Yazdi said.

In a speech last year, one year after the tumultuous presidential election in Iran, Yazdi called the widespread protests in response to the election a “menace.” According to Mohabat News, Yazdi demanded that “this country-wide menace must be controlled like a virus.” He then accused the republic’s enemies — those protesting the elections — of anarchy and of allowing “false religions” like house-church Christianity to spread.

Another religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani, has also warned against the ever-increasing activities of Christians, according to Mohabat News. Sobhani lamented the fact that 600 people have converted to Christianity in one city.

Mohabat News reports that Christian persecution has subsided in Iran as infighting continues between the religious elite and government officials. However, the ayatollahs’ recent warnings have increased public indignation and hatred against Christians and other religious minorities.

Sermon Sunday – Samuel Davies – The Nature and Author of Regeneration

June 19, 2011 at 6:30 am | Posted in Sermon Sunday | Leave a comment
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The Nature and Author of Regeneration

by Samuel Davies

“Marvel not that I said unto you: You must be born again.” John 3:7

Those doctrines are not strange to a well-informed mind, which are most wondered at in the ignorant world. Ignorance is apt to wonder, where knowledge discovers nothing amazing or unaccountable. My present purpose is to look into the doctrine of Regeneration, or the New Birth.

Nicodemus comes to Christ with a conviction of his high character as a Teacher from God, who attested his commission by the strong and popular evidence of miracles. From such a Teacher, he expects sublime instructions; and from his own improvements in Jewish learning, he, no doubt, flatters himself he shall be able to comprehend them; but when, instead of gratifying his curiosity by telling him strange and great things of the kingdom of the Messiah—as a secular prince, and a mighty conqueror, as he and his countrymen expected, or discoursing like a Rabbi on the Jewish law; I say, when, instead of this, Jesus opens the conference by a solemn and authoritative declaration of the necessity of something under the name of another birth—how is Nicodemus surprised!

This he cannot understand. This seems strange, new doctrine to him; and he has an objection ready against it, as an absurdity and an impossibility: “But how can anyone be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?” This objection, which was altogether impertinent, and founded upon a gross mistaken notion of the doctrine, may serve as a specimen of all the objections that have been made against this doctrine ever since; they have all proceeded from ignorance, or from gross mistaken notions of an evident truth; and hence men have imagined, like this master of Israel, that they reasoned strongly against it, when in reality they were saying nothing at all to the purpose, and did not so much as understand the case!

Our condescending Lord took a great deal of pains to give Nicodemus right notions of this doctrine. For this purpose he presents it before him in various views. He tells him, he did not mean a second natural birth—but a birth of water and of the spirit; a birth that renders a man spiritual, and consequently fit for that spiritual kingdom he was about to erect; and that the free and Sovereign Spirit of God, the Author of this new birth, operated like wind, which blows where it wills. Nicodemus still continues gazing at him, and wondering what he means. He is puzzled, after all, and asks, “How can these things be?” Jesus tells him the wonder did not lie in the doctrine—but in his ignorance of it, when he was a teacher of the law; “Are you a master in Israel, and know not these things?”

The connection of my text is this: “That which is born of the flesh—is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit—is spirit; therefore, marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again.” That is to say, “The doctrine you are so much surprised at, is not at all absurd, so as to make you wonder to hear it from my mouth. You cannot but know, that all mankind are born of the flesh; that is, propagated in a way that communicates a depraved nature to them; and hence, they are flesh; that is, corrupt and carnal; and therefore wholly unfit to be admitted into my kingdom, which is pure and spiritual. But that which is born of the Spirit—is spirit; that is, spiritual and holy; and therefore fit for that spiritual and holy kingdom, which I have come to set up. Now, if if this is the case, you have certainly no need to marvel at this doctrine: can it seem strange to you, that impure unholy creatures must be changed, before they can be fit members of so holy a society? Can you marvel at this? No! you would have more reason to marvel at the contrary.

It is one part of my design today to inquire, Whether the doctrine of the new birth is indeed such a strange, absurd, or impossible thing in itself, as to deserve that amazement, and indeed contempt, which it generally meets with in the world; or whether it be not rational, necessary, and worthy of universal acceptance? But before I enter upon this, it will be proper to inquire:

1. What the new birth is?

2. Who is the author of it?

3. And in what way does he generally produce it?

Remove your prejudices, my hearers, against this doctrine, suspend your disbelief, and cease to wonder at or ridicule it, until these points are explained, lest you be found to speak evil of the things you know not.

1. Let us inquire—WHAT it is to be born again?

To gain your attention to this inquiry, I need only put you in mind, that whatever be meant by the new birth, it is not an insignificant speculation, not the disputed peculiarity of a party, not the attainment of a few good men of the first class—but it is essential to every godly man, and absolutely necessary to salvation. You cannot doubt of this, if you look upon Jesus Christ as a person of common veracity, and worthy of credit in his most solemn declarations; for he has declared, over and over again, with the utmost solemnity, that “No one can see the kingdom of God—unless he is born again. John 3:3, 5, and 7. Attend, then—if you think your eternal salvation worthy of your attention.

The phrase, to be born again, like most other expressions used upon divine subjects, is metaphorical, and brings in natural things with which we are familiarly acquainted, to assist our conceptions of divine things, which might otherwise be above our comprehension. We all know what it is to be born; and our knowledge of this may help us to understand what it is to be born again. As by our first birth we become men, or partake of human nature—so by our second birth, we become Christians, and are made partakers of a divine and spiritual nature. As our first birth introduces us into this world, and into human society, so our second birth introduces us into the church of Christ, and makes us true members of that holy society. As by our first birth we resemble our parents, at least in the principal lineaments of human nature, so by our second birth we are made partakers of the divine nature; that is, we are made to resemble the blessed God in holiness: or, as Paul expresses it, we are renewed after his image—in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Ephesians 4:24; Col. 3:10. The effect is like its cause; the child like the parent. That which is born of the flesh—is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit—is spirit. This is according to the established laws of generation, by which everything begets its like.

In our first birth—we are endowed with child-like and filial dispositions towards our human parents; and when we are born of God—we are inspired with a child-like and filial temper towards him, as our heavenly Father.

By our natural birth we are placed in an imperfect—but growing state. We have all the powers of human nature, though none of them in perfection; but from that time they grow and improve, until they at length arrive to maturity. In like manner, in our second birth, all the principles of virtue and grace are implanted; but their growth and improvement is the work of the Christian life: and from that time they continue gradually growing, though with many interruptions, until at death they arrive at maturity and perfection.

In our natural birth we pass through a very great change. The infant that had lain in darkness, breathless and almost insensible, and with little more than a vegetative life, enters into a new state, feels new sensations, craves a new kind of nourishment, and discovers new powers. In like manner, in the second birth, the sinner passes through a great change: a change as to his view of divine things: as to his temper, his practice, and his state; a change so great, that he may with propriety be denominated another man, or a new creature.

As I shall adjust my discourse to the narrow limits of an hour, I must pass over, or but slightly touch upon all the particulars suggested by the metaphor in my text, except the last, which is the most comprehensive and instructive: namely, that the new birth implies a great change in the views, the temper, the practice, and the state of the sinner; and under this head, sundry of the other particulars may be reduced.

The various forms of expression, which the Scripture uses to represent what is here called a second birth, all conspire to teach us, that it consists in a great change. It is represented as a resurrection, or a change from death to life: “You has he quickened,” says Paul, “who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1.

It is represented as a new creation: “If any man be in Christ,” says the same inspired author, “he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Put on,” says he, “the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24.

These and like expressions signify a very great change, and such forms of speech are very commonly used in the same sense; which shows they are so far from being ridiculous, that they are agreeable to the common sense of mankind. When we see a man that we once knew, look, and speak, and act as he used to do, it is customary to say, “He is the old man still.” But if we see a great alteration in his appearance, his temper, or behavior, we are apt to say, “He is a new man “or, “He is quite another creature.” When we see a rugged, boisterous man become meek and inoffensive, we are apt to say, “He is become a mere child.” These forms of speech are so significant and popular, that they have even passed into proverbs, and that in various countries and languages; and hence they are used in the Scriptures as plain and familiar representations of this great truth. And hence we are bold to use them, in spite of that senseless ridicule and contempt, which some would cast upon them; but which rebounds upon themselves, for censuring modes of expression that are not only sacred—but agreeable to common sense.

Now, since it is evident the new birth signifies a great change; you are impatient, by this time, I hope, to know more particularly WHAT it is. It is the change of a thoughtless, ignorant, hard-hearted, rebellious sinner—into a thoughtful, well-informed, tender-hearted, dutiful servant of God. It is the implantation of the seeds or principles of every grace and virtue in a heart that was entirely destitute of them, and full of sin.

The sinner that was accustomed to have no practical affectionate regard for the great God—is now made to revere, admire, and love him as the greatest and best of Beings; to rejoice in him as his supreme happiness, and cheerfully to submit to him as his Ruler. Formerly his temper and conduct would better agree to the infidelity of an atheist, than to the faith of a Christian: but now, he thinks, and speaks, and acts, as one that really believes there is a God; a God who inspects all his ways, and will call him to an account.

The heart that was accustomed to spurn the holiness of the divine law, and murmur at the strictness of its precepts—now loves it; loves it for that very reason for which it was accustomed to hate it; namely, because it is so holy. This was the temper of the Psalmist: “Your Word is very pure; therefore (that is, on that very account) your servant loves it!” Psalm 119:140; and of Paul, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy”—and what follows? “I delight,” says he, “in the law, after the inward man. And I consent unto the law that it is good.” Romans 7:12, 16, 22.

The haughty, stubborn, deceitful heart—is now made humble, pliable, simple, and honest, like that of a little child. Hence Christ says, “Except you are converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt, 18:3, 4. This was also the temper of David: “LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or awesome for me. But I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quiet with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:1, 2.

The heart that used to have no delight in communion with God—but lived as without God in the world—now feels a filial desire to draw near to him, and address him with the humble boldness and freedom of a child. “Because you are sons,” says Paul, “God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father,” Galatians 4:6. That is, “Father, Father!” the repetition of so tender a name intimates the greatest endearment and affectionate freedom.

The heart that had no realizing, affecting views of the future eternal state—now feels the energy of that doctrine, and looks upon heaven and hell as indeed the most important realities!

The heart that was once earthly and sensual, eagerly set upon things below, as its vain pursuit—is now taught to aspire to heaven; in heaven is its treasure, and there it will be. The thoughts that were once scattered among a thousand trifles—are now frequently collected, and fixed upon the great concerns of piety.

Now also the heart is remarkably altered towards the Lord Jesus: formerly it seemed sufficient to wear his name, to profess his religion, to believe him to be the Savior of the world, to insert his name in a prayer now and then, and to give a formal attendance upon the institutions of his worship; but oh! now he appears in a more important and delightful light. Now the sinner is deeply sensible that Jesus is indeed the only Savior, and he most eagerly embraces him under that endearing character, and entrusts his eternal all into his hands. Now he appears to him all lovely and glorious, and his heart is forever captivated with his beauty. Now he prays, and longs, and languishes for him, and feels him to be all in all. Oh! now the very thought of being without Christ, kills him. Thus, God, who first commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shined into his heart, to give him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ; 2 Corinthians 4:6, in that face where it shines with the fairest beams.

Now also the man has very different views of himself: he sees himself to be a guilty, depraved, vile creature, all overrun with sin, and destitute of all goodness—except as it is wrought in him by divine grace! How different is this from the proud, self-righteous estimate he was accustomed to form of himself!

His views of SIN are also quite different from what they used to be: he used to look upon it as a slight, excusable evil, except when it broke out into some gross acts. But now he sees sin to be unspeakably vile and base, in every instance and degree. An evil thought, a corrupt motion of desire, an indisposed heart towards God, appears to him a shocking evil, such as nothing but the infinite mercy of God can forgive, and even that mercy, upon no other account but that of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He sees that sin does most justly deserve everlasting punishment; and he is often lost in wonder that the gospel should open a door of hope even for him, who has been so deeply guilty. It breaks his heart to think that he indulged so base a thing for so long; and he can never be fully reconciled to himself, while he feels the remains of sin within him.

His REPENTANCE now takes a new turn. Formerly he was entirely under the influence of self-love, and therefore, when he had any concern for his sin, it entirely proceeded from the servile principle of fear; fear of the punishment, and not hatred of the crime. But now his soul is ennobled with more sincere principles. Now he can mourn over sin, as a base, ungrateful evil, even when he has no thoughts of the punishment. Now he can mourn over sin as against God, and not only as against a sin-punishing God—but as against a sin-pardoning God. Now he mourns with sincere sorrow over pardoned sin; and God’s being so good as to forgive him, is so far from lessening the evil of sin in his view, that this very consideration peculiarly affects him. Oh! that he should be so base as to sin against a God who is so gracious as to forgive him after all! This thought breaks his heart; and God’s forgiving him, is a reason why he can never forgive himself.

The heart has also a new temper in the duties of religion: it can no more indulge in habitual coldness or lukewarmness in them—but exerts its powers to the utmost; and when it has a languishing interval, it cannot be easy in that condition—but tries to rouse itself again. Experience teaches that it is good to draw near to God; and the ordinances of the gospel are not tiresome formalities, as they were accustomed to be—but the means of life and refreshment; and they are its happiest hours which are spent in attending upon them.

Now the gospel is not that dull, stale, neglected tale it once was—but the most joyful tidings that ever came from heaven! As a new-born babe, the regenerate soul desires the sincere milk of the Word, that it may grow thereby, 1 Peter 2:2, and it is esteemed more than necessary food.

Now the careless, secure soul, that was always cautious of over-doing in religion, and flattering itself there is no need of being so much in earnest—is effectually roused, and strives in earnest to enter in at the strait gate, convinced both of the difficulty and necessity of entering! Now religion is no longer a trifling matter—but a serious business; and everything that comes in competition with it must give way to it. The man is resolved to save his soul at all hazards; and this, he is now convinced, is no easy work.

To sum up the whole, for I can only give a few specimens of particulars, the regenerate soul is changed universally in every part. I do not mean the change is perfect in any part. Alas! no—sin still lives, and sometimes makes violent struggles, though crucified—the old man dies hard! But I mean, the change does really extend to every part. The soul is in no respect the same it was accustomed to be, as to the concerns of religion. It has new views, new sensations, new joys, new sorrows, new inclinations and aversions, new hopes and fears. In short, as the apostle tells us, all things are become new, 2 Corinthians 5:17; and according to his inspired prayer, the whole man, soul, body, and spirit, is sanctified. 1 Thess. 5:23.

By way of confirmation, let me add a few characters of a regenerate man, which are expressly Scriptural. “Every one who loves—is born of God,” says John, 1 John 4:7. That is, every new-born soul is possessed with a sincere love to all mankind, which prompts it to observe the whole law in its conduct towards them, (for love is the fulfilling of the whole law,) and restrains it from doing them any injury: (for love works no evil to his neighbor,) Romans 13:10. This love extends not only to friends—but also to strangers, and even to enemies. It is a friendship to human nature in general; it spreads over the whole earth, and embraces the whole race of man. But as the righteous are the more excellent ones of the earth, it terminates upon them in a peculiar degree: and the reason is obvious; they are, in a peculiar sense, the saints’ brethren, the children of the same heavenly Father; and they bear a resemblance to him: and if he loves the Original—he must also love the copy. Thus, says John, “everyone who loves the Father—loves his children, too.” 1 John 5:1.

Another character of regeneration the same apostle gives you, 1 John 5:4, 5, and that is, victory over the world by faith. “Whoever is born of God, overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” That is, whatever temptations may arise from the riches, honors, or pleasures of the world, or from the society of mankind, the man who is born of God has such believing views of eternal things, as constrains him to conflict with them, and overcome them. He has not such a base, dastardly soul, as to yield to opposition. He is enabled by divine grace, to brave dangers, and encounter difficulties in so good a cause: he dares to be wise and holy, though all the world should turn against him. Oh what a change is this from his former temper!

Another distinguishing characteristic of the new birth, is, universal holiness of practice, or a conscientious observance of every known duty, and an honest, zealous resistance of every known sin. There is no known DUTY, however unfashionable, disagreeable, or dangerous—but what the true convert honestly endeavors to perform! And there is no known SIN, however customary, pleasing, or gainful—but what he honestly resists, and from which he labors to abstain.

This necessarily follows from what has been said; for when the principles of action are changed within—then the course of action will be changed too. When the heart is made holy, it will infallibly produce habitual holiness of practice. A good tree must bring forth good fruit. This John asserts in the strongest manner, and in various forms. “You know,” says he, “that every one that does righteousness;” that is, that habitually practices righteousness, “is born of God,” 1 John 2:29.

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin;” that is, he does not sin habitually, so as to be denominated a sinner by way of distinction; “but he who is begotten of God, keeps himself;” that is, keeps himself from the infection of sin; and that wicked one touches him not. 1 John 5:18.

“Little children,” says he, “let no man deceive you: he who does righteousness is righteous—but he who commits sin is of the devil. Whoever is born of God does not commit sin;” that is, as I explained it before, he does not habitually sin in the general tenor of his practice, so as to make his sin his distinguishing character; “for his seed remains in him;” that is, the principles of grace, implanted in him in regeneration, are immortal, and will never allow him to give himself up to sin, as formerly. And he cannot continue to practice sin—because he is born of God: his being born of God happily disables him forever from abandoning himself to sin again. “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are;” that is, this is the grand distinguishing characteristic existing between them, “Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God.” 1 John 3:7-10.

You see, then, a holy practice is one of the most certain signs of regeneration; and, therefore, in vain do such pretend to it, or boast of high attainments in inward experimental religion, who are not holy in their practice, and do not live righteously, soberly, and godly in the world.

By this time, I hope, my friends, you understand what it is to be born again. And now, upon a review of the subject, there are several things of importance, which I would submit to your consideration:

First, I leave you now to consider, whether baptism is the same thing with regeneration, or the new birth in the Scripture sense. I grant that baptism is a sacramental sign of regeneration, just as the Lord’s Supper is a sacramental sign of the body and blood of Christ; and, therefore, baptism may be called regeneration, by the same figure which Christ uses when he says of the bread, “This is my body.” In this metonymical sense, this method of speaking has been used by many great and good men: and when they call baptism regeneration, they only mean, that it is an outward sign of it, just as the sacramental bread, for the same reason, is called the body of Christ. Were it always used in this sense, it would hardly be worth while to take notice of it as an impropriety; though I must confess, I cannot find the same form of speech indisputably used concerning baptism in the Bible.

But when men are taught that the whole of that regeneration, or new birth, which the Scripture requires as absolutely necessary to salvation, means no more than just being baptized; and when they who have been baptized, begin to think that they have no more to do with the new birth, the error is too dangerous to be passed over in silence! I shall just lead you into a track of thought, by which you may easily make yourselves judges in this controversy.

If baptism is regeneration in the Scripture sense, then, whatever the Scripture says concerning people regenerated, born again, or created anew—will also hold true concerning people baptized. This is so plain a principle, that it is hard to make it plainer; for if baptism is the same with regeneration, the new birth, or the new creation—then the same things may be said of it. Proceeding upon this obvious principle, let us make the trial in a few instances.

It may be truly said of him who is born of God, in the Scripture sense, that he does not habitually sin, etc. Now substitute baptized, instead of born of God, and consider how it will read, “Every one that is baptized sins not; but he who is baptized keeps himself; and the evil one touches him not.” Has this statement any appearance of truth? Do not all of you know so much of the conduct of many who have been baptized, as to see that this statement is most notoriously false! For where can we find more audacious sinners upon earth, than many who have been baptized!

Let us make another trial. Whoever is born of God, in the Scripture sense, overcomes the world. But will it hold true, that whoever is baptized, overcomes the world?

If any man be in Christ, in the Scripture sense, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, and all things are become new. But how will it sound if you read, If any man be baptized—he is a new creature: old things are passed away, and all things are become new? Does baptism universally make such a change in the subject, as that it may, with any tolerable propriety, be called a new creation? I might easily make the same experiment with many other passages of Scripture; but these may suffice as a specimen.

And now, must it not be as evident as any mathematical demonstration, that regeneration, or the new birth, in the Scripture sense, is something else, something more divine, more intrinsic, more transformative of the whole man, than baptism? That man must labor to be deceived, who can work up himself to believe, after such a representation of the case, that if he has been baptized, he has all that regeneration which is necessary to his admission into the kingdom of heaven!

I know no absurdity parallel to it, except the doctrine of transubstantiation, the characteristic absurdity of the church of Rome. Because Christ, in the distribution of the elements in the Eucharist, said of the bread, “This is my body,” putting the sign for the thing signified, therefore Papists conclude, the bread is substantially the very same with the body of Christ signified by it, though it still retains all the sensible properties of bread.

Some Protestants have fallen into the same error as to the other sacrament of baptism, and that with less plausibility. I can find no Scripture that says of baptism, “This is regeneration:” and yet they insist upon it that it is the very thing; and make the sign—and the thing signified one and the same. Let me borrow a very plain and popular—and yet substantial, argument from Limborch. “The great design of Christ’s coming into the world was, to renew and regenerate men; this is a work worthy of his own immediate hand.” And yet we are told, Jesus baptized not—but his disciples. John 4:2. A plain evidence that he made a distinction between baptism and regeneration. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says, “I thank God that I have baptized none of you—but Crispus and Gaius.” 1 Corinthians 1:14. But if baptism be regeneration, his meaning must be, I thank God that I regenerated none of you.

But is this cause of thanksgiving? Could he give thanks to God that he had not regenerated any of them? Christ, says he, sent me not to baptize. But can we think Christ did not send the chief of the apostles to promote the great work of regeneration? He elsewhere calls himself their spiritual father, for, says he, in Christ Jesus I have begotten you, through the gospel. 1 Corinthians 4:15. But if baptism is the new birth, he could not have been their father, or begotten them, unless he had baptized them. From which it is evident that Paul made a great difference between baptism and regeneration.”

Therefore, let no man deceive you with vain words. Baptism is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, which you should think highly of; but do not put it out of its place, by substituting it for quite another thing. Believe me, this is not that kind of regeneration which you must be the subjects of, if you would enter into the kingdom of God!

Another thing which I would now leave to your consideration is, whether regeneration, or the new birth, in the sense I have explained it—be not a rational, noble thing? And whether so great a change in a man’s temper and conduct may not emphatically be called a new birth? When a man is born again—the ruins of his nature are repaired, and every noble and divine grace and virtue are implanted in his heart. His heart is made capable of sincere sensations; his understanding has suitable views of the most interesting and sublime objects; and his temper and behavior are rightly formed towards God and man. In short, the base, depraved, earth-born creature—is made an infant-angel! Nay, Peter tells you, he is “made partaker of the divine nature!” 2 Peter 1:4. What a glorious and surprising change is this! Should you see a clod of earth rising from under your feet, and brightening into a sun—it would not be such a glorious a transformation. This change gives a man the very temper of heaven, and prepares him for the enjoyments and employments of that sacred region.

“Therefore, do not be amazed that I told you—that you must be born again!” Do not gaze and wonder at me, as if I told you some strange, new, absurd thing—when I tell you, you must be regenerated in the manner I have explained, if ever you would enter into the kingdom of heaven. Consult your own reason and experience, and they will tell you, that as heaven is the region of perfect holiness, and as you are indisputably corrupted, depraved creatures, you must be so changed, as to be made holy; or, in other words, you must be born again, before you can enjoy the happiness of that holy place!

Or consult the Bible, which you must own to be true—or own yourselves to be the most gross hypocrites in professing the Christian religion; consult your Bible, I say, and you will find the absolute necessity of being born again asserted in the strongest terms. Need I remind you of the solemn asseveration of Christ in my context, “Truly, truly, I say unto you, except a man be born again—he cannot see the kingdom of heaven!” The same blessed lips have assured us, that “Except we be converted, and become as little children, we cannot enter into his kingdom.” Matt, 18:2. Paul speaks in the same strain: “If any man be in Christ,” as we all must be before we can be saved by him, “he is a new creature!” “We are his workmanship,” says he, “created in Christ Jesus to good works!” Ephesians 2:10. “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision—but a new creature.” All external forms of religion, whether Jewish or Christian, are of no avail, without this new creation. Galatians 6:15.

This is also more than intimated in that comprehensive promise of the Old Testament. “I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances!” Ezekiel 36:25-27.

And are not these repeated declarations sufficient to convince you of the necessity of this great change? Will you any more marvel, when you are told that you must be born again? No; rather marvel to hear the contrary! It may indeed astonish you, to be told, that an unholy sinner, without any change—is fit for the presence of a holy God, fit to relish the holy enjoyments of heaven: and capable of being happy in what is directly contrary to his nature. This would be strange, absurd doctrine indeed! and wherever you hear it, you may justly wonder at it, and despise such nonsense!

Now if this is true, that “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” then it will follow, that just as many people in this assembly as have been born again—that just so many are in a state of favor with God, and prepared for the happiness of heaven. And, on the other hand, just as many as are unregenerate, that just so many lie dead in sin, under the wrath of God, and liable to everlasting misery. Let each of you particularly admit this conviction: “If I am not born again, I have not the least ground to hope for happiness in my present state!”

Upon this follows another inquiry, of the utmost importance; and that is: Whether you have ever experienced the blessed change of the new birth? Have your views, your dispositions, and your conduct been changed in the manner described? And can you lay claim to those distinguishing characters of a regenerate soul, which have been mentioned? Pause, and think seriously; recollect your past experiences; look into your own hearts; observe the tenor of your practice; and from the whole, endeavor to gather an honest answer to this grand question, “Have I ever been born again?”

If you can answer this in your favor, Peter will tell you the happy consequence; and I shall only desire you to read those most comfortable verses, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ!” 1 Peter 1:3-7

But if, on the other hand, you find that you have never been born again, what is to be done? Must you lie still in that condition? or should you try to get out of it? I am sure my design in endeavoring to let you see your condition, is, that you may escape out of it and be eternally happy; and if you are so kind to yourselves as to concur with me in this design, I hope, through divine grace, we shall succeed. This introduces the next inquiry, namely,

II. Who is the AUTHOR of this divine change, called the new birth?

The change is so great, so noble, and divine, that from thence alone we may infer it can be produced only by divine power. And the nature of man, in its present state, is so corrupt and weak, that it is neither inclined nor able to produce it. The new birth is uniformly ascribed to God in the sacred writings. The regenerate soul is repeatedly said to be born of God; “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man—but of God.” John 1:13. “All things are become new,” says Paul, “and all things (that is, all these new things) are of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:17, 18. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth,” James 1:17-18. The Spirit is repeatedly mentioned as the author of the new birth, in the chapter where my text lies. This may suffice for the truth of so plain a point.

Here then, sinners, you see to whom you must look for this blessing. You can no more regenerate yourselves—than you could beget yourselves at first. And this you must be deeply sensible of. But HE who made you at first—is able to new-make you, and to repair his own workmanship, which you have demolished. And it is he who has actually changed many a heart in our guilty world. Here the next inquiry comes in very seasonably, namely,

III. In what WAY does this divine agent produce this change?

He is pleased to use such a variety, as to circumstances, that I cannot take time to describe them. But as to the substance of the work, which is the same in all—he generally carries it on in the following manner:

The first step is, to convince the sinner of his need of this change, by revealing to him his guilt and danger, and particularly the universal corruption of his nature. He is roused out of a state of stupid security by an affecting view of the holiness of God, of the purity of his law, of the terror of its penalty, of the great evil of sin, and of his own exposedness to the divine displeasure upon the account of it.

Upon this, he becomes sad and serious, uneasy in his mind, and anxious about his spiritual condition. He endeavors to reform his life; he prays, and uses the other means of grace with earnestness unknown before. And when he has gone on in this course for some time, he begins perhaps to flatter himself, that now he is in a safe condition. But alas! he does not yet know the worst of himself!

Therefore the Holy Spirit opens his eyes to see the inward universal corruption of his whole soul, and that a mere outward reformation is far from being a sufficient cure of a disease so inveterate.

Hereupon the awakened sinner betakes himself to the use of the means of grace with redoubled vigor and earnestness, and strives to change the principles of action within. But alas! he finds his heart is a stubborn thing, and altogether unmanageable to him; and after repeated strivings to no purpose, he is effectually convinced of his own inability, and the absolute necessity of the exertion of divine power to make him truly holy. Therefore he lies at the throne of grace, as a poor, anxious, helpless sinner—entirely at God’s mercy, and unable to relieve himself.

It would take up more time than I can allow, to describe the various exercises, the anxious fears, and eager pantings, the strong cries and tears of a soul in this condition! What I have hinted at, may put such of you in mind of them, as have never been the subjects of them.

While the sinner lies in this desponding situation, it pleases God to pity him. Now the important hour is come, when the old man must be crucified; when the divine and immortal principles must be implanted in a heart full of sin; and when the dead sinner must begin to live a holy and divine life! The great God instantaneously changes the whole soul, and gives it a new, a heavenly turn. In short, now is wrought that important change, which I have already described, which is called the new birth, and denominates the man as ‘a new creature’.

Here again you may furnish yourselves with materials for self-examination. If you have been born again, you have thus felt the pangs of a new birth, and seen your guilty, sinful, and dangerous condition in a true light. And can you put your hand upon your heart, and say, “Here is the heart that has been the subject of this operation!”

Hence also may be gathered some helpful DIRECTIONS for such as are in a state of nature, as to how to attain the new birth:

Endeavor to be thoroughly acquainted with the corruption of your nature: it is from this, that the necessity of a new birth proceeds.

Be fully convinced of the indispensable necessity of this change to your salvation.

Break off from and forsake whatever tends to obstruct the new birth; as excessive worldly cares, bad company, and in short, all sin.

Seriously use all the means of grace; as, earnest prayer, attentive hearing of the Word, etc.

Persevere in so doing, until your endeavors are crowned with success. And particularly, do not grow impatient of those anxieties and fears which will at first attend your pursuit.

These short hints may suffice by way of direction, if you are sincerely desirous of being directed. And what do you determine to do? Will you not resolve to seek after this important change, upon which your eternal all depends? Oh! let us part today fully determined upon this—that we will implore the power and mercy of God to create in us clean hearts, and renew within us right spirits.

Newslinks 09/19/10

September 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Stephen Hawking Takes on Sir Isaac Newton; Christians Respond
Physicist Stephen Hawking made headlines this past week for taking on arguably the most influential scientist in human history, Sir Isaac Newton.

12-Hour Prayer, Fasting Rally Hits Sacramento

Emergency in Pakistan Will ‘Get Worse Before It Gets Better’

Church Mourns Loss of U.S. Army Chaplain in Afghanistan

Poll: 2 in 3 New Yorkers Want Park51 Mosque Moved

Parliament of the World’s Religions Calls for 9/11 Solidarity Continue Reading Newslinks 09/19/10…

Genesis 1:14-19

September 13, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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This week, we continue our look at the week of Creation. Today, we’ll be looking at the fourth day of Creation:

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for light in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. Continue Reading Genesis 1:14-19…

Newslinks 07/11/10

July 11, 2010 at 11:55 am | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Atheists put billboard on Billy Graham Parkway
A statewide coalition of atheists and agnostics has placed billboards in six North Carolina cities, including one along the Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte.

Euthanasia weighs evenly on U.S. morality scale
Gallup’s most recent “Values and Beliefs” survey shows an even split among Americans on the issue of doctor-assisted suicide.

Reformed churches merger approved
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Reformed Ecumenical Council have agreed to merge into the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

When is someone brain dead?
In order to make sure doctors reach the correct conclusion in determining brain death, new guidelines that call for a lengthy examination have been developed.

Joni Eareckson Tada Not Shaken by Breast Cancer
After 43 years of living paralyzed from the neck down and recently learning that she now has breast cancer, Joni Eareckson Tada remains all smiles. Continue Reading Newslinks 07/11/10…

Newslinks 03/14/10

March 14, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Sen. Lieberman Proposes Legalizing Bisexual Behavior in the U.S. Military
(CNSNews.com)
– Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) recently introduced the “Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010,” which would allow homosexuals and bisexuals to openly serve in the United States Armed Forces. Lieberman told CNSNews.com that the bill would legalize homosexual and bisexual activity in the military.

Sen. Nelson: ‘Premature To Make Any Decision’ On Allowing Homosexuals To Openly Serve in Military
(CNSNews.com)
– Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) told CNSNews.com that it is “premature to make any decision” on repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy and the federal law that prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military. “I want to see what the military is putting together,” he said.

Timetable for U.S. Troop Withdrawal on Track, Obama Says, After Iraqis Vote
(CNSNews.com)
– “We will continue with the responsible removal of the United States forces from Iraq,” President Obama said at the White House on Sunday, confirming that “by the end of the next year, all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq.” At least 38 people were killed during a spate of bombing and other attacks near polling stations on Sunday, but millions of Iraqis defied terrorists’ threats and turned out to cast their ballots. Obama noted that Iraqi forces had taken the lead in providing security.

Reported Arrest of American Militant in Pakistan Could Lead to First Treason Trial in Decades
(CNSNews.com)
– Conflicting reports about the possible arrest of American al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Yahya Gadahn in Pakistan are focusing attention once again on the first person to be charged with treason against the United States in more than half a century. Pakistani officials told media organizations Sunday that Gadahn had been arrested in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city. In the years after 9/11, Gadahn appeared, sometimes masked, in a number of videos threatening violence against Americans and other Westerners. Continue Reading Newslinks 03/14/10…

The voice of change? (long)

January 26, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I realize that there won’t be many who read this and there probably won’t be many who agree either, but this is something that I feel I need to write. Our nation is fawning over its new president, but it seems that there are few people who are listening to what he actually says. Below is a transcript of the inaugural speech given by Barack Obama as well as my response.

 

My fellow citizens:

 

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

 

I wonder if president Obama really understands sacrifice? Does he understand our nation’s history (not the revised version) and the trials they went through to forge this nation? Does he really understand humility? This is the same man who wrote a “private” letter to his daughters that was somehow printed in national newspapers. He thanks the former president that he spent the last two years attacking and that he will again attack in this very speech. What is that all about? Is no one paying attention to the man and not just his words?

 

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

 

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

 

Obama talks about peace, prosperity, and storms. I wonder if he really understands. He talks about the skill and vision of those in “high office”, but when I look around, I see the skill, vision, and morality of the “high office” dwindling at an alarming rate. It is being replaced with shallow people in vacuous positions speaking empty words. I wonder if Obama was trying to subtly refer to himself and those he’s chosen to lead our nation. He claims that “We the People” have been “faithful to the ideals of our forbears”, but the majority of “the People” don’t have any inkling of what our forbears stood for. They don’t know the history of our nation, but have instead mired themselves up to their eyeballs in the revised fairy tale that has very little relation to reality. He says that we’ve remained true to our documents. Coming from someone who is supposed to be versed in Constitutional law, it seems that our new President hasn’t read the documents he’s talking about. Our founding fathers laid out a foundation based on God and morality. They set up the government of this country to be “by the People”. All our president has to do is look at what is going on in our nation (and be honest about the very things that he himself promotes and supports) to see that we’ve fallen away from both our nation’s documents and it’s scriptural foundation. Our judicial branch no longer upholds the law it creates it. The “People” have very little to say in the way our nation is run. President Obama needs to be a little more honest and a little less naïve (or deceitful)…

 

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

 

It would take a complete hermit or idiot to fail to see that we’re in a crisis. The problem is that while we’re in a crisis, no one seems to want to admit or express the reason we’re where we are. We are in the situation we’re in because of the sins of both nation as a whole, and the individual people in it. We are here because we’ve removed morality (Christian morality) from just about every aspect of America. We don’t teach our kids morality in schools, so they fornicate and have babies. Because we don’t teach them how precious life is, they can go down the street and kill the baby inside them. We give them ready-made excuses like they’re not ready or it would be burden to the child. If we really wanted to allow abortions, then why not be truthful about it? Allow the child to be born, clean it up, dress it in it’s first clothes, and then send the mom and/or dad into the room with a knife and tell them not to come out until they’ve aborted their baby. It’s really no different than what’s happening now, but at least this way the mom’s would be a little more honest… We neglect to teach our kids ethics or morality at home. Like the government, our response has become “throw money at it”. So we’ve created a generation of disrespectful, detached kids who are happier and feel more loved with their friends than with their families. We’ve created generations of “fathers” who can impregnate any number of women but have absolutely no idea of the responsibility they have to the lives they’ve helped bring about. We continue to promote “alternative lifestyles” like they are equal to what God has ordained. We have been everything BUT true to what our forbears believed! And we’re too prideful and self-righteous to admit it…

 

Our nation is at war because of what it once was, not because of what it is now. Those who hate us do so because of the Christian morals we used to have. We have fought the war against the “network of hatred” on foreign shores because we had experienced people leading us that knew that it is better to fight the war over there than it is to allow it to come over here. We no longer have that experience. Instead, we have a man who seems sympathetic to our enemies and is more than willing to sit down with them to talk. Our economy is badly weakened by greed – period. Obama seems to want to point the finger at the corporations (while still throwing them money) but I wonder if he includes the government in the “some” whose greed has caused us to be where we are. We wouldn’t need bailouts and stimulus packages if the government actually cared about, represented, and worked for the people who put them into office. Instead, they waste America’s money on ludicrous pork barrel agendas, rarely accomplish anything productive, and still manage to vote themselves a yearly raise in spite of the current economic problems. It is not our collective failure to make hard choices that has gotten us here. It is our failure to make right choices and respect God and His Word and live by it that has gotten us here. The choices really aren’t that hard, but to make them would have to mean choosing to sacrifice our greed and selfishness to see our country return to God. We shouldn’t be trying to prepare our nation for a “new age”. We should be repenting and return to doing what God says we should have been doing all along…

 

Many have lost homes, but it is their own fault. Many of the people who bought homes only to lose them knew they couldn’t afford them in the first place and so did the government. But, in our desire for everyone to live the “American dream”, the government completely botched the entire system and is now paying for it. Jobs have been lost because companies can’t afford the overhead to run their own businesses here anymore. The unions charge an outrageous amount. Businesses can find cheaper work overseas. It’s no one’s fault but our own… Healthcare is costly, but to be honest, I think that it is not the priority that people are making it. Our schools have failed since we’ve removed the Bible and morality from them. We no longer teach kids for them to succeed, we teach them so that our schools can get money. They are being taught by teachers who lack morality like they do. A growing number of teachers can’t pass their own subjects! The way we use energy is another red herring that we are spending too much time and money focusing on. I would love to see biofuels and “green energy”, but without morality in our country, it’s not really going to matter…

 

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land – a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

 

I disagree with the president that the “sapping of confidence” is less measurable. It is evident that many wonder about America’s decline, but what should we expect? They lack confidence in our nation because its leaders have consistently shown in recent years that they’re untrustworthy. Worse than that, the “leaders” of our nation have removed the only true hope that America has. They’ve helped mock the One who could heal our nation and they’ve taught generations to do the same. Why should Americans trust the empty words and promises of those who say they have their best interests at heart and then act in ways that show the opposite. The next generation is almost forced to “lower its sights” because our nation has trusted in a new “god”, money, and it’s prophet man. Without something greater than what our “leaders” currently offer us, we can do nothing but decline…

 

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met.

 

Duh. The challenges have always been real, but the plans offered to deal with them are fanciful and without any backbone or understanding. The challenges have also always been serious, at least to those truly concerned about our nation. To the rest, they’ve been nuisances, or hazy events on the edges of vision, or political “causes” used to increase one’s status or reputation. America’s problems have never been easily met. President Obama says they’ll be met and that’s what bothers me. They will be met by greedy, inexperienced, shallow men and women who hate God and His Son. They will be met with the best man has to offer and those efforts will ultimately fail. In the meantime, “the People” will be told how wonderfully things are going and, sadly, many will believe it.

 

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

 

President Obama has said that he was elected because America has “chosen hope over fear”, but what hope does he offer? Unless he’s the Messiah (like some profess him to be) his talk of hope is just another example of emotionally charged drivel. If the “hope” that Barack Obama offers is not that of repentance to God and salvation through Jesus Christ so that God will heal our land; then the President doesn’t know the meaning of hope. If we are “unified” for any purpose that is not solely focused on Christ, if we are not focused on our entire nation repenting in sackcloth and ashes, then we will not be unified. The conflict and discord our country faces have come from the fact that everyone is doing what is right is his or her own eyes. We have all gone our own way and, unfortunately, we’re just doing what comes natural to sinners. The president seems to imply that he can somehow erase the conflict and discord. I doubt it…

 

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

 

Who is proclaiming and end to petty grievances and false promises? The government? All of America? Forgive me for sounding skeptical Mr. President, but we’ve heard all this before from people that are much more qualified than you. Which “petty grievances, false promises, worn-out dogmas, and recriminations” are we ending? Could you be more specific? Are you including the newly made ones in this statement? It seems to me that our new president has his focus misplaced. It’s not about what’s strangling our politics. It’s about the sin that has strangled “the People”. Until this is changed, it doesn’t matter what kind of politics we have (like socialism) because it won’t fix the problem…

 

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

 

Up to this point, I’ve rolled my eyes a lot, but this angers me. I wonder if the president knows where his little snippet of scripture from. Ironically, it comes from 1 Corinthians 13. This is the “love” chapter. But, the love that Paul talks about is not the eros (physical) love. It’s not the “fuzzy feelings” love. It is the self-sacrificing, responsible love called agape. This love is more concerned about others than self. Obama calls us a young nation who needs to put away childish things. This sounds awfully funny coming from a man who is playing president and trying to talk tough and compare himself to Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr. because he has no identity of his own. If Obama says we should put away childish things, then he should lead by example. He should stop acting like he knows what he’s doing. He should stop trying to sound intelligent and just admit that he’s in “above his pay grade”. He says that it’s time to reaffirm our enduring spirit. What enduring spirit? While I believe that there are those who have an enduring spirit, I believe many of them are the same people who saw the world wars… In our current time, if we aren’t instantly satisfied in our endeavors, we give up. How is this enduring?

 

He then says that we should choose our better history. How? You can’t choose history because it’s in the past. Unless of course he’s talking about the rewritten history of our nation and which is the best version. He then invokes God again, showing his misunderstanding. He says that all are equal, free, and deserve a “chance to pursue their full measure of happiness”. I disagree with this Mr. President. I agree, in one respect, that all are equal. We are all sinners who deserve to be sent to hell. But, we’re not all equal in the sense that those who have repented of their sins and put their faith in Christ will not go to hell. Second, we are not all free. Not one of us is free. The Bible calls us slaves and we serve one of two masters. We either serve sin or we serve God. Sadly, our nation continues to choose sin over God and I believe that the people that are coming to power in our country are part of His judgment and will encourage the nation’s sin even more. Finally, while I think that we have the opportunity to pursue happiness, that opportunity only extends as far as it doesn’t conflict with God’s law. If that pursuit of happiness includes something that God defines as sin or an abomination, then we have no “right” to pursue it although we have the ability to.

 

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted – for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

 

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

 

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

 

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

 

While I love my country, I’m honest enough to say that the greatness of our nation is not what it used to be. We can reaffirm it all we want, but that doesn’t make it true. Our nation was great because the men and women who lead our country were God-fearing and truly understood that God is the reason our nation was even in existence. Greatness is not a given but it is not earned either. God gives it. It is God who raises up kings and brings them low (Daniel 2:21), and He will NOT raise up a nation that so openly rebels against Him.

 

The president says that our “journey” has never been one of short cuts. I disagree. Maybe it wasn’t that way years ago, but today that’s all it’s about. In today’s American society, it’s all about getting everything we can as fast we can. It’s about finding the quickest way to fame, fortune, and your name in lights. I could use the president and his political career as an example of this. He says that our journey has not been the path for the faint-hearted who seek leisure, riches, and fame. Has the president been in hiding? I am truly amazed that he said this while a growing number of corporations are going under because their CEOs and other management have gotten a lion’s share of wealth on the backs of others. And, what’s worse is the government is bailing them out! The government is giving the CEOs more money to put in their pockets without any kind of accountability (which is something that will supposedly change…). Who is the president trying to fool?

 

He says that it is the doers, risk-takers, and makers that have carried us “up the long rugged path to prosperity and freedom”. Is the president that blind or is he just naïve? America as we know it today is neither prosperous nor free. Yes, there are people making money, but our nation has a debt that is trillions of dollars! It is close to the point where there is no way we will ever be able to pay it off! And yet, we seem to have billions of dollars for bailouts, etc. that will supposedly help us. Isn’t the mishandling and poor decision making concerning money one of the things that got us where we are to begin with? How is that going to help us? That’s the definition of insanity! America is no longer free either. The freedoms we once held dear are slowly fading away. They are being replaced by whatever the current government thinks will get them re-elected. Our American rights are no longer inalienable… To say that the people who came here to live did so for us is a farce and misrepresentation of the people. The people that founded our nation did so as a haven for Christians. They didn’t toil for us, they toiled because it was necessary. They understood Scripture, which says if you don’t work you don’t eat. Most today wouldn’t survive if that were implemented here. They were willing to accept the work and the toil because they could openly worship the Lord in a country that didn’t tell them how they could do it.

 

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

 

The men and women who built this nation saw America the way they did because they loved her. They struggled and sacrificed to make this nation what it was because they loved God. Today, those words mean nothing to most Americans. Many wouldn’t know struggle or sacrifice if they saw it. America was greater than individuals because those individuals held to Christian morals and knew that without God they would have nothing. No other religion could have done it. The people of our nation had a “better life” because they gave that life to the Lord in service, trust, and obedience.

 

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

 

Again, I have to disagree. We don’t continue the “journey” of our founders/builders. Honestly, I don’t even think we’re on the same page. Our nation is neither the most prosperous nor the most powerful. We have strong armies, sure, but armies alone don’t make a nation powerful. Our nation is filled with uneducated, immoral, unmotivated people in all levels of leadership. To say that our workers are no less productive is to ignore both the growing unemployment rate and the number of people who refuse to work. Our minds may be just as inventive, but they will not stay that way. We have multitudes of kids graduating high school who can’t even read the diploma they’ve been handed. There are clever people and inventors in America, but they aren’t enough. Our goods and services are mostly handled by the foreign countries we’ve outsourced the work to. Our companies are going out of business, people are losing their jobs and that diminishes capacity. Our president’s solution for the nation is to “remake” America. I don’t think that we need to remake America. We need to REPENT America! We don’t need to remake anything. What we need to do is return to the foundation our country was built on. All the emotional pep talk won’t fix the problem our country faces…

 

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act – not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

 

There is always work to be done! The state of the economy and other “issues” are just symptoms of a deeper problem. Without fixing the deeper problem, the symptoms will go away for a while, but they’ll be back. Obama wants to lay a new foundation. I believe that our nation needs to restore the foundation it already has. All the talk in the world about roads, grids, technology, and health care makes for a good speech but that’s all. Obama says that we’re going to do all these things, but how? Where will we get the money? And, how will doing any of these things fix America’s real problem – sin? I also can’t help but wonder what the president thinks that science’s “rightful place” is? Basically what he seems to be saying here is that we’ll be able to snap our fingers and science and technology will somehow save us. It’s done so well so far. It’s done some great things for us like medicine but it’s also done some really ridiculous things. It’s got full-grown men spending all their time listening into space for signs of life. It’s got millions of people believing a fairy tale that we somehow came from nothing billions of years ago when there is no proof of it. I hear what the president is saying and I can’t help but shake my head. All he needs is a couple of dragons and a princess in distress and he’ll have the makings of a great story. Unfortunately, no matter how many times he says it can/will happen, that doesn’t make it so, especially if God has decided something different…

 

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions – who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

 

I don’t just question the scale of ambitions I question the ambitions themselves. It seems that the president has forgotten what our country has already done. He seems to only know history as it’s been revised or made up. Our country doesn’t need imagination (wouldn’t that be a “childish thing” that we’re supposed to give up?). What our country needs is for its people, all of them, to take responsibility for it’s sin. We need our nation to own up to the fact that man’s ways don’t work, and realize that the only thing that can save us is God. The thing is, our “system” doesn’t need “big plans”. It only needs one plan.

 

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them – that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account – to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day – because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

 

What cynics is he talking about? If he’s talking about those who are cynical of him and his ideas, I have to ask him what he expects? I’m very cynical of him and his proposals because I don’t think that there is an ounce of truth to them. I see what he’s said and see it’s empty. It’s not about stale political arguments. The ground has not “shifted” beneath anyone. The problems we face today are the same problems we’ve always faced. What’s “shifted” is how we’ve dealt with them. Before, men and women used common sense to make decisions based on the Biblical principles our nation was built on. They took responsibility for their actions and made amends for their mistakes. Today, that doesn’t happen. There is no shame. No matter what is done, no one is ashamed. People buy houses they can’t afford, blame others for their mistakes, and kill their unborn children. The president says that it’s not about whether government is “too big or too small”, but I disagree. If the government is too big, then it’s no longer “by the People”, which would mean that we’re not staying “true to our founding documents”. What the president seems to gloss over is the fact that government isn’t working. It’s not providing jobs, it’s allowing companies to go elsewhere. The wages of many are below average because of the government. The government has tried and failed numerous times to “fix” things or “bail out” companies and it’s not worked. It’s manipulated situations (like real estate) and caused many of the crises we now face. But, like I’ve said already, even if the government could create “millions of jobs” at “decent wages”, or affordable health care, or “dignified retirement” (what exactly does that mean?), it’s not going to fix America.

 

The president continues to push programs, but they won’t work. They haven’t yet. He then says that those of “us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account”. Does this include the government? Will we finally get to see the government held accountable? He says that they will be held accountable to spend wisely. Really? Accountable to whom? Is this the end of pork barrel spending? Is it the end of automatic raises for members of congress? Does the government even know what it means to spend wisely? While this may sound good to some, it seems to me that, like a number of other things the president has said, he’s blowing smoke. He says they’re going to “reform bad habits” too. I think he’s lying. Look at his plans. He’s going to bail out companies who’ve shown they cannot handle money. Does that sound like a good habit? Does it sound like spending wisely? I don’t think so. Without a Biblical understanding, the country’s money problems will continue to grow. But they will pale in comparison to the other problems that we’ll face if we continue to rebel against God. If the president wants to reform things, then he’ll need to put prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments back into prominence. It will take a few generations of school kids to start showing, but it will work. The president also talks about “doing business in the light of day” and transparency. Does that mean that his life and the lives of those in Congress will be an open book? Does it mean that there will be no more secret meetings to try and pass legislation under the public’s radar? Obama wants to restore trust between the People and their government but it doesn’t make a difference what he says. Our nation is comprised of 85% Christians (I personally don’t think it’s that high) and yet the president is taking actions that go directly against what the majority of the nation professes to believe. How exactly does that earn our trust?

 

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control – and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

 

Again, we see that America’s “god” is money. The news has been dominated by the economy. I’m not sure I understand why the president is speaking about the market. Have a large number of people been arguing about it? How does the market “expand freedom”? I can’t help but wonder whose watchful eye the president is talking about? His? The person he put in charge (who had difficulties handling his own money)? Mr. Obama clearly doesn’t understand prosperity. The only way a nation can truly prosper is if it fears, reveres, and “favors” God. Scripture is filled with evidence of this. When Israel obeyed God, they prospered (just like He promised!). They were a righteous nation and God blessed them. When they disobeyed God, they suffered in many ways. You can see the same thing in America’s history. Our country was founded in 1776. For 187 years, our nation feared and revered God. The men and women who lead the nation obeyed Him and ordered their lives after His Word. God was first. He was obeyed and our nation was protected and prosperous. In 1963, God, prayer, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments were removed from our schools and many public places. In 36 years, our nation has fallen horribly from where it used to be. We lift up homosexuality as at least equal, if not better than, heterosexuality even though it’s an abomination to God and a sin. We promote the murder of unborn children by their moms as an issue of choice and rights, even though the rights of the child are completely ignored. We pay billions of dollars to produce and watch movies that are full of immorality, blasphemy, and rebellion against God. We continue to flounder and fall behind. The success of our economy has depended solely on our obedience to God, but that shouldn’t be our focus. Our focus should be on the fact that we’ve rebelled against God and that should grieve us. Unless we repent and return to God, we will continue to fall. The surest route to “our common good” is found in Scripture. Any other route is a detour and a lie.

 

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

 

I wonder who said that we have to choose between safety and ideals? In all honesty, our safety will be determined by our ideals. Our founding fathers were faced with perils we can’t imagine (yet), but there are two major differences between them and us. First, the majority of the problems they faced were due to a government that had too much hand in their personal lives. The problems they faced were not of their own making. Today, our problems are totally our own making. Second, the founding fathers trusted in God. They believed in Him and obeyed Him. They understood sacrifice because they understood the cross. They actually knew what agape meant. They “drafted a charter” to assure the rule of God’s law and the rights of man (even the unborn ones). Only the blood of those who understood what they did and believed the same way has expanded this charter. I disagree that the ideals the founding fathers still light the world. To be honest, I believe that they are dimming even in this nation. The ideals that the founding fathers held to were Christian ones. The majority of the world hates God and those who truly follow Him (although they seem to like the squishy compromisers). Even in America, where 85% are supposedly Christian, those ideals are hard to recognize in the “believers”. To make a blanket statement about peace and dignity seems a little proud and presumptuous (at least he’s consistent). America is not, and shouldn’t be, the friend of all those who seek peace for a very good reason. All who seek peace do not do so the same way. Muslims seek peace through the submission of all to the will of Allah. Are we ok with that? I fear that the majority might be, as long as it’s not Christianity… Others seek peace through the death of Christians. Are we friends to them? I wonder how many would still profess Christ if it came down to their lives? Also, the idea that we “are ready to lead once more” is ridiculous. Our nation can’t even handle the majority of the issues in our own borders, how can we lead other nations, especially when many of those nations already have a low view of America?

 

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

 

The president talks about how others faced down communism while he tries to bring it into our borders! The things that our nations “faced down” were done because of the enduring convictions based on Christianity. Our “power” is nothing. It is more of a hindrance than a benefit. I say this because we look to our power as a nation as some sort of indication of how great we are. It supposedly represents how “great” we are. We have ignored the fact that it is God and He alone that gives us strength and protects us. Our power alone is worth nothing. It is God’s power that protects us. And if we continue to rebel against God, that power that once protected us will be brought to bear against us. Our power doesn’t grow because of anything that we do. God grows our power as we continue to humble ourselves before Him and to order our lives and our nation according to His Word. Also, our security comes from God. Our justness of cause is relative unless it’s based on Scripture. If it’s not, then justice will change depending on the whim of those in charge. For instance, it will soon be ok to kill your child because it’s an inconvenience, unless of course it’s already born (well, unless it’s just partially born). It will soon be ok to live a homosexual lifestyle. Many would see this as justice. It’s not, but that’s how many will see this.

 

I wonder what kind of force the president is talking about? And what example? The example of rebellion against God? How forceful can our example be when it diametrically opposes the will of God? I find it ironic that the president talks about humility here but has built his campaign on how he is the agent of change and will bring about the change that America needs. Is that humility? Is walking in humility telling someone that disagrees with you that you won and that will “trump him or her any day”? And who will restrain the president? “the People”? Will they be given the opportunity?

 

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

 

All you have to do is look at our recent history to see that we’ve failed to keep the legacy of those who have come before. We have not been guided by the principles of our forefathers because we’ve ignored them! He talks about greater cooperation and understanding between nations, but many of these nations want to see America destroyed. He talks about old friends and former foes, but what indication do we have that this will be the case? Many of our “old friends” have abandoned us in Iraq and many of our “former foes” still don’t hold us in high regard. Again, the president talks about the nuclear threat and global warming (which is still unproven and unlikely). But he has nothing to show that he’s able to handle these conflicts.

 

What really amazes me is what the president said next. He talks about how we won’t apologize for the way we live (even though it is a stench in God’s nostrils) nor waver in it’s defense. But how will we defend ourselves against God? What will we do when He has finally had enough? Where will the president and the government be when this happens? What kind of measures with they take against the God of the universe? Then, the president has the unmitigated gall to say that those who advance their aims by the slaughtering of innocents will be defeated. I think that the president is right, but I don’t think that he realizes that he’s talking about America… He says that our spirit is stronger, but is it really? We can’t even fight an ongoing war without a majority of people whining about it. We don’t have the spirit, the stomach, or the guts to follow through with what needs to be done and other countries know this. How we will defeat those who are doing the same thing we’re doing (on a lesser scale than we are) is beyond me. Many talk about our war losses. We’ve lost about 4,000 people in 5+ years in Iraq. We kill that many babies in a single day in America. If we’re talking about “innocents”, there can be no one more innocent…

 

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

 

We may have a “patchwork heritage” but until recently, we’ve not had a patchwork foundation. We were once built solely on Christian principles. Now, we’re trying to “remake” our foundation to include conflicting ideas. While we may be a nation of numerous religious and ethnic heritages, we are (by the founders view) a Christian nation. If we change this, then we are doomed. We may see things (inventions, etc.) from people of other religions, but we have been shaped by Christ and Christian doctrine. It is because we were founded on Christianity that other religions have been able to practice their belief system (or lack thereof) freely. No other belief allows this. During the civil war we were led by a president who fully stood firmly on Christian principles. We were still a country that feared God. We are that no longer. During the times of segregation, we still had leaders that feared God and followed Him. We have that no longer. What the president fails to understand is that “old hatreds” have never ceased and, according to Scripture, they won’t. He doesn’t seem to understand that the Bible has already dissolved the “lines of tribe” (although I’m not quite sure I understand the point that he’s trying to make with this statement) by claiming that we are “one blood” (Acts 17:26). And, if the president were to actually pay attention to himself and others on the planet, he would see that our “common humanity” has also been revealed. Scripture says that there is none that is good and that we are all sinners. This is our common humanity and the result of that “common humanity” is death and hell. America can only play a role in a “new era” of peace if it follows the Prince of Peace. This new era of peace will never be global and will not be easy. It will only be permanent when Christ returns to judge the world in righteousness and destroy the enemies of God. To think that we can somehow bring peace without God is a delusion of the highest order and one that the new president prides himself on. I wonder what role the president thinks that America should play to “usher in a new era of peace”?

 

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

 

I am not surprised at this statement at all. I would suspect that even though the president is trying to be all things to all people, he knows that this is a lie. There is nothing common between Islam and Christianity (although this may not be a problem with the America of today). Christians and Muslims don’t have mutual interest or respect for each other and Christian nations should hold the same view for Muslim ones. This will grate on the nerves of many people, but it’s the truth. I’ve already written about why Christianity and Islam are incompatible, but suffice it to say that there is no common ground between people who believe that Jesus is the Son of God and those who deny Him.

 

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

 

What does he mean when he says that the people will judge their leaders on “what you can build not what you destroy”? Those who sow conflict will not care how their people judge them. To point a finger at those who “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent” when the leaders of this nation do the very same is hypocrisy. To say that they are on the wrong side of history doesn’t make any sense. Is there a side of history? Which side of history is the right one? The one that agrees with you? How does the president determine this? How is he sure that America isn’t on the “wrong side of history”? History is not the determining factor of wrong and right. History is (supposed to be) just a record of what man has already done. The determining factor of right and wrong is God’s truth. If you do not comply with God’s truth, then you are wrong. If you do, you are right. It’s that simple. Also, where is the line drawn that will decide when we “extend a hand” to those who cling to power? What will it take for us to reach out to them? How are we to recognize when they’ve unclenched their fists and who will decide what will be done with the relinquished power? Not only that, but how much silencing of dissention will be done in respect to our new president? How many will be viewed as racist for disagreeing with him?

 

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

 

Again, I can’t help but wonder why the people of “poor nations” would believe our offers of help when we can’t even help ourselves? Will we teach them to throw money at their problems even when they don’t have it? It’s great that we want to help those who some would consider poor, but unless we do it with the right attitude (the Christian one), it means nothing. What will we be feeding the hungry minds? Will it be the same poor material that our children are taught in public schools? Will we try to remove the scriptural foundation that other “poor” countries may have due to the work of Christian missionaries? I wonder whom the president is talking to when he talks about “indifference to suffering”? Unless I’m mistaken, Christians are still the ones who are doing the most to take care of those who are suffering inside and outside our borders. I adamantly disagree with the idea that we need to change with the world. We need to change when and how God tells us to. The world is not going to change that way. The world is not going to change according to God’s will and if we decide to change “with the world” instead of according to the will of God, we will suffer with the world. We need to stand for absolute truth and that’s something that the world will never accept.

 

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

 

The majority of those who lie in Arlington feared God and I believe that the majority of those who protect our nation today also fear God. They tell us that the only real sacrifice was seen on the cross, and those who have given their lives as sacrifices for our nation are just a reflection of that which was shown on the cross.

 

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment – a moment that will define a generation – it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

 

Jesus gave us the example of service when the Son of God knelt down before the sinful men He would eventually die for and washed their feet. This is service. When the One who had all authority disregarded His position and gave Himself for those who hated Him, it wasn’t about finding meaning in “something greater” because there was nothing greater. It was about self-sacrifice. It was about selflessness. Those who founded the nation didn’t have the “spirit of service” they had the Spirit of God. This is the Spirit that must inhabit us if we are to be anything other than more of the world.

 

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

 

But whose faith are we talking about? The faith of the Jews? The faith of the Muslims? The “faith” of the atheists? Or is it the faith of the Biblical Christians? We cannot put our faith in the government. We must put our faith in the God of the Bible and in Him alone. It doesn’t matter how determined we are, if we are against God, we are wrong. The kindness that “takes in a stranger when the levees break” (?) and the selflessness that the president is talking about only come from a Christian worldview. Without the Christian worldview, you won’t have these things. Looking at our nation today, these things are fading and it’s because those who hate God are eroding the foundation that our nation was built on. Without restoring that foundation, we won’t have kindness, selflessness or anything else that we take for granted. It is not courage or willingness to nurture that decide our fate. What decides our fate is whether or not we will choose to fear, respect, and obey God. If we will choose to fear, respect, and obey God then He will keep His promise to protect and help us. He will deliver us from the trials and tribulations that we now face. If we choose not to fear, respect, and obey God then He will keep His promise to bring plagues, disease, and judgment to our nation. THAT is what decides our fate.

 

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends – hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism – these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

 

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

 

Our challenges are far from new. The “instruments” that we meet them with shouldn’t be either. If we truly want to overcome these challenges, then we will return to Scripture for our answers. I just realized that the president has only talked about meeting the challenges. Anyone can meet the challenges, but so what? The president says that the values of hard work, honesty, courage, fair play (who determines what is fair play?), tolerance (according to whose definition?), curiosity (?), loyalty (to whom?), and patriotism are old. This is somewhat confusing. What he is saying is that he wants a new America based on old Christian values. How exactly does this work? He says they are the truth. But, according to whom? How does he define tolerance? He says that our success depends on these values, but why doesn’t our success depend on the source of those values? He says that we must return to these truths, but how can we without returning to the source of these truths? The president says that a new era of responsibility is required of us. What does that mean? If he’s calling us to take responsibility for our actions then I agree. But how does he define the duties of each American? Where does he draw the line between the person and the government? He says that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit as giving our all to a difficult task. Is that so? Has the president never shared the gospel with someone? Has he never preached the truth of the gospel to someone else? I say that there is nothing so satisfying as preaching the truth and witnessing to someone who is lost. Again, I have to say, it doesn’t matter how much we “give our all” to a task. If the work that we give our all to is work that goes against God, then we may be satisfied in our sorry human emotion and think that it defines our character (which it does, but not how we think), but we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are what we are not. We delude ourselves into thinking that we are somehow accomplishing the things that are most uplifting and righteous because they feel good, when they are most reprehensible to the Lord that sees it all.

 

This is the source of our confidence – the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

 

THIS is the source of our confidence? The source of whose confidence? It isn’t the source of my confidence. He says that the source of his confidence is that God has called him to shape an uncertain destiny. If he were a Biblical Christian, then the source of his confidence would be different. The source of confidence for a Christian is the fact that even though they are a filthy sinner they have been saved by a wonderful God who has every right to send them straight to hell but instead showed mercy to them and died for their sins. God doesn’t “call us to shape an uncertain destiny”. He calls us to repent of our sins before Him humbly. He commands us to tell others the same. God is the only one that shapes “destiny” and for Him it is not uncertain. The source of our confidence could also be the fact that while things are falling down around us (due to our rebellion against God) God is still willing to heal our land and restore us if we are willing to repent of our sins.

 

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed – why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

 

It was only a matter of time before the president played the race card. It’s great that men and women and children of every race and faith can join together in celebration, but it’s not the answer. It’s great that Barack Obama can take a “most sacred oath” when his father might not have been served at a local restaurant. But, what does this have to do with whether or not he will be able to lead the nation? What does this have to do with whether or not God will once again look on this nation with something other than anger and judgment? What does a number of different people that believe a number of different things coming together in celebration have to do with whether or not this nation will repent and turn back to God? Nothing.

 

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

 

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

 

If we’re going to remember who we are and how far we’ve traveled, then how about we remember it the way it actually happened? He compares himself to George Washington leading the nation back from the brink of destruction. George Washington was a great Christian man who took the Scripture seriously and ordered his life according to it. Washington’s hope was in Jesus Christ. That is why hope could survive. They came forth to meet the danger of the nation under the hand of God. They knew that they would win if God allowed it. The reason they were united is because they believed in the same God and had the same moral values. They held God in high esteem (like they should have) and they desired to “forge” a nation that was solely dependent on Him. I can’t help but ask why the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration should be marked as a day of remembrance? What makes his inauguration a special day of remembrance? I may be a little jaded but it sounds like the new president is saying that he is the standard bearer for leading us back to a new era… The problem is the new president is not a Christian and doesn’t hold to the same values as the founding fathers did. He doesn’t hold God in high esteem. He doesn’t fear God or obey Him. Why does he think that he will somehow change America for the best? Why does he think that God will use him to restore America when his life and values oppose Him? Unless the president repents and leads this nation to a place of repentance, he will be another in a long line of men who have tried to lead this nation under their own strength. He will be a carbon copy of the Bill Clintons and Jimmy Carters. He will be another man who will do nothing of any significance and America will have wasted another four years putting its hope in man instead of in God.

 

 

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

 

We have “common dangers” because we are a nation. We have a “winter of hardship” because we are sinful and rebellious toward God. The “timeless words” that we are urged to remember are those spoken by a God fearing man who knew that it was only on his knees in prayer that he could stand and lead our nation. It is an attitude long missing from our leadership and our nation at large. We are a nation of complacent sheep who love to be entertained. We have people who play sports, race cars, or pretend to be something other than what they are in movies that make millions of dollars while our nation’s economy continues to fail. We dole out unheard of amounts of money for “childish things” while the things that our country needs continue to go by the way side. We continue to shake our fist at God because He’s not blessing us, instead of weeping because He’s judging us. We look to weak-willed men who have little backbone and no faith to lead our nation back to where it once was when they don’t even know the way. Our country is filled with “Christians” and non-Christians who walk the broad path to destruction and ignore the few voices who still preach the truth. They block out the echoes of sins past by singing their “worship” and following their unimportant and sorry causes. They save animals while they kill their children. They support abominable lifestyles and can’t figure out why their sins are killing them. Our leaders are not leading. They are selfish, self-centered men and women who couldn’t make change for a dollar much less make change for a nation. They hide behind their sturdy oak doors so that the people they are supposed to care about can’t see their latest greed driven debacle. All the while they forget that their sins are laid out before the eyes of the just Judge.

 

There is very little that our nation has to be proud of anymore. We are rewriting our history to erase God at the whim of a few dysfunctional, attention-seeking atheists who have nothing better to do than ridicule and attack those they see as unreasonable and unintelligent. Our country is filled with “churches” that preach lies and deceit to their growing congregations. They entertain their attendees and feed them line after line of doctrines of demons to keep them coming back and giving money. They despise the gospel, mock the death of the One they call Lord, and ignore the warning that God has given them. They teach that all roads lead to heaven, even though the Bible says otherwise. We have little to be proud of, but we have a lot to be ashamed of.

 

It might seem that I don’t like America very much because of the things that I’ve said. On the contrary, it’s because I love my country that I’ve said the things that I have. Unless we start talking honestly, we will never begin to move in the right direction. I’m not proud of where my nation is today. This becomes even more profound when I look at where are nation started from. I still believe that we can see our nation change through repentance, but Barack Obama is not the one to do it. The only One that can help our nation now is God.  The president tells us to keep our eyes “fixed on the horizon”. The Bible says that we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). The president tells us that God’s grace is on us, but the Bible says that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

 

I will pray for the president. I will do it not because I like him, or because I agree with anything he says, but because God tells me to. I pray that our nation would stop its decent into sin and darkness. I pray that we would start to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and lift up the chains of our bondage to the Lord that He might, in His great and gracious mercy break those chains. I would rather have our children say that this generation was the one that turned fully and whole-heartedly back to the Lord. It is not about us and until America realizes that and understands that it only through God and Him alone that we will ever see our country truly change, we are only fooling ourselves. Jesus is our only hope…

Our Heritage

September 22, 2007 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Not long ago, there was a meeting of over 2,000 spiritual leaders in Europe to discuss the effect of Christianity on Europe and to remind the European nations of the impact that Christianity has made on that continent. I knew from the stance of many of the nations of Europe they had a dwindling population of devout Christians, but I never realized just how small they were in some countries. In Great Britain, 33 percent of those polled said religion was “very important” in their lives, compared to 27 percent in Italy, 21 percent in Germany, 11 percent in France, and 11 percent in Czech Republic. This is compared to 60 percent of people in America saying that religion is “very important” to them.
Why the decline of Christianity in Europe? Why are so many turning away from the faith? Let’s get a little closer to home and be a little real. Why are so many in America turning away from Christianity? The numbers say that 60% of people believe that religion is very important to them, but is that accurate? And what about the ones who are leaving? Many of America’s professing atheists grew up in fundamental Christian homes.

What happened? Continue Reading Our Heritage…


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