Publication: Pastoral Letter, August 2012
Dear Friend in Christ:
We recently celebrated our nation’s independence, and I am writing to you to remind us of our foundations and call us to renewal. There is a phrase in the song “America the Beautiful” that says, “Thy liberty in law.” This could seem like a paradox-liberty in law. But Psalm 119:45 says, ” And I will walk at liberty (in a wide place) for I seek your precepts [laws].” The law of the Lord is liberating. Psalm 19:11 says, “Moreover by them your servant is warned and in keeping them there is the great reward.”
The law of the Lord is not the arbitrary rule of a political body; it is creation law, the way creation was ordained by God to function. Those laws warn us, and they reward us as we live within them. We are not talking about Jewish ceremonial law, but the laws of light, gravity, seasons, sowing, reproduction, as well as societal laws, such as no other gods, laws of family, and neighbors. These biblical laws are built into Creation and humanity by the one and only true God. They are pure, clean, more desirable than gold and bring great reward as we walk in them (see Psalm 119). They are like the banks of the River of Life. The law of God is not a dam to block the river but banks to contain the flow.
FREEDOM, LIBERTY, AND LAW
To many, freedom is unrestrained. Liberty as the Bible teaches is within the Creator’s intention for creation. We walk in His ways or precepts and remain at liberty. History is littered with revolutions where people sought freedom. However, all revolutions are not alike and the results are vastly different. The French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Maoist Revolution are extremely different from the American Revolution with vastly different results. The former were atheistic, the latter theistic. The former brought chaos and tyranny, the latter brought order and liberty. The former brought destruction of leadership and godliness, the latter brought acknowledgment of God and godly leaders. The former brought economic hardship, the latter brought prosperity.
The American Revolution was based upon a biblical view of equality before God and justice as revealed in nature and nature’s God. Secular, Islamic, and other revolts have different outcomes from the unique American revolution.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE AND CONSTITUTION
America was gripped by the Great Awakening, a spiritual revival that swept the nation in the mid-1700s. Liberty began in a spiritual awakening. The results are too numerous to catalogue here, but revival brought two powerful forces together: morality and unity. Most of the 2.5 million citizens began to seek God. George Whitefield was a key figure that preached up and down the East Coast, and it is estimated that he addressed one half of the entire population. Much of his ministry was conducted in neutral sites and brought people together who were heretofore separated by sectarianism. The newfound faith, morality, and unity provided a foundation for cooperation that resulted in the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident” was a “we” event based on the evidence of God’s natural law. Pennsylvania Quakers, Rhode Island Baptists, New England Congregationalists, and Virginia Anglicans found common ground and were finally able to pray and talk together. Their cooperation laid the foundation for the “United States of America.” Liberty was the outcome of the recognition of Divine law and spiritual awakening. The self-evident truths were that the Creator endowed us with certain inalienable rights or privileges that included life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The government operated by the consent of the governed; it had to be representative of the people and not repressive because we were all equal before God and created in His image.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, treasure, and sacred honor to defend their God-given rights . In the Declaration, they expressed their grievances against tyranny, their futile attempts to negotiate with the English King and with Parliament, and therefore appealed to God the righteous judge.
The value of anything is measured by the price one is willing to pay. The Founders were willing to pay any price for liberty that they deemed so precious. Theirs was not a lawless freedom, but a liberty in law-God’s law. And, they paid the price in full with blood and treasure!
In 1787, many of these same leaders gave us the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, which included freedom of religion, free speech, and the right to assemble. The Constitutional convention was opened with prayer at the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin, a close friend of George Whitefield. Franklin quoted Daniel 4, “God rules in the affairs of men.” Prayer brought the leaders together in their pursuit of a government of liberty in law. Our founders did not trust human nature or central government so they separated its powers into three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial.
George Washington became our first President in 1789. He was so revered that many thought he should be King, but he refused such a power. His first act was to lead the government into St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City, our first capital, where he and they dedicated our nation to God. It should be noted that the World Trade Center Twin Towers later stood on those sacred grounds (the chapel was undamaged in the September 11 attack-a miracle).
Washington served two terms and set numerous precedents for the future. In his closing address, he expressed deep concerns for the future of our nation. Among those concerns were: the potential for division, a party-spirit, the encroachment of one branch over another, the necessity of a moral people, and warnings about future debt and foreign entanglements, specifically with Europe.
I am reminded of the question asked Benjamin Franklin after the Constitution was formed, “What kind of government have you given us?” His reply was, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
THE PRICE OF LIBERTY
An oft-quoted statement is, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” Why vigilance? People tend to sleep and evil never does. Evil is a malignancy that must be addressed as early as possible and slumber is a death sentence. It is possible to celebrate yet fail to steward our precious liberty. Humans tend to forget the God who gave it and the price once paid (and still being paid).
In our illustrious history, there are episodes of infamy, particularly the slavery issue which cost hundreds of thousands of lives. And of course, the warnings of entanglements that were indeed costly, the slumber at Pearl Harbor, and the naiveté toward the Nazis. Also costly has been the ignoring of a growing secularism in government and education, the embracing of Darwinism and nihilism, and the entitlement culture that wants what it will not pay for, the killing of the unborn, and George Washington’s warning of debt has definitely gone unheeded.
The lack of vigilance in morality has resulted in untold human laws and regulations that have formed a tightening noose around the neck of liberty. But no human regulation can negate another law, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” (see Psalm 9:16, 17; Psalm 78).
WHAT MUST WE DO?
Liberty begins with liberty from self; that is the lesson of the Cross. Self-centered people will not remain free. Our own appetites will enslave us. Only through Jesus Christ can we find true liberty and produce a culture that preserves it (John 8:32, 33; Acts 2:40).
We are a critical juncture in our history where we chose between sacred and secular, between honor and ignominy. The choice should be clear given recent world history. Unfortunately, many do not know history or perhaps a revised version of it. Many voters do not know the difference between a republic and a democracy, or rights and entitlements. But natural law will catch up to us if we do not awaken. There are too many “Rip Van Winkles” in the pew, in the club, and on the street.
We are recipients of a unique legacy based upon the ways of God and the price paid by predecessors. Our Father in Heaven loves us and desires to save us; that is the reason for Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Unless we return to Him, our children will have very different future.
George Washington said, “No nation can prosper who disregards the external rules of order which Heaven itself has ordained.” The One who preserved us in the past stands ready yet to preserve us once again if we seek Him. It is time to seek His face, unite with all God-fearing people, stand together, and stand for His ways. Liberty in its essence is not political; it is spiritual and begins in the human heart. Where faith in God decreases, rules increase. Where faith in God increases, there is liberty and justice for all.
If you are reading this, then likely you already have a sense of the urgency and significance of this message for our times. Would you join me in praying for an awakening in our nation and among the nations? And, would you stand with us here at CSM as we seek to declare the liberty of the Lord across the globe? Please remember us as you intercede and as you plan your budget for the weeks ahead.
If you have prayer requests or testimonies, we’d love to hear them, and to have the opportunity to stand with you. Please see the card enclosed for more details, as well as information on how to receive the timely message “Mercy Amid Judgment”. Perhaps you know someone you’d like to share it with.
Also, remember to visit us on our website at www.csmpublishing.org as well as our Charles Simpson Ministries Facebook pages, or follow us on Twitter at @CSMinPublishing. We want to use every available means to proclaim freedom during these momentous days. Thank you for standing with us!
Scripture Reference: Psalms