by Diane Rufino, July 23, 2017
“If Satan can defeat us in our homes, then he can easily defeat us as a nation.” — Paul Aynes, Bible Study, People’s Baptist Church, Greenville, NC
Today was another excellent Sunday in Bible Study and at church. I am always grateful to learn about the Bible and its lessons. Folks, if you are not always learning about your faith, learning about what the Bible teaches, applying those lessons to your life, and associating yourself with people who are doing the same, then you need to think hard about how you spend your time and energies. Always invest in yourself and your family; that is your best investment and that’s where you will get the best pay-off. Stay away from hypocrites. Find the church that serves you best. We all know those who go to church on Sunday but ignore its teachings during the week and in their treatment of others. I’ve learned that the hard way this year.
Remember that Jesus not only died for our sins but he spent his time on Earth teaching. The disciples called him “teacher.” He called himself “The Son of Man.” He came to serve man, by giving us the greatest gift of all – keeping the channel open to our Heavenly Father and offering us the hope of eternal fellowship with Him. He taught so that we could live good and decent lives, serving one another, raising strong families, and therefore providing the foundation of loving, productive communities – always, of course, honoring God. By following his teachings, we can become the best versions of ourselves and thereby establish, as best as possible, the kingdom of heaven here on Earth.
But we can’t live the lessons if we aren’t taught and if we aren’t even seeking out the lessons. We shouldn’t be reading the Bible for its isolated verses; We can’t hope for a strong, healthy nation if we allow essential foundations to crumble. We can’t hope to enjoy the protection of the Divine Creator when we fail to reflect His values.
Going back to the idea that Jesus taught us the lessons that could help establish, as best as possible, a Godly kingdom on Earth, I can’t help but wonder if that was the inspiration for settling the colonies in America. I know that the Pilgrims and the Puritans left England because of religious persecution (that did not adhere to the Anglican Church, or Church of England); they focused particularly intently in the books of the Old Testament and believed that they had to live strictly to the divine law in every aspect of their lives. To that end, compacts and covenants were important in their lives. They were central to their establishments of social, political, and religious organizations. As they understood (from the Old Testament), God promised his people many things, through covenants, such as eternal life, wisdom, liberation from bondage, a new land, a prosperous nation, etc provided they obeyed His law… provided that they obeyed divine and moral law. They lived their lives and established their communities intending to be as close to God’s chosen people as possible.
We may recall from school: The Pilgrims came to America in 1620, aboard the Mayflower, and settled Plymouth Colony. The Puritans reached the new world in 1629 and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony (and they would establish other colonies, such as the Connecticut colony, later on). The term “Puritan” first began as a taunt or insult applied by traditional Anglicans to those who criticized or wished to “purify” the Church of England. Although the word is often applied loosely, “Puritan” refers to two distinct groups: “separating” Puritans, such as the Plymouth colonists, who believed that the Church of England was corrupt and that true Christians must separate themselves from it; and non-separating Puritans, such as the colonists who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who believed in reform but not separation. Most Massachusetts colonists were non-separating Puritans who wished to reform the established church. (Donna Campbell, “Puritanism in New England”).
This reliance on covenants, on promises, on adherence to God’s law, perhaps the reason our founders often referred to our nation as being “guided by Divine Providence.” Samuel Adams once wrote: “Numerous have been the manifestations of God’s providence in sustaining us. In the gloomy period of adversity, we have had ‘our cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.’ We have been reduced to distress, and the arm of Omnipotence has raised us up.” Our nation’s victories in the Revolution and subsequent wars, our prosperity, and even the inspired words in our founding documents have been attributed to the “benevolence” or the “providence of Almighty God.” (“Providence” meaning “wisdom”). Otto von Bismarck, ruler of Prussia and then all of Germany (he formed the German empire, 1862-1890) commented: “There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.”
If our country indeed was founded, in large part, by groups of people who lived according to covenants, including with God and with one another – to follow His laws and to do so for the benefit of one another – then I understand why our early generations believed, and perhaps expected, that God would extend His blessings to the new nation. Early governments were structured this way. There was firm reliance on the Almighty. A person who can govern himself properly is an excellent member of society. A society comprised of such individuals needs very little government. A society comprised of such individuals requires very little laws. When less government is required, more freedom is enjoyed. Robert Winthrop, former Speaker of the US House (1838-1840) explained it well: “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”
When less government is required, communities are happier and healthier because everyone is doing right by others; they are exercising their God-given liberties without burdening those of others and they are providing the help and support of others that otherwise government would need to do. In other words, they are getting along because the precepts of the Bible have taught them how to handle the evils that arise in society – vice, greed, ambition, crime, coveting, injustice, oppression, infidelity, immorality, and abuse of civic duty, and they are conscientiously committed to following such precepts.
Matthew 22:36-40 says: 36. “Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” 37-39. Jesus answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” 40. All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.
The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams took note: “The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes . . . of universal application-laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation which ever professed any code of laws.”
And his father, John Adams, had delivered this famous message: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
We hear it over-and-over again – that religion and morality are essential to the existence of men in society; that our government system, as established and limited by the Constitution, cannot be maintained unless the people are religious and moral; and that religion and morality are indispensable if we hope to secure the freedoms that we have. And yet we see a trend in the very opposite direction. The people of the United States are becoming more distant from God, they are becoming shockingly immoral, they spend more and more time in the pleasures and distractions of this world than in education and spiritual renewal, and they work tirelessly to violate the laws of nature that have guided the world from its beginning and have successfully sustained its progression and survival. Satan has been deceiving us in our priorities and in the way we view our lives; rather than living a life of discipline and purpose, today’s individuals live for pure pleasure and self-gratification. It’s a “me, me, me” generation. Satan has been destroying our homes. In schools, teachers and administrators no longer assume that their student’s parents have the same name, are married, or are even the opposite sex.
We can’t protect our families and strengthen our nation if we don’t secure the one pillar that props us up most strongly – religion. Religion provides the foundation for morality and the two of these together help us make the decisions that keep our nation in good health. To fight Satan, we must spend more time learning what God and Jesus expect from us. We must learn what God’s law means and how we are meant to apply it. Too many people treat the Bible like the progressives treat Constitution – as if it were a “living, breathing document, to be re-interpreted according to the social dictates of the time. In other words, they are willing to perverting it. But here’s the thing: God’s Law has divine and natural elements to it, and as such, it is unchangeable, infallible, and universal. Laws made by humans are imperfect, just as humans are. They are subject to change, to be molded and to evolve with time just as people and societies do. But laws that come from God, who, by definition, is the epitome of universality and infallibility, must be perfect, unchanging, and universal. They transcend all time and all cultures. As Marcus Tullius Cicero (of Rome) wrote: “There will be but one eternal and unchangeable law that will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will be one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all…”
Again, we are helpless and ill-equipped to meet today’s evil challenges when we don’t study the Bible.
If going to church on Sunday is about feeling good because you’ve made a donation or because you’ve put in an appearance, then all you have, my friends, is a hobby. It’s a waste of your time. If you’re reading a Bible verse here and there in church, then all you’re doing is reading the Bible to know the Bible. You should be in a church that is Bible-centered, where you read the Bible to know God and to study Christ’s teachings. You should be investing in your lives and in your families, and by extension, investing in your communities. The future of our society here in the United States, and therefore the future of our very republic and our ideals depends upon moral accountability.
“We ought to muse upon the things of God, because then we get the real nutriment out of them…… Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? It’s because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord…… ”― Charles H. Spurgeon
Diane Rufino, “Self-Governing Individuals are Necessary for a Self-Governing Society,” www.forloveofgodandcountry.com, April 14, 2013. Referenced at: https://forloveofgodandcountry.com/2013/04/14/self-governing-individuals-are-necessary-for-a-self-governing-society/
Donna M. Campbell, “Puritanism in the New England,” Literary Movements. Dept. of English, Washington State University. .Referenced at: https://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/purdef.htmby