National Blessings Only in Jesus Christ
Widely accepted lies are difficult to dislodge, but we must make the attempt. Most Americans, including Christians, believe that there is something intrinsically superior about our nation that guarantees justice and prosperity. This is a lie. There was once a vision, the Pilgrims called it a “City on a Hill,” but that was the vision of Christian men and women. Their vision was eclipsed long ago by secularists. For the new American vision, man’s law, not God’s, will bring prosperity. Science, not faith, secures health and safety. We replaced the God of our fathers with the idol of political polytheism. Truth and prosperity and justice could no longer dwell in our land. What is left is the myth of American exceptionalism, a blind patriotism lacking substance or legitimacy. It is an idol. To get back to the city on the hill, we must reject secularism, judicial positivism, central banking, militarism, state deification, sexual license, and now full-blown socialism. Unbelief is deadly. It is deadly not only because it sends men to everlasting hell but also because it sends nations into a political hell of their own creation.
The way back will be arduous. Unless God intervenes, the journey will not be attempted. The path to national hell is broader and easier. God must raise the dead. Let us speak plain truth. The American people are not people of faith. Many have spirituality, for we cannot escape who we are as God’s image-bearers, but this is not the same thing as faith. All men do not have faith (2 Thess. 3:2). Nationally, we deny God’s authority over us, and this denial is not just on Sunday mornings but in the laboratory, courtroom, and boardroom. The United States has become a nation of anti-faith: “We will not have this man, Jesus Christ, to rule over us” (Luke 19:14). Today’s American is very different from the men and women who came to these shores. They were people of Christian faith.
First, they believed in a personal God and Judge and Redeemer. They did not believe that the universe was the result of impersonal processes, over eons of time, resulting in Voila! life as we know it. Second, they believed in personal accountability to this one and only God. Third, believing that men were fallen from the original rectitude and corrupt in every part due to their rebellion against their Maker, they took the person and work of Jesus Christ with utmost historical seriousness. Theirs was a specifically Christocentric faith.
The fruits of their faith were very publicly expressed in early legal documents such as the Mayflower Compact, New Haven Colony Laws, and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641. They believed that God’s law was the basis of a just society and did not hesitate to confess Christ’s Lordship. They were not a perfect people, as their testimonies and practices make clear, but they feared God and desired to keep his commands as a body politic. Even the later and better known national documents, though far less consistent, reflect our foundational faith in a Creator God, in limited government restricted by enumerated powers, and individual liberty based upon self-government.
But it is righteousness alone that exalts a nation, and men as politically diverse as John Adams and Patrick Henry each anticipated the failure of our national system as being unworkable and insufficient except for a moral and specifically Christian people. We are not that people. We are not a self-governing but a self-indulging people. We do not protect life and are willing to bomb other nations into oblivion and sacrifice our unborn. We are perverse and effeminate. We have lost even the light of nature and cannot distinguish between male and female. We vote ourselves access to other men’s pockets and thus are thieves. We are a wicked people. Wickedness breeds confusion and chaos. There is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22; 57:21). End of story. End of our national story. We are in death convulsions. Militarism, socialism, and perversion are heaven’s guilty verdict upon our national apostasy.
What is to be done? First, we must believe again that laws and policies do not create prosperity – saving grace healing the spiritually dead body politic does. Common grace also contributes, but God’s longsuffering has a limit when his justice is extremely provoked. Peace and justice are not American birthrights but a gift from heaven. The new normal is judgment in this land. Even if you could identify all the players in your favorite conspiracy theory, it would still be the hand of God striking us down by giving these evil men free reign to torment us. Repent we must of our ingratitude, for thinking that being an American is somehow synonymous with ever-increasing profits, for denying God his public honor.
And second, the church, especially the Reformed churches, must call our leaders to give public homage to Jesus Christ and to rule in terms of his word. His words are Spirit and life; all the words of men are flesh and death. But, the objection quickly comes, this will offend unbelieving citizens. There are other people and religions in this nation. Be a man and have a conscience. Unbelief kills men. You do secularists no favors by pretending that they are nice because they profess to be neutral to everything. They are closed to all that is good, for all that is good comes from God. We need leaders who willingly sacrifice approval ratings and political seats because the honor of God is more important than pleasing men. Courage to do righteousness when unbelieving men are screaming at you is the fruit of faith, which is the reason the early colonists required some Christian profession in order to hold public office.
To suggest this is political suicide and hopelessly naïve at this point. Is it? You mean more naïve than starving tens of millions of Americans by telling them they should be afraid to go to work and to trust government printing presses to feed them? You mean more naïve than trusting the same CDC who encourages safe sex among the unmarried and thus undermines purity throughout our land? You mean more naïve than telling people, “Everything will get back to normal soon if you just take a shot?” You mean more naïve than going to war against China as the supposed instigators of this virus when we are absolutely indebted to them and cannot pay our bills? It is past time for believers to speak the basic truth of the Reformation: “Christ, not man, is King.” Christ, not man, is the source of civil and religious liberty. Christ, not man, brings national blessing. Christ, not man, alone is able to deliver us from the intrigues of deep state politics and corrupt alphabet agencies and debased currency – all the government atrocities that led Thomas Jefferson to pen these vital words: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security” – The Declaration of Independence, 1776.
Whether or not you agree on these particulars – and there is plenty of room for godly men to disagree – upon this we must agree: only righteousness exalts a nation (Prov. 14:34). God’s law revealed in Scripture is the righteous model for men and nations (Deut. 4:6-9). Jesus Christ rules as the Mediatorial King to promote righteousness and wars against the wicked to defend his church and kingdom (Ps. 45:2-7; 72:2-8; Rev. 19:11-16). And since we are unrighteousness, we must have his obedience as our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Then united to him and sealed with the Holy Spirit, we may have God’s righteous law written upon our hearts and his strength to walk in humble obedience to him. This is not only the path of personal and corporate sanctification but also of civil righteousness and blessing. We must submit to Messiah the Prince, draw everything good from him, confess his sovereignty over us, and plead with his Father (and ours!) to exalt the righteous kingdom of his Son.
If the church can be brought to this ancient confession and proclamation, God will honor his word and help us make the good confession. He will not honor political polytheism. He will not honor our dishonor to our Reformation fathers who already fought this battle and confessed the truth that kings must bow the knee to Jesus Christ. He will not honor theologies that give over time and history to the devil and common grace – this is the age of Messiah’s glory and kingdom, of his Spirit and Word. Use his weapons, and the devil will flee. Make peace with unbelief, even genial unbelief, and the Spirit will be offended and withdraw his power.
He will not honor us for giving up in despair because so much work of discipleship remains to be done. One soul at a time, over generations, buttressed by faith in the promises and believing prayer for our Father to bless all men in his Son – this is the way the leaven of the gospel grows the kingdom of our Savior. I know we are looking for something more dramatic at present, and the Lord is driving his enemies to frenzied madness, causing those who man the sinking Titanic of our ship of state to rip open the hull and distribute its spoils. “The wicked walk in darkness; they know not at what they stumble.” But there is light in Zion, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, because our Savior, the only light of men and nations, walks amid the candlesticks. Let us diligently proclaim his righteousness and the necessity of repentance and faith. Our nation must kiss the Son now, for his wrath is kindled (Ps. 2:12).