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THE WISDOM OF PRESIDENT REAGAN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord's Day Morning, July 4, 2004
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn" (Proverbs 29:2).


I have lived long enough to remember eleven Presidents. A President sets the tone for the whole country. I can honestly say that America felt happier and better about itself when Ronald Reagan was President than at any other time in my life. President Reagan was a wise and righteous man.

"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice…" (Proverbs 29:2).

The source of President Reagan's strength lay what he believed. Many news commentators called his beliefs corny and old-fashioned while he was in office. Now that he is dead they grudgingly admit that he was a great leader. But it was Reagan's beliefs that made him great. What did President Reagan believe?

I. First, he believed the Bible.

Reagan's biographer Dr. Paul Kengor said,

As an adult, Ronald Reagan would refer to the Bible as his favorite book, and as "the greatest message ever written." That its words were of divine origin and inspiration he said he "never had any doubt" (Paul Kengor, Ph.D., God and Ronald Reagan, HarperCollins Publishers, 2004, pp. 17-18).

Here is what President Reagan said about his belief in the miracles of the Bible. Reagan's words are taken from a radio speech he gave in 1978.

I suppose it's only natural for any of us regardless of our faith to speculate at times as to whether or not there might be a natural explanation for some of the Biblical miracles. I'll confess to doing it in idle thought on occasion, but always winding up unable to explain away the happening described in either the Old or New Testament as a natural phenomena.
      But today…there are scholars - yes, and theologians trying to de-spiritualize the Judeo-Christian tradition…
      Now a scholar has come up with a scientific explanation of two of the better known miracles [in the Bible]. He says they were simply mirages. The first is the parting of the Red Sea, which allowed Moses and the Israelites to escape the pursuing Egyptians, and the second is Jesus walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee.
      Most of us know something about mirages, particularly those of us who live in the western United States. And I dare say most of us have been driving on a hot day and seen the highway ahead take on the appearance of water shining in the sunlight. We don't put on the brakes because we know it is simply heat waves rising from the pavement, giving the illusion of water…
      But this [liberal] scholar has suggested that the Israelites were simply led across the desert sands at a time when a mirage gave them the appearance of walking through water.
      As I say, I'm not an informed scholar on the subject of mirages. But…I'm still left with some questions. The mirage might (and let me emphasize might) explain the Israelites crossing the Red Sea but that leaves the story very much unfinished. The armies of the Pharaoh tried to follow and the waters closed on them crushing chariots and drowning men and horses. A mirage can do that?
      Then there is an unanswered question or two about Jesus walking on the water, if we assume he was on dry land and part of a mirage. First of all it was night and the Disciples were in a wave-tossed boat. Jesus walked from the shore to join them on the boat. If that was a mirage and He was really on dry land - what was that boat doing there?
      I'm afraid [this] scholar has asked too much of heat-waves and reflections on clouds and desert sand. It will take more than a mirage to do a successful re-write of the world's best-seller - the Bible. (From a radio program titled "Mirages," by Ronald Reagan, reprinted in Christian News, June 14, 2004, pp. 1, 4).

This radio speech, given a few months before Reagan became President, vividly shows that he believed the Bible. "That its words were of divine origin and inspiration he never had any doubt" (Paul Kengor, ibid., p. 18). President Reagan believed every word of the Bible, and defended it often when he was President. He was definitely a man who believed that the Bible is reliable. Indeed, he believed that the Bible is the very Word of God!

II. Second, he believed in the absolute evil of abortion on demand.

He made this clear throughout his presidency, time and again. Reagan believed in the sanctity of all human life, from the moment of conception. He believed in the sanctity of life because the Bible teaches it. He even wrote a book on the subject while he was President. Reagan was the only sitting President to write a book while still in office. No other President ever did that while in office. But Reagan wrote Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984) in the very midst of his presidential duties. He wrote that book because he believed so strongly that abortion is evil. In that book, the president said that by 1984, the year he wrote it, "more than 15 million unborn children have had their lives snuffed out by legalized abortion. That is over ten times the number of Americans lost in all our nation's wars" (ibid., p. 15). [The number has now risen to forty-five million, more than thirty times the number of Americans lost in all of our wars].

Reagan went on to say, in that book,

Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution…Nowhere do the plain words of the Constitution even hint at such a "right" so sweeping as to permit abortion up to the time the child is ready to be born. Yet that is what the Court ruled (ibid., p. 16).
      We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life - the unborn - without diminishing the value of all human life (ibid., p. 18).
      The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all of its parts have been torn from its mother's body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law - the same right we have (ibid., p. 22).

      The cultural environment for a human holocaust is present whenever any society can be misled into defining individuals as less than human and therefore devoid of value and respect (ibid. p. 29).

      Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion and infanticide (ibid., p. 38).

      There is no cause more important for preserving freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning (ibid.).

There you have it, clear and plain. President Reagan believed very strongly that abortion on demand is a great evil - and a cancer in our nation. And I agree with him!

President Reagan believed that abortion is wrong because it denies the basic human rights given in the Declaration of Independence, which said,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is my prayer that some day soon this hideous black mark will be removed from our land. May President Reagan's stand against this evil prevail some day! That would be his greatest legacy to America! May God grant that it be so!

III. Third, he believed in Jesus Christ.

In 1978, Reagan gave a radio address in which he said,

     I realize that there are those who, by religious belief, consider Jesus a very human prophet whose teachings about love one another, treating others as we would be treated ourselves, are sound patterns for living; that He is to be respected but not worshipped.
      But for many of us He is much more. He is the promised Messiah, the Son of God come to earth to offer salvation for all mankind. It was disturbing therefore to read that in many Christian seminaries there is an increasing tendency to minimize His divinity, to reject the miracle of His birth and regard Him as merely human.
      Meaning no disrespect to the religious convictions of others, I still can't help wondering how we can explain away what to me is the greatest miracle of all, and which is recorded in history. No one denies there was such a man, that He lived and was put to death by crucifixion.
     Where then, you may ask, is the miracle I spoke of? Well, consider this and let your imagination translate the story into our own time - possibly to your own home town. A young man whose father is a carpenter grows up working in his father's shop. One day he puts down his tools and walks out of his father's shop. He starts preaching on street corners and in the nearby country side, walking from place to place preaching all the while, even though he is not an ordained minister. He never gets farther than an area perhaps 100 miles wide at the most.
      He does this for three years. Then he is arrested, tried and convicted. There is no court of appeal so he is executed at the age of 33 along with two common thieves. Those in charge of his execution roll dice to see who gets his clothing - the only possessions he has. His family cannot afford a burial place, so he is interred in a borrowed tomb.
      End of story? No - this uneducated, propertyless young man who preached on street corners for only three years and who left no written word has, for 2,000 years, had a greater effect on the world than all the rulers, kings and emperors; all the conquerors, generals and admirals; all the scholars, scientists and philosophers who ever lived - all of them put together.
      How do we explain that - unless He really was who He said he was? (Ronald Reagan, "Christmas," February 1978, reprinted from Christian News, June 14, 2004, p. 1).

Dr. D. James Kennedy gave the following account of a conversation between himself and President Reagan in 1980:

     "Governor," I said, "I would like to ask you a very important spiritual question, and that is: If something were to happen to you and you were to die and stand before God, and God Almighty said to you, 'Why should I let you into my Heaven?' What would you say?"
     He was silent for a long time. Finally after about 30 seconds he answered in somber tones that I shall never forget, "I don't deserve to go to Heaven. The only thing I could say would be, 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'" (John 3:16).
     Now this great man has discovered the truth of those words of Christ. He has 'slipped the surly bonds of earth,' and now gazes in the face of God (Dr. D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Ministries News, June 8, 2004).

In the summer of 1980, Dr. Ben Armstrong, former Executive Director of National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) met with Reagan. Reagan told him, "I am born again and I am a Bible believer" (Christian News, June 14, 2004, p. 9).

Are you born again? Have you trusted Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Are you washed from your sins by His Blood? That is the way to eternal life! That is the way to Heaven!

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: John 3:14-17.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

"The Battle Hymn of the Republic" (by Julia Ward Howe, 1819-1910).

THE OUTLINE OF

THE WISDOM OF PRESIDENT REAGAN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn" (Proverbs 29:2).

I.   He believed the Bible.

II.  He believed in the absolute evil of abortion on demand.

III. He believed in Jesus Christ, John 3:16.