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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, November 23, 2003

"O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people" (Psalm 105:1).

I go swimming every day at a gym near my home. I spend a few minutes in the jacuzzi before I go in the pool. I have many interesting conversations in that jacuzzi. People know that I am a Baptist pastor, and they often ask me questions about God and the Bible. The other day an elderly Armenian man asked me a very interesting question. The Armenians are Orthodox Christians in their background. This man has not lived in America very long, and he said to me, "You are an American. Tell me, Why are the Americans against Christianity? I hear them on television. They are always against Christianity. Tell me, Why are the Americans against Christianity?"

This immigrant observed a trend that many Americans haven't noticed. Yes, I know that his question was an over-generalization. I know that many of our people are Christians. And yet, over the last forty years, the major media venues, television and the newspapers, have become increasingly anti-Christian, while at the same time extolling the virtues of other world religions. This mindset filters down to our schoolrooms, where the very words "Christmas" and "Easter" are now banned. Children are even forbidden to give each other Christmas cards in many schools, and there is a strong movement to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. At the same time, every classroom has Satanic pictures and demonic decorations, and every child is encouraged to celebrate the Druid religious holiday of Halloween. And I understand that many schools now have mandatory classes in the Muslim religion, to "foster greater understanding." These kids are forced to study Islam, but are not allowed to read the Bible, or say a Christian prayer!

Every college student can tell you how this anti-Christian bias plays out in his secular college classes. The professors are "politically correct" when it comes to other world religions. You never hear a word of criticism, but only "non-biased" descriptions of the value and worth of these other religions. And yet, any student in a secular college can tell you that Christianity is belittled, downgraded, and often attacked openly, by these same "politically correct" teachers.

Another example of this anti-Christian bias is the way Mel Gibson has been treated for producing a film on the crucifixion of Christ. He has been treated shamefully by the media, as though he has done a terrible thing, for simply filming a movie based on the Gospel of John.

Knowing all this, I come back to the question that elderly Armenian asked me, "Why are the Americans against Christianity?" And I think that the answer to his question lies in the very concept of "Thanksgiving." We as a nation are no longer thankful for the benefits we have received from Christianity.

Last year I read a book titled Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization by Dr. Alvin J. Schmidt (Zondervan, 2001). The author was a professor of sociology at Illinois College until his retirement. His book shows the impact of Christianity on Western culture. Take for instance slavery. Slavery has its roots far back in history, before Christ. Dr. Schmidt points out that slavery was finally stamped out in the Western world as a direct result of Protestant Christianity.

Slavery still exists in many parts of the world - where Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism are the dominant religions. The abolition of slavery in the Western world was a direct result of Protestant Christianity. That is a statement of fact - although you will not hear it from your so-called "unbiased" college professor.

Why did America, until quite recently, believe in the sanctity of human life? Because of Christianity. Why do Americans believe in liberty and justice for all? Because of Christianity. Why are women treated with dignity in America? Because of Christianity. Where did our educational system come from? You guessed it - from Christianity! You won't hear that in a secular college classroom, or from the "unbiased" reporting of Dan Rather or Peter Jennings - but it is the absolute truth from history!

Think about this. Where would Dan Rather or Peter Jennings prefer to live? Would they rather live in India, under Hinduism - or in America, with its Christian roots? Would they rather live in Iran, under Islam - or in America, with its Christian roots? Would they rather live in Mongolia, under Buddhism - or in America, with its Christian roots?

You see, they want to live in America, with all the benefits that come to us from our Christian heritage - but at the same time they attack the very religion that gave them those benefits in the first place! That is either hypocrisy or stupidity - or perhaps a combination of the two.

Those who would have us forsake our Christian heritage should remember what Alexis de Tocqueville said. When he came to visit America from France in the nineteenth century, he said,

I sought for the greatness of America in her harbors and rivers and fertile fields, and her mines and commerce. It was not there. Not until I went into the churches and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the greatness of her power. America is great because she is good; and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.

Unfortunately, in the last hundred years, the pulpits of our nation have too often ceased to "flame with righteousness." And too many of our people have turned away from the God of our fathers, to worship at the altars of materialism, lust and greed. We have slaughtered forty-four million of our own children in the American Holocaust of abortion. The Bible has been replaced in the minds of many by the monstrous ethic of Darwinism - "the survival of the fittest."

It was President Reagan who said,

If America is to remain what God, in His wisdom, intended for it to be - a refuge, a safe haven for those seeking human rights - then we must once again extend the most basic human right to the most vulnerable members of the human family…We must commit ourselves to a future in which the right to life of every human being - no matter how weak, no matter how small, no matter how defenseless - is protected by our laws and public policy.

"The survival of the fittest" should never have been permitted to take the place of the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13).

How dare we push our way into a tiny country like Iraq and attempt to force our system of government on them, when our own nation is dripping with the blood of 44 million aborted children? How dare we say that we are bringing them "freedom and liberty," when we have granted neither freedom nor liberty to those children in our own land? How dare we tell them that our way of life is better than theirs when we have nothing to offer them but Michael Jackson, Jerry Springer, Howard Stern, Hillary Clinton, rap music, drugs, gambling, and what Pat Buchanan calls the "culture of death"? How dare we say that we are going to "liberate" them? What do we have to offer them but the cheap materialism that dominates our own way of life?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not attacking Mr. Bush. I will doubtlessly vote for him next year. Mr. Bush backs the state of Israel. He's got that right. God will bless him for blessing Israel and the Jewish people. But I am completely against the ungodliness in the culture over which Mr. Bush presides. And I do not think we can export freedom and justice to others, until all the people of our own nation, including children in the womb, have freedom and justice here.

I can't get out of my mind the question that elderly Armenian asked me in the jacuzzi, "You are an American. Tell me, Why are the Americans against Christianity? I hear them on television. They are always against Christianity. You are an American. Tell me, Why are the Americans against Christianity?" What could I say?

When I went home from the gym, I remembered what the Bible said about the ancient world,

"When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful…" (Romans 1:21).

They did not glorify God. They were not thankful. They descended into blind paganism.

Our nation has taken the same steps that the ancient world took on the slippery slope that leads to heathen darkness. Only a mighty revival of full-hearted Reformation Christianity could save us now. But I fear that we are too blindly arrogant to turn back to the God of our fathers.

Our young people wander the streets at night, looking for something to do. Our homes are shattered. We have nothing to offer the children but Michael Jackson, Jerry Springer, Howard Stern, Hillary Clinton, rap music, drugs, and the culture of death. Despair and bone-chilling loneliness have driven our children out - into the night - into a cold and repugnant cyberspace of broken dreams and unfulfilled promises.

But there is a ray of hope. There is something good that we can offer young people, as they wander alone through our desolate streets. It is the love of Jesus Christ - and the warmth and fellowship of the local church! In this midnight hour, when so many of our people have turned to idols, we can still

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that [God's] house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).

That is our message. That is our motivation. That is our mission. We go out into the streets, onto the campuses, into other places where young people gather - and we say, "Why be lonely? Come home - to church! Why be lost? Come home - to Jesus Christ, the Son of God!"

That's what we have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving! We are thankful to God - for saving us from pagan darkness! We are thankful to God for this local church - a place of joy and happiness in a cold and lonely world! We are thankful to God for His "unspeakable gift" - Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind!

"O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people" (Psalm 105:1).

And there is one other thing for which we should give thanks this evening.  It is something that we tend to overlook.  When we are toiling in evangelism, phoning people into the night, and giving sacrificially of our money - we have a tendency to look forward to an easier time.  But by doing that, we lose the joy of the present. We become so focused on a bright and happy time of future blessings, that we do not give thanks for what God is doing today.  

I believe that twenty years from now you and I will look back on this time as the "good old days" of our church.  And so I think that we should thank God for this present time, and realize that this - this is our finest hour!  

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Romans 1:18-22.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:

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