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by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A lesson taught at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Afternoon, July 4, 2021

Song Sung Before the Lesson: “The National Anthem”
      (by Francis Scott Key, 1779-1843).

“Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34; p. 682 Scofield).

Today is July 4, Independence Day. We celebrate the beginning of our nation. But now our country is erasing its past, turning one race against another, surrendering to Communism, crushing free speech, “canceling” people who say the truth, and rejecting God who made us. That’s America today. I want to bring out three points about our country – a wonder, a warning, and a way out.

I. First, a wonder – what America was.

“Righteousness exalteth a nation” (Proverbs 14:34a).

On this day 245 years ago our Founding Fathers declared that we were free and independent. They said in the Declaration of Independence,

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.

People from all the world come here because our nation was built on God-given rights, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those rights are not given by politicians. They are given by God! That’s the foundation of our country.

No one is trying to get into North Korea or Iran. Nobody is sailing on a raft to Communist China. Why do they come here? The Democrats say our society is evil and “systemically racist.” So why do people of all races, from Africa, Central America, and everywhere risk their lives to come here? It’s because we’re not racist. They come because we still have some of the blessings God gave us!

Not all the men who founded this nation were true Christians. But many of them were. And all of them believed in God who ruled over men and gave them righteous laws. They all believed in hard work, the family, good citizenship, human rights, and God above. That’s our country, that fought a war to end slavery. That’s our country, that saved the world three times – in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War. As a boy I saw President John F. Kennedy say, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” That spirit of sacrifice pointed to Jesus, who died for us. That’s the greatest nation in the history of the world. That’s the old America!

II. Second, a warning – what America is now.

“Sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34b).

Today we are far different. Starting in 1948 the Supreme Court took prayer and the Bible out of our schools. In 1973 the Supreme Court made abortion on demand the law of the land. Since then we have aborted 62 million babies, killing far more than Hitler ever did. God judged Hitler, and He will judge America.

Yes, there was racism in our country long ago. But the Bible teaches that all are equal before God. Based on the Bible, we fought a war to end slavery. I remember when Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We ended racism. No Black person is kept out of college or a job based on race. We elected Barack Obama, a Black president – twice. How could a racist country do that? We are the least racist country on earth! But now it’s backwards. The schools tell us to judge people not by the content of their character, but by the color of their skin. It’s called “critical race theory.” They put racism back in and call it justice.

Today everything is turned backward. Marriage and the family are despised. Every strange twist of sexuality is exalted. Islam is respected, but Bible Christianity is hated. Riots, looting and burning are peaceful, but churches are dangerous. Criminals are victims, but conservatives are terrorists. In the coronavirus pandemic, abortion clinics, liquor stores and marijuana shops stayed open, but the churches were closed. As the Bible says, our leaders “call evil good, and good evil; [they] put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20; p. 717).

President Kennedy said, “Ask what you can do for your country.” Today people ask, “What can my country do for me?” That kind of a country can’t last forever. When our Constitution was written, someone asked Benjamin Franklin, “What kind of government do we have?” He said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Two hundred years ago Alexander Fraser Tytler said,

A democracy…can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse [free things] from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits… a democracy always collapses…followed by a dictatorship.

What a warning for today!

Today our president is Joseph Biden, who hardly knows where he is. The Bible says, “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child” (Ecclesiastes 10:16; p. 703). I might paraphrase that, “Woe to thee, O land, when thy president has the mind of a child.” That’s what we’ve got today!

Oh, someone is running this country. Is it Kamala Harris? Is it Barack Obama? It’s them, and more than them. It’s an army of “woke” anti-Christians. Modern wokeness isn’t just a political movement. Getting “woke” is really a “conversion.” Wokeness is a religion of people who want to pull down God. The Bible says, “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Psalm 2:2, 3; p. 599). That’s what our country is today.

III. Third, a way out – what you can do.

I did not say, “what America can do.” I am not talking about a national revival that will sweep away evil from our land. That won’t happen. Our country is facing judgment – and that judgment will be severe. We may not even exist as a nation.

I said, “what you can do.” I speak not to the nation, but to you. What can you do? Turn in the Bible to I Corinthians 15:58 (p. 1228). Listen as I read it.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

“Be ye stedfast, unmovable.” Yes, but how?

First, do not follow the world around you. Jesus said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16; p. 1139). The Apostle John said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (I John 2:15; p. 1322).

That’s hard. The wrong way is put in front of you over and over on television, on the Internet, on social media, and in the schools. It’s easy to surrender to the crowd. But you don’t have to.

Everyone has sales resistance. You see commercials on television. You get phone calls and emails asking you to buy something or give personal information. You don’t give in. That’s called “sales resistance.”

Why not do that in your life? When you are swamped with an ocean of lies, telling you in smooth words and tricky slogans that good is bad and bad is good – tune it out. Treat it like junk. It is. When the culture moves like a wave and tells you, “Get with it. Everyone else is,” stay with the truth. As Jesus said to His Disciples, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matthew 24:4; p. 1033).

But that’s not all. Stay faithful to Christ and the local church. Stay faithful to Christ when the world mocks you. Stay faithful to the church when others run away for an easier life. Remember Dr. Hymers, who never quits and never runs away from his work. Stay faithful when it gets worse, for it will. You may be blocked from promotion at work. You may lose money. You may be treated as someone bad. Some day you may go to jail. Remember Richard Wurmbrand, faithful to Christ under prison and torture. Turn to John 16:2 (p. 1137). Listen as I read it. Jesus said to His Disciples,

“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them” (John 16:2-4).

Jesus said that persecution will come. But you can get through it. The Bible says, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13; p. 1220). The word translated “escape” also means “to get through it.” In modern English, “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested above that ye are able, but will with the test make a way to get through it, that ye may be able to bear it.” With God you can make it through. That’s the way of the cross. Yes, the cross lies ahead – but so does Heaven and the Kingdom of Christ!

Stand and sing “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?”

Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb;
And shall I fear to own His cause, Or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed through bloody seas?

Sure I must fight, if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord!
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, Supported by Thy Word.
     (“Am I a Soldier of the Cross” by Dr. Isaac Watts, 1674-1748;
     stanzas 1, 2 and 4).