Summary: This is a brief 4th of July message suitable to present to Civic groups, and in situations when time is restricted. (Powerpoint available - #207)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at mnewland
@sstelco.com and request #207.)
Last Wednesday we celebrated the birthday of our nation & the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was a momentous decision for each one of the men who placed his name upon that Declaration.
As John Adams signed, he said, "Whether we live or die, sink or swim, succeed or fail, I stand behind this Declaration of Independence. And if God wills it, I am ready to die in order that this country might experience freedom."
It was that kind of patriotism which led men, armed with little more than hunting rifles, to engage in battle with what was the most powerful nation in the world.
Many of our forefathers paid a terrible price in the Revolutionary War, but finally they won the victory so that you & I might be citizens of this "land of the free & home of the brave."
PROP. But what we often forget is that in declaring their independence from England, our forefathers made an equally strong “Declaration of Dependence” upon Almighty God.
I. THEY DECLARED THEIR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD
A. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins with these words: "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."
The closing words of their Declaration solemnly states: "With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes & our sacred Honor."
APPL. It is important that we remember this declaration of their dependence upon God, for in a time of world turmoil, the United States today is rapidly forgetting the God of our fathers, the God who gave this nation its birth & its greatness.
ILL. I trust that all of you recognize the name of Patrick Henry. But I’m afraid many of our school children know almost nothing of him at all. Patrick Henry was a famous statesman of colonial Virginia.
In 1764 he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses where he became a champion of the frontier people, supporting their rights against the arrogant exercise of power by the aristocracy.
In 1774 he was a delegate to the First Continental Congress. In 1775, before the Virginia Provincial Convention, which was deeply divided between those who supported England & those who desired freedom, he uttered his most famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death!"
During the Revolutionary War he became commander-in-chief of Virginia's military forces. He was a member of the Second Continental Congress. He helped draw up the first constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, & was primarily responsible for drawing up the amendments to our Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.
He became Virginia's first governor, & was re-elected 3 more times. Then he retired from public life, but despite his strong objections the people went ahead & elected him Governor for the 5th time. But he meant what he said, so he refused to take the office.
He was offered a seat in the U.S. Senate, & posts as ambassador to Spain & to France. Pres. George Washington asked him to join his cabinet & become Secretary of State, & later wanted to appoint him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. But he refused all such honors & recognitions.
APPL. Now why do I mention these things about Patrick Henry? It is because I want you to realize that he was an important & respected leader in those days when our nation came into being.
Now listen to his words. He said, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians - not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
His Last Will & Testament was filed in the Brookneal County courthouse in Virginia. Read his Will & you'll see that he bequeathed everything to his children, just as most people do. But the last paragraph in his Will is especially interesting.
He wrote, "I have now given everything I own to my children. There is one more thing I wish I could give them & that is Christ. Because if they have everything I gave them & don't have Christ, they have nothing."
SUM. I love reading about Patrick Henry & George Washington & John Adams & Thomas Jefferson & John Jay & many of the other patriots who gave of themselves so valiantly that we might enjoy the freedoms that are ours.
B. But we also need to be reminded again of the solemn warning that God gave to another nation which was experiencing the thrill of independence after centuries of slavery in Egypt. Although it was written over 3,000 years ago, this warning could very well apply to the United States today.