Summary: July 4th sermon. Encourages folks to get involved in the Christian battle we are to fight.
SOLDIERS FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM: IN IT TO WIN IT
“This past week we celebrated Independence Day. On the 4th of July each year, we remember the signing of our Declaration of Independence. There were 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, either on that day or shortly thereafter. Some names come quickly from the recesses of our memory, names like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. But what kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the Crown? Who were they? What happened to them?
Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56, almost half--24--were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, 9 were land-owners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.
With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th century.
Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so "that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward." Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately." Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."
These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember: a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.
They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics, yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.
It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers (it was he, Francis Hopkinson--not Betsy Ross--who designed the United States flag).” [Excerpt from a note written by Rush Limbaugh Jr., (Father of the radio talk-show host) found on the internet under the heading Declaration of Independence]
By signing the Declaration that day, they were taking their lives in their hands. They placed their lives, their families and their fortunes at risk when they signed that document. They said, “Enough is enough. We won’t stand for it any more.” They signed and joined the revolution with the intention to win it.
My friends, let me ask you, “When it comes to the Christian life, when it comes to the battle before us, are you ready and prepared and willing to fight?
Many people, including many sitting in our churches today, have the mistaken idea that church is designed to make people nice. If you are a Christian, you are supposed to be nice, and smile a lot, and care for the sick and the poor, and generally just make the world a better place. I want you to understand that “Christianity isn’t a religion about going to Sunday School, potluck suppers, being nice, holding garage sales, and (sic) sending our secondhand clothes off to Mexico – as good as those things might be. This is a world at war. Something large and immensely dangerous is unfolding all around us.” [John Eldredge, Waking the Dead (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 30] We are in a battle. We are at war, and we had better get in it to win it.
As we think about this war and our responsibility in it, I want you to understand first that we have an enemy against us.
I. WE HAVE AN ENEMY AGAINST US
Today it is common to talk about a “War on Terror”, or a “War on Poverty” or even a “War on AIDS”. May I suggest to you this morning that these are not really wars. These are skirmishes. These are battles being fought in a war that many are unaware of. Our true war is a war against the Devil and his henchmen.