Summary: A 4th of July sermon focusing on the "inalienable rights" of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness endowed by our Creator. PowerPoint is avaible if you e-mail me.
Note: This message was adapted from another sermon on SermonCentral, but I can’t remember who contributed it. Sorry.
LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
Scott R. Bayles, pastor
First Christian Church, Rosiclare, Illinois
In 1776, fifty men signed a document hand-written by Thomas Jefferson:
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve a political bond which they have committed with another and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitles them ... We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That document was the Declaration of Independence signed in congress on July 4th 1776, declaring America’s freedom from the oppressive rule of England. And “freedom” has been the battle cry of this country for over 200 years. The Bible says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage” (Psalm 33:12 ESV). The pledge of Allegiance declares without apology that America is “one nation under God.” Yet, how far we have come.
Let’s suppose that sometime this week you turned on the news and heard these announcements: “The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has just issued this statement: ‘Divine Providence (that’s God) has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.’”
Then you heard, “Inquiries by our reporters reveal that almost every state legislature has now passed a law requiring all elected officials to take this oath: ‘I do profess faith in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ His only Son, and I do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.’”
Then to top it off you hear reports saying, “Legislation was passed today in Congress to affirm that, ‘The Congress of the United States approves of and recommends … the Holy Bible for use in the schools.’“
It’s hard to imagine those things being said in the United States today, but they were said. It was John Jay, the first Chief Justice and “father” of the Supreme Court, one of the primary authors of our Constitution, who wrote, “It is the duty of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
It was the state of Delaware (along with most of the others) which required officeholders to take an oath affirming their Christian faith before they could take office.
And, not only did Congress in 1782 approve the use of the Bible in our schools, they even paid for them with tax dollars. And, in 1844, when someone sued to remove them, the Supreme Court ruled: “Why should not the Bible, and especially the New Testament, be read and taught as a divine revelation in the schools? Where can the purest principles of morality be learned so clearly or so perfectly as from the New Testament?”
We’ve come a long way from our roots as Americans. Something President Obama has often said is: “We not a Christian nation; at least, not just.” For once, I have to agree. We are no longer solely a Christian nation. We are a diverse nation consisting of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Wiccans, Spiritualist, Catholics, Protestants and atheists. But the fact is—the vast majority of Americans (as much as 75% according to some surveys) still identify themselves as Christians and our nation was built upon Christian ideals and biblical principles. It is our Christian heritage that is slowly slipping away from America.
When Thomas Jefferson and our fore-fathers penned the words of the Declaration of Independence, they recognized certain God-given, “inalienable” rights. Three are mentioned specifically: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today, Americans’ understanding of those rights has diminished. At the time, those rights carried great political—and also great spiritual—meaning. If we want the God of the Bible to be the God of this nation, as we have often claimed He is, then we must realize what our founding fathers understood so well—that true life, liberty and happiness can only found in Him. Let’s consider these inalienable rights with which all men have been endowed by their Creator. The first of which is life.
Jesus said, in no uncertain terms, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV). In other words, real, lasting life can only be experienced through Jesus Christ! In fact, Jesus even said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 NKJV). Another translation puts it this way: “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (TLB).