Summary: The greatest power is that of Christ working in us.
The Paradox of Power, II Corinthians 12:2-10
French writer Alexis de Tocqueville, after visiting America in 1831, said, “I sought for the greatness of the United States in her commodious harbors, her ample rivers, her fertile fields, and boundless forests – and it was not there. I sought for it in her rich mines, her vast world commerce, her public school system, and in her institutions of higher learning – and it was not there. I looked for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great!"
It was her goodness that made her strong and it is her goodness which makes her strong today. We live in a nation which whose character was plainly shaped by the influence of God through His Church. We live in a nation whose founding documents all proclaim the goodness of God implicitly.
It is our creator who grants inalienable rights. It is our creator who proclaimed liberty to captives of sin through Jesus Christ. It is indeed our creator who offers a definition and example of what liberty even is. I would now suggest that apart from and prior to the revelation of God in the Gospel of His Son Jesus Christ, Liberty as a standard of conscience and a manner of life was nonexistent.
Pure liberty is not only found in Christ but it is defined by the very nature, person, and work of Christ. In other words, apart from the Gospel liberty, sweet and pure, cannot be found. Though she be sought in the halls of science and academia, though she be searched out in the hearts of men, though she be hunted on the fields of natures beauty, scarcely can a wisp of her fragrance be discerned, scarcely can a vapor of her presence be known outside of the Gospel.
Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” ( KJV)
This morning we will deal with two primary themes. As we celebrate the 4th of July we will deal with the paradox of power as it relates to this great nation which was founded by faithful men and women, guided by the principals of Scripture. Though they were imperfect they passed on to us a legacy, an inheritance of the promise that each of us must live up to: namely, to create a more perfect union.
The promise of liberty is that each succeeding must continually cash the check that the framers wrote to secure for each and every person life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The paradox of power as a motif in the Bible, when applied to the character of this great nation is that it is not our strong military might or our incredible wealth which makes us great. It is, as Alexis de Tocqueville remarked, our goodness which makes us great.
The greatest gifts of America to the world historically or currently, I would argue, are the times and instances when America was able to offer or secure the great gift of freedom and liberty to the world. Weather it was in WWI, WWII, or in current operations, though we, like the framers be imperfect wielders of freedom’s sword, in our attempts to share the liberty with which we have been blessed, it is then, that we have been at our best.
We will focus our attention this morning, on the even more pressing matter, of the paradox of power as it relates to the life of the believer. It is not us who have the power to save ourselves, but God who has secured our salvation in Christ. It is not in our own sufficiency that we find security; it is in Christ alone that we find hope, salvation, freedom, liberty!
Contrary to the popular notion of our day, it is weakness that we are made strong! It is we who must decrease, that Christ, in us, may increase…
In our lives, as in the life of our nation, we do well to remember that it is not we who are sovereign. It is not we who cause the moon to rise at night or the sun to shine its rays; though there are folks who live perhaps full in that assumption. In every facet of our lives, the Bible declares time and again, that it is God who is sovereign over the affairs of Nations, the affairs of kingdoms, just as He is absolutely sovereign over every matter of our lives.