(Excerpts from a message delivered in the evening service of the former Boulevard Baptist Church of Taylors, South Carolina, Sunday, July 4"‘, 1976.)
Our country is now 200 years old — and it is dying before our eyes. Not intellectually or scientifically, but spiritually and morally with the cancer of the soul.
The current political atmosphere is only a reflection of the deep spiritual need that exists. Fantastic schemes of reform, space missions, and the like, divert our attention from the spreading disease that no miracle drug or resolution of our legislative bodies can touch.
Politicians make a passing reference to the things of the Spirit of God and give God a courteous nod of recognition. But what dignitary ever mentions sin, or the need of salvation in Jesus Christ?
The average American is deceived into thinking we are on the verge of a great new era with poverty and ignorance abolished and the brotherhood of man brought in by government decree. What most are not willing to admit is that we are at the bedside of dying America.
We wake up each day to a new crisis. We wake up each day to new perils of the loss of personal liberty and national security. We are faced with the loss of a God-given system of government and a free church in a godless world.
Back in 1971 a question was asked of leading Christian thinkers, “Sighting the final third of the Twentieth Century, what do you think it offers the church?” One of them answered: “By the year 2000, Christians will be a conscious minority surrounded by an arrogant militant paganism.” His assessment fits the very day in which we are now living. What he said ought to trouble us. The future does not look bright for our churches or our nation.
We question, “What is happening? What is causing it? What can be done about it?” Much good information is readily available, but it often generates more fear than action. We need to remember II Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
We also need to remember the Apostle Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 10:11 “Now all these things happened unto them (the Israelites of the Old Testament) for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Note that phrase, “written for our admonition.” They were written to warn us to flee the approaching wrath of God, not to paralyze us with hopeless dismay!
This is the greatest hour the world has ever known — there is great potential for destruction, but there is also great potential for revival.
Our country was born in righteousness. The years from 1725 through 1776 are known as the Great Awakening.
In 1727, William Tennet established the “Log Co|lege” — to train evangelists - it gave birth to the university known today as Princeton. On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards stood in his pulpit and took his text from Deuteronomy 32:35, “Their foot shall slide in due time.” In the message he entitled “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” he declared, “In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God’s visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works towards them, remained void of counsel, having no understanding in them.” It is recorded that listeners shook and clung to the backs of the pews for fear that at that moment they would slide into Hell.
George Whitfield, a contemporary of John and Charles Wesley, was known for his preaching from 1738 through 1770. After one of his sermons, Benjamin Franklin noted the: “wonderful change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seem’d [sic] as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.”
In 1769 Dartmouth College was founded to train Indians and missionaries to the Indians. Its charter states: “... this institution is primarily designed to Christianize the heathen, that is, to form the minds and manners of their children to the rules of religion and virtue; and to educate pious youth of the English to bear the Redeemer’s name among them in the wilderness ...”Timothy Dwight became the president of Yale in 1795. Its charter was granted for a school “wherein Youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences [and] through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick [sic] employment both in Church and Civil State.”
The years prior to the Revolutionary War were great years of revival. England was ignoring our human rights - in all reality waging war against the colonies already. The Revolutionary War was a defense of our God given rights as humans. It was born out of years of great revival.
The Second Great Awakening took place during the years of 1796 through 1805. Camp meetings were held in many of the states of the fledgling nation. There was powerful preaching where people literally trembled under the preaching of the Word of God.
The years immediately following the War of 1812 were also years of great revival. One key figure of this time was Asahel Nettleton. He entered Yale in 1805 and graduated in 1809. While he was only an ordinary student academically, he was known to have an extraordinary passion for Christ and reaching the lost.
Possibly the greatest revival the United States has ever known took place during the War Between the States, 1861 — 1865. In the South, there were great prayer meetings and preaching among the troops. Leaders like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were known for their Christian testimony. Jeb Stuart was among those converted to Christ.
The years of 1874 — 1877 are known for the Gospel meetings held by the evangelistic team of Dwight L. Moody and lra Sankey.
In the years following World War One there is no sign of national revival — however, there were local, city~wide revivals. Some of the better known evangelists of the time include J. Wilbur Chapman, R. A. Torrey, Gipsy Smith, Billy Sunday, and Bob Jones, Senior.
Starting in 1928 the United States faced the Great Depression — a Heaven—sent famine – God calling America to “get right.” Our President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), declared, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” We were given “The New Deal” - a program of self-sufficiency, right out of the pit of Hell. And, America turned further away from the fear of the Lord.
There were no signs of national revival or city-wide revivals during the years of World War Two and the years that follow. Lewd pin-ups were sent to our troops instead of Bibles. The term “rock-n-roll” was used to describe the lewd, immoral activity of troops on liberty. Ever since then America has been progressing toward Hell, on a landslide to destruction.
Today our nation is at stake. Our nation has lost its fear of God; it is full of sin. It desperately needs the clear testimony and influence of those who profess to be Christians. It desperately needs Christians that are burdened for the lost and seeking to reach them for Christ.
It is time for Christians to wake up! Proverbs 14:34 states: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Hosea 10:12 calls us to “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”
The current political atmosphere is only a reflection of the deep spiritual need. The new crisis we wake up to each day; and the new perils of the loss of personal liberty and national security; facing the loss of a God-given system of government and a free church in a godless world; are all symptoms of the spiritual vacuum in which we live. God has the supply ready to fill the vacuum if we will heed His Word.
Romans 13:11-12 — “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” ls written to the church at Rome. And it is for us in this day and hour.
First Peter 4:17 declares: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:”
Karl Marx wrote that communists are “dead men on furlough; they treat themselves as though they are as good as dead. They have nothing to lose so they are ready for anything.” Fred Schwarz, founder of the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade summarized it as “Dead to self for the party’s sake.” This characterizes what a Christian really should be. He is really a dead man on furlough. He wants nothing for himself, but wants only to have God exalted, Christ manifested. He is dead to self for Christ’s sake!
Christians need to show the world the reality of Biblical Christianity - living lives that are consecrated, dedicated to the glory of God. Over 100 years ago Charles Finney stated: “lf the church were to live one week as if they believed the Bible, sinners would melt down before them.”
We often quote 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” — but do we really want revival?
We need to understand that God visits national sins with national judgments. We live in perilous times, and the times are what they are because men are what they are.
Time is fast running out. It has been noted that the average life-span of the world’s greatest civilizations is 200 years. Civilizations move from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from great courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, and from dependency back into bondage. America is living on borrowed time.
The only way back to greatness is to return to obedience to God’s Word. The idea that a President or Congress can change things is denial, a terminally sick nation grasping at a fanciful dream to keep from admitting the awful truth - our way of life is ending - right now!
The greatest need of the hour is for man to believe God. God deals with a nation in respect to His people in that nation. God employs human agents to warn His people. While He even uses bad men as His agents - His employment does not justify their conduct. Isaiah 10:5-6 refers to an enemy God used to chastise lsrael: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets.”
We need to pray “Father, hold off Thy whirl-winds of wrath - hold up Thy judgement.” We need to pray “Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.”
I have watched the United States deteriorate. Every patriotic American longs to see our nation spared. Some believe that its sparing is in political reform. Others believe that the nation can be
spared if conservatives hold the majority in the Congress and Senate. And that a conservative is in the White House. I believe that America can be spared only by Divine intervention!