Seek His Face and Earn His Grace

by Diane Rufino

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?  Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”    —  Thomas Jefferson

What is happening in the US?  Are we turning away from God, as many claim, or are we witnessing just the opposite?  Are we seeing the error of our ways and turning towards Him?

Are we, as a nation, witnessing a Christian restoration or an atheist transformation?

I think the answer is that both forces are engaged in a great struggle.  The progressive nature of our courts combined with the misinterpretation of our Bill of Rights, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, and combined with the enormous power of the liberal media have allowed the atheist movement to have greater force than it deserves.  To counter that movement, Christians and Christian organizations must fight against incredible odds, most notably the courts, the “wall of separation,” and the liberally-biased media.  It comes as no surprise that our government and the “establishment” is harboring an increasing hostility towards faith.  Yet the Christian resistance is growing.

We’ve taken God out of our schools and out of our seats of government.  We’ve removed crosses and other Christian symbols from public squares and from national cemeteries. We’ve perverted the meaning of the First Amendment with a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution – the “Wall of Separation” – so that we can systematically remove important and traditional human values from society and avoid expensive lawsuits.  The First  Amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values but rather it was written to protect those values from government and government tyranny.  We’ve watched as a Culture of Immorality has enveloped the country starting with the counter-culture revolution of the 1960s and are suffering from its natural consequences.  Yet churches are growing larger. In 1973, the Supreme Court announced that women can kill their unborn under the constitutional protection of “privacy,” but 39 years later, the pro-life voice grows louder and stronger.

We have a huge segment of society benefitting from the hard work, property, and taxation of others.  About 50% of Americans are being used to support the other 50% in a lifestyle that the government continues to redefine and upgrade.  This is institutionalized sloth and envy — two of the Christian mortal sins.  Some say it is the new form of slavery.  Indeed, every person who benefits from the effort and property of another is himself a petty tyrant and a slave master. Yet as the entitlement ranks increase, the outrage against such human decay builds and people are urging a return to the policies of ethics, morality, and personal responsibility. As long as people can embrace these values, there is the hope of earned success and human dignity.

We have a president who wants ever so strongly to have government compel religious groups to provide birth control and abortion services – services that so fundamentally offend religious principles and offend our constitutionally protected Right of Religious Conscience – to further the agenda of Women’s Rights.  But instead, our country realized that a line had been crossed and the president was forced to retreat from his policy. The fight of gays and lesbians for the right to marry may cause many, particularly our unprincipled youth, to argue “Why Not?” but it causes countless others to re-connect with their religious values.

So, is it possible we are witnessing a Christian revival?

Those who came to America’s shores did so under an apparent covenant with God.  As Governor John Winthrop pledged in 1630 on board the Arbella, which set out for America’s shores:

“Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price of the breach of such a covenant.

Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, “may the Lord make it like that of New England.” For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.

And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deuteronomy 30. “Beloved, there is now set before us life and death, good and evil,” in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore let us choose life, that we and our seed may live, by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity.”

Puritan and Pilgrim colonies, for example, were established in furtherance of that covenant.  They felt the blessings of God and they believed in their mission. If they hadn’t believed so strongly, they would have never been able to make the incredible sacrifices they did so that the early colonies could take root and flourish. Sickness, death, hardship, and starvation plagued our early religious settlers.  At one point, almost every family lost at least one family member.  Yet they understood that to whom much is given, much would be required.

Likewise, our Founding Fathers could never have embraced the concepts of ordered liberty, natural law, and fundamental freedoms had their hearts and minds not been shaped and affected by religious principles. They wrote many Judeo-Christian principles into our founding documents and into our laws: the equality of men, justice, freedom of worship, freedom of speech, the criminal justice system, and others.  Thomas Jefferson, the Founder who gave us individual liberties and articulated the role and boundaries of government, wrote this on the inside of his bible:  “I am a Christian, that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

Patrick Henry, whose fiery speeches rallied the country to independence from Britain, wrote in 1777:  “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religious, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”  Acknowledging our war for independence, the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, offered these sentiments on the 4th of July in 1821: “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

During the Constitutional Convention someone raised the question: “When does a nation answer to God?”  In the notes he took during the discussions and debates, George Madison recorded the reply that was given by George Mason: “Nations can’t be judged in the hereafter as people, so Providence punishes national sins by national calamities.” Even Benjamin Franklin concluded “We need God to be our friend, not our adversary.”

James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this: “We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.”  Speaking to the military, John Adams spoke these words: “We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  George Washington, in his farewell address as our first president, on September 19, 1796 warned: “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are the indispensable supporters. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion……  Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that our national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” And Calvin Coolidge, our thirtieth president, noted this in his writings: “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.”

Americans have supported more missionary and evangelistic efforts than any other people in history. There are churches – many of them – in virtually every community. We have “In God We Trust” on our money (while it still lasts) and we pledge allegiance to our “One Nation Under God.” (also while it still lasts).

The United States is a unique and special country, for many reasons. One reason is it’s foundation on God.  Like Israel, the US is unique in that it was conceived and dedicated at its foundation for the purposes of serving God.  It would be a vessel of redemption, an instrument of God’s will, and a light to the world.  It would give refuge to the world’s poor and needy, and hope to the oppressed. It would stand against tyranny.  In return, it would be blessed by God.  It would  be powerful and prosperous, but most of all, it would be protected.  It would be protected by a shield of grace.

And indeed we were.  We enjoyed security and prosperity for many years.  Our shores brought friends and new citizens, but not enemies.

But we turned from that early covenant and now America doesn’t seem as blessed as we once were.  We’ve lost our heart and soul.  We’ve lost our direction.  We’ve abandoned our “covenant” to serve God.  Our government has incrementally and systematically removed God from the fiber of America. It began in 1947, with the “Wall of Separation” decision (Everson v. Board of Education) but went into high gear in the 60’s.  Crime is now rampant, the family is disintegrating, teens are promiscuous, homosexuality is on the rise, children are being taught to accept alternative lifestyles, the homosexual agenda is in high gear,  parents don’t “parent,” schools spend more time “managing” student behavior than teach proper communication skills and other valuable content material, we use abortion as birth control and kill our unborn, we assume no personal responsibility because we are all “entitled,” personal decay is at its highest, our children are assaulted by immorality from every direction, communities are fractured, national security is a joke, we have no reason to trust our  unethical government, we are constrained by our government rather than thrive under it, our workforce is decimated, and we have never felt so deprived of the freedoms guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence.”  We probably felt a wake-up call (I know I did) on 9/11 when our once “blessed” and impenetrable country was ruthlessly attacked by an evil enemy, just as Israel, also once “blessed” and sheltered by a hedge of protection, was also ruthlessly attacked in 721 B.C. by the Assyrians. The protective hand of Providence had always kept us safe and secure and guided us to moral victories, but on 9/11 (after many years of “immoral” victories in the Supreme Court), His Hand was noticeably absent.  3000 innocent lives perished for the sins of our nation.

What struck me about the site of the 9/11 attack was that George Washington took the oath as our nation’s first president at that very location.  In 1789, he took that oath in New York City, near Wall Street in lower Manhattan.  President Washington, who urged that the two most important pillars of good government are religion and morality, was just the type of leader to lead a nation conceived by God and worthy of His blessings.  But 212 years later, with religion out of our schools and out of public life, and with the government and the courts growing ever hostile to the rights of conscience, no President could put a faithful face to a faithless nation.

Because government has become a leviathan and the courts its retarded sister (in too many cases), big brother has far too much to say about what goes on in every aspect of American life.  And that means that elected officials and other government employees are the ones ruling our lives and running our affairs. At such a time, when the character and integrity of our elected officials should matter most, we find that in fact, it seems to matter least.  We saw this mostly clearly with President Clinton, who remained ever so popular even though he cheated on his wife, abused the office of the presidency, lied under oath, and embarrassed the nation. We saw this again with President Obama, who sat in a church for years and listened to the hateful tirades of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the man he considered his “spiritual leader” and worthy enough to perform his wedding and baptize his daughters.

Our Founding Fathers believed that each citizen was accountable to God, his fellow citizens, and his country to elect only those leaders faithful to religious principles and high moral standards.  Our forefathers believed that this was the duty of a true patriot. Noah Webster wrote: “When a citizen gives his suffrage (vote) to a man of known immorality he abuses his civil responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor, he betrays the interest of his country.”

Unfortunately, today we are under the mindset that what is done in one’s private life is a private matter and it shouldn’t influence our view of a leader’s ability to serve in a public office. Religious principle and moral standards are no longer an integral part of our nation’s political process. Immoral leaders fill the halls of Congress, sit in the Oval Office, sit on our court benches, and in general saturate our political landscape, both federal and state. This has resulted in the moral decay of America’s political process, her laws and her judiciary.

As Mitt Romney spoke in his commencement address to Liberty University last week, what defines a nation is the character of her citizens.  He spoke these words:

“You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal.  Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter.  His conclusion:  Culture makes all the difference.  Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value. Central to America’s rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life. The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family.  The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention.  For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%.  But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.  Culture matters.

The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate.  It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with.  Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.  But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man.  Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution.  And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.

Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world.  But whether we walk through that door, and what we do with our lives after we do, is up to us.”

Unbridled immoral leaders advance immoral laws and defeat moral ones. Consider the following examples of federal and state policy, laws and/or bills, or court decisions:  Abortion rights (and the lack of rights of the unborn), Refusal to enforce DOMA (federal Defense of Marriage Act), Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ie, Obamacare), the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (which legislators did not pass), Sodomy is a fundamental right, refusal to acknowledge the National Day of Prayer from the White House, and California law AB1785 (which requires pro-homosexual tolerance education at all public schools and all grade levels, including kindergarten, and provides taxpayer funded grants to take children on field trips to teach them diversity and tolerance of homosexuality;  Massachusetts has a similar situation) – among others!  [Massachusetts and California articles attached in reference section].

In 1892, in the case Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, the Supreme Court declared that we are a Christian nation.  Justice Brewer, writing the opinion for the Court, stated: “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of The Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian… This is a Christian nation.”

But quickly, our leaders have bowed to pressure from groups intent on destroying our heritage. In 1962, prayer was removed from public schools [Engel v. Vitale; "Prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation between Church and State"].  In 1963. Bible readings were forbidden in schools [Abington School District v. Schempp;  “No state law or school board may require that passages from the Bible be read or that the Lord’s Prayer be recited in public schools or a State at the beginning of each school day.”  The court went on to say, “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be and …had been psychologically harmful to the student.”   The case was brought by atheist activist, Madeline Murray O’Hare, who founded American Atheists and in 1964 was referred to by Life Magazine as “The Most Hated Woman in America.”  How proud she must have been to earn that title.  In 1980, the Ten Commandments were ordered to be removed so that students could not view them [Stone v. Graham; “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effects at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments… and this is not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause.”  But the teaching of alternative lifestyle choices and encouraging the acceptance of homosexuality is a permissible state objective?  And beginning in 1985, various benedictions, prayers, and invocations were removed from school ceremonies and activities [Graham v. Central, 1985; Kay v. Douglas, 1986; Jager v. Douglas, 1989; Lee v. Weisman, 1992; "The School district was properly prohibited from including invocation in commencement exercise because religious invocation in high school commencement exercise conveyed the message that the district had given its endorsement to prayer and religion.."]  I have even read that public schools have been barred from showing a film about the settlement of Jamestown because the film depicts the erection of a cross at the settlement, even though that detail is historically accurate. What is it about the image of a cross that causes students so much distress?  Or perhaps the more pertinent question we need to ask federal judges is this: “What is more important to Americans – to learn actual American history so that they can appreciate the country and the rights and values they have inherited or to be spared some miniscule discomfort at seeing a cross?”

Likewise, prayer, religious symbols, nativity scenes, etc. have been removed from public life as well.  Even the Ten Commandments have been ordered from courthouses and crosses barred from national burial grounds.  Most recently, I heard on the news that atheists want the term “So Help Me God” removed from the WWII Memorial in Washington DC.  These words were spoken, with heartfelt sincerity, by our leaders at that time. But history now must show no record that they were ever uttered.  To the God who inspired and blessed America, our great leaders made promises to defend her, but history can never reflect those truths.  History must not record that our leaders once appealed to God for guidance, wisdom, protection, and even an advantage against a ruthless and barbaric enemy.  Are we now a nation of hypocrites?

Where was God in World War II?  Here is what one “old soldier” wrote, after looking at the walls of the WWII Memorial in DC:

“As I stood before the wall of the World War II Memorial, I was sure all the other vets were thinking as I was. I saw more than a wall with stars on it. I saw men — real men — whom these stars represented.

Many of them had been raised on a farm, knew what hard work was and knew what it meant to sacrifice. Most of these men had never left the comfort of their homes.

I saw young men who tried hard to show pride; but in their hearts there were tears. These young men were leaving weeping mothers and proud but heartbroken fathers. Some of them were leaving a young wife and a small girl, not knowing whether he would hold either of them in his arms again.

These young men were leaving for places they had only heard of in history books. As country boys, they were trading in hunting guns for guns they would use against the enemy.  Hard times had not only taught them how to shoot but how to bear the burdens that would be placed upon them. Leaving with tears (though they might not have admitted it), they would board a train to places unknown.

My mind went beyond the wall to the beaches and the young men floating on the water. They had been slain by an enemy they had never seen.

I look beyond this wall and see thousands of soldiers loaded, like cattle, aboard ships headed for an island unknown to them. They knew soon that many of them would never return to the ship. Let me ask you. What kind of a night would you have had if you were told, “Tomorrow we hit the beach”?

Many wrote their last letters home. How do I know this? I know this because I was there, telling each one of them about God. God could make their hearts right before they died.

Beyond this wall, I see cold, wet men in their foxholes, trying to get a little shut-eye before the battle resumed. I see a young sailor standing on the top deck looking out in the dark night thousands of miles from home, with tears in his eyes. I imagine him thinking of his loved ones back home.

I turn my mind to the Pacific, and feel the heat bearing down. Standing on the bow of a ship, I have the last word for a mother’s son before he is placed in a body bag and cast overboard.

Look over the wall with me and think of the 400,000 men who gave their lives for the liberty you now enjoy. If it had not been for these men and God’s grace, you would be living as servants to another nation. In fact, the whole world would be.

As I look over this wall, I hear bombs falling, machine guns firing and shells lighting up the night sky. All of this was preparing the enemy for an attack.

Children and parents, when you see these old men trudging along the way, have respect for them, for they are all that is left of the 16 million men who helped give you the freedom you now have. When you are enjoying life, know that it was these men and the grace of God that gave your joyful life to you.

Please do not let 400,000 men die in vain.

Yes, this is what an old sailor saw as he looked over the wall. The experiences of World War II will never be wiped from our minds. More than 70 years have passed, yet it is just as clear now as it was then.

Pray for America. Stand for America. If you have to fight, don’t be afraid to fight for her. God bless America, the land that I love.”    [Mr. J.B. Stonecypher]

God was with our greatest generation to give them comfort and to give them the courage they needed to fight an evil which they feared might one day reach America’s shores and destroy her liberties.  They fought for their loved ones, their children, their unborn, and even for total strangers.  They fought for that ideal that was America.  With God, our brave young men understood that death was not final and that there would be life eternal, and so for many, it was that lesson gave them the comfort and encouragement to fight on.  This man, Mr. J.B. Stonecypher, has seen firsthand the great war machine that is the United States.  He has seen our great tanks, planes, and weaponry.  He knows our military leaders receive the best training.  Yet to this day, 70 years after World War II, he still encourages us to pray for America and to ask God to bless us.  Why?  Because he knows that military might alone is not enough to keep us safe and strong.

It’s hard-pressed these days to view America as a Christian nation. Political processes, greed, and other human ambitions run the government….  not righteousness. Gratification and pleasure motivate people, not righteousness. Legal precedent and clever ambitious liberal lawyers determine justice, not righteousness. The heart of the people determines the heart of the nation and Americans focus more on self than on God.  The ambitions of Americans determine the ambitions of the nation, and Americans focus more on material wealth, comfort, and advanced technology than they do on the promotion of religious and moral values. America is a secular nation, based on some Christian principles. But here is the rub.  It is a secular nation based on some Christian principles, but it contains an overwhelming number of Christian citizens (at least 85%). What are American Christians doing?  Clearly they are failing to heed the word of their Lord.  There will be Christians in America as long as there are Christians in the world, but by all outward signals, America has ceased to be a Christian nation.

As most people know, Christianity took hold when the Roman Empire, under Diocletian and Constantine, ordered the purge of Godlessness from its empire starting about 280 A.D. and incorporated religion into government.  From that time on, man’s plight in the world was made easier when ruled by governments that  were based on biblical principles.  Our Supreme Court is doing everything it can to make sure that isn’t the case here in the United States.  It is making sure that we see no trace of religion in our government.  Our nation has appeared to do a complete turn-around.  Now it is God who is being purged from the government and Godlessness championed in His place.  Now, “godlessness” is our nation’s highest principle, our highest priority.  To be clear, it is our government’s highest principle and priority and not the intent or will of the people.  Indeed, if government and the courts were to listen to the will of the people (and confine itself to the strict guidelines of the Constitution), we would still feel the influence of religious values and principles in our government and in our laws.

To be a Christian nation, we must acknowledge Christianity and its role in our founding and we must manifest Christian values.  But do we?

“America tolerates the killing of our unborn children and calls it ‘freedom of choice.’  America tolerates cultivation of humans to harvest stem cells and calls it ‘research.’  America tolerates homosexual perversions and calls it ‘diversity and alternative lifestyles.’  America tolerates paganism and immoral life styles and calls it ‘multiculturalism.’  America tolerates the killing of the elderly and the ill among us and calls it ‘compassion.’  America tolerates religious cults that deny God and calls it ‘denominationalism.’  America tolerates pornography and exploitation of women and children and calls it ‘art.’  America tolerates vile and filthy brainwashing of our children and calls it ‘entertainment.’  America tolerates God’s Holy Name being blasphemed and calls it ‘freedom of speech.’  America tolerates taking of innocent life, and theft of property and calls it our ‘justice’ system.  America tolerates everything except God.”   [http://israelsmessiah.com/prophecy/america/warned.htm]  Yet conservative groups are fighting back.

The Israelites, God’s ‘chosen people,’ also had turned from God.  In fact, they did it over and over again. Israel believed its status as God’s chosen people would protect it from hardship and destruction. They believed that God would never allow anything to happen to their nation. They believed that up until the moment they were conquered. And while the nation of Israel has been re-forged, look at the suffering and inhumanity exacted on the Jews before that prophecy could become a reality. Similarly, many fear that  Americans will make the same mistake.  They fear that Americans will sit back, make their 1-hour-per-week sacrifice to attend Church, and rest assured that God will protect our country because of our Christian heritage. They can’t imagine that God would ever allow anything to happen to America.

But they are neglecting to read their Bible. They are ignorant of history. The Revelation is looming.

One principle in scripture is abundantly clear:  the Law of Accountability. This spiritual law says that  to whom much is given, much is demanded. (Luke 12:48). God has blessed America abundantly throughout our history but now we are taking that blessing for granted.  Perhaps we have all adopted that poisonous “entitlement” mentality which is quickly destroying our American spirit. This “entitlement” mentality tells us that we are entitled to His blessing because we are a “good” nation – we help the poor within our borders and help sick, impoverished, and oppressed persons all over the world.  We don’t feel we need to “earn” that blessing.  As a nation, we have clearly turned our back on Him, making policies and laws that are plainly anti-God, and then embracing political correctness so as to avoid offending any single person having a different belief or no belief at all.  Unfortunately, the attitudes and lifestyles of many Christians in America are indistinguishable from those of non-Christians. We cannot expect God to continue blessing and protecting our nation unless Christian Americans radically turn back to God and actively serve Him.

Scripture warns that God will end the blessings he has bestowed on the world (the so-called “Year of Favor”; Isaiah 61:1-2) and the “day of vengeance” will begin.  This “day of vengeance” will occur when Christ’s offer of reconciliation is spurned by a revolt of the people and their governments. According to prophecy, this is exactly what will happen.  See John 3:19: “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” That revolt brings the tribulation and then Judgment.  Furthermore, prophecy teaches us: “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s Word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same Word, the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”  (2 Peter 3:3-7)

Are those events set in motion?  Jonathan Cahn wrote a book entitled “The Harbinger” which suggests that they might.  Cahn studied ancient scripture and noted how God’s judgment on Israel played out (732 B.C.; Isaiah 9:10).  He noted a series of uncanny similarities – the same warnings and events – taking place in America since the attack of 9/11.  He wrote: “Before its end as a nation, there appeared in ancient Israel a series of specific omens and signs warning its people of destruction.  These same warning signs (harbingers) are now manifesting in America and have profound ramifications for her future and end-time prophecy.”

When judgment came to Israel (see Is. 9:10), God’s people had turned to other gods and were even sacrificing their children to these false idols!  We, in the US, worship material things and we’ve killed more than 54 million of our unborn children—and the similarities do not end there. We’ve banned God’s Ten Commandments from our public schools and government buildings; we don’t want public prayers in Jesus’ name; we condemn public Bible reading and have mocked God in almost every way. As the Reverend Jim Bakker says: “Yet we have the audacity to sing “God Bless America”?  But why should He?

When over 90% of the U.S. population is religious and at least 85% of those persons are Christian, we wonder if the blame lies with those who claim to be religious.  Perhaps it is time to pull out the stops and put creed into deed.  Perhaps we need to remember that “to whom much is given, much is required.”  And that includes eternal vigilance and a willingness to serve the Lord from Whom so many blessings flow.  The atheist agenda must not be allowed to prevail. Earthly values must not be allowed to replace God’s values. Christians can no longer afford to be the silent majority.  We can no longer accept laws promoting immorality or activist judicial decisions which continue to define us as a godless society with a godless government.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, founder of the Confessing Church (created to defy the Hitler’s attempt to establish a Nazi church) referred to the obligations of Christians.  He talked about “cheap grace” and “costly grace.”  The grace he refers to is that unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to us by sending his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that we might have eternal salvation.

Cheap grace means grace without cost… without sacrifice. It is easy grace.  The essence of cheap grace is that the bill has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing, without having to ‘earn’ it. It is the kind which can be summed up as follows: “My only duty as a Christian is to put my life on hold for about an hour or so on a Sunday morning to go to church. In that way, I can be assured that my sins are all forgiven.”  Cheap grace is the reason, perhaps, that we have a weakness that pervades our religious culture.

Costly grace, on the other hand, is the grace which must be earned over and over again. The gift of the crucifixion must be earned. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. The call to discipleship is not easy and will likely bring pain and suffering. It is costly because it requires obedience, and it could ultimately cost a man those things that are important to him, including his life. It is premised on the notion that man’s salvation was “bought at a price” and that which cost God so much cannot be cheap for us. Jesus wants us to be integral members of the Church and minister God’s word and teach God’s lessons in word and by deed.  We are expected to live our lives as examples of our faith.

It was the rise of the Nazi regime, the systematic suspension of human liberties, the round-up and internment of ‘political dissenters,’ and the genocidal policy against the Jews that helped Bonhoeffer understand the obligations that Christians have in this world.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born to a wealthy and educated family and enjoyed a privileged childhood. He studied theology and completed his doctoral thesis when he was only 21 years of age.  He spent time in the churches of Harlem as part of a postdoctoral and teaching fellowship, studying the role of religion for those who suffer oppression. He then rose to fame in the 1930’s with his writings and his radio sermons. Bonhoeffer’s rise to fame ran parallel to Hitler’s rise to power.  He quickly became a strong anti-Nazi.  He immediately understood that Hitler and his national socialist (Nazi) ideology represented a grave threat to Germans, to Christianity, to the Jews, and to western civilization. For once Hitler had gained power, he began to see Christianity as a threat to the National Socialists’ domination of Germany.  After 1935 his speeches and writings became more and more virulently anti-Christian; he argued that Christian worship was a sign of weakness, and that it should be replaced by reverence for the nation and the state, and of course for the National Socialist Party.  He then began the nazification of the protestant churches of Germany, which included the following changes:  (1)  Hitler and not Christ would be the head of the church; (2)  Printing and dissemination of the Bible would immediately cease; (3)  There would be no crucifixes or Bibles allowed on the alters; (4)  The only thing allowed on the alter would be a copy of Mein Kampf ;  (5) The Christian Cross would be removed from all churches and replaced by the swastika; and (6) The Nazi policies against the Jews would apply to the church.

In a radio address he gave in February, 1933 Bonhoeffer denounced Hitler and denounced his fellow Germans for accepting a corrupt and inhumane leader. He established a new church, the Confessing Church, as an organized Christian opposition to the Nazi government. He publicly denounced Hitler and the Nazi regime and in particular, the attacks on the church.

Although Bonhoeffer spent a great deal of time living in England, safe from harm, he understood that he could not in good conscience “participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.” And so he returned to Germany in 1939 to take up the struggle against the Nazi menace. He not only took part in efforts to transport Jews to safety but he and his brother willingly took part in plans to assassinate Hitler.  He probably understood that taking on Hitler would likely lead to his death, but yet he was compelled to serve and later to participate in assassination attempts on the Fuhrer’s life (all of which were unsuccessful).   He was ultimately arrested in 1943 after evidence was collected of his complicity in the assassination attempts (and also for his aiding in the escape of a number of Jews from Germany to Switzerland), and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. He was then moved to the Flossenburg concentration camp and on April 8, 1945, with Allied troops only two weeks from liberating his prison, he was executed on Hitler’s orders.

We may not all believe that God calls us to earn His Grace, including a willingness to give one’s life, as Bonhoeffer believed, but perhaps he does ask for Christians to do more than simply attend church once each week and to remain meek and silent while evil lurks and grows in this country which He established for us and has blessed us with.  If indeed God established this country on His law and for His noble purposes, then maybe He expects us to defend those truths.  Mitt Romney spoke these words in his speech to Liberty University: “Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, John Paul the Second, and Billy Graham. Each showed, in their own way, the relentless and powerful influence of the message of Jesus Christ.”

Ronald Reagan once said (1986): “To preserve our blessed land we must look to God… It is time to realize that we need God more than He needs us… We also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country, that ‘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 I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’ (II Chronicles 7:14)  Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step, in humble heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always. The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America… Our country is in need of and ready for a spiritual renewal. Today, we utter no prayer more fervently than the ancient prayer for peace on Earth. If I had a prayer for you today, among those that have all been uttered, it is that one we’re so familiar with: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace….” And God bless you all.”

Today we face the same enemy that crippled ancient Rome — moral decay. Yet it is so much more.  We are intentionally, almost willingly, turning from God, even though we are indeed a nation of Christians. We are indeed in need of a great spiritual revival.  And we may have already started one.  But we need to step it up in order “to heal our land” and save it from the forces that are getting dangerously close to destroying her.  Romney is right.  It is the character of the American people which will save or condemn our country.

For the sake of the land that we love, we Americans must rise from where we have fallen, turn from our evil ways, repent from our sins, and again seek His face and earn His grace.  Only then can we ask for His blessings or expect them.   And in this age of national discontent and growing world hostility, we are going to need them.

References:
Jonathan Cahn, The Harbinger, 2012, Frontline Publishers.  [Also see http://www.cbn.com/700club/guests/bios/jonathan_Cahn_010312.aspx ]

John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity”  (Winthrop’s most famous thesis, written on board the Arbella, 1630.   Referenced at:  http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/sacred/charity.html

Bob Unruh, ” Judge Orders ‘Gay’ Agenda Taught to Christian Children” (in Massachusetts), WND, February 24, 2007.  Referenced at:  http://www.wnd.com/2007/02/40339/

Brian Camenker, “What Same-sex Marriage Has Done to Massachusetts,” Mass Resistance, October 20, 2008.   Referenced at:  http://www.massresistance.org/docs/marriage/effects_of_ssm.html

Kathleen Gilbert, “Mandatory Homosexual Indoctrination in Grade School Survives after Supreme Court Turns Down Case,” Life Site News, October 8, 2008.  Referenced at:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2008/oct/08100812

Meg Jalsevac, “Court Rules Schools Can Teach Homosexuality Without Parents Consent or Choice to Opt Out,” Life Site News, February 26, 2007.  Referenced at:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2007/feb/07022604

“California Governor Signs Bill Requiring Schools to Teach Gay History,” CNN, July 14, 2011.  Referenced at:  http://articles.cnn.com/2011-07-14/us/california.lgbt.education_1_california-governor-signs-bill-gay-history-state-textbooks?_s=PM:US

“The Problem Facing California Public School Parents,” Rescue Your Child.  Referenced at:  http://rescueyourchild.com/The_Problem.html

Billy Hallowell, “California Bill That Mandates Public Schools Teach Gay History Goes to Governor,” The Blaze, July 6, 2011.  Referenced at:  http://www.theblaze.com/stories/california-bill-that-mandates-public-schools-teach-gay-history-goes-to-governor/

“California Public Schools to Teach Homosexual Curriculum to Children as Young as Kindergartners,” American Power, October 17, 2011.  Referenced at:  http://americanpowerblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/california-public-schools-to-teach.html

“California Senate Votes to Force All California Public Schools to Promote Homosexuality, Transsexuality, Bisexuality Education,” Christian News Wire.  Referenced at:  http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/58592127.html

Teresa Watanabe, “How to Teach Gay Issues in 1st Grade,” Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2011.  Referenced at:  http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/16/local/la-me-gay-schools-20111016

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, 1937.  [Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)]

Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892)

J.B. Stonecypher, ” The World War II Memorial, Through an Old Veteran’s Eyes” (letter), Mississippi Press Editorial Board, May 5, 2012.  Referenced at:  http://blog.gulflive.com/mississippi-press-opinion/2012/05/the_world_war_ii_memorial_through_an_old_veterans_eyes_letter.html

“America in Bible Prophecy,” Fox Ventures.  Referenced at:  http://www.foxven.com/r1c

Mitt Romney Delivers Commencement Address at Liberty University, May 12, 2012.  Referenced at:  http://www.mittromney.com/news/press/2012/05/mitt-romney-delivers-commencement-address-liberty-university

Dr. Nelson L. Price, “God’s Judgment on America.”  Referenced at:  http://www.nelsonprice.com/gods-judgement-on-america-2/

“America in Prophecy,” Israel’s Messiah.  Referenced at:  http://israelsmessiah.com/prophecy/america/warned.htm

“God Rejected,” Wake Up America.  Referenced at:  http://www.wakeupamericainc.org/godrejected.html

Berit Kjos, “Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Nazi Religion versus “Religionless” Faith,” 2010.  Referenced at:  http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/010/1-bonhoeffer.htm

About forloveofgodandcountry

I'm originally from New Jersey where I spent most of my life. I now live in North Carolina with my husband and 4 children. I'm an attorney
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One Response to Seek His Face and Earn His Grace

  1. Pingback: Monday Musing | What Would The Founders Think?

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