Last week we looked at what caused the Protestant founders of our nation to believe in freedom of religion when the churches to which they belonged believed that there should be a state church, and that their religious beliefs should be enforced by the sword of government. This week I want to look at some of the biblical principles these men used put into our great founding documents. For time’s sake, this will only be a brief overview of these principles and their biblical basis.
Sovereign authority of God, not sovereignty of the state, or sovereignty of man
Principle found in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution
That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalms 83:18)
Jehovah is the sovereign ruler over all the earth. This means that He has established what is right and wrong, and He has the right and power to punish those who transgress His precepts.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5)
All power comes from God. He has ordained civil government and we are to submit ourselves to it. The purpose of government is to punish those who do evil and praise and protect those who do good.
There is a problem with civil government. All men are sinners, and civil government is run by men. God has provided instructions for when civil government goes bad.
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
If there is a conflict between civil government and God’s law, God’s law is to be followed. As with the three Hebrew children in Daniel, when government demands something contrary to God’s law, we don’t comply, but we still submit to the government. For these three faithful men, doing so meant being cast into a fiery furnace.
Existence of objective moral values, Fixed standards, Absolute truth, Sanctity of life
Found in the Declaration of Independence (“unalienable” rights—life, etc., “self-evident” truths)
The Ten Commandments
Thou shalt have no other gods before me – Our first responsibility is to God and His law
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image – Nothing should be worshiped but God
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain – This is more than just swearing, it is using His name in any frivolous way.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. – One day of the week is to be set aside for God
Honour thy father and thy mother – The New Testament shows this includes obedience
Thou shalt not kill – This has to do with murder. It includes abortion
Thou shalt not commit adultery – Keep yourself pure until marriage, and then be faithful to your spouse.
Thou shalt not steal – Stealing is taking something that is not ours without permission, including your employer’s time
Thou shalt not bear false witness – This is more than just telling a lie. When we claim to be a Christian and live like the world, we are bearing false witness.
Thou shalt not covet – This is an improper desire for something that is not ours.
These commandments are but a summary of God’s law. They cover everything but need to be fleshed out to fully understand them. I have given them in their most basic form. Read them in Exodus Chapter 20 to see them in full.
The commandments are not optional. When we violate them, we suffer consequences.
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)
Somethings are right and some things are wrong. Woe unto those who reverse them. Woe is an expression of coming trouble and lamentation. The trouble in our nation comes directly or indirectly from our calling good evil, and evil good.
Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) (Romans 2:15)
God’s law is written in the hearts of men. Their conscience lets them know when something is wrong. We can dull our conscience so it doesn’t bother us too much.
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (1 Timothy 4:2)
We do this to try to avoid feelings of guilt, but we still know that certain things are right and certain things are wrong.
All men are sinners
Principle found in the constitutional checks and balances
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23)
There is no person who is without sin. The essence of sin is selfishness, usually manifest in pride. People are always looking out for themselves. This includes political leaders.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
Because no one can be trusted not to let personal interest influence our leaders, they built checks and balances into the Constitution. Our founders gave each branch of government rights and procedures to check the other two branches. We will look more at this later.
All men created equal
Found in the Declaration of Independence
How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands. (Job 34:19)
God does not care whether someone is a prince, a rich man, or a pauper, they are all the same to Him. He made us all, and He judges us all the same, except that he expects more from those He gives more.
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)
This is not preferring or judging differently, it is expecting us to use what He has given us for His glory. Until recently, this was the attitude in America. We have all been given freedom and we used to be expected to use it to bring glory to God. Today, this freedom is deemed to be the right to do what we want even when it is contrary to the precepts of God. We expect no consequences for our sin.
By the way, equality is equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. The harder one works, the more he profits. The less one works, the less he profits. The left wants equality of outcome. This is why instead of giving winners trophies, they give trophies to everyone who participates. This foolishness stifles the desire to improve oneself.
Judicial, legislative, and executive branches
Found in the Constitution
For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. (Isaiah 33:22)
God divides His governance into three parts. Let’s look at these three parts of God’s governance. A king is the chief of a sovereign nation. We have a president in America as the chief executive officer. He is the one that is responsible for the daily operation of the Government. He has a check on the legislative branch of government with his veto power. He has a check over the judicial branch by appointing the judges and justices of the court system.
The legislative branch makes the laws. Neither the president nor the courts have this power. It has a check over the executive branch by providing oversight and have the power of impeachment. It has a check over the judicial branch by approving the judges and justices.
The judicial branch rules on the constitutionality of the laws and judges on the application of laws. These are checks on both the legislative branch and the executive branch.
Because of the sin nature of man, our founders built these checks and balances into our system of government by the Constitution.
Freedom of Conscience
Found in the First Amendment
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
The whole purpose of government is to enable people to live quiet and peaceable lives. Each member of society has the right to do as he pleases as long as he does not step on the rights of others. The first amendment gives freedom to believe as one chooses, to peaceably assemble, to speak has one pleases, and to seek redress from the government when their rights are trampled upon by another.
Republican form of government and warnings against kings
Found in the Constitution
It may surprise many of you, but our republican form of government comes from the Bible.
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: (Exodus 18:21)
Moses’s father-in-law is giving advice to Moses. He told him to take some God-fearing men and set them to be rulers over different size groups. This is what we do in America. In our elections we choose representatives to make decisions on the running of our nation.
Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. (Deuteronomy 1:13)
Since the first passage was advice given to Moses by his father-in-law, let’s look at another passage that reflects a conversation between Moses and God. Here we see the same principle, but this time it is from God.
The biggest problem with this system is that we have ceased to choose godly men. Instead, we choose those who promise to give us the most from the government. If we would choose leaders who stand for righteousness instead of leaders who promise to give us things, we could turn this nation around.
This was one of the greatest fears of our founders. They knew that there would be great problems if the people learned that they could vote themselves a paycheck or gifts from the government.
Importance of governing self and family as first level of governance
Found in the First, Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Knowing the sinfulness of man, our founders knew that something had to control the sinful passions of the citizens. It would either be the government, meaning they could not be free, or it would have to be religion. When there is a fear of God, people will do what is right. When there is no fear of God, they will follow their sinful lusts.
Although it was not done by our founders, when the government started taking income tax, which required a constitutional amendment, they taxed families less than single people. The reason for this was, good families raise responsible children and, thereby, lessen the burden on the government enforcement of the law.
Fair trial with witnesses and presumption of innocence
Found in the Sixth Amendment
But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (Matthew 18:16)
Our Constitution requires a jury trial by our peers where the accused can bring in witnesses in his defense. It also requires presumption of innocence until guilt is proven.
These two principles have fallen by the wayside in our day. Today, because of the left and political correctness, guilt is often determined by accusation. If someone accuses another of child abuse or sexual misconduct, they are presumed guilty just because of the accusation. All it takes to have your children taken away from you is an accusation of abuse. We saw a good man nearly destroyed when he was up for approval to become a Supreme Court Justice simply because he was accused of sexual abuse. All of the accusations were shown to be false, but many, especially those on the left, assumed that he was guilty simply because he was accused.
Creation not evolution
Found in the Declaration
Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 give account of how the world was created. A careful study of these chapters, and an honest look at what they say, will find that they fit perfectly with science. Back in the 1980s, there was a meeting of 160 of the worlds top evolutionary scientists in Chicago. At the conclusion of the meeting, they made the statement that all of the existing theories of evolution were scientifically impossible. This is still true today.
Had they ended there statement at that point they would have been true scientists, but they did not. They went on to say that they knew evolution was a fact, they just didn’t know the mechanism. If they don’t know the mechanism, how do they know it happened. For evolution to have happened it would have had to violate known laws of science. When they said they knew it happened, they ceased to be scientists and became priests for the secular humanism religion.
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)
God is not only the Creator of the universe, He is the one who holds it all together. The word consist means to hold together. According to what we know about electrical charges, the universe should explode, but something greater is holding it together. That something is the power of God.
Our nation was founded by men who, for the most part, were God-fearing Christians. They enshrined biblical principles into our founding documents. They even corrected the theological errors of the churches of which they were members. The churches did not change, but these men did. They did so because of the influence of Baptists. It is time that we as Baptists return to our roots and begin again to have an influence on our nation.