Thursday, July 07, 2011

A Nation Under God

I Timothy 2: 1-6


“What would America, or any nation, be like, if it truly lived as a nation under God? Hello, I’m Phil Sanders; and this is a Bible study, ‘In Search of the Lord’s Way.’ What can we do to be the nation that God desires of us? Well, stay with us for a challenging look at God’s Word.

Hello, I’m Phil Sanders and we’re here to search God’s Word for the Lord’s Way. This week our country will celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the day that we generally regard as the beginning of America. Many of the founders of this country were dedicated students of the Bible. They frequently quoted it and alluded to it. The Bible was important to them, and we hope the Bible is important to you. We are so grateful that you’re watching today; and we want to be a part of your life each week.

When the Pledge of Allegiance was first written in 1892, it didn’t contain the phrase ‘under God.’ The United States Congress added those words in 1954. They added those words because they realized that this nation—as every nation—exists under the Almighty hand of God. President Dwight Eisenhower on August 17, 1954 expressed how Americans felt about that phrase ‘under God’: ‘These words (he said) will remind Americans that despite our great physical strength we must remain humble. They will help us to keep constantly in our minds and hearts the spiritual and moral principles which alone give dignity to man, and upon which our way of life is founded.’ In 1954 Congress and President Eisenhower understood the difference between living ‘under God’ and living without God.

We pledge ourselves to ‘one nation under God.’ On every coin and dollar bill is our national motto, ‘In God We Trust.’ When we sing the patriotic song, ‘America the Beautiful,’ we ask God to ‘shed His grace on thee.’ Our Declaration of Independence acknowledges that all men are ‘created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.’ Yet, I wonder if we today are a nation ‘under God.’ Has our nation not forgotten the moral and spiritual values found in the Scriptures? Are we a nation ‘under God’?

Well, if you’re worried about our country and want to know more, we offer the information on this program free. If you would like a transcript or CD of our study, mail your request to In Search of the Lord’s Way, P.O. Box 371, Edmond, OK 73083 or send an e-mail to Or, call us toll-free. That number is 1 (800) 321-8633. We also stream this program on our website at Ken Helterbrand will now lead the Edmond church in song, and then we’ll read from 1 Timothy 2, verses 1 through 6.

Our reading today comes from 1 Timothy chapter 2, verses 1 through 6. ‘First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.’ That is from God’s Holy Word. Let’s pray together. Heavenly Father, we are grateful that You love us and You provided governments to bless our lives. Father, we pray that we may so live as to always glorify Your name and follow Your will. It is in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

Are we a ‘nation under God’? No thinking person would say America has the same mindset today that it had in 1954. Since then our country has spoken clearly that prayer and Bible reading cannot be done in public schools. Our courts have upheld the right (Of course, it is NOT a right!—my addition) of women to end the lives of the unwanted in the womb. More than two of every five children born here are to unmarried parents. Are we a ‘nation under God’?

Some of our states have redefined marriage in ways contradictory to the teaching of God. Nearly 40 percent of Americans say marriage is obsolete. Today the government sponsors gambling. Freedom of speech permits taking the name of God in vain. Pornography fills the land. Are we a ‘nation under God’?

We can hardly build prisons fast enough in this land and many of our states are so overcrowded they are releasing prisoners early. In some places our children cannot even open a Bible privately and read it. In many states, schools can teach evolution but they can’t teach what the Bible says about creation. Are we a ‘nation under God’?

While the first amendment of our Constitution grants us the free exercise of religion, many have reinterpreted (Incorrectly!—my addition) that to mean freedom from the Religion of Christianity. We ask again: are we a ‘nation under God’? Now, from our human standpoint, we might say no, we’re not a nation under God. But is that the viewpoint of heaven?

We can rebel against God, but that doesn’t mean that God ceases to be God. We can throw Him out of our lives; we can ignore Him, deny Him, and even despise Him; but the Lord is still the one and only God. He is still the one and only ruler of this nation or any nation. The Bible says in Proverbs 21, verses 30 to 31 that, ‘There is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the LORD. The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.’ (It always has and it always will!—my addition)

Job proclaimed in Job 42 and verse 2, ‘I know that You (that is God) can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.’ God deals with mankind on the basis of how people respond to Him. If we’re obedient, He will bless us. If we’re stubborn and rebellious, we will suffer His wrath. The real issue is whether we will live obediently ‘under God’ or whether we will live our lives according to our own terms.

The Bible says in Romans 2 verses 5 to 11: ‘But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, (He will give them) eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.’

Now, what can be said about our country can be said about any country. The Lord blesses those countries that obey Him and in His time shows His wrath on those that reject Him. Many have lost sight of how we bring sorrows on ourselves by rejecting the will of God. We’re causing so many of the problems of our time by tolerating sin. The Lord gave us His laws to protect us and to bless us. God loves us; and when we reject the law of the Lord and embrace sin, we do so to our ruin.

Psalm 1, verses 1 through 6 says, ‘How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.’

You see, you can’t thumb your nose at God; you can’t blaspheme Him, or rebel at His will and expect things to go well. The Holy Spirit gives us a look at the empty, pagan world in Paul’s day when He inspired Paul to write in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 17 to 19, he said: ‘Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.’

You see, when people stop reading the Bible (and stop obeying what the Bible teaches—my addition), they delude themselves with empty, imaginary notions. They start thinking about aliens, vampires, werewolves, witches, and genies. These are all figments of people’s imagination just like the pagan idols were. And those who focus on such things are darkened in their understanding and become alienated from the life God wanted to give them. Without God people harden their hearts towards the truth and what’s good. They harden their hearts and then they become totally selfish and greedy and filled with lust.

God wants something better for us and has provided Jesus Christ to show us the way to an abundant life. Paul contrasted this life with the Christian life in Ephesians 4, verses 20 to 24 when he said, ‘But that is not the way that you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.’

Now, democracy can be a good thing, when people are righteous; but when the unrighteous become the majority, everyone suffers from their tolerance and their promotion of sin. Good men who realize their accountability to God will rule wisely; but evil men bring disgrace to their nation. The Bible says in Proverbs 14, verse 34, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Again Proverbs 11: 11 says, ‘By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.’ Proverbs 29, verse 2 says, ‘When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.’ (Like now!—my addition)

If we want to see change for the better in our country, we must set our hearts on serving God. We must be a nation ‘under God.’ We must give up our rebellion and pursue obedience to God’s will. It’s never enough simply to say that we believe in God and in Christ. The Bible says in James 2, verses 19 to 20, ‘You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?’ You see, faith that’s unwilling to obey is dead and useless indeed!

Many years ago when I was a college student taking New Testament Greek, I learned the word for ‘hear’ was akouo, and the word from which we get our word acoustics. Later I learned the word for ‘obey’ was hupakouo, which literally means to ‘hear under.’ Obedience means that we hear a command or instruction and we place ourselves under the authority of the One that we hear. Simply speaking, obedience is doing what you are told. I can recall my parents saying to me, ‘Did you hear me?’ Well, I knew they meant business and that I needed to obey what they told me. You can’t obey until you listen and submit your will to God.

Jesus obeyed the Father and went to the cross. By His obedience we have the way of salvation opened to us. The Bible says in Hebrews 5, verses 8 and 9, ‘Although he was a son, yet learned he obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.’

Obedience was not trivial to Jesus Christ; it was His passion. The Lord Jesus said in John 8, verses 28 and 29, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, (that is at His crucifixion) then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always (the Lord Jesus says I always) do the things that are pleasing to him.’ Now, if we are to follow Jesus, then we too should set our hearts on pleasing the Father in all that we do. We need to say what David said in Psalm 40, verse 8: ‘I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’

It seems so human to see a problem in our lives and ignore it. We’re too easily satisfied with our own sinful weaknesses and we fail to repent. The Bible says in James 1, verses 22 to 25, ‘But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word but not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, (this word) and he perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.’

Now, obedience has so much to do with mindset and attitude. Many people are like the little boy who was told to sit down. And he muttered under his breath, ‘Well, I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m standing up on the inside.’ You won’t keep on following the Lord if your heart is not really in it. But when your heart is in it, it becomes a pleasure, not a pain. The Bible says in 1 John 5 and verse 3, ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.’ When we realize God’s commandments are for our blessing, we’ll gladly do what God instructs and quit following the selfish ways of the world.

Our attitudes set the direction of our souls and our destiny. The Bible says in Romans 8, verses 5 to 8, ‘For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.’

Our task is to please God in all that we do. We can’t change in a day everything that has corrupted our country, but we can determine to change our individual lives. We can get back on the Lord’s side and stop tolerating sin. We can speak up for what’s right and speak against what is wrong. We cannot live our lives in neutral, sitting silent and letting sin have its way. We must restore our faith and our determination to follow the will of God. Let’s pray together. Father, help us to be obedient to Your will in every way and to always please You by the lives that we live. Father, this is our prayer in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen!

In 1938 as the war in Europe threatened the United States, Irving Berlin wrote a song that stirred the hearts of every American. He called for Divine help in the song, ‘God Bless America.’ He wrote, ‘While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free, let us all be grateful for a land so fair, as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. God Bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam God bless America, my home sweet home.’ That song still stirs my heart.

Don’t you think God still wants to bless America? The question is not whether God will bless His righteous people, but whether we are living lives worthy of His blessing and favor. Nations are made up of individual people, and faith in God is an individual decision. Oh, decide to be a genuine Christian, who lives what he believes and stands up for God’s way! Maybe you’ve been complacent about your faith and complacent about your commitment to God. Isn’t it time that you turned your heart back to God?

If you care about the society that your children and grandchildren will inherit from you, you’ll commit your life to Jesus Christ. And if you pray for God to bless America, live a life worthy of His blessing and grace. You can do this by placing your faith in Christ as the Son of God, turning away from sin and demanding righteousness in your heart and life, confessing Christ before all, and by being baptized. And when you’re baptized, the Lord will wash away your sins and add you to His church according to what the Bible teaches in Acts 2 and verse 38 and in chapter 22, verse 16. Won’t you turn your life around today?

Now, we hope and pray that today’s study of God’s Word has blessed you or challenged you to think. And if you want a free printed copy or CD of this message, mail your request to In Search of the Lord’s Way, P.O. Box 371, Edmond, OK 73083 or send an e-mail to Or, you can call the Search office toll-free at 1 (800) 321-8633. Now our programs appear on our website at

You can access them in a printed, audio, or video format. We also offer Bible correspondence courses; just let us know. We offer study sheets that go along with our programs, so call and request them or download them from the internet. Now we won’t hassle you for money or put you on a mailing list.

Why not worship with one of the churches of Christ in your area? They’re the reason we don’t ask for money. Well, we’ll be back next week, Lord willing. So God bless you and we love you from all of us at In Search of the Lord’s Way.”