This does not refer to the United States.
The United States never was a holy nation. Some think so. Calling on the citizens to return this country to its roots, they insist that the United States was originally a Christian nation. They are mistaken.
Originally there were Christian influences on the nation, but it was never a Christian nation. Many of the most prominent and powerful founding fathers were infidels. Thomas Paine was a wild-eyed rebel against all authority, mainly gods. Thomas Jefferson, chief author of the Declaration of Independence, denied the Godhead of Jesus Christ and reduced the Bible to the "Sermon on the Mount" (which he explained as mere moralism). The fornication of Benjamin Franklin in his old age astounded even the French.
The foundational documents - the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - do not establish the United States as a Christian nation. If they did, they would expressly declare Jesus Christ to be the Sovereign; the Bible to be the law; and the glory of the Triune God to be the goal.
The act that gave existence to the nation, the revolution of 1776,
transgressed the fundamental political calling of the Christian: "Let
every soul be subject unto the higher powers" (Romans
13:1), or as Peter put it, "Honor the king" (I
It certainly is not a Christian, holy nation today.
Officially, publicly, nationally, the United States declares itself hostile to the Christian faith.
It maintains a system of education from which the God and Father of Jesus Christ has been banished, and that trains its citizens to be godless.
It has made lawful the murder of millions of unborn babies. This is murder by the state. This is disobedience to the calling that God gives to the state to protect those who are innocent before the law of the land. This constitutes in general the state's connivance in the sexual promiscuity of its citizens (Kill the unwanted consequences of fornication so that men and women can go on fornicating freely.) This is the state's taking into its own hands the sovereign authority of God-the-Creator over life and death: in legalizing abortion, the state claims Deity.
All three branches of government cooperate in this anti-Christianity. The Supreme Court has judged. Congress at the very least acquiesces. One of the very first acts of the current (1993) president was to relax all restrictions enacted by previous presidents against easy abortions.
Sinking now to the depths of national decay, the United States is in the process of legalizing homosexual behavior. Congress legislates; the courts uphold; the president advocates, appointing notorious homosexuals to high positions in his administration. With this legalizing of homosexual behavior goes a national program to educate the people in the naturalness, goodness, and necessity of homosexuality, especially by means of the state's schools.
The life of the people corresponds to the unrighteousness of the government.
The national life is characteristically greedy, mad for pleasure, violent,
unfaithful in marriage and family, sexually debauched. The Word of God
precisely describes the life of this nation at the end of the 20th century
(specifically with regard to homosexuality) in Romans
1:32, "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such
things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure
in them that do them." The people have pleasure in those who commit
the abominations that they know bring down upon them the sentence of
death. Violence and sexual perversity are their summer reading, their
favorite television programs, their movies and videos.
The United States is an unholy nation.
God does not bless America.
I write this editorial over the 4th of July weekend. I notice that churches, preachers, and patriotic gatherings of Christians assure themselves that God is indeed blessing America and beseech Him to continue to do so. It is an insult to the holy God to ask Him to bless this nation. The just God blesses only the righteous nation, and He blesses it only in the way of its holiness of life. We should thank God for the United States. By this nation, God gives us the good gifts of earthly freedom and outward order in society. But we may not ask Him to bless it.
God is sparing still this nation because there are in it yet at least
50 righteous persons - His church - but He is not blessing it. On the
contrary, His wrath is falling on this nation ever more heavily. In
wrath, God gives the nation the miserable rulers that it deserves. In
wrath, He visits upon the godless educational system the irresponsible
people in business, politics, and family who are the products of that
education. In wrath, He gives over the population to the "vile affection"
of homosexuality. What is so often overlooked in the debate over homosexuality
is that Romans
1:18ff. teaches that the approval and practice of this sin is itself
the awful judgment of God upon a people that has deliberately denied
and held the truth of God under in unrighteousness. This shameful, destructive
wickedness is divine punishment: "For this cause God gave them up..."
The United States is not a holy nation. It never will be a holy nation. No earthly nation has ever been, is now, or ever will be a Christian, holy nation. For God has not purposed or privileged any merely earthly nation to be a holy nation.
This is reserved for one people and one institution only.
The one, only "holy nation" is the church of Jesus Christ.
Under the old covenant before Christ this was Israel, "And ye shall be unto
me... an holy nation" (Exodus
Under the new covenant after Jesus Christ this is the spiritual body of all those in all the world who believe in Christ and are sanctified by the Spirit, which universal body manifests itself in congregations and denominations that clearly show the marks of the true church.
That the church is now God's "holy nation" is the teaching of I
Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
an holy nation, a peculiar people..." The (largely Gentile) church is
the fulfillment and reality of Old Testament Israel. Peter applies to
this church all the titles and descriptions that Old Testament Scripture
applied to Israel: "chosen generation", "royal priesthood", "holy nation"
7; Isaiah 43).
The notion, therefore, that the "holy nation" will be the Jewish race
in a future kingdom-state of Israel is gross false doctrine. The hope
for such a "holy nation" is a vain dream. The spiritual church is the
Similarly erroneous and vain is the hope for a "holy nation" of a restored or reconstructed America or any other earthly nation that will be the kingdom of God in the world, fulfilling the national aspect of Old Testament Israel and even carrying out the judicial or civil law of that nation. Whatever "truth and substance" of the civil law of Israel remain in Jesus Christ are executed spiritually by the church. The national aspect of Old Testament Israel is fulfilled in the church. The spiritual church is the kingdom of God, the "holy nation." There is no other.
God is king of the church in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Her territory, her fatherland, her country, is heaven, from which the members of the church militant are presently pilgrims and strangers on the earth. Her constitution is the Bible as expressed in the Reformed confessions and in the church order of Dordt.
Her law is the Decalogue.
The Spirit of Christ is her unity.
Her might is the gospel.
This nation is holy. She is holy. Her holiness is a fact. Her continued holiness is assured. This is great comfort and encouragement to preachers, elders, parents, and all church members in the face of the increasing threat to the church's holiness. In the midst of all the unholy nations on earth, this nation is gloriously and infallibly holy. She has been separated spiritually from the unholy nations, their unholy citizens, and their unholy way of life. She has been separated unto God, to have fellowship with Him and to live His way of life. When a member of this nation falls, as fall he or she can, even deeply, he or she does not justify the sin and continue in it, but repents in order to take up again the holy life.
For God has chosen her to be His holy nation in eternal election. God has bought for her the privilege to be His holy nation by the redemption of the cross. God sanctifies her to be His holy nation by the Spirit working through the Word and church discipline. He has not done so with any other nation.
The calling then of the true church in the United States, more urgent
than ever as our earthly nation decays, is to be what we are by grace:
a holy nation. We must preach, pray for, and practice holiness. Eventually,
this will mean persecution. An unholy nation cannot tolerate the holy
nation within her borders. A nation that kills its unborn must silence
the nation that calls this murder. A nation that places practicing homosexuals
in prestigious and powerful government office will make war with the
nation that excommunicates those who advocate or practice this perversity,
for the darkness hates the light of the purity of God. The church to
whom Peter wrote suffered persecution (cf. I
Peter 1:6, 7; I
Peter 2:12; I
Peter 3:9,13ff.; I
Peter 4:1ff.,12ff.; I
But the threat of persecution does not deter the church from her calling. She
is, and cannot but be, holy. God's purpose with her has become her own
purpose, "that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called
you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I
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by Rev. Barry Gritters
more articles by this author
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard
your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians
Many people who don't belong to a church try desperately to convince
themselves that they are happy. They fool everyone but themselves, or
they know they are not happy and try to drown their sorrow in drinking,
drugs, sports, work or something else to keep their minds off their
unhappiness. We believe there is only one kind of true, lasting, joy
- Christian Joy. We hope this pamphlet will guide them to this
Other people ARE church members, but find no reason for joy. Many of these have been robbed of the true gospel of salvation by grace alone, through faith. If that has happened, there can be some joy - maybe a false, short-term joy - but not true, lasting peace of mind and heart. Or perhaps because of weakness of faith and temptations that so easily beset, some have a hard time seeing the joy of salvation.
Our prayer is that God will use these excerpts from sermons preached in our church to be a help for you in your life. May you have "Christian Joy."
The Cross's Prescription
Have you ever asked yourself what it means truly to be happy? We mean now TRULY full of joy! Do you know it? Is it your experience? Do you wake in the morning able to smile?
A Christian can and does. NO ONE but a true Christian can make that claim. A Christian says, "Yes, I know what true happiness is. Even though life is not all roses, I am truly happy." Why can a Christian say that? And why would anyone be so bold as to say that ONLY a CHRISTIAN can be genuinely happy? There is one fundamental reason - Jesus Christ gives us peace of heart and mind. Let us explain.
The only reason for all the unhappiness today is that men are not right with
God. Men and women have "missed the mark" (that's the Bible's description
of sin). What is the mark men and women must aim for? To LOVE God with
all our time and energy, and love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew
22:36-38). That's the bull's eye. When people fail in that, they
owe a GREAT DEBT to God, a debt that must be paid, or we will be unhappy
because of God's judgment. Now, why are so many people miserable today?
In simple language, they have failed God. In His anger, God rightfully
makes men miserable. SIN stands in the way of happiness, and if that
sin is not remedied, they will be miserable in the most utterly serious
sense of the word - forever.
Is that our life expectation? It is and must be unless we understand and believe the next paragraph.
Here is the key: A Christian is happy, and can be happy, NOT BECAUSE HE DOES NOT SIN. Don't misunderstand. Christians still "miss the mark." They still sin, this is so true. But Christians can be happy because they believe their debt is paid in full.
How? Through the death of a man - JESUS CHRIST - Who is also God Himself. He
paid the debt by His perfect love to God and sacrifice on the cross.
(He "hit the mark!") Thus, the ONLY reason for true misery is gone!
To be happy (truly happy) you must BELIEVE that this Man died to satisfy
for YOUR failures. That's why the Bible says "Blessed (happy) is the
man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psalm
32:1). How is this possible? Jesus Christ died on the cross for
the sins of those who believe in Him. Find joy first at the cross!!!
One Day At A Time
We all see a lot of failure when we look BEHIND us. There are many mistakes, both deliberate and unintentional. We see the misery we have caused others and that we have brought on ourselves.
But we believe that Christ has paid the price for our sins. Christ took the
punishment on Himself when He died on the cross, and when we confess
our failures to God daily, He daily forgives our sins and gives us true
joy - even when we look back and see how badly we have botched our lives
But life is not so simple. We also need to look ahead. Sometimes the future is harder to handle than the past. CHRISTIANS CAN ALSO BE HAPPY WHEN THEY LOOK AHEAD.
It happens sometimes that we want to bite off a bigger piece of life than we can chew. We do that in our spiritual life, too. Let me use an illustration. A donkey can carry a large load of straw - more than we can sometimes believe. But if we would pile five times more straw on the donkey, he'd collapse, no matter how sturdy he was.
We do the same when we try to worry about what is going to happen tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, or the next... The Lord did not create us to worry about more than one day at a time. There is enough trouble to care about today, enough burdens to occupy all our strength RIGHT NOW.
Of course, that does NOT mean that we must not PLAN for tomorrow. That would be folly. If we would not plan ahead, we would be very unhappy when "ahead" came and we were unprepared. Rather, a Christian should plan ahead, but then leave it to the Lord to "worry" about tomorrow.
Christ teaches this in Matthew
6:34. "Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow
will take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day
is the evil thereof." In plain language: Don't let tomorrow get you
down!!! The PAST is taken care of by Christ and His work. And because
the FUTURE is also His, you may not take that burden on yourself until
it comes to you. Christ directs it for the good of His people.
"One day at a time" is the Lord's second lesson for Joy.
Christians On Trial
This is not a very nice thought. Who would care to sit before a judge and be declared guilty of a crime? Yet there are many who know what that's like. There is ANOTHER kind of trial that Christians experience. And if we understand what it means that God puts US "on trial," we will have come another step in maintaining or finding TRUE CHRISTIAN JOY.
God sends afflictions to His people to put them "on trial." The prophet
Isaiah writes that God's people were "chosen IN THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION"
48:10). God's people often see more trouble and pain than non-Christian
men and women (Psalm
73). Some people experience sickness, ridicule, persecution, loss
of homes or families. Sometimes to the point of saying, "I'm going to
give up." THIS IS GOD'S TRIAL OF A CHRISTIAN'S FAITH.
But God's trials are not like jury trials. He doesn't need to find out the GENUINENESS of your faith. He doesn't need to see whether your faith will fail under stress. Faith is God's gift. He knows its strength.
Rather, the Bible likens the trials of our faith to the purifying of gold (I
Peter 1:6,7). Gold is tried to purify it and to strengthen it. God
sends trial to PURIFY our faith. When God gives us faith, we might add
to it our own ideas about Christ, our own carnal beliefs about salvation,
our own notions about prayer and church, about fun and happiness. God
sends us afflictions to burn away these FALSE BELIEFS, and bring us
to our RIGHT BELIEFS.
Then it makes sense that the man of God says, "It is GOOD for me that I have
been afflicted..." (Psalm
119:71). The Lord sees what His children need. Knowing this brings
us closer to true CHRISTIAN JOY. Thank Him for His care of His people.
Peace And Prayer
ANXIETY and its child, DEPRESSION, are a couple of the most feared words in the world today. But they are probably two of the most common ailments that men and women face. Who doesn't know the black feeling caused by things not going right, when troubles loom large and unsolvable - when the job is lost, the wife is gone, the children rebel, the friends leave...?
The Lord recognizes that His people face troubles and the potential for great
anxiety. So He encourages us to handle these situations PROPERLY. In
the negative, He says not to worry. "Don't be anxious about your problems.
Do not fret about them." In fact, we are told not to worry about ANYTHING.
We might all be able to think of some exceptions where we would say:
"The Lord would understand that I MUST worry about this..." But the
Lord says: "No, don't worry about ANYTHING!" (Philippians
Someone might say, "That's good advice, but I haven't yet found the switch to turn off my emotions. As soon as I do I will take the advice of the Lord not to worry." Valid objection. How do we turn off our worry? The answer is: We don't; the LORD does. How? Prayer.
Too simple? If you look at it from our point of view, it is. But God is bigger than we are. Let me explain. God says: "Don't worry." We say, "How?" The Lord answers: "Pray. And believe Me." In other words, one of the means, (not the only one, surely) that God uses to wipe away worry from our minds, is prayer.
The Lord does not promise to take our troubles AWAY by prayer. And we must not pray for that first, either. The Lord does not tell us to do that. He tells us that when we bring our troubles to Him in prayer, He will give us peace of heart and mind about them. He will give the ability to face them with His strength. Prayer does not change God.
Prayer changes us, because God blesses prayer by giving us His peace to guard our hearts and minds from worry.
Is there worry in your life? Who does not worry? Follow the instructions of
the Lord: don't worry about anything, but "in everything, by prayer
and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto
God. And the peace of God that passes all understanding shall keep your
hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians
"These Things... Do"
If you want a full-color picture of true peace of mind (joy), you must look back to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. They walked with God in the cool of the day, talked with God about their entire life, and loved each other in perfect harmony. They had not a moment of misery, not an ounce of grief. Imagine that? A marriage with perfect harmony? We can't, not completely anyway.
The beginning of all problems - both personal and family - is found in Adam and Eve's rebellion against God. To put it in simple yet clear language that a child can understand: they disobeyed God and became miserable. Sound familiar? This is the story of the world today. There is no peace in disobedience to God.
Men and women today learn about peace in the same way Adam and Eve did: we look in faith to the cross of Jesus Christ. There is peace of mind and heart for us too (see "The Cross's Prescription").
Why then are true Christians still "in the dumps" sometimes? Partly because they fail to understand a basic principle of the Bible found in Philippians 4:8 and 9. The life of a child of God is not a smooth glide and first-class ride to heaven. It involves WORK.
If we think that all we have to do is pray ("Peace and Prayer") to enjoy the "peace of God that passes all understanding," but still live like we want, we are seriously mistaken (and possibly not Christians). God is a holy God who calls His people to loving OBEDIENCE. Requiring obedience, God rewards DISOBEDIENCE with a loss of peace and joy. How many times doesn't this happen to so many of us?
4:8 and 9 says we are to "think on" everything true, honest, just,
pure, lovely, and of good report. But thinking is not enough. Verse
9 says, Think on these things and thinking, do them. Oh, yes: Pray
for grace to believe in the cross, to live a day at a time, to pray,
to bear up under trials. But if we truly understand the cross, out of
thanks to God we will also pray for strength to obey God's will, and
the God of peace shall be with us!