Our Declaration of Dependence

“We Acknowledge Our Dependence Upon Thee, O God…”
by Rev. Jason J. McGuire
,
Executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional; Freedom

This weekend Americans will celebrate the 234th year of our Country’s independence. It was on July 4, 1776 that representatives from thirteen little colonies signed what was to be known as the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

The Declaration of Independence continues on to list and explains the causes as to why these colonies felt that their decision to sever all political ties with Great Britain was justified before “the Supreme Judge of the world”. It was with this declaration that the fight for freedom officially began. Freedom always comes at a great cost. These great men understood this, for the very last statement in this Declaration is:

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.”

As we remember our Nation’s Independence this 4th of July, let us remember that our Nation was founded on the principles of the Word of God; by men and women who had a deep reverence for the Scriptures. Let us remember that our Declaration of Independence from Great Britain, was an acknowledgment of our dependence on an Almighty God, and that true liberty is freedom to have a personal relationship with the Creator and Father of Nations.

All things work together for good!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

“In a word, whatever affliction we bear shall be for our soul’s gain. God’s rod and love go together. This is a sweet and blessed lesson indeed; it quietens the heart and supports the soul under its burdens (2 Cor. 4:16). What we lose in our bodies we gain in our souls. What we lose in our estates we receive back in grace. Thus we can bear up and comfort ourselves in our deepest sorrows. When God takes away creature comforts, by secret impressions of love upon the heart he strengthens the soul. We become ‘more than conquerors through him who loved us’ (Rom. 8:37). God teaches us in affliction that one thing is necessary. Affliction reveals how mistaken we are about our ‘must-bes’ and necessities. In our health and liberty we think this thing must be done. When think riches and honours are necessary and we must have our estates and lay up large portions for our children. But in the day of adversity, when death looks us in the face and God causes the horror of the grave, the dread of the last judgment, and the terrors of eternity to pass before us, then we put our mouths in the dust and sigh; ‘O how I have been mistaken! I have fed upon ashes, and my deceived heart has turned me aside.’ We can now see how the pardon of sin, an interest in Christ, a sense of God’s love, and the assurance of glory, are the only indispensables. Christ alone is the one thing necessary, and all others are but ‘maybes’ at best. All the world has is but loss and dung in comparison with the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. Without him the soul is undone to all eternity. They that do not learn this lesson in the school of the Word shall learn it in the school of affliction, if they belong to God.”

— Thomas Case
A puritan devotional reading From Voices from the Past
recently published by The Banner of Truth Trust

Providential Sufferings…

John J. Murray has written a fine little booklet Behind A Frowning Providence which has been helpful to me and others in my ministry over the years. One observation he makes is this…

God has forged an inseparable link between sufferings and glory. That was the road that Christ took. He was made complete as our Savior ‘through sufferings’. He endured. He was without sin. How much more is suffering part of the road that leads sinners to perfection and glory! What abundant cause we have to be reconciled to our sufferings!

Tornado hits Minneapolis, Warning? *UPDATED

[…UPDATE FOLLOWS BELOW…]

It happened yesterday, a freak storm and a tornado (as reported here).

Minneapolis Pastor & theologian John Piper just posted the following report and interpretation of this event. It is worth considering…

The Tornado, the Lutherans, and Homosexuality
I saw the fast-moving, misshapen, unusually-wide funnel over downtown Minneapolis from Seven Corners. I said to Kevin Dau, “That looks serious.”

It was. Serious in more ways than one. A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,

On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.

The tornado happens on a Wednesday…during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.

According to the ELCA’s printed convention schedule, at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 19, the 5th session of the convention was to begin. The main item of the session: “Consideration: Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.” The issue is whether practicing homosexuality is a behavior that should disqualify a person from the pastoral ministry.

The eyewitness of the damage continues:

This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.

The time: 2PM.

1964_steepleThe first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two…and then lifts.

Let me venture an interpretation of this Providence with some biblical warrant.

1. The unrepentant practice of homosexual behavior (like other sins) will exclude a person from the kingdom of God.

The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

2. The church has always embraced those who forsake sexual sin but who still struggle with homosexual desires, rejoicing with them that all our fallen, sinful, disordered lives (all of us, no exceptions) are forgiven if we turn to Christ in faith.

Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

3. Therefore, official church pronouncements that condone the very sins that keep people out of the kingdom of God, are evil. They dishonor God, contradict Scripture, and implicitly promote damnation where salvation is freely offered.

4. Jesus Christ controls the wind, including all tornados.

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)

5. When asked about a seemingly random calamity near Jerusalem where 18 people were killed, Jesus answered in general terms—an answer that would cover calamities in Minneapolis, Taiwan, or Baghdad. God’s message is repent, because none of us will otherwise escape God’s judgment.

Jesus: “Those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:4-5)

6. Conclusion: The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.

*PIPER’S UPDATE . . . .
Clarifying the Tornado, 21 Aug 2009

Three years ago God sent the tornado of cancer into my life. It split the steeple of my health and shredded the tents of my sexual life. I wrote an article to myself: Don’t Waste Your Cancer. It could have been titled: Don’t waste your tornado. God’s message to me in my tornado was essentially the same as to the ELCA in theirs. My tornado was…

…a gentle but firm warning to me and all of us: Turn from every approval of sin in your life. Turn from the justification and promotion of any behaviors in your life that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great biblical heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from your inveterate bent to distort the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform you and all other sinners. (from Thursday’s post)

That is the message of every calamity (Luke 13:1-5). And every sunny day (Romans 2:4).

I said to myself three years ago: God’s design in the tornado of this cancer is “to deepen my love for Christ…and to wean me off the breast of the world.” It aims to make my besetting sins look less attractive than they ever have.

This tornado “is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack.” In other words, the cancer-tornado was a merciful rebuke to my worldliness and a timely thrust toward holiness.

This is the lesson that Luke 13:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 1:8-9, 4:17-18; 12:9-10, and many other texts imply for every tornado in any city, and any life, anywhere in the world. Only the details change.

My tornado was a call to repentance. Yours will be too. But that is not Satan’s design. Only God’s. Satan’s design is that you approve your sin. God’s is that you let him forgive it and overcome it.