Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16 and verse 15. The title of this message is The Bible and Voting, Part 6. We started this on Independence Day weekend. I want to thank Gabe Morris for subbing in last week, I trust you appreciated his ministry. My family and myself, we were in Southern California which is where both Anne and I grew up. I had a chance to speak at a conference out there and visit my family as well. And one of my sessions out there was The Bible and Voting, what a coincidence, except I had to take six parts and cram the whole thing into an hour. But the good people of California really enjoyed it. In fact, they’d never heard anything like this before. [Laughter] And people were saying is all that stuff in the Bible? Yeah, it’s in the Bible!
In fact, one gentleman was so impressed with this he said I want to put you on my show, it goes out to about 500,000 to 1,000,000 people on his channel and it’s called The Greenberg Report, I’ll let you know when it airs, and it’s just me and him walking on the beach; I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning to do this so I have a few bitterness issues I’m working through with him. But it was just me and him walking on the beach and they insisted that it had to be on the beach, but the problem Mr. Greenburg comes up to about here on me, so they found a ridge so he was walking on the hill and I was walking on the beach and the camera didn’t get our feet so you couldn’t tell, it looked like we were the same size. So if you turn on the TV sometime and see me walking on the beach with some guy about 6:00 in the morning talking about political things from the Bible that’s what that’s all about. You never know what God is going to do. As Proverbs says, Blessed are the flexible for they shall never be broken. I don’t know what God’s going to do, it’s always interesting to find out.
Anyway, we’re here in this sermon series continuing to take a look at The Bible and Voting. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve tried very hard, I didn’t succeed very well in the last hour but I’ve tried very hard to stay out of the political current fray, current candidates, current poles, those kinds of things, and really stick with the biblical text. And sort of my desire in this series is really to give you a set of principles from the Scripture that will inform us on how to exercise this right that we’ve been given in this country in terms of voting.
When the Scripture indicates that it equips us “for every good work,” one of the things it equips us with is a worldview; it’s a way of looking at the culture, looking at the political world, not through the Republican lens or a Democrat lens, a left lens or a right lens, but really a biblical lens. And that’s really the heart and soul of this series.
In fact, there’s so many issues in the Bible most people are stunned to discover this and most of the feedback that people really enjoyed were the economic issues that I brought up. But we’ve divided this into economic issues, social issues and foreign affairs issues, having worked through what the Bible says about economics. We move from there into social issues; we’ve seen that the Bible speaks to many of the really hot items that are on the radar screen today, things like legal protection for the unborn, legal protection for the elderly, heterosexual monogamy in terms of marriage as the standard for society. The Bible actually advocates capital punishment. It advocates how we should think about certain things like pornography. The last time we were together it took us the whole sermon to develop this. It has a great deal to say about the relationship between parents and children; who is to have the authority in the nurturing of children. And we saw that the authority is vested in parents according to God. And I’ve tried to phrase these all as questions that you can ask candidates in terms of what they think about these things. What is their worldview?
One of the things that I’d like to talk about today, Number 7 and Number 8 is public expressions of Christianity. Notice, if you will, Mark 16:15. Here’s the basic question: Will the candidate use the force of government to restrict expressions of Christian in public places, the airwaves, the internet, social media, or through the imposition of so-called hate speech quotes. When it comes to the public expression of Christianity, whether it be on the internet, social media, in public places, what does a candidate think about that? Now how would that relate to us and the Scripture? Well, the fact of the matter is we’re given a command by Jesus, aren’t we?
Mark 16:15, it says this, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” We are obligated under God to go everywhere, every place trumpeting the good news of Jesus Christ and the gospel. If I’m not doing that I’m in disobedience to a basic command of God. And this becomes difficult to do, doesn’t it, when your own government begins to restrict when and where and how we can do this. We have something that’s been galloping in our society that I like to call militant secularism; some would call it religious cleansing or Christian cleansing, where Christianity itself has to be banned from the public schools; Christianity itself has to be taken off of public places, the Ten Commandments can’t be posted on public walls, giant crosses on public property have to be taken down because that may be offensive to somebody. And this has been a relentless assault for decades in this culture if you’ve been following it.
The fact of the matter is, America’s Founding Fathers had absolutely no problem whatsoever with Christian expression in public life. We know this simply by looking at the Liberty Bell itself. Most people are shocked to discover that on the Liberty Bell itself is inscribed Leviticus 25:10, which says, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land to its inhabitants,” it’s a Scriptural citation on one of America’s most important pieces of our history, the Liberty Bell itself. Had the Founding Fathers of America bought into this idea that Christianity cannot be expressed publicly why in the world would they put a Scripture verse on the Liberty Bell?
This is what used to be said in public schools, and in fact, since I just got back from California visiting my parents, some of these subjects came up as I was talking with them and my mother told me, and she grew up in this Houston area, that in Houston, in fourth grade, now I’m pausing because I said fourth grade and she listens to the sermons and she says it wasn’t fourth grade it was some other grade so she corrected me, and I can’t remember how she changed it, but any way, fourth grade, sixth grace, second grade, one of those grades, she indicated that her own public school teacher would read to her every morning from the Psalms. And I asked my mother, I said what year was that and she gave me the exact year, 1948.
In other words, prior to some very radical Supreme Court cases in the 1960’s it used to be very normal in America to study the Bible in public schools, read the Bible in public schools, no big deal at all, in fact, it was part of the culture. In fact, America’s Founding Fathers, as we have seen, would have no problem with such a practice.
In 1962, this comes from Supreme Court language in a case called Engel versus Vital, this is what used to be said regularly every morning by public school children. “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country.” I mean, as I look at that little prayer it doesn’t really sound like a very radical prayer to me at all; I don’t see any jihadist language in here. It was just a simple acknowledgement that America had a wonderful Christian beginning and a wonderful Christian heritage and we in the public schools are going to continue to acknowledge that and we are going to continue to ask for God’s blessings upon our country, our families and our schools. And we acknowledge, just as the Declaration of Independence indicates, our dependence upon You.
But what happened in 1963 is that was deemed unconstitutional, that longstanding practice. This is a quotation from the Supreme Court case itself, called School District of Abington Township vs. Schempp, 1963; this is what the Supreme Court said. “But if portions of the New Testament were read without explanation they could be, and in his specific experience with children Dr. Grayzel” that’s the expert witness, the psychologist, the psychologist, “Dr. Grayzel observed, had been, psychologically harmful to the child and had caused a divisive force within the social media of the school.”
One day the United States Supreme Court, almost with the stroke of a pen, said this longstanding practice of acknowledging Christian truth in public schools is psychologically harmful. They based their ruling on something called the strict wall of separation between church and state. They supposedly found this in our First Amendment which reads as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
The First Amendment, you’ll notice, has two clauses related to religion. The first is called the establishment clause. Congress is not to make a law establishing a religion (that is called the establishment clause) nor is Congress to interfere with the free exercise of religion (that is called the free exercise clause). And it’s in that establishment clause that the Supreme Court began to indicate that there was something called a strict wall of separation between church and state.
Now when you look up the word religion, not in a modern day dictionary but in a dictionary back to the founding era what you’ll discover is their definition of religion is very different than ours. When they used the word “religion” and as you probably know words change meanings over time, when our Founding Fathers used the word religion they were using it as a synonym for denomination. What our Founding Fathers were against is a denominational country; this is a Baptist country, this is a Methodist country, this is a Presbyterian country. It’s quite obvious that that’s what our Founding Fathers thought because they put a Scripture verse on the Liberty Bell itself. As long as it’s not advocating a particular denomination they had no problem with the generic principles of Christianity (which our Founding Fathers called trans denominational) being taught in the public school.
This is the clear record of history. And what began to happen it the Supreme Court began to change the definition of religion to not just anti-denominational language but they began to say any form of Christianity is no longer acceptable in the public school. That is a perversion of what the First Amendment says. And the reason that this ruling is so outrageous is because once you arrive at the Supreme Court you are appointed for life; the people themselves cannot vote against you because you are life tenured. So America has always understood that the proper role of the Supreme Court is not to make things up, not to read things into the document that simply are not there; that is the job of the legislators and legislatures which are accountable to the people through the ballot box. The function of the Supreme Court is simply to derive the Founder’s intent and apply that intent to the facts that come before them when they are adjudicating matters.
But what happened is the Supreme Court converted itself into a legislature. They converted themselves into a Constitutional convention and they switched the meaning of the word and in the process they invented this expression, a strict wall of separation between church and state. Now as I read this did you find the word “strict” in this amendment. Do you see the word “wall” there? No. Do you see the word “separation” there? No, I don’t see it. Do you see the word “church” there? No, I don’t see it. Do you see the word “state” there? No, I don’t see it. Other than that I guess they’re pretty close, right?
The whole thing is invented. The good people of America never acknowledge this or wanted this or voted for it. It was the judicial branch of government that imposed it upon us. In fact, here is a case called Baer v. Kolmorgen around the same period of time; it’s a New York case, New York Supreme Court, and this is what the New York Supreme Court said: “Much has been written in recent years concerning Thomas Jefferson’s reference in 1802 to ‘a wall of separation between church and state…’ [It] has received so much attention that one would almost think at times that it is to be found somewhere in our Constitution.” As the old saying goes, if you repeat a lie long enough people eventually believe it. You just keep saying it over and over again and people actually think that the strict wall of separation between church and state is part of our heritage as Americans. In fact, it is not! It is made up.
However, you will find it in the Constitution of atheistic countries. You’ll find it in the Article 124 of the Constitution of the former Soviet Union, a communist country, a Marxist country, a country that does not acknowledge God. It says this: “In order to endure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the USSR is separated from the state, and the school from the church.” Atheist countries have a strict wall of separation between church and state but you don’t find that language or that verbiage anywhere in America’s founding documents.
And this whole thing is attributed to something that Thomas Jefferson wrote; he was one of the first to use this expression, a wall of separation between church and state in his private writings. Now when Jefferson used this expression he was not applying it to the establishment clause of the First Amendment but he was applying it to what? The free exercise clause. Jefferson, when you read his 1802 letter was basically saying look, the government can’t interfere with the business of the church, there’s a strict wall of separation between church and state. He was speaking there to some Baptists in Danbury who were nervous that should Jefferson get his way that their religion and their practice of their religion would be outlawed. And Jefferson wrote a letter to them in 1802 and said you don’t have to worry about that, we have a free exercise of religion in this country and we have a strict wall of separation between church and state.
The Supreme Court in 1963 took that identical language from Thomas Jefferson and applied it not to the free exercise clause but they applied it to the establishment clause and banished in the process with the stroke of a pen a long standing Christian practice in America. Most of these things happened under the radar screen without Americans even knowing what took place. But that, in my opinion, indicated or moved us into a fundamental change in this country where our heritage and our foundation was no longer to be God or the Bible but it was going to be something different. And today, and I went through this as a high school student, try starting up a Bible club, a prayer club, wanting your teacher to say something about the Scripture in class, giving some kind of book report publicly that promotes the Bible, the phrase, and it was thrown at me as a very young Christian, will be thrown back at you is there is a strict wall of separation between church and state. The whole thing is a con, the whole thing is a scam, the whole thing is a tool used by Satan to move a nation away from its history and it roots.
In fact, most people don’t know this but Thomas Jefferson, although he was the author of the Declaration of Independence, 1776, had almost nothing to do with the Constitution of the United States which was passed around 1787. Thomas Jefferson writes this in one of his letters. “One passage, in the paper you enclosed me, must be corrected. It is the following, ‘and all say it was yourself more than any other individual, that planned and established it,’ i.e., the Constitution.” He’s not disavowing his role from the Declaration of Independence, which is earlier but he is disavowing his role in the Constitution which came about a decade or so later. He says this, “I was in Europe when the Constitution was planned, and never saw it till after it was established.” [Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 20 vols., ed. Albert Ellery Bergh (Washington D.C: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), 10:325, to Dr. Joseph Priestly on June 19, 1802.]
The Declaration of Independence is America’s birth certificate; the Constitution is something completely different, it’s the by-laws, if you will, thinking of this in corporate terms, showing the new government how it’s to function. Thomas Jefferson had everything to do with the Declaration of Independence, but when it came time to put together the Constitution over a decade later he had no influence over it whatsoever according to his own admission in his own writings. In fact, he was America’s ambassador to France at the time.
John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the Father of lies. [John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”] Essentially what happened is the Supreme Court attributed a phrase to Thomas Jefferson; number 1, they took it completely out of context. Jefferson made the statement relative to the free exercise clause and not the establishment clause. And number 1, Jefferson himself had no real influence over our United States Constitution.
And yet through the stroke of a pen this has become the law of the land. In fact, most attorneys, if you question them, think that a strict wall of separation between church and state is somewhere found in the First Amendment because that’s the way they’re trained, that’s the way they’re taught.
Bar exam questions deal with that issue; very few of them have actually gone back and read the First Amendment themselves and in fact most of them, if you were to pull out a copy of the First Amendment and ask them can you please point to this doctrine of separation between church and s state they are startled and stunned to discover that the phrase that has been used more than any other to secularize America is not even present in the First Amendment.
In fact, when the Supreme Court issued that ruling they did it without citing a single precedent. Now what is a precedent? A precedent is you look back in history and you see what prior courts have done. Any lawyer worth their salt when they argue before a judge, particularly a federal judge, particularly before the United States Supreme Court, will try to anchor their argument in precedent, looking at what similar courts have done with a similar set of facts. How many precedents were actually cited in these 1962-1963 decisions? The answer is no precedents at all! They admit this in the language of the decision: “Finally, in Engel v. Vitale, only last year, these principles” what principles? The strict wall of separation between church and state of course. “Finally, in Engel v. Vitale, only last year, these principles were so universally recognized that the court, without the citation of a single case… reaffirmed them” (italics added).
This is an interesting chart that I got from David Barton, in his book, the Myth of Separation, and you’ll notice various cases that began to be handed down after these 1962 and 1963 rulings. You’ll see those on the far left; you’ll see the date after that, and then you’ll see two columns pre 1947 and post 1947. And it’s documenting the number of precedents that were cited in these subsequent cases coming before 1947 and after 1947. You say well, what’s so significant about 1947? 1947 is the first time the expression the strict wall of separation between church and state entered the judicial fabric of America. It was an interesting case called Board of Education, Everson versus The Board of Education, it dealt with one of these scenarios where Catholic students at a public school could have release time and they could go and have some Catholic training on school time and then be readmitted to school grounds. And eventually the Supreme Court upheld that arrangement but they said the governments of America, state governments need to be careful that they don’t violate the strict wall of separation between church and state. And so for the very first time in this case the language, the strict wall of separation between church and state enters an official Supreme Court opinion and is applied to the establishment clause. And all the 1962 and 1963 courts did is reach back to that 1947 decision and apply it to this longstanding practice of prayer and Bible reading in public schools.
Nothing earth shaking happened in 1947 other than the language becoming the official legal language in the United States of America. What happened that was earth shaking in nature happened in 1962 and 1963. But this is an interesting chart and that’s why 1947 is mentioned here. How many precedents do you have pre-1947, post 1947? There was a case called Levitt v. Committee, 1973, notice how many precedents you have, 1947—zero! How many precedents do you have after 1947? 18. Committee versus Nyquist, 1973, 1 precedent prior to 1947, 99 precedents after 1947 cited in official Supreme Court rulings.
Then came Stone versus Graham, 1980, now Stone versus Graham is very critical because that’s when the Ten Commandments, you know, don’t murder, don’t steal, really dangerous things, right, are banned totally from public schools. There was a copy of the Ten Commandments hanging on a public school wall and the Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom said you know, if people read these, they might obey them; it’s almost a direct quote from the case. So we need to get rid of this. They based their rulings on a strict wall of separation between church and state. Notice how many precedents you have prior to 1947—zero! Every precedent in that case happened after 1947. Then came along a similar case. Marsh versus Chambers, 1982, one precedent before 1947, 32 precedents after 1947.
And I want you to understand how this game is played. The other side gets a ruling that they like and they pretend that American history started with that ruling. And you see this whole conversation taking place with the infamous Roe verses Wade decision when conservative jurists are put up as possible jurors to the Supreme Court, all of the left and all of the liberals they like to say well, are you going to respect settled law? And what they’re talking about is are you going to respect the 1972-1973 Roe versus Wade decision or are you going to overturn it. The fact of the matter is Roe versus Wade in the 1972-1973 did that decision respect settled law? No it didn’t. It overturned almost everything.
And the same game is played here with the strict wall between separation between church and state. You get a ruling that you like and you just pretend that American history started with the language that you like. It’s almost as if we had the American revolution, 1776 and then we flash forward to 1947 and all of that history, from 1776 to 1947, is blocked out of memory. Most people don’t even know it exists. And in fact, when I went through law school and began to study the establishment clause in my Constitutional Law class guess where the text book started? Not with 1776, not with 1787 with The United States Constitution, not with The Bill of Rights, 1789, not with the writings of Thomas Jefferson or any of our other Founding Fathers, not with the Liberty Bell, but the text books started with the very first case on the subject, 1947. And that in essence is what you’re dealing with politicians, attorneys, most of the American population, that whole section of America’s history has been removed; most people don’t know anything about it, most people don’t even know it exists.
So you get the ruling that you like and you keep building on a godless ruling and anything that preceded it you just pretend that it never happened. I’m simply trying to explain the strategies of Satan and how he has worked strategically to remove us from our Judeo-Christian foundation underpinnings and heritage. It’s to the point now where if you begin to talk about the Christian roots of America most people think you’re crazy or insane or illiterate or untaught. That’s how severely we have been propagandized.
I run the risk here of quoting Ann Coulter, some of the thing she says I like, some I don’t and maybe it’s dangerous to even quote her in church but she did say something very good. She said,
“First they claim there is no place for religion in the public square, and then they expand the public square to include everything.” [Ann Coulter, “Foreword,” in Speechless: Silencing the Christians, ed. Donald E. Wildmon (Minneapolis, MN: Vigilante, 2009), xiii.]
Isn’t it interesting that the voices that are loudest in terms of separating Christianity from government are also the loudest telling us that the government needs to be bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And as the government grows Christianity shrinks in influence, and because we have bought into this separation between church and state jargon we are in the midst of a culture and a civilizations that is developing or creating a society without God.
I want to know from a candidate what they think about this? What do they think about public expressions of Christianity in public life? Are those tolerable? Are those allowed? Are those acceptable within our nation’s heritage, design and founding charters or are these things that need to be consistently pushed out and removed?
It’s not just the establishment clause that has been perverted in our day but so has the free exercise clause. You might remember the IRS scandals of around 2010, when the IRS began to look very carefully at organizations looking for tax exempt status, and it began to look for labels, like constitution, patriot. And then the investigation of the IRS went even deeper and they began to look into things like what kind of prayers do you all pray in your meetings? What kind of Bible version do you use? And they began to use this as a basis upon which tax exempt status should be granted or not granted.
I quote James Dobson here because most people acknowledge him as a fairly respected Christian leader; he was trying during that time to start a tax exempt organization that was put on hold by the IRS because of his religious point of view. Dobson says: “I have to be honest. It’s a very scary time for our nation right now. We’re kind of at a watershed moment…We’re just trampling the Constitution. It’s bulling. It’s just a straight bully tactic…that’s not the country our forefathers foresaw.” [http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/05/17/trampling-the-constitution-famed-christian-claims-irs-bullied-ministry-threatened-to-deny-tax-application-over-criticism-of-obama/]
I remember the good old days when I would dialogue with liberals; they used to tell me this: I may not agree with what you say but I will defend you to the death to say it. In other words, liberals of the old days used to believe in free speech. They used to believe in the free exercise of ideas. May I tell you something? The new generation coming up does not believe in free speech; they do not believe to a very large extent in the free expression of ideas. All you have to do is take a look at your typical university today where they have what are called free speech zones, which is some remote little part of the campus where you can speak your mind, everything else, to a very large extent is put on hold, something they call hate speech codes. You can’t say anything that someone would object to; you can’t say anything that may be offensive, and think what that does to free speech. If you want to speak your mind you can go over here in some remote corner somewhere, into your free speech zone and articulate your thoughts.
And what I’m saying is we’re in the midst of a shift where the good old days where the left would by and large acknowledge free speech, that is gone. And let me, if you want to investigate this further let me recommend a very good book to you, I read it last summer, it’s written last summer, it’s written by Kirsten Powers and I quote her because she is an interesting person, I don’t really agree with her on a lot of things. She’s one of the cable channel pundits but she is what I would call an intellectually honest liberal. She still believes the old school and how they thought, that free speech is for everybody even if that free speech is objectionable. She wrote a whole book about this. The title of this book, you can find it easily on Amazon or the internet, it’s called The Silencing. And here she is not taking on conservatives the way she normally does; she’s taking on her own. She is documenting through these speech codes and what the left is doing and how they are demolishing free speech. She is taking on her own and she is basically saying you all are not standing by the original principles of liberalism. It’s a fascinating book called The Silencing, written by someone that I really don’t agree with on an awful lot of things but I think she nails it here.
And you see, all of these things that I’m bringing up have a bearing on the preaching of the gospel. If I am being told by my government that I can’t say certain things or when I say certain things I can only do it in some remote part somewhere else then that hampers and that hinders my ability to preach the gospel to every creature, which is what the Bible commands me and tells me to do. In fact, I have friends that are professors and when they post their syllabi online in Canada the Canadian government will come in and they will remove parts of that syllabi references to Romans 1, references to condemning the practice of homosexuality, you can talk and teach on all kinds of things but this part about homosexuality we don’t want taught and the Canadian government comes in almost like a sensor, in fact, it is a sensor editing, removing, theological documents. How far do you think we are from that kind of thing happening here? Canada, the last time I checked, is not that far away; that’s just on our northern border and we need to think very seriously about this issue of free speech, particularly in election cycles like we are in. Will the candidate use the force of government to restrict expressions of Christianity in public places, airwaves, the internet, social media and through the imposition of hate speech codes.
Let me take you to another issue and this one I think you’ve been looking forward to. In fact, is Ron Brown here this morning? There we go, Murphy’s Law at work; he’s been saying when are you going to get to number 8, and I get to number 8 and he’s not here. He wants to know about the right to keep and bear arms. Take a look, if you can, at Luke 22:36. Another key question, in fact, the final social issue question to ask of a candidate is this: will the candidate support the right of the private citizen to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their family from private or government aggression. Let me say that one more time: will the candidate support the right of the private citizen to keep and bear arms to protect themselves and their family from private or governmental aggression.
As you probably know there’s a great battle that’s taking place in our culture. I mentioned the First Amendment earlier, this one is about the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment mentions a right to keep and bear arms; I believe that that is an individual right, many voices today are saying no, that’s not an individual right, that’s what they call a collective right, that’s just talking about the ability to have an army, a state militia and things of that nature; it’s not talking about what you actually own or possess in your own private home.
Now you get into an issue like this and people immediately say you know, you’re really starting to espouse your own philosophy, I thought you were a Bible teacher. But that’s why I had you turn to Luke 22:36, these are the words of Jesus Christ and this is what he said to his disciples as He was sending them out. It says this, Luke 22:36: “And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag,” watch this, “and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” Let me repeat that, as Jesus is sending out His disciples, “and whoever has no sword” now what do you do with a sword? You defend yourself, “whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” Putting this 21st century language back into the first century He’s basically saying to His disciples arm yourself so that you can protect yourself.
Now the Bible does not teach progression through the sword. Anybody that seeks to convert people to Christianity through the sword has misread the Bible because Jesus, in Matthew 26:52 said this of Peter. Remember what Peter did? They came to arrest Christ, they came to take him away, Peter did not like what he was seeing, he grabs his sword and he takes a swing and he actually missed, I believe, the head of the Centurion who ducked out of the way and Peter zipped off his ear with his sword. Jesus said to Peter on that occasion, Matthew 26:52, “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.’” So unlike Islam, that to a very large extent believes in converting people through military force, that is not what the Scripture teaches, it’s not what the Bible teaches.
Well, if all of that is true then why did Jesus, over in Luke 22:36 say “whoever has no sword it to sell his coat and buy one.” [Luke 22:36, “And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.”] When you put these Scriptures together what you begin to discover is the Bible never teaches vigilantism, it never teaches conversion through the sword; it never teaches intimidating people through the force of arms. What it does teach is the ability for reasonable self-defense. If somebody comes into your house and threatens your life and your wife and your children then biblically you have not just the right but the responsibility to defend yourself. I have to say this over and over again because many people, through their abuse of the Scripture, will put you on a guilt trip simply because you have an armament, an arm of some sort in your home for self-defense.
Now in the book of Esther, chapters 8 and 9, it’s very interesting what happens. The Persian King, Xerxes allowed the children of Israel to defend themselves; he in essence reversed the decree which had been given earlier and he allowed the children of Israel, when you study those chapters very carefully, Esther 8 and 9, he allowed them to defend themselves against Haman’s wicked plot in Persia to eradicate the Jews, He gave them the right to self-defense. And guess what? They exercised that right; they defended themselves against the onslaught of Haman. The Jews were miraculously spared and in fact there is a whole holiday in Judaism commemorating this event called Purim, which simply means lots; Purim is plural, lots, because Haman cast lots to determine the day when the Jews would be annihilated. And God providentially, through Esther and Mordecai worked in history to such an extent that a decree was reversed allowing the Jews to defend themselves and that is the basis, that is the origin, if you will, of Purim.
See, this concept of self-defense when you start to look for it in the Bible you’ll start to discover it. Now I know what many of you are thinking: what kind of church is this? What kind of pastor are you? You’re not supposed to talk about guns in church, I mean, Jesus was loving and kind to everybody, He never spoke of swords and guns and self-defense. Let me tell you something, the way I’m talking now a hundred years ago was normal talk.
In fact, let me introduce you to an individual named Granville Sharpe. Most people have heard the name Granville Sharpe, particularly if you study the Greek language because Granville Sharpe was a Greek scholar. He was a Greek grammarian. In fact, Granville Sharpe invented or discovered a law of language that Greek students all know as the Granville Sharp rule. That rule simply states that when you have one definite article in front of two nouns and those two nouns are joined by a conjunction, like and, then those two nouns are equal. People use the Granville Sharpe rule to defend the deity of Jesus Christ, because some verses using that construction call Jesus both Lord and God. Greek students all know the name Granville Sharpe.
Here’s the part of the equation that most people know very little about. Granville Sharpe was not just a Greek scholar but he was a political activist. In fact, Granville Sharpe, who lived from 1735 to around 1813 worked diligently alongside a man named William Wilberforce. Do you recognize the name William Wilberforce? William Wilberforce was the evangelical Christian in parliament who spoke out against the slave trade. He said it’s immoral and it is unethical for one race to enslave another. William Wilberforce, there’s an entire movie actually made about the life and times of William Wilberforce using his conviction as a Bible believing Christian to eventually outlaw the slave trade in that part of the world. And right there at his side every inch of the was this man, Granville Sharpe. Granville Sharpe was not the kind of guy that just developed grammar laws in his private study; he read the Bible and he applied it to culture. And the two of them, William Wilberforce and Granville Sharpe became the most vocal critics of the slave trade, simply on the basis that such a practice violates the laws and the principles of God.
And do you want to know what Granville Sharpe said about private arms. Here’s what he said, a direct quote: “No Englishman can be truly loyal who opposed the principles of English law whereby the people are required to have arms of defence in peace, for mutual as well as private defence… The laws of England always required the people to be armed, and not only armed, but to be expert in arms.” [Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer: A Citizen’s Guidebook to the History, Sources, and Authorities for the Constitutional Guarantee of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (NY: Skyhorse, 2013), 63.]
Granville Sharpe, this Greek scholar who became a political activist said if you really are a true patriot and you love Jesus and you love the Bible you will not only possess private arms but you will become an expert in the use of those private arms. Isn’t it interesting how much of our history has been exorcised and removed.
Let me introduce you to another individual named Joseph Story. The reason I bring up Joseph Story is because we are in a great debate in our society today about the Second Amendment; does the Second Amendment protect the right of the individual to have arms or is it just some sort of nebulous collective right. Joseph Story, just a few facts on him, if you will indulge me: he was a prolific writer in the United States Supreme Court; he actually authored 286 opinions, 269 of those opinions became majority opinions. He was on the Supreme Court as an associate justice for 34 years. He lived from about 1779 to 1845; he was very dominant on the Supreme Court in what we call the Marshall era. Chief Justice John Marshall was our third Chief Justice to the United States Supreme Court.
And there was Joseph Story, right alongside John Marshall, shaping the direction of that judicial branch of government. And in the process, in 1833, which is not that far removed from our War of Independence and the beginning of our own Constitution, in 1833 he authored what is called an authoritative commentary on the United States Constitution. The United States Constitution created in 1787, the Bill of Rights came into existence around 1789, and along comes Joseph Story to offer a commentary explaining what the Constitution means, similar to a Bible scholar coming alongside the Scripture and writing a commentary explaining the book of Daniel, the book of Esther, the book of Romans. This is what Joseph Story was doing during his tenure, long tenure and productive tenure on the United States Supreme Court.
And in the process Joseph Story started to comment on the first Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution, the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and notice what he says here about the Second Amendment. It’s very interesting. “…since it,” now what is “it”? “It” is the Second Amendment. “…since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers;” let me actually give you the whole quote, this is what he says, “The next amendment” and he is working his way through the ten amendments to the United States Constitution, “is: ‘A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Joseph Story goes on, actually there’s the quote I was looking for, “The next amendment is: ‘A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’ The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject…” Look at this next line, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the,” now here’s a word I had a hard time pronouncing it, I didn’t even know its meaning, “the palladium of the liberties of a republic…” Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston, MA: Hilliard, Gray, 1833), 3:746-747, sections 1889-1890.
I had to go look up the word palladium; what does that mean? It’s the image of the Goddess Athena on which the city of Troy was believed to depend. Joseph Story said just as the image of Athena was necessary for the survival of the city of Troy in ancient literature and mythology, that’s the Second Amendment. He said the Second Amendment will dictate whether this culture, the American culture, survives. He mentions here “The right of the citizen to keep and bear arms,” there’s no talk here of a collective right; there’s no talk here of the military having the right to keep and bear arms. He clearly anchored this right in the citizen itself. And doesn’t that make sense. Go through the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution and you’ll see that all of those amendments, including the second, protect the individual.
The first amendment protects the right of the individual to free speech from possibly being taken away from the government. The fourth amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures from the government. The fifth amendment protects our property from being willfully taken away by the United States government. The sixth amendment protects the right to a fair and impartial trial conducted by who? The government. The eight amendment protects me from cruel and unusual punishment from who? The government. All ten amendments protect the individual from the government. Now if that’s true why would the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, be any different?
He goes on describing this Second Amendment and he says, “…since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them…There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.” [Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (Boston, MA: Hilliard, Gray, 1833), 3:746-747, sections 1889-1890.]
What are we told today? Well, the Second Amendment is just there to enjoy hunting and things of that nature. May I just say to you that is not why the Second Amendment was given. I don’t have any moral objections of people using weapons to hunt but very clearly what Joseph Story is indicating is the Second Amendment is a protection against runaway government. The Second Amendment is protection against a totalitarian state. In fact, that is the last vestige of defense that a free people have to resist the totalitarian impulses of their own government. There’s nothing here about hunting, there’s nothing here about a state militia, it’s all about the individual having this right. And Joseph Story is very clear that if this right disappears guess what happens to all the other rights? They disappear as well. The First Amendment is not going to do you a lot of good folks, if you don’t have the arms to protect your First Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, those aren’t going to do you a lot of good folks if you don’t have the arms to protect those rights. And this is the beginning of America.
How have most of the people in the world died? Have you ever asked that question. We think that most people in the world have died from natural causes, famines, droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes; the fact of the matter is though most of the people in the world have died through their own governments.
Let me introduce to a scholar by the name of R. J. Rummel, who wrote a book called Death by Government. And in this particular book he coins a term for the harm and the murder governments have done to their own people. He calls it democide. This is what he says of democide: “R. J. Rummel, Death by Government, calculates democide at two hundred and sixty-two million.” In other words, two hundred and sixty-two million people in human history have died, not through natural causes but have died at the hands of their own state or their own government.
Now how big is two hundred and sixty-two million people. In fact, in this book he says the most deaths that have ever been attributed to a single source is not death through natural causes but death committed by people’s government against the individual. Two hundred and sixty-two million people! How big is two hundred and sixty-two million people? Rummel says just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all of the bodies were laid head to toe, of these two hundred and sixty-two people with the average height being about five foot then two hundred and sixty-two million people laid head to toe with the average height being about five foot would circle the earth ten times. It’s a staggering statistic.
And so one of the questions I have for anybody that’s running for office is do you support the right to keep and bear arms. I find it a biblical idea; I find it a Constitutional idea and what we’re being told today is gun control works, just ask the experts. Hitler, Castro, Gaddafi, Stalin, Idi Amin, Mao Tse-tung, Pol Pot, Kim Jong–Il, what do all of these dictatorships have in common? It doesn’t take rocket science to figure this out. The first order of any dictatorship is to disarm its own citizens. And the argument goes something like this: we need to register where all the weapons are, we’ll use some kind of policy argument, safety, whatever the case may be but once we figure out through data bases where the weapons are through registration then we will move into confiscation. Any dictatorship that arises to power the first order of business is to disarm the people because if you disarm the people they are powerless. You can have your way with them. This is why white southerners sought to disarm the slave black population in America to make them in a state of dependency and helplessness, and yet Jesus, the Bible, the Constitution is calling for the exact opposite.
This business of the right to keep and bear arms is actually a biblical idea, as I’ve tried to defend it. And what we’re being subjected to today is these areas that are called gun-free zones. If I had my way every time I saw the word gun-free zone I would change the wording and it would say self-defense free zones. Because let me have a little contest with you; can I do that? I’m going to put a sign in front of my house that says I am a gun owner. You put a sign on your house that says you’re not a gun owner. Which one of us do you think are going to be robbed first? The answer to that is easy. The criminals, the sick people of this world are looking for areas where they can target people that cannot fight back. And that’s why one of the greatest bulwarks or defenses against not just criminal behavior but totalitarian government is the right to keep and bear arms.
Mr. and Mrs. Candidate, what do you think about this? Or are you instead interested in endless background checks, licensing requirements, perpetually imposed upon law abiding citizens, thereby ultimately paving the way to total gun confiscation. See, these are things we need to be thinking about when we vote. We need to be looking at candidates and we need to be looking at the Bible.
Two things we talked about today are public expressions in Christianity and the right to keep and bear arms. That ends the discussion on social issues and next week we’ll be looking at foreign affairs issues. Don’t worry, we only have four to cover so that may take a month or so I guess. [laughter] But I hope you’re enjoying this sermon series; I can guarantee this, you’re not hearing this from most churches.
Let’s have a word of prayer. Father, we’re grateful for Your truth and Your Word and how it speaks not just on how to get to heaven but it deals with the culture and the times in which we live. Make us people, Father, not loyal to one party or the other or to the left or to the right but loyal to the principles of Your Word and Your truth. Help us to stand out, Father, like lights in this difficult and nebulous and immoral and sometimes amoral time period that we live in. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus name.