Our Relative Independence and Our Absolute Dependence

Do We Still Believe in the Declaration of Independence?
By Stephen C. Magee
Pastor, Exeter Prebyterian Church, Exeter, NH
Every four years spiritual issues figure prominently in our political discourse. Candidates for president court the more religious voters of Iowa and then quickly face the first actual primary in “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire. Much of the national conversation centers around the hot-button issues championed by values voters. Very little consideration is given to larger religious principles. The Constitution says that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” but are there faith propositions that must rightly be regarded as fundamental to American government?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident.”
At the very beginning of our existence together as the “United States of America,” the representatives of the people published the reasons for their resistance against tyranny in the Declaration of Independence. In this historic document we read about the Almighty and about tyrants who would put themselves in the place of God.
“… all men are … endowed by their Creator with certain … rights …”
“… to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men …”
“… when a long train of abuses … evinces a design to reduce [people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government …”
“… a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
“… We, therefore, … appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states … 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.”
These statements, which are far from godless, have a central place in the heritage of our nation. We should ask those who desire to be our leaders if they still believe in the Declaration of Independence. But more important is this question that we should each ask ourselves: Do I believe what the Declaration of Independence asserts as self-evident concerning God and humanity?
Simply stated:
    There is a law-ordaining God who is above all human beings.
    God is the ultimate source of human rights.
    A tyrant who tries to take the place of God ought to be resisted.
Let’s explore:
  1. There is a law-ordaining God who is above all human beings.
Belief in the freedom of individual choices that some associate with modern America has an important boundary that makes that freedom safe. God is above our choices. All of our thoughts and actions must be judged according to His standards. Belief in a final Judgment Day rightly tempers free expression. The exaltation of unbounded individual choice is dangerous and makes life within communities unsustainable.
The Biblical account of creation from Genesis 1 associates humanity with the number six. Man was created male and female on the sixth day. Six is a great number, but it is not the finale. God’s number is the number of completeness and perfection. He rested on the seventh day, taking His place as the Ruler and Judge over all that He made.
It is not rational to kick God out of the story of creation. Logically, there needs to be a Source who can bring forth something from nothing. Nothingness cannot yield anything all by itself. We all know that. Yet Romans 1 tells us that we suppress that knowledge and refuse to worship God or give Him thanks. The result of that irrational godlessness is cloudy thinking that leads to the worship of creation and the exaltation of immorality. The creatures of the sixth day can only prosper again by bowing before the Creator—the God of the seventh day—and surrendering to Him as the absolute Ruler over all.
  1. God is the ultimate source of human rights.
Our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and any other rights that we may possess, are not bestowed upon us by the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights. They are gifts from the God of the seventh day to be used responsibly by all human beings.
Rebellion against the Almighty has marred our freedom. The Bible teaches us that we have become slaves to sin. But God became man to free us by His blood. John 1 tells us that those who receive the Son of God, who believe in His Name, have been granted a new right—the right to become children of God. They have a new hope that extends beyond this life, and even now they have peace with God through Jesus Christ.
  1. A tyrant who tries to take the place of God ought to be resisted.
God has given all power and authority in heaven and on earth to His Son. Any other system of authority has limits. The assertion of unlimited authority by an individual human being or a societal movement stands against the Son of God. Those insisting that the choices of creatures must be supreme are acting against Christ. The Bible insists that there are many such antichrists and false saviors.
When first century rulers in Jerusalem thought that they had the right to prohibit Christian preaching, they had to be resisted. Peter knew that it could not be right to obey human authorities if that meant disobeying God.

One need not be a celebrity or a politician to drink deeply of the antichrist spirit. Anyone who insists on individual choices as supreme, denying God, is throwing off all restraint. The true King is coming again, not only to judge, but to save those who long for His appearing. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence did not scoff at the idea of a coming Day of Judgment. Neither should we. Now is a very good time to worship and obey God, whatever the cost. His kingdom is worth our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.