What Can the Righteous Do?

By: Dr. Steven C. Riser; ©2008
We may have personally done well with our family but America as a nation seems headed for the abyss. Most Americans, including many professed Christians, subscribe to a morally relative value system. What should Christians do to change the direction America is heading?

Text: Psalm 11:3 – “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Introduction

American History Quiz: Did You Know?

  1. As you walk up the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court you can see near the top of the building a row of the world’s law givers and each one is facing one in the middle who is facing forward with a full frontal view. It is Moses and he is holding the Ten Commandments!
  2. As you enter the Supreme Court courtroom, the two huge oak doors have the Ten Commandments engraved on each lower portion of each door.
  3. As you sit inside the courtroom, you can see the on wall right above where the Supreme Court judges sit a display of the Ten Commandments!
  4. There are Bible verses etched in stone all over the Federal buildings and monuments in Washington, D.C.
  5. James Madison, the 4th president, known as “The Father of Our Constitution” said, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
  6. Patrick Henry, that patriot and Founding Father of our country said, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians, not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
  7. Every session of Congress begins with a prayer by a paid preacher or chaplain, whose salary has been paid by the taxpayer since 1777.
  8. 52 of the 55 founders of the Constitution (95%) were members of the established orthodox churches in the colonies.
  9. Thomas Jefferson worried that the Courts would overstep their authority and instead of interpreting the law would begin making law, an oligarchy the rule of few over many.
  10. 1st Supreme Court Justice, John Jay: “Americans should select and prefer Christians as their rulers.”

If all this is true, and it is, how then have we gotten to the point that everything we have done during the first 200 years in this country is now suddenly wrong and unconstitutional? How can that happen?

Explanation

You don’t have to be an Architect/Engineer to realize how important it is to have a strong foundation for any structure. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the façade if the foundation is faulty. Jesus had something to say about this in Matthew 7:24-27, when He contrasted the man who built his house on the sand with the man who built his house upon the rock. Everyone understood this imagery. Both the foolish man and the wise man knew the teaching of Jesus, but the wise man obeyed His teaching.

Our text, Psalm 11:3, also deals with the same need for having a strong foundation. David says, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” In Psalm 11, David shares with us four comforting certainties:

  1. Isolation from events is impossible (vv. 1-3) – Cultural decline is so pervasive we can’t escape it.
  2. Our security is in God alone (vv. 1, 4a) – Because God is sovereign His children are secure.
  3. God’s justice will prevail (vv. 4b-6) – Those who reject God in the end will receive His justice.
  4. The righteous will be rewarded (v. 7) – God loves the righteous and beholds the upright.

All around us the dark clouds seem to be descending on our society and on our culture. It is clear that our children and grandchildren will grow up in a world vastly different from our own and radically different from our parents. It is a world we can hardly recognize when compared to our childhood and our youth, church dinners, afternoon ball games and family gatherings. Both the church and the nation seem to be in moral and spiritual decline. Unfortunately, it’s more than just appearance, it is reality.

We may have personally done well with our family but America as a nation seems headed for the abyss. Most Americans, including many professed Christians, subscribe to a morally relative value system.

Nearly 3000 years ago, David asked a question that is every bit as relevant for us in the 21st century: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Just about every Christian has pondered that question in their minds: What can the righteous do? In the midst of serious cultural, moral and spiritual decline it’s easy for us to feel helpless and hopeless.

It’s clear on the basis of God’s Word that: The righteous must, by the grace of God, seek to rebuild a godly foundation for future generations. But how does one go about doing that? One thing for sure: It’s not realistic to expect liberal secular people to assist us in rebuilding a godly foundation. Conservative humanism is also harmful to our republic, the damage just takes a little longer.

It’s not realistic to expect the civil government to do what God wants and expects His church to do. Now is the time and this is the place for us to more fully demonstrate God grace for His glory! Now is not the time for cowardice, now is the time for courage. Cowardice is always dangerous and deadly. The temptation to desert a post of duty is always unwise and ill advised.

Where can we turn for help? Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth! (Psa. 124:8) If the Christian foundations in our nation, in any area of life are being destroyed and they are, everywhere, the righteous must: 1) by the grace of God and 2) according to His Word and 3) in the power of the Holy Spirit of God and 4) for the glory of God, seek to work to rebuild those godly foundations!

What must we do? With God’s enablement, we must give all our life, resources and energy to the restoring of those foundations. This work must go on regardless of the difficulties, threats and set-backs. God Himself tells us in Isaiah 55:11, My word… shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

How can we restore the godly foundation of our nation without restoring a biblical worldview? Webster defines a worldview as a comprehensive, personal, philosophy or conception of the world and of human life. Every worldview includes five essential elements: religion, politics, economics, education and science. These five basic institutions serve as the corner stone of every society’s culture.

Our religious institutions are responsible for forming the moral and spiritual dimensions of society. Orthodox religion requires faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). Hebrews 11:1-2 says faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

There are only two scenarios that could possibly explain the existence of the universe and all life on earth. 1) Either it was all designed and created by some awesome, intelligent being whose creative abilities far surpasses the scope of human understanding; or 2) it all came about randomly chance on its own.

Our Declaration of Independence boldly acknowledges the “Creator” in the first scenario. Many, if not most of those in academia, including some clergy sad to say, adhere to the second scenario. There is no way any complete understanding or perception of the origins of the universe and the existence of life could be achieved empirically and/or objectively. Bottom line: No one, except God, was present to observe the beginning of creation and history cannot be controlled or repeated therefore: regardless of what you believe, any perception concerning the origin of life is purely a matter of faith!

David wrote about the modern secular scientist (not to mention the typical Hollywood elitist) in Psalm 14:1 when He said, “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” He also spoke of them in Romans 1:22, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, because they worship creation instead of the Creator (v. 25).

Our nation was a great nation in part because our founders established a Republic, not a Democracy. What are the two key characteristics of a constitutional republic? 1. The acknowledgement of God, and 2. the validity of His moral law as a basis of our civil laws. Our nation was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic – on absolute morality, not relative morality. We can never restore the foundation of our nation without returning to biblical values – to the absolute moral values which made our nation great.

Far too many of us place our faith in the word and will of men rather than the Word and will of God. Whether we know it or not, this is the road to tyranny. If we don’t learn as a nation to voluntarily submit to God’s moral law, the two other logical alternatives are: anarchy or tyranny or a combination of the two.

Many years ago, King George VI of England said to Parliament, “I said to the man at the gate of the year, ‘Give me light that I might walk safely into the unknown.’ And he said to me, ‘Go into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of God. It shall be to you safer than the light and better than the known.’”

As we reflect on the present litany of woes, the chaos/confusion in our culture and emasculation of morals, it would be easy to grow despondent with a sense of gloom and doom. The ideas we see aren’t brand new. During other times in history, believers learned to walk in the darkness by putting their hand in the hand of God, knowing that it would be a better than the light and a safer place than the known.

We find ourselves in a culture espousing secular humanism and we wonder how it happened. What has happened is precisely what Dr. Francis Schaeffer predicted would happen 50 years ago! Mid 20th Century, the Christian worldview was the predominant one in our nation. Beginning in the 60’s we began a transition called “Pluralism” where there were competing worldviews and that transition ended with Secular Humanism being the predominate worldview in our culture.

The antagonism against Christians in America is not anecdotal, it’s real and it has been documented in David Limbaugh’s book called Persecution. Today America’s foundations are under an all out attack by the forces of atheistic evolution, secularism humanism, moral relativism and multi-culturalism. America’s foundations are crumbling before our eyes. And so again we ask: What can the righteous do? One approach we dare not take is inactivity or passivity – peace at any price. “All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” “He who weds himself to the spirit of the age will be a widow tomorrow.”

During the last half century there has been a cultural revolution going on in our nation in which there has been a decisive break with the shared meanings of the past. The break particularly affects those meanings that relate to the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. Today, we find ourselves the hapless possessors of a culture unhinged from its Creator’s moorings. The foundations are being destroyed before our eyes. The foundations of our culture no longer provide coherent answers.

If we had consistently followed Christ’s teaching decades ago, we would have driven the thieves and robbers out of our midst long before they totally corrupted our culture and our society. The four indispensable dimensions for our survival and godliness, that God has created, are in jeopardy.

Let’s briefly take a look at each one:

I. The Dimension of Eternity

Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has put eternity into man’s heart. That sense of the eternal is unshakeable. Eternity invades our consciousness. Peggy Noonan in an article in Forbes Magazine says men and women were asked the question, “Why are we so unhappy?” They all agreed we were unhappy because we had lost our moral and spiritual center. She went on to say, “It is a terrible thing when people lose God. Life is difficult and people are afraid; and to be without God is to lose man’s greatest source of consolation and coherence.” The loss of the eternal has ended up in the emptiness of the temporal. The dimension of eternity: when eternity is lost, you redefine existence – without God we are helpless and hopeless (Eph. 2).

II. The Dimension of Morality

The Old Testament anchors morality in God. Why would we think that America will have a meaningful future if it rejects God’s absolute morality in favor of the moronic concept of relative morality? C. S. Lewis was right when he said that no one who subscribes to the concept of moral relativity is capable of consistently living based on that point of view. It simply can’t be done.

With the loss of eternity, or if you prefer spirituality, meaning and significance in life was redefined. With the loss of absolute morality, right and wrong was redefined and the conscience is no longer reliable.

III. The Dimension of Accountability

The same is true in the loss of accountability. It takes other people to bring out the best in us and God designed the concept of accountability for our benefit. Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another.

In most churches today, there is little if any accountability. If church members are faced with the prospect of church discipline, what do they usually do? They usually leave and go to another church.

Philosopher Robert Fitch says, “Ours is an age where ethics has become obsolete. It is superseded by science, deleted by philosophy, dismissed as emotive by psychology. It is downed in compassion, evaporates into aesthetics, and retreats before relativism.” He goes on to say, we have more sympathy for the murderer than the one who was murdered and for the adulterer than the one who was betrayed.

To whom is anybody really accountable any more?

We are certainly not willing to hold illegal immigrants accountable, are we? With no fault divorce laws, we certainly don’t hold adulterers responsible to divorce, do we? We are certainly not willing to hold those accountable who have babies out of wedlock are we? If kids don’t like their parents for whatever reason they simply rebel or in some cases run away.

By losing eternity we were left only with the temporal. By losing morality we’ve destroyed conscience. By losing accountability we have settled at best for mediocrity or worse. What about…

IV. The Dimension of Charity

What do people know about love today? Very, very little. Too many people confuse it with lust! Who understands and practices the biblical teaching of “agape” love? Very, very few.

God’s commandments are an expression of His love for us but too many have rejected them. By losing charity, we have lost the idea of beneficence. Instead, we are left with greed on one hand and entitlement on the other. By not giving to others we become greedy and by expecting from others we feel entitled to things we’ve not worked for. The foundations of our nation are in jeopardy because we’ve redefined existence, destroyed conscience, removed accountability and replaced charity with entitlements.

The time for action is now: in the power of the Spirit, we must do God’s will, God’s way, for God’s glory.

Conclusion

We need not fear during times of cultural and societal disintegration, when there are wars and rumors of wars, when we find ourselves victims of injustice, or find ourselves in harms way as a result of our Christian testimony. He loves us just as much in times of distress as in times of plenty/peace.

Jesus is present in the midst of the storm and He says to us, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” At such a time as this in history, it is your moment and mine. Let us put our hands into the hand of God as we walk into the darkness, for it is better than the light and safer than the known.

Ten Steps to Remake America

What can be done to halt the havoc loosed on the U.S. since prayer and the Bible were thrown out of the schools? There must be two reversals. The first and most obvious one must occur in our national public stance toward God: the Supreme Court’s current ban on the acknowledgment of God and the use of His principles in public is a direct challenge to Him and has thus triggered the law of national accountability, subjecting the nation to severe consequences. Therefore, our current national public stand against God must be set aside.

The second reversal must center on the restoration of the personal benefits derived from living by godly principles. In Deuteronomy 6:24 and 10:13 the Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees so that we might always prosper. Observe the Lord’s decrees for your own good. The problems we have created for ourselves, although colossal, can be solved. Consider the following ten specific activities which can help realize these goals.

  1. The first thing is to do is put first things first: Pray: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, for [leaders] and for all that are in authority.” (1 Tim. 2:1)
  2. Voluntary prayer currently is greatly restricted in public schools, but that doesn’t mean children shouldn’t be trained daily to pray. a) The prayer of the upright is God’s personal delight (Prov. 15:8); b) Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17); c) Continue in prayer (Col. 4:2).
  3. Children currently receive little accurate information from their schools or public institutions either about the historical role of Christians in the nation or about the importance of involving godly principles in our public affairs. Teach the children and others about the Christian history, heritage, and traditions of our nation.
  4. The political realm, formerly dominated by Christians, is still available to them. It was the use of politics that resulted in the elimination of religious activities and the public acknowledgment of God from public affairs; it can therefore restore those principles. The people are responsible for the character or the lack of character of their Congress. If the next centennial does not find us a great nation, it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the negative political forces.
  5. Too often, an allegedly “good” candidate is elected and we later end up regretting his public stands and votes. We need to know more about a candidate than just the professional qualifications; we also need to know the personal traits that qualify him to represent us. It is not only proper, it is vital to investigate a candidate’s private life and beliefs before placing him into office. The reason is made clear in Matthew 7:16-20 and in Luke 6:43-44; bad roots will produce bad fruit. Consequently, a candidate’s moral and religious “roots” must be investigated before placing him into office. A candidate who produced bad fruit in private life will produce bad fruit in public life.
  6. After you have identified a godly candidate, there is much you can do to help him or her. Frequently such a candidate may not receive good media coverage; however, this is neither an unusual nor an insurmountable problem. Candidates with strong grass-roots efforts regularly overcome the media influence and win.
  7. Another mechanism for effective change is direct contact with your Congressman. A sincere, personal letter expressing your views and your concerns to your Congressman is effective.
  8. Often, we seem to be overwhelmed with bad news and regular reports concerning the loss or compromise of yet another moral or biblical principle. Why is this the case? Because the majority of those working in certain areas of the public media are “liberal” and support immoral stands which most godly individuals oppose. You can be effective in communicating a different viewpoint to your friends and to others and one way is through the “Letters to the Editor” section of your local newspaper.
  9. As you become more active and involved, don’t underestimate the effect of the experience you are gaining. Be willing to step into leadership, perhaps by stepping out to inform the community of important issues and consideration, perhaps by recruiting others to run for office, or perhaps even by running for local offices yourself.
  10. Finally, it is vital that we develop an attitude of unswervable duty coupled with an attitude of resolute steadfastness. Commit yourself to this engagement for the long haul – for the duration; arm yourself with the mentality of a marathon runner, not a sprinter. Very simply, be willing to stay and compete until you win.

Conclusion

We must regain the conviction that biblical principles are vital to national success and we must be willing to pursue their reinstatement. We have wrongly allowed the very principles which produced morality and virtue, and thus national stability, to be restricted in public life. We need once again to recognize the truth so well understood by George Washington that: “The propitious [favorable] smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained. The truth announced in the Holy Scripture, and proven by all history is that Those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

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