A Nation Under God? - Part 1 (Transcript)

Dr. Dobson: Hello, dear friends, I'm James Dobson and it's a pleasure to join you this day and almost every day through the years. I'm coming to you today with a major concern for the church of Jesus Christ. The governors of some States are using the coronavirus as an excuse to harass and oppress churches that are exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to worship as they choose. To my knowledge, religious liberties have never been challenged like this in the history of this country, but it is being aggressively threatened today. And one of the worst offenders is what's going on in the State of California, who's governor Gavin Newsome is particularly hostile to churches and other Christian entities. So what I want you to hear today is a sermon that was given two weeks ago by one of my great friends, John MacArthur, who is the senior pastor and leader of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

He is a much loved teacher, also on a radio ministry called Grace to You. John is also a President of the Master's College and Seminary, and he's had five decades in ministry, including being the author of 400 books and study guides. John MacArthur is married to Patricia and they have four married children and 15 grandchildren. And he and his church have been under vicious attack by the governor and his administration there in California. Now, I want to set up the sermon by giving a little bit of background because John MacArthur is going to begin here by reading a list of 21 demands that are made by the State. And it's under the heading California basic order for churches. Note that it does not say it's an order to all assemblies, it's not addressed to bars and liquor store owners. It has no relevance to Planned Parenthood, or casinos or street riots, it is the California basic order to churches. Sorry, Christians, you're in the cross hairs here because you are on the bubble. Here now are the words of Pastor John MacArthur at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

John MacArthur: Thank you. You people are out of control. Thank you. Are you happy to be at church?

Congregation: Yes.

John MacArthur: Before we begin, the question has come up a number of times about why Grace Church does not just comply with the orders that have been laid down for churches. And I thought it might be helpful to give you the list of things that are required of us as a church so that you understand how utterly impossible that would be. Here are the basic orders: no indoor meetings at all, pre-registration of every person who comes on to church property. People only allowed on church property for scheduled events. Every person who comes on the property has to be screened and have their temperature taken at the entry. We all must maintain six feet of social distance at all times everywhere, including the parking lot and the restrooms. Every other parking space must be left vacant, marked pathways to maintain social distance, keeping people apart monitored by staff monitors. Everyone always wearing a mask, restroom monitors to control six feet social distancing in restrooms, tape on the ground marking distance, signs indicating these mandates and also full exposure on social media, restrooms are to be used during the service to minimize the rush. That would be interesting.

No hymnbooks, no communion, no offering containers, no Pew Bibles, no singing, no hugging, no shaking hands. Disposable seat covers changed between services, and the services have to be shortened. That's not a problem to me, right? And based upon the separation, we could only meet in the tent with a maximum of 350 to 400 people. You can see that these are requirements that would completely shut the church down. Anybody who comes in contact with someone outside their family for more than 15 minutes, must self-quarantine for two weeks. Obviously, this is not constitutional, but more importantly, it goes against the will of the Lord of the church. He calls us to gather. Amen. So look at the person next to you and say, I don't know who you are, but I'm so glad I'm sitting next to you.

Our Lord said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." The church of Jesus Christ of course, is the assembly of His followers. That's why we're here. We follow Him. There is now in the flag salute of our nation, a statement, "one nation under God," that was added to the flag salute in 1954. The question is, is this a nation under God? We know that's what the founding fathers intended, and not just any God, but the God of scripture. Nations are obligated to worship the true God. Did you hear what I just said? They're obligated to worship the true God and there are dire circumstances that will come upon them if they fail to do that. I want to show you that. Let me begin by establishing some foundational truth. Number one, man was created by God, in the image of God, for the glory of God.

Every person is given as a part of being human, the divine image and the knowledge of God's nature and God's law, so that the law of God is written in every heart. And the truth about God resides in every heart so that the Bible says, "If they do not come to God, they are without excuse." Now we know the instinct to worship is strong in every soul. Everybody worships. God has designed the human soul to worship Him. But the fallenness of humanity causes human beings to turn from worshiping the true God to worshiping just about anything and everything else. So man is created by God, in the image of God, for the glory of God and commanded to worship the true God. Secondly, all people are to worship only the true God. Mankind worships, we get that, but his fallenness directs him away from the true God to false gods. The natural heart goes in the opposite direction of God.

The first commandment is this, "You shall have no other gods beside me. You shall not worship any other God before the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God," Exodus 34, "you shall not worship them or serve them for I the Lord, your God am a jealous God. Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children on the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing loving kindness to thousands to those who love me and keep my commandments." Worship the true God and you will be blessed, worship any other God and you fall under a curse. You say, "Well, doesn't that apply only to Israel?" No, not at all. In looking at Jonah, "The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time," chapter three, "'arise go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation, which I'm going to tell you.' So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord, Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days walk.

"Then Jonah began to go through the city, one day's walking, he cried out and said yet 40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown. Then the people of Nineveh believed in God and they called a fast and they put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. And when the word reached the King of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, 'In Nineveh, by the decree of the King and his Nobles do not let man, beast, herd or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water, but both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth and let men call on God, earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence, which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw his burning anger so that we will not perish.' When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity, which he had declared He would bring upon them and He didn't do it."

That's not personal salvation, that's a nation turning to the true God, acknowledging that there is one true God. And it saved the nation from immediate destruction. Unfortunately, the next generation and the next deviated from that, went back to the natural bent of their sinful hearts. And around 627 BC, that great city of Nineveh was wiped off the face of the earth by the judgment of God. They worshiped Ishtar, they were pagans, they were non-Jews. The expectation to worship the true God was not just for Israel, it was for every nation and God pronounced doom on a pagan nation that did not worship Him. And the fundamental plan of God, as far as nations are concerned is to bless the nations that acknowledge Him as the true God. We're not talking about personal salvation, we're talking about a national recognition of who is the true God. The third thing to say is this: failure to worship God and to worship any other God brings judgment. It certainly brings judgment on individuals, but it also brings judgment on nations.

That judgment becomes inevitable because when you turn from the one true God, you therefore turn from His law. And when you turn from His law, reverence is gone, morality is gone, fear is gone, virtue is gone, and God is gone. Where am I going with this? Pretty simple. When any government separates from God and His law in scripture and from His people and His church, it invites judgment on a personal scale and a national scale. It's unavoidable because God is immutable. He doesn't change. When a nation becomes indifferent to the true God and His word and His law, it makes a grave mistake, which if not reversed, will lead that nation to its own destruction.

Dr. Dobson: This is James Dobson again, let me interrupt just to tell you that you're listening to Family Talk and we've reached the midpoint in our broadcast. You're listening to Pastor John MacArthur speaking two weeks ago at his own church, Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, speaking directly from the scriptures, which we all love. Let's continue now for the balance of this message.

John MacArthur: Now, the reformers were right in seeing three uses for the law of God. Use one was to show the sinner what holiness was like so the sinner could see how far short he falls, be convicted and repent personally, and receive the salvation that God offers through Christ. The second use of the law is then to become the standard for believers behavior as they walk in sanctification and holiness. But the third use of the law, said the reformers and they were right, is to restrain sin in society. And God's law does restrain sin and government is to be its enforcer, Romans 13:1, "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God. And those which exist are established by God. Rulers are not a cause for fear for good behavior, but for evil, for government as a minister of God to you for good, but if you do what is evil, be afraid for it doesn't bear the sword for nothing, for government is a minister of God and avenger who brings evil on the one who does evil."

So, what are we saying? There is no God, except the God of the Bible. There is no true morality but the morality of the Bible, there is no true worship, but the worship of the true and living God, the God and father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. There is no personal blessing apart from Him, there is no national blessing apart from honoring Him. And there is no way to Him except through Jesus Christ. All irreligious, immoral, indifferent governments will self-destruct. And that self-destruction is only apparently a self-destruction, it's really a divine judgment. A society that turns from God will be open to all false religions, welcoming the doctrines of demons. The society that turns from God will be open to all moralities and all immoralities, all perverse freedoms, all sexual preferences, all ideas and opinions, all lies, all deception, all sins, all inequities. You might want to call it post-modern, but I think we're at the end of the postmodern era and we're moving fast toward paganism.

There's a new term called research justice. It's social justice has gone to the university in recent years and research justice says if you're a white heterosexual male, your research, no matter what it is, is unacceptable. You're an oppressor, we don't accept your research. This blunts the edge of all advancement and drives us back to tribes in the jungle. Nation that turns from God will lose control of absolutely everything, chaos will begin to take over and it will lead to anarchy and anarchy usually leads to a police State or a dictatorship. We have a reprobate mind, we don't think rationally. If you think rejecting cutting edge scientific advancement, because it comes from a white heterosexual male will advance a society that shows that you have a reprobate mind. That's insanity, that is lunacy. Removing the worship of the true God is a disaster to a nation.

1 Timothy 2:1-2, this is Paul saying, "God desires people to live a quiet and tranquil life." That's not salvation language, that is simply societal peace, wellbeing, enjoyment of common grace. But for that to happen, we have to pray for the leaders who are in authority, pray that they will submit to God, first that they would be saved, that they would submit to God. When God and Christ and scripture are dishonored in a nation, there will be violence, transgressions, and shame. There will not be a tranquil, peaceful life in all godliness and dignity. Joshua 24:20, "If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you." There's no question that God has done good to this nation, but He will consume this nation if it stays on the path it's on. Removing the worship of the true God, removing the authority of His word, the voice of the church, the moral education of children and youth, removing the Gospel because it's too offensive, is the path to national destruction.

God chose Israel and laid out the same realities to Israel and Israel was disobedient and it destroyed Israel and they had a covenant promise from God. Their destruction was not final because God promises to save them in the future. No other nation has such a promise of restoration and national salvation in the future. If God didn't spare Israel, historically, He's not going to spare people who are not part of His covenant. Listen to how broad the Bible says worship of the true God is. Psalm 33:8, "Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the nations of the world, revere Him." Psalm 117:1, "Praise the Lord all you nations and extol Him all you peoples." Now that has to come from leadership. So, Psalm 72:11 says, "Let all Kings bow down before Him and all nations serve Him." All Kings, all nations. You remember the story of the Prophet Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar who thought himself to be God, and he was turned into a beast. For years he wandered in the meadow insane with growing fingernails and animalistic behavior.

Daniel 4:34 says, "At the end of that period, I Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion and His kingdom endures from generation to generation." Nebuchadnezzar said this, "He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth, all His works are true and His ways just, and He's able to humble those who walk in pride." There was a pagan King, so pagan that he tried to paganize Daniel and his three friends unsuccessfully, and God turned him into a reprobate mind acting like a beast until he came to his senses and acknowledged that the Most High is to be praised and honored. His dominion is an everlasting dominion. His kingdom endures from generation to generation.

Turn for a moment to Joshua 10:38, "Joshua and all Israel with him, returned to Debir and they fought against it. He captured it and its King and all its cities and they struck them with the edge of the sword and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah And its king." First thing Joshua does is go into the land of paganism. And he is the executioner of the Lord's wrath. This seems very disturbing to many people who read this in the Old Testament, but none of those kings died under that judgment, who weren't going to die under judgment another way had God not done this. God is the one who destroys both soul and body in hell. He used Joshua as His executioner. Just glance at chapter 12, here are the kings defeated and slain, 31 kings, the end of chapter 12. That is shocking many people that God is an executioner of pagan Kings who have not acknowledged Him.

God is the same God today, it's not to say He is not compassionate and merciful, He is and the Old Testament is clear on that. But for those who reject Him and His offer of forgiveness and salvation, He is the inevitable judge. This puts a huge burden on leadership in a country.

Roger Marsh: I'm Roger Marsh, and you've been listening to Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. Today's broadcast featured the first part of a sermon from Pastor John MacArthur titled, a nation under God. Tune in tomorrow for the remainder of this message. In the meantime, be sure to visit our broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org, to learn more about Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church in Southern California. Again, that's drjamesdobson.org, and then tap on the broadcast tab at the top of the page. Thanks for listening. Hope you'll be with us again next time for another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.

Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
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