One of the most famous speeches of the revolutionary war was delivered in a packed church building. The windows were wide open to allow those gathered outside the church to hear. On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry spoke the famous words, “Give me liberty or give me death,” to colonial delegates and concerned citizens gathered at St. Johns Church near Richmond in the colony of Virginia. Among those who sat in awe of the compelling speech were Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.
Henry recounted the many appeals the colonists had offered to the throne of England and its parliament to “arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and parliament.” Their appeals were “slighted,” producing only “additional violence and insult” and “contempt” from the throne of England. He said, “If we wish to be free – if we wish to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long engaged, … we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!”
England called the colonists weak, particularly in contrast to the superior British military resources. Henry’s famous speech stated, “Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.” He added, “we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God Who presides over the destinies of nations, and Who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.”
With passion and conviction Henry closed his persuasive speech with, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
The colonists fought and won against all odds. Since then the United States of America has basked in the freedoms purchased by their courage, their convictions, their blood and their prayers.
In a few days Americans will celebrate another Independence Day. July 4th will mark the 237th anniversary of our forefathers’ decision to establish a country committed to the values of “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We enjoy the liberties of this celebration only because biblical values dominated the minds and hearts of colonial patriots.
Freedom is not an endemic value of paganism, atheism or liberalism. These worldviews peddle the theories of “license,” all the while believing they are advancing liberty. There is a vast difference between license and liberty. License is a self-indulgent lifestyle. It produces bondage, not liberty.
Freedom is conceived in truth – biblical truth. Therefore it is only through the exercise of truth that freedom can prosper. It advances on the tracks of sacrifice and humility.
Jesus said it this way, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32, NKJV). He expanded our understanding of freedom with an additional statement, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36, NKJV).
The apostle Paul wrote, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2, NKJV). In other words, the only time and the only way I am free to do the right thing is when I am set free from the bondage of sin. As long as an individual or a nation is enslaved to sin, it is never free.
America needs the truth of the gospel if we are to remain free. America also needs bold voices of biblical conviction who value freedom. The preaching of biblical truth gave birth to America through the voices of George Whitefield, Jonathan Mayhew, Samuel Cooper, James Caldwell and many others. President John Adams stated that godly preachers were most influential in the “awakening and revival of American principles” that led to our independence.
If we want to “let freedom ring” again in America, the pulpit must be known for the heralding of truth. Silence is not an option.
I recently purchased a book titled, Tyrants: History’s 100 Most Evil Despots and Dictators. As you would expect, it tells the story of Herod the Great, Nero, Attilla the Hun, Mary I of England, Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, Adoph Hitler, Sadam Hussein, Muammar al-Gaddifi and others. Without exception, not one of the one hundred tyrannical rulers led by biblical truth. Not one permitted freedom to exist under their rule.
Ours is a corrupt land where voices of humanism scream louder than voices of truth.
The hypocritical cries for “tolerance” have given birth to the exercise of tyranny toward voices of dissent. Christians are being pressured into silence in unprecedented attacks on Christianity and the Bible.
The “scandal de jour” headlining the news should cause grave concerns for every Christian. Each scandal is exposing the threat to personal freedoms and to the general principles of a free nation. We are dangerously close to the extinction of freedom in America. Are we paying attention, or do we somehow find selfish solace in blindly following political pied pipers?
Christians are the salt that prevents decay and corruption. If we do not speak up now, it will soon be too late. If we do not speak up, no one else will.