How can we restore America? By recovering the original Pilgrim and Puritan vision of America as a shining "city upon a hill."
Those first Christian settlers who stepped ashore on the beaches of Massachusetts were not just religious refugees attempting to avoid persecution. They had a compelling vision: to put the Bible into practice and create a self-governing society with liberty and justice for every soul. They were missionaries, intent on creating a Bible-based commonwealth that would be an example to the rest of the world — that would, as Abraham Lincoln would later phrase it, "hold out a beacon of hope to all men of all time to come."
But we have lost that vision — we seem no longer to know who we are or why we are here. We seem to have developed a serious case of national amnesia, a loss of our collective memory. That means that in order to restore America we have to recover the truth about America's Christian heritage and God's hand in our history. For example, Patrick Henry, a Founding Father and strong evangelical Christian, said that "It cannot be too often repeated, or too strongly emphasized that America was not founded by religionists nor on any religion, but by Christians on the Gospel of Jesus Christ." John Adams, our second President, spoke for all the Founding Fathers when he spoke these words to the Massachusetts Militia in 1798: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
Adams is telling us that unless we have a rebirth of the Spirit of God in each new generation of Americans, our Constitution will not work, and we will not be able to have a society with liberty and justice for all. Why? The simple reason is that in order to have a just society we have to care for our neighbor. But the Bible tells us that every human being is born with a sinful and fallen nature — we are by nature self-centered. So, in order for us to care about our neighbors we need an infusion of the Spirit of God that will enable us to properly love others.
How amazing it would be if the Spirit of God swept through the land addressing our nation’s moral and spiritual crisis! Imagine a nation-wide revival of such historic proportions that it could only be called the Third Great Awakening!
How can we get such a spiritual revival? We must put 2 Chronicles 7:14 into practice: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14).
This scripture clearly puts the burden of restoring America on the Church — "my people!" Revival must start with the recovery of the dynamic power of true New Testament Christianity in the life of every believer in Jesus Christ.
When God's people begin to seriously live out 2 Chronicles 7:14, they must confront their "wicked ways." What might some of these “ways” be?
Many of us are in a defensive posture toward the world around us, whereas Jesus calls us to take the offensive by going into the world with the Good News of the Gospel. We must recover the zeal of our evangelical forefathers, who in the 19th century began new ministries to every social problem in the nation! When we Christians focus both on Jesus as Savior and Lord and our identities as sons and daughters of the King, an explosion of outreach, ministry and mission is a natural outcome.
Notice that there seems to be a natural progression through these three stages, which together make up God's plan for revival and restoration (see Acts, Chapter 2).
Is there hope for America? Yes! Turning things around doesn't require every citizen's response. God promised Abraham long ago that He would spare Sodom on behalf of ten righteous people, a tiny remnant. But our national healing will not automatically happen just because we pray for it. If we American Christians truly respond to God's call, we may yet see the nation-wide revival that will restore America. But the hour is late, and we must respond quickly.
The late Rev. Peter Marshall (1940-2010) was a Presbyterian minister who for over forty years gained national recognition as a preacher on Christian growth and discipleship.
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