ALLEGIANCE TO THE LAMB

22 Jun

The Fourth of July is about so much more than hotdogs, cook outs, swimming and fireworks. The 4th of July is about a country founded, rooted and established on Christian principles…. In keeping with that tradition, I like to remind us of some of the words our founding fathers said in this regard.

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or to often that this great nation was founded not but religionists but by Christians, not on religion but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
— Patrick Henry

“Do not let anyone claim tribute of American patriotism if they even attempt to remove religion from politics.”

— George Washington Farewell Address to Nation

“The 1st amendment has created a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall, it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government.”

— President Thomas Jefferson in an address to Danbury Baptists.

“We have no government armed with power cable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people… it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other…”

— John Adams

So you can see that despite what modern politicians, the contemporary media or the history revisionists say – America was founded not on the concept of freedom to worship[ any God (Buddha, Allah..etc) but on the freedom to worship Jesus Christ.

Let’s take a moment to look briefly at the parallel between our founding father’s allegiance to this country and our allegiance to the lamb, Jesus Christ the Son of God. First we will look at them, “the patriots” and then us, “the Christians.”

“THE PATRIOTS”

For more than 14 months after the Battle at Lexington and Concord (April 19, 1775) the patriots fought not for their independence but rather they fought for their rights within the British Empire. Rights that had been gradually taken away before, and even more after, the Boston Tea Party. And hundreds of Americans gave their lives to regain these rights, four hundred alone died at the battle of Bunker Hill.

It was during this time of conflict that Patrick Henry, the fiery politician from Virginia, gave his famous speech before the Virginia Provincial Convention…Here is how he concluded it:

“3 million people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the Destiny of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battle for us. Battle sir, is not to the strong alone, it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

Besides sir, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged. There clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable — and let it come. I repeat it, sir let it come!

It is in vain, sir to extenuate the matter. Gentleman may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war has actually begun! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?

What is it that gentleman wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. Forbid it, almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death.”

Then early in the summer of 1776 at a meeting of the continental congress on July 2, 1776, the colonies voted to announce and declare, that they would accept nothing less than absolute freedom from England.

Two days later on July 4th, after making some minor adjustments to the text, the final wording was ratified and signed by the 56 members, representing the 13 colonies. John Adams who was a member of the drafting committee was so excited with the vote on July 2nd that he wrote his wife back home in Massachusetts a letter saying,

“The second of July 1776 will be the most memorable day in the history of America; I believe it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival, with shows, games, sports, balls, bon fires and illuminations, from one end of the country to the other, from this time forward and forever more…”

Except for the date, for we celebrate the day that congress approved the final wording of the declaration (July 4), John Adams was a pretty amazing prophet.

After the declaration was signed couriers took copies of it to George Washington who was with his troops in New York — and on July 9th the declaration was read before the militia troops who were out in the fields.

Understand, this was a bold declaration, in it, the Americans were challenging the most powerful empire of the world at the time. And the Americans entered the war without a Navy or an Army. Their fighting forces consisted only of militia units in the various colonies. These citizen soldiers were ready to defend their home and families when danger threatened. The colonies could call up malitia men for service ranging from a few days to a few months.

On the other side, England had an army of well trained highly disciplined soldiers. They made a bold declaration — they had pledged their life and their allegiance to their country.

b. And They Paid A High Price

After the Americans declared their independence, they had to win it by force. The task proved especially difficult, partly because the people never fully united behind the war effort. A large number of colonists (about 1/3) remained unconcerned about the outcome of the war, they were indifferent and supported neither side.

And as many as 1/3 of the population sympathized with Great Britain, the called themselves loyalists (the patriots called them “Torries,” the name of the political group in great Britain that adamantly supported the King). These problems meant that victory in the Revolutionary War, depended on patriots who made up less than 1/3 of the entire population.

Approximately 7,200 Americans were killed in battle during the war, 8,200 were wounded, 10,000 died from disease & exposure (nearly 3,000 men died at valley Forge alone), An additional 6,500 died in prison after being captured and 1,400 soldiers were listed as missing.

What about the 56 men who signed the declaration of Independence? Did they pay a price for pledging their allegiance? They sure did, their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families. Of the 56 men, 5 were captured by the British and tortured before they died. 12 had their homes ransacked and burned. 2 lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army. Another 2 sons were captured. 9 of the 56 fought and died from wounds of hardship of the war. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in poverty. At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelsons home for his headquarters. Nelson quietly ordered George Washington to open fire on his home. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt. John Hart was driven from his wife’s beside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields were destroyed. For over a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home only to find his wife had died and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion.

Now, it’s one thing to make a bold declaration in the comfort of a congressional meeting, but it’s quit another to pay the price, to fulfill that declaration on the field of battle, to pay with blood; – yours – your families – and your neighbors…

Our founding fathers made a bold declaration – they paid a high price.

… and they reaped a great reward.

The war that began on April 19, 1775, officially ended when the treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, nearly 2 years after the Great Battle at Yorktown, where 10,000 troops laid down their arms and General Cornwallis hid in a cave.

The Americans made a bold declaration.
They paid a high price.
And they reaped a great reward – they won their freedom, their independence…

And a particular kind of nation was established, a nation where every human being could be free, and have something to say about how they were governed.

But not only did the patriots win their freedom, but at the treaty of Paris in 1783, the US territory doubled in size, as Britain gave the new nation all of the land to the east of the Mississippi River.

And though many signers of that Great Declaration paid a high price, others reaped a great reward. Two of the signers became Presidents, ten became US Congressman, nineteen became Judges, sixteen became Governors and dozens of others held other high political offices — not to mention the enduring place they hold in our history…..)

The Patriots made the pledge; paid the price and reaped the reward (freedom, a new land, new country a bright future, a bright future – a new beginning)

“THE CHRISTIAN”

We also made a bold declaration.

Do you remember the day, when you stood before the body of Christ, when you came forward and confessed Jesus as your Lord & Savior, when you stood before the body proclaiming your desire; to be a Christian, to be united with Christ, to be bathed in his blood. Courageously announcing, that nothing but absolute independence from the shackles of sin and the ways of this world would be acceptable.

Do you remember the day “fellow Christians” when you made that good confession, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and I receive Him as my Lord and Savior.” When you repented of your sins and were buried with Christ in baptism and were raised to live a new life. In doing this, you were making a bold declaration.

You were at that time pledging your allegiance – your devotion, your loyalty, your dedication, your commitment, your very life, to the Lamb of God, to Jesus Christ. Understand that you were at that time proclaiming what Paul proclaimed in Galatians 2:20;

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave himself for me…”

Friends it is a very bold declaration to say, that you will no longer, live for yourself, that you will no longer, seek your will for your life, that you will no longer, live for the things of the world (power, pleasure, popularity and possessions). But rather that you will seek God’s will for your life, seeking to do what pleases him far and above what pleases you! Declaring that he comes first.

Yes it is a very bold declaration to say that you will live for him who died for you… And if you are here today and a Christian, you have made that declaration.

This declaration is as bold and as powerful as the one Joshua made in Joshua 24:14,15. You remember that one don’t you? God’s people had conquered the promise land and were beginning to settle down.

“Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

When you came to Christ.
When you pledged your allegiance to the lamb.
You were making a very bold declaration.

And like the patriots, you must also pay a high price.

It’s one thing, to make a bold declaration in the comfort of a church building, but it is quit another to live up toit. To pay the price. To fulfill that declaration on the battlefields of our daily lives. Most times saying words is the easy part, the actions are much tougher.

You know, on that day when Joshua made his bold declaration, he was not alone, others also did, they said the same words (within the comfort of the assembly).

“Then the people answered, `far be it for us to forsake the Lord and serve other gods!…We too will serve the Lord, because He is our God…” Josh 24:16,18

What a declaration by the nation of Israel, they were pledging their allegiance to God – but
tragically, it didn’t last long. All you have to do is turn the page over to the book of Judges, and you will see recorded how God’s people quickly turned away from him….

“Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.”
— Judges 2:11,12

Understand wars are not won by those who only make declarations, who only make claims, who only speak words. No victory is seldom achieved by those who lift only their voices.

Unfortunately we who are in the Lord’s Army find just like the patriots found, in the American Revolution, that our war (for many reasons) is hard to win. For one , in our bold declaration we are challenging an empire that is very powerful. We are declaring war against; “the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world, we are taking a stand against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…” THERE ARE real battles to be fought, real struggles to over come. We are called in scripture to; “finish the race,” “to fight the good fight,” “to endure hardships like a good soldier.”

YES WE ARE in a real war (and we have a real enemy, and he does not like it when someone, opposes, challenges, defies him) and our enemy (satan) will attack us, pursue us, tempt us, he will try to make sin look good. He will at times, come at us head on just like a roaring lion, and at other times he will appear as an angel of light.

And not only is the war hard to win because we have an enemy but another reason is because not everyone is committed to the war effort, not everyone who claimed Jesus as their Lord one day in the assembly, has lived up to it in their daily lives.

A final reason our war is hard is because others are like that a third of the colonists and are unconcerned about the outcome of the war… They are indifferent. They are uninvolved. Now they may not directly hinder the war effort and they will certainly want to take part in any benefits, but they will not join in, they will not leave their comfort and safety, they simply watch and critique from the sidelines.

Let’s make no mistake about it – there is a high price to pay to fulfill our declaration – THAT JESUS IS OUR LORD…. Our Lord demands total, radical, unswerving allegiance and the fact that he does, is no secret, Jesus made this clear to us when he walked the earth……

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the father and of the holy angels…” Lk 9:23-26

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mothr, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple… any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple….” Lk 14:25-27,33

Now that’s pretty clear

There are also severe warnings in scripture about those who merely make the declaration, who speak only the words… Who only make the claim…

“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `lord, Lord did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Lk 7:21-23

“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for anything good.” Titus 1:16

What is it that gets in the way of people keeping and fulfilling their declaration? I think most meant it when they gave it. I don’t think they were lying about it, they had good intentions. So what is it then that gets in the way?

The answer can be found in just one simple word….

“SELF”

“WE” get in the way, our pride, our opinion, our desires, our comfort, our convenience, our will, our way…… Many will say “I pledge allegiance to the lamb” but in reality their allegiance is still to self.

That’s why Jesus said we must pick up our cross, and deny self daily in order to be his disciples. What do you think Jesus means by the term pick up your cross, (My job, my husband, my wife, my kids, my good looks…..)

To the people is Jesus day picking up ones cross meant only one thing…..DEATH.

“I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and I receive as my Savior and Lord….”

That’s a bold declaration

And to pick up your cross daily, to deny self, to die to self….. is a high price to pay.

But the reward we shall reap is a great one —- is worth it!!!!

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set free…” Jn 8:32

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed…” Jn 8:36

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..”
-Rm 8:1

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us….” Rm 8:18

“He has given us new birth into a living hope…and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you…” 1 Pe 1:3,4

Not only will they win their freedom — freedom from sin, death and condemnation (no small thing)

But a particular kind of church will be established, where all people can come to know Jesus as Lord…. A place:
where the good news will be preached to the poor
where freedom will be proclaimed to those in captivity
where recovery of sight will be proclaimed to the blind
a place where the burdened and oppressed will be released
a place of hope for the hopeless
a place of joy despite circumstances
of peace beyond understanding
a place of love, forgiveness, healing and acceptance
a place of new beginnings…….

And that is not all. One day we will reap what is perhaps the greatest reward of all. One day we will stand before the Lord and all His glory and receive the crown of life which he gives to those who love him and long for his coming….

And we will hear those most precious words of the ages;

“Well done they good and faithful servant, come and share your masters happiness…”

And we will in our new body, join that great heavenly choir that is circled around the Lamb;
Revelation 7:9-17

The declaration is bold “Jesus is my Lord”
The price is high “Die to self”
But the reward is great

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