Biblical Citizenship in Modern America, Week 3-Part 3 – The Sacrifice For Freedom: Who were the men who pledged (and gave) their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor…so we could have our freedom? Since their sacrifice, millions have given their all so we could be free. How do we honor their sacrifice? How do we preserve our freedom for future generations? For what will you give your one life? Tune in to hear this important, inspiring message!
Air Date: 04/20/2022
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Faith and the Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s WallBuilders Live, taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. And today is part three in Biblical Citizenship in Modern America. It’s actually week three of Biblical Citizenship and part three of week three, but I know that sounds incredibly confusing, so just enjoy. You’re going to learn a lot listening to today’s program.
And if you go to our website at wallbuilderslive.com, you can dive into the archives and get parts one and two of this four part series where we’re sharing with you the third week of Biblical Citizenship. If you want the whole thing, all eight weeks, you can become a coach for free, check it out at patriotacademy.com. But right now, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday, with Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.
The Precious Gift of Freedom
People are wanting the government to provide everything in their lives, and the government is there to actually protect your rights, not to provide you with things, because it allows you to self-actuate, to choose your own path in life. I use the Wright brothers as a great example, two bicycle mechanics.
If you think about two bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio achieved what for centuries, scientists and engineers could not achieve, is because of the freedom that they have to be able to as some people say, go outside the box. But I think the Wright brothers didn’t have a box whatsoever. And that’s the freedom that you get in this nation.
We have to realize how precious the freedom is that we have. And it is the ability, the freedom, frankly, the duty, the opportunity to be able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with our friends, with our families, in our churches, in our homes, and in the public square. And so that’s really how you exercise it. That’s how you preserve your freedom, is you exercise your freedom.
We had a unique system that said, we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There’s no other system in the history of the world like that, where we said our rights come from God, and not from government. But then they said to secure these rights, governments exist among men. So we have government to secure life, liberty, and property; life, liberty and property help us pursue happiness, creating and creating is how we glorify God.
Welcome to Constitution Alive right here in Independence Hall from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are in the room where both the Constitution and the Declaration were adopted. This is exciting for me. I hope it’s exciting for you. We’re very honored to be able to be in this room. I’m actually standing in the in the very spot where American giants like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others, actually had the courage to light the torch of freedom.
I don’t think I can get across to you how excited I am about this. I kind of feel like and I use sports analogies a lot, so forgive me for that. But I feel like that kid that has finally met their hero, and they’re about to get the autograph of their favorite ball player ever, because being in this room is as close as I’m ever going to get to actually shaking the hands of the Founding Fathers.
So this is if I’m a little bit gitty, you’ll just have to forgive me tonight, I’m more excited than I thought I would be. I knew I’d be excited. But I’m just kind of in awe of what we’re about to do. So I can’t help, but think as I’m coming in here tonight and I know it wasn’t a true story. I know it’s a bunch of fiction in there.
But I was kind of thinking about National Treasure. Remember that movie? You know, Nicolas Cage is running into Independence Hall, he finds those secret spectacles of Benjamin Franklin and they’re able to see the secret and decode the message on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
And I know we’re not going to find any secret spectacles of Benjamin Franklin. We’re not going to see any secret messages on the back of the Declaration. But I can promise you tonight, what we will find on the front side of the Declaration and the Constitution, in those words that were made available for the whole world to see.
We’re going to find, we’re going to rediscover the secret sauce of American exceptionalism. We’re going to find that formula, rediscover, and reestablish that formula that made America so successful.
So, thank you for joining me tonight and being part of it. Those men that gathered in this room on those two occasions and put those documents in place, it wasn’t enough just to write those words. The words of the Declaration would just be words on paper in some attic somewhere collecting dust.
If it hadn’t been for the men that sat in this room, and were willing to stand for the things that they were saying, willing to bring the words to life by literally putting their lives on the line, and as overwhelmed as I am to be in this room tonight in the day that we live in, I can only imagine what it would have been like to be in here in this room whenever they signed the Declaration of Independence, when they were willing to put their lives behind the words that they were saying.
Now, I know we always read in history. It was July 4th, of course, the only guys to sign those few days between the first and the fourth was actually Secretary Thompson and John Hancock, the president of Congress. The rest of the guys came back in here on August 2, there was three or four other guys that didn’t sign till later, but most all of them came in here on August 2nd.
What Was it Like?
You can imagine that’s a little bit different date. I mean, that’s a little bit different occasion. It’s one thing to vote and say, hey Hancock, want you put your name on that document, send it over to King George. It’s another thing to put your name on the line knowing that King George’s coming after you after you put your name there. And they did that.
They gathered here and I love the letter that Benjamin Rush wrote to John Adams. These guys corresponded a lot after the revolution. And Rush described in this letter what it was like to be in this room that day when they signed the Declaration of Independence. And Rush reminded Adams, he said, you know, when we came in, many believe that it would be our death warrant. He said, no one said a word as they were called for. He said it was totally silent.
And Secretary Thompson from the front of the room started on his ride over here with New Hampshire and he said Josiah Bartlett of New Hampshire. Bartlett got up, he came forward, he took the pen, he dipped it in the ink and he signed in total silence the Declaration of Independence. He went back and he sat down, and one-by-one they came.
John Hart of New Jersey, you can just imagine as they came forward and took the pen out of that silver inkwell and dipped it in the ink and you could hear that pen scratching along the surface of the Declaration. Well, no one said anything, one-by-one they came. And finally, Elbridge Gerry got up to come forward and the silence was broken.
Elbridge Gerry was not a well-known founding father. We don’t talk much about him today at all. He went on to be vice president later.
But only thing you need to know about him, for this particular story is that Elbridge Gerry was the smallest of the Founders. I mean, he was a little guy. He was not the towering a seven-foot tall like figure that that stands before you here speaking tonight. What are you laughing? Okay, so alright, I’m a little guy. Okay, I’m 5’8 with my boots on, alright. This guy was even smaller than me. And he gets called forward to sign the Declaration.
The Men Who Gave Their All
And then this guy, Benjamin Harrison, Colonel Benjamin Harrison from over here from Virginia, big guy, I mean, he was the largest of the Founders, he hollers out of Gerry just as Gerry’s about to sign. Now this is the most important political moment in the history of the world. And this is a serious occasion.
The big guy from the back of the room says the little man up front, he says, I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we’re hung for what we’re now doing, by the size and great weight of my body well I’ll be dead in a minute or two, but by the lightness of yours, you’re going to dance in the air for an hour or more before you’re finally dead.
Only words spoken during… well, after the signing, they do say, some say that Franklin said, who sat here, he said, you know, we better all hang together or else we’ll surely hang separately. So I mean, they knew what they were doing when they signed the document.
I tell you those two things, because, like, it’s important for us to know that those guys that were in here, they knew what they were doing. They knew this was going to be a death warrant. They knew that by putting their name on the dotted line, they would have to give it all. And I love the fact that when they came up and took that pen and dipped it in the ink, when they signed, it was right beneath that final sentence.
It says “In support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” Those were true patriots. They were sinners. They were fallen. They made terrible mistakes, just like all of us. But they were patriots because they didn’t just get excited, sign the petition, go home, forget about it.
These guys stood by their signature, every single one of them. They did not back down, not one of them failed to follow through on the commitment that they had made. In fact, when you think about the sacrifice that they made, all 56 of them giving of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in one way or another, some of them literally given their lives, many of them giving their entire fortunes, some of them lost their wives, lost their sons, they sacrificed a lot for us to be free, so that generations later we could be free.
I think sometimes we forget that our freedom’s not free. We forget that there have been those that came before us that paid the ultimate price for us to be able to enjoy these blessings of liberty we talk so much about it. It didn’t stop in this room. When these guys with that torch of freedom, there were others that had to come alongside that had to rally to the course.
Needing a Spy
In fact, I love what happened a few months later. After Washington had begun to finally get his ragtag bunch together and began to be able to do some things and he had freed Boston and now a few months after the signing of the Declaration in September of 1776, he’s actually in New York City. And in New York, you’ve got a situation where the British have attacked Staten Island, they defeated us at Long Island, and they’ve pushed Washington back to Manhattan. And now Washington’s kind of dug in there, he’s trying to figure out what to do next.
He needs to know where the British are going to move next. He needs to know where their troop fortifications are, where their movements are, where they may attack next. He doesn’t know any of this and there’s only one way he’s going to get that kind of information. George Washington needs a spy. But in 1776, a spy was not what we think of the day. I don’t know about you.
When I think of a spy today, I think of a secret agent. I think of one of these cool guys like Bond or Born. Or you know, I’m thinking of these guys that dress cool. They got all the gadgets. They act cool. They talk cool. I mean, they have gadgets that will allow them to accomplish any mission impossible.
I mean, these guys can actually, with their gadgets, they can run down the side of a mile high building without any problem. And even when they don’t have the gadgets, I mean, you got to watch out because these guys can kill you with a paperclip or a toothpick or magazine, it doesn’t matter. They’re going to take care of you.
And they never lose their cool. Chaos all around them, they can still ask for a martini shaken, not stirred. I mean, I don’t know how they do it. But I mean, all these guys, that’s not what it was like 1776. Alright, that’s our movies it sounds pretty.
Go back to 1776. Man, if you were a spy, you were the lowest of the low. You weren’t a military hero. You are a hired gun. You were not somebody that either side trusted.
And Washington knew that. He knew that if he sent one of those types of folks, they’re going to be killed upon capture. He wasn’t even sure he get the right information back. What Washington wanted, was he wanted one of his trusted officers to step up and volunteer for this mission. But he wasn’t about to demand it of them He wasn’t going to demand such a demeaning and dangerous mission.
Honoring Their Sacrifice
So if you were killed on the battlefield, that was honoring that. If you were captured as a spy and hung, no honor in that, your legacy was destroyed, your reputation was ruined. So Washington is trying to figure out how to do this talking to some of his officers. One of these guys gets an idea. And he goes back to his tent, and he’s got a bunch of his officers there in his tent.
And in hushed tones, Colonel Tom Knowlton is telling these guys why he needs somebody to step up and take care of what the general needs. Nobody’s willing. In fact, Knowlton finally gives up, he turns to leave.
He’s going to head back to General Washington and tell him he’s failed. And as he turns to leave, this kid standing at the door had come to the meeting late, he was actually ill with a fever, so he arrived at the meeting late. And as Knowlton is about to leave, this kid steps forward, and he says, I will undertake the mission.
Now to really understand what’s happening in this tent, you got to understand this was not your ordinary group of officers. This was not your ordinary soldier at the door. In fact, these men were Colonel Tom Knowlton’s Rangers. These were the original Special Forces. This was the first group of Army Rangers. They had recently been put together by Washington. These were the guys that were the Special Forces.
Now the only way for me to wrap my head around that and living in the day that I live in and trying to think about the revolutionary era guys, Special Forces, I got to think like this, okay, maybe you can join me in this. Just think Chuck Norris with a ponytail, okay, that’s the only way I can get my head around that. Okay, so you get the Special Forces guys, all these guys with their ponytails, they’ve gathered in the tent and Knowlton is trying to find a volunteer.
Well, the guy at the door is none other than Captain Nathan Hale. He’s only 21 years old, 21 years old. Now this is a guy that had graduated from Yale at 18.
He had studied for the ministry, went to become a teacher for a few years, and he’s teaching in New London, Connecticut. And while he’s teaching there, the war breaks out, Lexington and Concord happens. Now he’s only just halfway through his 19th year when Lexington and Concord breaks out, so he’s still a teenager basically.
But when he hears about Lexington and Concord, he shows up at the town hall meeting there in his hometown to discuss what’s happening. And this is 19 year old stands up in front of his community. And he says to them, he said we should take up arms, we should march immediately and not lay down those arms until we’ve achieved independence.
Independence, I mean, nobody uttered the word independent in his hometown yet. But this young man shakes his community from that colonial submission, shakes the hands of his students, and he marches off to war.
And now here we are, a year and a half later, he finds himself outside this tent of Colonel Milton’s and a buddy of his is actually there. He’s also an officer, a guy named William Hull, Captain William Hull had gone to school with him at Yale. And so Hull is trying to talk Captain Hale out of this. He said, you’re never going to succeed at this. There’s no way you’ll accomplish the mission.
He said, first of all, he said, Hale, you’re too honest. There’s no way you’re going to be a good spy. You can’t lie. You’re going to fail on the mission. Secondly, this is an impossible mission. There’s no way you’re going to achieve. And even he said, even if you succeed, your reputation is going to be ruined.
Your legacy is ruined. Don’t do it. There’s no honor in it, he said, Well, Captain Hale said there is honor in any mission necessary for the cause of freedom. I will do my duty. Takes off, dresses once again as a teacher, gets across enemy lines and acts like he’s a teacher looking for work.
So he goes around the New York there and for about a week he’s mapping out the locations of the British troops. And he gets all of their fortifications, their movements, he gets all down on paper, stuffs that in his shoe. Then he’s sneaking back across enemy lines, and he’s captured. Evidence is right there on his person.
Words That Change the World
There’re no denying what he’s there for. So literally, that night, they sentenced him to hang the next morning. And so that night, he’s contemplating his fate. He’s saying, look, I failed the mission, I failed the General, I failed the cause I love so much. What can I possibly do?
Well, he asked for member of the clergy, he’s denied, he asked for a Bible, he’s denied. He finally gets a couple of pieces of paper and he’s able to write a couple of letters. And as he’s writing these letters, he purposes within his heart to do the only thing left that that he can do to help the cause.
And so the next morning, they’re marching him out and the crowd is beginning to gather to witness the hanging. They give him a chance to say a few last words and a lot of different people wrote different things about what he said.
Apparently, he gave a pretty long speech. I mean, this 21 year old actually gave an impassioned speech about freedom about what the American cause of liberty was all about. And he’s reaching back into kind of the days of college where he was actually a great orator, he’s reaching back into the rhetoric and some of the things that he had read then, including right here, Joseph Addison’s Cato had been a big influence on Washington and the others.
And Hale had read that in college and so here he’s given this speech, and these British soldiers are heckling, they’re marketing. They’re saying, you’re wasting your life. They’re saying, you’re throwing your life away on a worthless course, you cannot succeed. You’re wasting your life.
And then, of course, Nathan Hale said those words that we’ve heard over, and over and over again. He said, I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country, one life to give. He accomplished more in that moment than he ever could have with all that intelligence he was bringing back, because those words would be repeated over and over again among the American ranks.
They would encourage those that were thinking about not re-upping to re-up and stay in. They encouraged others to get in and fight. And for generations, we’ve used those words to inspire generations to be willing to give of themselves for others, sometimes to pay the ultimate price in sacrifice: one life to give.
We all have but one life to give, don’t we? That’s all we get. The question is for what will we give our one life? We’re blessed in America that every generation, it seems there’s enough that are willing to be involved to participate to sacrifice, not just give their life on the battlefield which is huge, of course, but also to live their life and live out the freedom that others paid for.
Alright, quick break, folks, we’ll be right back, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man, the classes are boring, or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago, or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the constitution was framed.
We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.
We call it the Quickstart Guide to the Constitution, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s constitution, you’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic.
It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. We’re going to dive right back into Biblical Citizenship in Modern America.
BIBLICAL CITIZENSHIP IN MODERN AMERICA
As I think back to these guys in this room, to Nathan Hale, and those throughout the revolutionary period, fast forward to even now, guys like Michael Murphy, the Navy SEAL that received the medal of honor after giving his life and so many of these guys, and really, when you look back over America’s history, you think about all of those that sacrifice, the millions that served, 1.2 million that gave it all, that gave their one life for you, for me, for us to be able to enjoy this room tonight.
You know, the Good Book says that there’s no greater love that any man has and that he laid down his life for his friends, in this case, for his country. And those who serve in our military and in our first responders and on the frontlines here in America as well, they are willing to give their one life for us.
And I think about that book that James Bradley wrote about his dad, the “Flags of Our Fathers” from Iwo Jima, my wife, her grandfather, got a Purple Heart at Iwo Jima. And it really struck me when he talked about that makeshift monument there at Iwo Jima.
It said, “When you go home, tell them for us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.” We gave our one life so you could be free. I don’t know about you. But I’ve always struggled with how to honor those that came before me. I’ve always struggled with how to obey the biblical commandment that says render honor to whom honor is due. But I think those that sacrifice and that give of themselves for us, they deserve our honor. But I’ve always wondered how?
I mean, you know, when I meet a veteran, I always say thank you for your service, but it seems so empty. It seems like I’m not, I mean, how do I honor that they were willing to give their life for me? I had kind of an epiphany moment, if you will when I was sitting in a movie theater several years ago.
You might have saw the movie remember the movie “Saving Private Ryan”, How many of you all saw that movie “Saving Private Ryan”? You remember the storyline, right? This kid has lost all his brothers. He’s 19 years old, his brothers have all been killed in action.
The army figures this out, they want to get him out of the theater and get him home. This was the policy after the Sullivan brothers, is actual true story.
And so they’re trying to get him home to his family as the last surviving son, but they can’t find him. And so Tom Hanks, his character is guy named Captain Miller and his job is to get in there with his team, find a Private Ryan, 19 year old Ryan and get him home to his family. And so throughout the movie, these guys on Captain Miller’s team keep getting knocked off. They’re given their life. They’re sacrificing their lives for this one kid Private Ryan.
And so throughout the movie, you keep seeing all these guys sacrifice a lot. And then at the end of the movie, Captain Miller finds Private Ryan, they’re just about to get him out and Captain Miller gets shot, he dies. But just before he dies, he grabs this kid, this 19 year old that they had all given their lives for.
He pulls him in real close and he said two words, not just to Private Ryan, I think to every one of us in this room, all of you at home watching, he said “Earn this”, earn this. They had given their lives for him and they’re saying to him, earn the freedom that we’ve sacrificed for.
And only as Hollywood can do it, they morphed from that young 19 year old Private Ryan to 50 or 60 years later and elderly Private Ryan has come back and he’s visiting the grave of Captain Miller. And I remember him kneeling down and he said to Captain Miller, he said, tell me I’ve lived a good life, tell me I’ve lived a life worthy of the sacrifice that you made for me, “earn this”. I think it’s time for us to earn the freedom.
Some of you that have joined me tonight, you put your lives on the line, you sacrificed for my freedom. You were willing to give your life. Many that are at home watching willing to do that, we want to earn the freedom that we’ve been given. How do we do that? I think Abraham Lincoln probably said it better than anybody.
“From These Honored Dead We Take Increased Devotion to the Cause…”
He said, it is from these honored dead that we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. But these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and the government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth.
He said the way we honor those that came before us is we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, the course they started right here in this room, the course of liberty, the course of freedom, we increase our devotion to that course, that’s how we honor what they did for us.
And that’s why we’re here tonight. We’re here to honor them and to say, look, they gave their one life for us. What can we do? What can we as citizens do? How do we give our lives, live our lives, if you will, in a way that honors the sacrifice that came before us?
Well, we start right here by saying what was it that these guys put together? What was the secret sauces formula that made our nation’s so free and so successful? And then what’s our job? What can we do to help preserve it for future generations? I don’t want you to leave this class saying oh, that was kind of neat.
You know, we got to come in and see where it all began. Or you know, we learned some stories about the Founders we didn’t know, and then go home and forget about it. I don’t want anybody watching these DVDs and just saying okay, that was kind of neat, we did that in our living room, our Sunday school class or wherever we watched it and go home. No. No.
My prayer is that you guys and ladies leave tonight that those watching at home and those on the webinar tonight, that this is over, you have a burden. I want you to have a sense of responsibility that it is up to you to preserve this freedom for the next generation. In fact, I’m going to make a statement to you that you may think is a little bit overblown.
My wife would probably say it’s cheesy. She calls me the king of Velveeta sometimes. She just thinks I’m cheesy sometimes. But I think it’s absolutely true it’s this, the fate of the free world depends on you,, faith of the free world depends on you. Now you might say alright, guys, you know, you’re exaggerating, that’s overblown.
How many of you would agree the fate of the free world depends on America? Would you agree with me on that? How many of you understand that the fate of America depends upon her constitutional principles being upheld and preserved and protected? And how many would agree that the fate of her constitutional principles being upheld and preserved and protected depends upon the first three words of the Constitution, which is what? We, the people.
The Fate of the Free World Depends On…You
So if the fate of the free world depends on America, if America depends upon our constitutional principles, if our constitutional principles depend upon we the people, then friends, the fate of the free world depends on you. And so we’re here to challenge ourselves to dig deep into these documents to say, okay, what’s my job?
What do I go do as a citizen to preserve freedom? And I tell you, I’m seeing more of this than I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 15 years.
But I’ve never seen the level of activity in our nation. I’ve never seen so many people coming out to say, hey, I want to learn about the Founding Fathers. I want to know what freedom is all about. I want to know what the Constitution said.
How many of you seen all these bumper stickers, I mean, driven by cars bumper sticker said, “Read the Constitution”? Anybody seen one of those? Okay, guy like me, I see that bumper sticker, I’m honking okay, I’m sorry I get excited when I see that. But we’ve all said that for years, read the Constitution, everybody’s read the Constitution. But we don’t usually do it.
Most people never actually pick it up. I didn’t. I went through law school. It was a legislator. I didn’t read through the Constitution back then. In fact, I’ll tell you what really got me fired up about actually studying the founding documents.
I was sitting in my Capitol office back in Austin, Texas back when I was a legislator, and I’m sitting in my office and I’m reading this poll, and the poll says it was a Texas poll, so if you’re not from Texas, you don’t have to feel bad about this poll. But I’m betting your numbers in your state weren’t even any better. Here’s what the polls said. Poll said that half of Texas, half, could not name one freedom out of the First Amendment. Not even one.
Biblical Citizenship in Modern America, Week 3-Part 3 – The Sacrifice For Freedom
There’s five there that we love, we hold dear, we cherish, we’d fight for, we die for, half of Texans couldn’t even name one of them. 95% could not name two of the five. I was appalled. Then I tried to name them. Then it was me, I couldn’t name them.
And I thought, wow, I’m a legislator, I’m a lawyer, I’m a political junkie, man. I live, breathe and eat this stuff. I’m doing law, and I couldn’t name them. I thought what a shame. If I don’t know what my freedoms are, if I don’t know where they are, how am I going to defend it? How am I going to teach my kids these things if I don’t know myself?
Out of time for today, folks, so tomorrow, we’ll get the conclusion, we’ll get part four of this particular week of Biblical Citizenship. This is the third week in Biblical Citizenship. If you would like all eight weeks, you can get the class for free at patriotacademy.com.
Click on biblical citizenship there and you can become one of our coaches and host that class in your living room or your church. But we’re out of time for today. So check it out today at wallbuilderslive.com. Thanks for listening to WallBuilders Live.