Our Right to Require Belief
Graham says this sermon, preached 50 years ago, still has relevance
BY: Billy Graham
When a national leader turns to God in obvious sincerity, it has a tremendous effect on the whole nation. Think how Mr. Eisenhower thrilled us when he began his first Administration with what he called his "little prayer."
When Alexis de Tocqueville, the great French student of democracy, returned to France after a visit to American, he said to his peers, "Sirs, I went at your bidding. I ascended their mountains. I went down into their valleys. I visited their commercial markets and their emporiums of trade. I entered their legislative halls and their judicial courts. I searched everywhere in vain until I entered a church. It was there, sirs, as I listened to the soul-elevating and soul-equalizing gospel as it fell from sabbath to sabbath upon the waiting multitudes, that I learned why America is great and free."
Again and again the destiny of nations has been determined by acts of God. Yes, American political leaders owe it to our history, owe it to the people, owe it to a possible solution to the present crisis to have faith in God.
I'm not advocating that faith in God is necessary merely for the holding of public office. I believeevery American
should have faith in God. This should be a deep, personal faith. Christ said, "Ye must be born again." We all must have this transforming experience if we are to enter God's kingdom and produce the type of society that our forefathers fought and prayed for. In a democracy, the office holder is only as strong as the people who support him.
Jesus continually condemned the Pharisees of His day who served God with their lips when their hearts were far from Him. Acknowledgment of a belief in God will not turn an officeholder into a saint. There have been plenty of rascals who nodded to the Almighty. Yet there is a restraining influence in belief in God. Belief in God makes men more likely to be truthful under oath. America cannot afford to lose this kind of genuine faith.
As I travel throughout the country, I find that people are suffering from neurosis of fear. A leading psychiatrist told me recently, "Seventy percent of the people that come into my office are afraid, and they don't know what they are afraid of. There is a jaded, banal, and empty feeling on the part of millions. People are searching for a creed to believe, a song to sing and a flag to follow."
It is clear and evident that American needs a renewal of faith in God. But this renewal will have to start with the individual. The Bible teaches that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." We must confess our spiritual failure. There must be deep, genuine repentance. In our faith we must turn to Christ, Who died for our sins and arose again for our justification. If we are humble enough to make this deep and honest confession and commitment, God will forgive our sins and lead us to greater national heights.
In my travels around the world I am convinced that people everywhere are looking to America for moral leadership. Moses was able to lead a nation of slaves to freedom because he had a faith in God. We cannot survive the present crisis with anything less. Faith is not something we stumble upon by accident. It is the projection of reason beyond the limits of present knowledge.
When John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English, he unwittingly outlined prophetically the course of history. For the Bible became not only the book of the English people of his day; it became the foundation of freedom for a nation unborn that would be called America.