The Vital Necessity of Godly Leaders
FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 14, number 1, January 1, 2015
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” -Proverbs 14:34
After the framers and signers of the Declaration of Independence left Philadelphia in early August, 1776 , they in effect went back to their own colonies without state governments. So they began quickly to write their individual state constitutions. Though the Great Awakening had pretty much subsided by 1755, the effects of this mighty movement of God were, twenty years later, still being felt powerfully amongst the leaders of this new nation. While John Locke believed that good laws guaranteed good government, our fathers of American Independence knew that good men were the only guarantee that good laws would mean good government. William Penn put it this way:
Governments, like clocks, go from the motion men give them . . . Wherefore governments rather depend upon men, than men upon governments. Let men be good and the government cannot be bad . . . But if men be bad, the government will never be good . . . I know some say, ‘Let us have good laws, and no matter for the men that execute them.’ But let them consider that though good laws do well, good men do better; for good laws may lack good men . . . but good men will never lack good laws, nor allow bad ones.”
So as these godly men returned home to carve out their own state governments they did so, keenly aware of the vital necessity of godly leaders. Consider Article 22 of the Delaware constitution:
Every person, who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust . . . shall . . . make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit, “I do profess faith in God the father, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore, and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.”
Then there is Chapter II, Section 10 of the Pennsylvania constitution:
And each member of the legislature, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz; “I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.”
I could cite many more such examples, but here’s just one more from “A Constitution or Frame of Government Agreed Upon by the Delegates of the People of the State of Massachusetts Bay”, Chapter VI, Article I:
All persons elected must make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. “I do declare that I believe the Christian religion and have firm persuasion of its truth.”
Considering that many ministers in this country could not or would not subscribe to these declarations of Christian faith, let alone the vast majority of members to our local, state, and Federal governments, is there any wonder why we find ourselves in our present national malaise? Simply put, godly leaders make godly laws and execute them, while ungodly leaders make ungodly laws and execute them. We can go further to say that ungodly leaders not only execute ungodly laws but they also resist efforts to promote godly laws.
On January 6 members of the 114th Congress will be sworn into office and, from what I know, some of these are godly men and women who could wholeheartedly confess the qualifications originally required by Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Gary Palmer, a long time member of Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, is one such man. Gary was elected in November to the United States House of Representatives in a landslide victory. Gary founded the Alabama Policy Institute some twenty-five years ago, a conservative think tank which has helped frame policy issues in Alabama from a Biblical perspective. Gary is widely respected as a godly, humble man who knows “his stuff”. I recently spoke with Gary and he asked that I/we pray for him and the other members of Congress, that they will honor the Lord in their leadership of our nation.
The issues we face as a nation cannot be reduced to partisan politics. This is not about lamenting when our party of choice no longer has a majority, or smugly relaxing when our party is in power. Both of our national parties are seriously flawed. We have long since abandoned what our framers and signers knew and were careful to protect-the vital necessity of godly leaders.
So, what does this mean as we begin 2015 and as our Congress begins meeting to take up major issues facing our nation? First, be keenly convinced that righteousness, indeed, exalts a nation, gives a nation a place of prominence in the world and before the eyes of God. And the converse is also true-that sin, a nation living in unrepentant sin and debauchery, is a disgrace or shame to any people. Second, be convinced that evil men make evil laws and good men make good laws. If this is true, then pray for God to work in the hearts of our elected leaders and their advisors to make them humble, godly servants of the people. And third, as we move forward in 2015, looking to the national election of 2016 and the other local, state, and national elections of that year, ask God to give us godly men and women to run for political office. By this I don’t mean “godly in word only.” There is no shortage of people like that. I am speaking of men and women who, like Gary Palmer, really know the Lord Jesus, are humble and sacrificial servants, who are statesmen and not politicians, who will put the long term good of our nation ahead of their desire to get elected and stay in office, those who will never compromise Biblical principle.
I am not forgetting the absolute necessity to see a mighty movement of God bring regeneration and conversion to millions of people in this country. Only the gospel can transform the hearts of people. But it is also vital that we have godly leaders who will legislate righteousness and justice for all people. Pray and labor for this in 2015.
1. Only John Hancock, President of Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776. All but one of the other fifty-six signers did so on August 2. Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, page 10.
2. Keys to Good Government: According to Our Founding Fathers, David Barton, pages 4-5.
3. Ibid. pages 5-6.