ON THE LORD’S SIDE
Today, February 12, is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Although the President’s Day holiday is next
Monday, today is the actual anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Most Americans regard Abraham Lincoln as one
of our greatest presidents. He issued
the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.
He preserved the
Perhaps you remember his humble background. He was born to a poor dirt-farming family in
the backwoods of
Because his parents were Baptists, Abraham Lincoln
been baptized as an infant. Baptists do
not baptize babies. In the Baptist
church, only persons who are old enough to accept Jesus as their
Savior and Lord, and who make a voluntary decision to become a
baptized. Had Abraham Lincoln’s parents
been Methodists or Presbyterians or Episcopalians or Lutherans or
Catholics or some
other denomination, he might very well have been baptized as an infant,
might even have become a church member through some kind of
process. But in the Baptist church,
persons become church members only through their personal decision to
Christ and be baptized. Apparently
Because Baptists believe in religious freedom, and only voluntary religious commitment, there is always the chance that some persons, even some who grow up in the church, will not decide to be baptized and join the church. Over the years there have a few young people who came to this church who never came forward to be baptized. Despite the best efforts of Sunday School teachers and my own discipleship classes for youth, some never made a public commitment for Christ. That’s the risk of our church membership system. We believe that accepting Christ must be a purely personal and voluntary decision. Persons should not join a church simply because they are expected to do so. Faith must be personal or voluntary, or it is not faith at all. In the case of some of those individuals, they probably do believe in Jesus, but they never followed through by making a public commitment and being baptized. I certainly haven’t given up on them, and I pray that some day they will make a public commitment to be baptized and join this church, or another church. But that is their choice to make.
It would have been politically expedient for
to have been a church member. In 1846,
when he ran for Congress, his opponent was a circuit-riding Methodist
named Peter Cartwright. Cartwright was
In 1850, after the death of their 4-year-old son,
Mary Lincoln joined the Presbyterian Church, and Abraham regularly
Presbyterian churches in
The Civil War prompted many Americans to question
purposes of God. Both preachers in the
North and preachers in the South claimed that God was on their side. In his Second Inaugural Address,
the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes
His aid against the other.
of both could not be answered; that of neither has been
answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes.
we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war
may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth
piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be
sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another
drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so till it must said,
‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’
The Civil War was not yet over when
When a minister from the North told the President
hoped “the Lord is on our side,”
In the scripture that we read this morning, Joshua
Israelites had crossed the Jordan River and were preparing to begin
warfare against the people of
Joshua had assumed that the Lord would be with
them in all
their battles, but this angel of the Lord had come to remind Joshua
doesn’t choose sides. Rather, it is up
to us to choose sides. It is up to us to
choose to be on the Lord’s side. There
would be times in fact when the Lord would be the adversary of
Earlier this month the annual National Prayer
held at the Hilton Washington Hotel. The
guest speakers for the prayer breakfast were King Abdullah II of
In his speech Bono said he had been raised in an
family—his father was Protestant, and his mother was Catholic. Growing up in
In his speech Bono challenged the President and
of the U.S. Congress to do more to alleviate the suffering of the
peoples of the world. He noted how many
Bono said that a number of years ago a wise man changed his life. Bono was always seeking the Lord’s blessing. As a Christian, Bono was always saying to God, “I have a new song, look after it; I have a family, please look after them; and so on.” Bono was always asking God to bless his life and his endeavors. And this wise man said to Bono, “Stop. Stop asking God to bless what you are doing. Get involved with what God is doing—because it’s already blessed.” Bono said to the prayer breakfast, “Well, God is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what he’s calling us to do.”
Stop asking God to bless what you are doing. Get involved with what God is doing—because
it’s already blessed.
You see, we have it backwards. The question is not, “Is the Lord on our side?” The question is, “Are we on the Lord’s side? Am I on the Lord’s side? Is my life involved in what God is doing in the world?”
Maybe Abraham Lincoln never joined a church because he had trouble finding one that was on the Lord’s side. Certainly no church is perfect; but when people of faith earnestly seek to discern what God is doing in the world and to become a part of it, the church comes nearer to the Kingdom. Why should anyone join a church? It’s a way of showing whose side you are on.
There’s an old hymn by Frances Havergal that goes:
Who is on the Lord’s
side? Who will
serve the King?
Who will be His helpers, other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord’s side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy, by Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side—Savior, we are Thine!
Bruce Salmon, Pastor,
February 12, 2006
Return to Village Baptist Home Page