Dr. Harold Pease, a Constitutional expert who taught at Taft University, wrote an article titled “The Price Declaration of Independence Signers Paid for Your Liberty”. His articles reads as such:
The Declaration of Independence ends with one of the most passionate appeals ever put to words and memorized by yesterday’s grade school child. “And for the 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.”
This document would bring on war against the then greatest power on earth, and no European strategist gave the Patriots a ghost of a chance of winning—yet they stood. Signers would be seen as traitors to the mother country and could expect the harshest treatment when caught. They could count on no one but God and themselves. And they recognized thereafter having received His aid.
Still, a goodly number did suffer the loss of life and property as a result. Most paid a remarkably high price for taking their stand. In a wrathful spirit of revenge, the enemy singled them out for harsh vengeance. Five were captured and imprisoned and two others barely escaped captivity. Richard Stockton, one of those captured after his whereabouts was betrayed by a loyalist informer, was “dragged from bed in the middle of the night, severely beaten and thrown into prison” where he underwent continual abuse and also suffered malnourishment. By the time Congress arranged for his exchange, he was broken physically and never recovered. He had also lost almost all his property.
Unable to capture Abraham Clark, another signatory, the British took their wrath out on his two sons, who were imprisoned on the notorious prison ship Jersey. “Word was sent to Clark that his boys would be freed if he would disown the revolutionary cause and praise the British Crown. At his refusal, his sons were singled out for cruel treatment. One was placed in a tiny cell and given no food. Fellow prisoners kept him alive by laboriously pushing tiny bits of food through a keyhole. Both sons somehow survived their ordeal.”
The British had a particular zeal for destroying the homes and property of the signers. Those suffering this fate included Benjamin Harrison, George Clymer, Dr. John Witherspoon, Philip Livingston, William Hooper, and William Floyd. The sacrifices of John Hart and Francis Lewis are particularly noteworthy. “While his wife lay gravely ill, Redcoats destroyed Hart’s growing crops and ripped his many grist mills to pieces. Bent on taking him, they chased him for several days. They almost nabbed him in a wooded area, but he hid in a cave. When he returned home with his health broken, he found his wife dead and their 13 children scattered.”
The story of Francis Lewis was equally tragic. “When the British plundered and burned his home at Whitestone on Long Island, they took his wife prisoner. She was thrown into a foul barracks and treated cruelly. For several months she had to sleep on the floor and was given no change of clothing. George Washington was eventually able to arrange for her exchange for two wives of British officers the Continental Arm was holding prisoner. Her health was so undermined that she died two years later.”
Thomas Nelson Jr., another signatory, made one of the most unusual sacrifices of the war. At Yorktown, the British had selected his residence as headquarters. Washington, reluctant to destroy his compatriots’ beautiful home, was directed to do so by Nelson himself.
John Quincy Adams, a son of one of the 55 patriots signing the Declaration of Independence and later a president of the United States, said it best. “Posterity—You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” Let us never forget that liberty is not free. It was purchased and maintained by the blood of those before us. What price have you paid for yours?
Now, for the million dollar question - was it worth it? Was it worth 31,000 deaths and 35,000 wounded to gain the freedom we have in the United States? Has it been worth 1.3 million deaths and 1.5 million wounded in an effort to maintain freedom and safety around the world? Yet, after 13 declared wars and numerous military actions our world is still in turmoil. Peace has not been achieved. One might wonder, has it been worth the price? To this, I would think we would all answer YES! Think of these simple freedoms:
A fair trial
Be counted as an equal
Protect against illegal search and seizure
Start own business
Speak what is on our mind
Petition the government over grievances
I mean, in reality we have it very good in the United States. But even with all this, there is another freedom we have that required a much larger sacrifice than any we have spoken of yet. You see, God gave us a FREE WILL and our misuse of that freedom cost God His only Son. Let us look closely at three verses in the book of John, Chapter 3.
God Loves Us
God Loves Us
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
In the very beginning of creation, God created us differently than anything else created. All other things were spoken, but we were created by the hands of God - molded out of the soil. He molded us into a likeness of Himself, and then breathed life into us. To me, it’s extremely exciting to thing we all carry God’s breath within us! Yet, in the perfection of creation a deceiver entered the garden. Man and woman had the free will to follow the commands from God or to defy Him and believe the lies from Satan.
We know what they chose, and in doing so, they broke the perfect goodness created by God and severed the relationship creation enjoyed with God.
In the garden, God provided everlasting life through the Tree of Life. After sin, Adam and Even would no longer have access to everlasting life. Even though they chose to sin, even though they deserved death, God would still provide a way for restoration and eternal life. Why?
Because of God’s love for us. God loves the world. Not only Jews, not only Gentiles, not only saved, not only sinners…we are all created in the likeness and image of God and God loves us. Each and every life is important to God, important enough that He provided a way for ALL to be restored if they choose. You see, free will has always been the intent of mankind's relationship with God. He gave us the power to make decision for ourselves regarding our relationship with Him.
What price would be required? How much would have to be paid? What is the total cost of our sin against God? An amount that is un-payable by a sinner. Our debt is so astoundingly large that we could work every day of our life, twenty four hours a day, for a million dollars and hour and we would STILL wind up short of what is owed. You see, money cannot fix the damage incurred to the relationship we had with God. The only payment that will fulfill the debt is death. In the Old Testament, it came in the form of sacrifices. But continual taking of the innocent life of an animal was a temporary fix. Only one thing could be done to provide a permanent fix - that was God to give His only begotten Son.
Even though WE chose to disobey and sin, God still loved us enough He provided a way for our relationship to be restored and our debt to be paid.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
God put action behind his love. Love cannot sit still, love cannot do nothing, love expresses itself. God expressed His love to us through His Son. At any time, Jesus (as man) could have said no. At no time could Jesus (as God) say no. You see, Jesus knew what was required, why it was required, and what was required of Him. He followed through with the Father’s plan with the same love God had towards us.
1 John 3:16 (LSB)
16 By this we have known love, that He laid down His life for us;
Jesus willfully obeyed God and gave His life for us so that whoever will believe in Him would have eternal life. You see, God provided another source of eternal life for His creation and once again He requires us to choose Him through our own free will.
God demonstrated His love in the most perfect way possible. Without question, this is the greatest act of love that could be shown to a sinner like me.
Not Judge, But Savior
Not Judge, But Savior
17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
God did not send Jesus as a way to make us feel guilty, to point out all our sins, or to shame us into following Him. That was not His purpose, even though we deserve judgment and condemnation.
Jesus was simply sent to save the world. What did He save us from? Death - an eternal separation from our Creator, God. What did He give us through salvation? Restoration of our relationship and the promise of eternal life.
11 And the witness is this, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
You see, nothing else could be used as restitution. There is no other way to salvation. There is no other way to restoration.
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.
Again, we are given a free will to accept the free payment for our sins, simply by believing in Jesus as our Savior.
To Believe or Not Believe, THAT is the Question
To Believe or Not Believe, THAT is the Question
18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
God does not condemn us. We make the choice, through free will, to choose eternal life or to choose death.
You see, when we are born we are born with a sin nature. Upon reaching the age of accountability, we have a choice to make. We can freely choose to follow Jesus as our Savior or we can freely choose to remain in sin. By remaining in sin, we choose to be condemned. The Oxford Dictionary defines condemned as “sentenced to a particular punishment, especially death”. You see, choosing to remain in sin means we choose death and eternal separation from God. This is where free will works in - God will not force us to follow Him. He desires us to willfully choose to follow Him. Now, for the ones who believe in Him, our sentence is commuted and our punishment of death is reprieved. Upon accepting Christ as our Savior, we receive a pardon! A believer is no longer condemned!
To me the critical importance of belief cannot be overstressed. Simply believing on Jesus prevents judgment, we are saved! Even though we are just as guilty as an unbeliever it is our BELIEF on Jesus Christ and our commitment of our life to Him that sets us apart.
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
As believers, we have the assurance of eternal life!
In contrast though, I want to speak to the unbeliever. An unbeliever is one who has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. Simply put, someone who has not believed or willfully denies God’s Son as their Savior. If you have never made a profession of faith, you are a sinner, an unbeliever, and you are condemned and will be judged. In verse 16, we see the word perish - it means to be lost, to be utterly destroyed, to lose eternal life, to be spiritually destitute, or to be cut off from our Creator, God. Life, as God intended, then has no meaning. As a result, you will die, you will face judgment, you will be condemned, you will be separated from God an all your loved ones for eternity, and you will experience the torture, pain, and misery of hell.
Notice this closely, God did not send Jesus into the world so that you would be condemned, but that you might be saved.
Today, would you CHOOSE Jesus as your personal Savior? Would you receive eternal life? Would you choose to restore your relationship with your creator?
Bow head, close eyes.