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Faith of the Founders; Faithfulness of God

October 24, 2010
heritage

Heritage

As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.

Special Series (Part III): “Does God Answer Prayer?”

by Adam Colwell

He does not remember the exact day or month it all started…unusual, considering that Tim Elsenpeter would consider himself a student of the past.

He does remember the year, though – 1994 – and the national election that, as a political conservative, seemed full of promise but ended in a frustration that left Tim searching for answers to what he thought was amiss with the country. It was then, out of that disappointment, that Tim eventually began an investigation of the nation’s Founding Fathers that years later led him to faith in the living God…and a passion to pray for the United States and its destiny.

“I took the time to actually read what our Founders had written. The clarity with which they articulated their faith and acted on it was something that struck me,” Elsenpeter said. He identified one specific book, David Barton’s “Original Intent,” as having the greatest influence on his research. “They were no longer this bunch of fuddy-duddy farmers that dressed funny. When they signed the Declaration of Independence…those men knew they were signing their death warrants, committing treason against King George. That fact was not lost on me.”

Also not lost on Tim during this period of learning was how his views about God were changing. Aware of Christ, he had no real concept of who Jesus was. “To me, He was some guy who got a bunch of people mad at Him a couple thousand years ago and was nailed to a cross,” Elsenpeter said. “I saw the Bible as a collection of fables or good moral stories, but that was the extent of my understanding of it. I was outright rebellious and antagonistic toward God or anything to do with Him.”

Yet as he studied the early history of America and the men who founded the nation, Tim saw something undeniable. “The enormity and the impact of the writings of our Founding Fathers, literally it was their Christian witness and testimony that compelled me,” he said. “After all my reading about the Founding Fathers and their faith in action, there was no way God was going to let me be exposed to that information without settling [my view of Him] once and for all.”

After three years of intense study, including multiple readings of “Original Intent” and his first forays into the Bible itself, Tim accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. He was 51 years old. Setting aside politics, which he said was truly his “god” at that time, Tim then spent a full year concentrating solely on issues of faith and how it plays into his citizenship as an American. He delved further into Scripture and personalized its truths. Looking back on it now, a decade after his conversion, Tim knows his decision to become a born-again Christian was directly attributable to his study of the faith of the Founding Fathers.

“When you go back to the original colonists, they came here for the purpose of being able to worship Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior according to the dictates of their conscience. They wanted to get away from the denominational strife that was in Europe,” Tim said. “I don’t care what the revisionists say. That’s the reason most of the original settlers came over here to begin with. This whole notion that they were secularists or deists is just nonsense.”

Today, Tim is convinced the Lord “is not done” with America, and believes the parallels between the current spiritual condition of the United States with that of the ancient nation of Israel is uncanny. “What God looks at is the moral and spiritual conditions of a nation. America has fallen to the point, morally and spiritually speaking, that God judged Israel for over a 60 to 70 year period,” Elsenpeter said.

Tim has identified five points from his study of Scripture by which he perceives God judges a nation: idolatry, increasing sexual immorality, child sacrifice, its view toward the nation of Israel, and how it deals with the city of Jerusalem. He says a look at biblical nations, and how God dealt with them and where America is in comparison, should draw any Christian to their knees. “I am often broken, brought to tears, for my nation,” he said, pointing to the book of Daniel, chapter nine. “Daniel tapped in to how to approach God, and that is to appeal to His mercy. God is infinite in all His ways, including His mercy. It’s God’s mercy that we need to rely on when we pray for our nation.”

Regarding the prioritization of God and prayer, Tim believes the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 learned a lesson about neglecting prayer. In June of that year, the delegates were angrily deadlocked over the issue of state representation. It was then that Benjamin Franklin addressed the delegates, pointing out that they had not properly allowed for prayers to open each session. “Whatever the founders view of proper prayer was, Franklin pointed out they had neglected it. The format of prayer wasn’t as important to God as was the hearts of some of the delegates to reconcile the oversight,” Elsenpeter said. “At the request of the Convention, a sermon was preached on July 4, 1787 by James Cambell. They signed the first draft of our Constitution on September 17, 1787, the issue of representation being resolved sufficiently.”

First page of Constitution of the United States

Image via Wikipedia

“We are as close to losing God’s America today as they were at that convention all those many years ago. Our founders relied on the Bible and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God heard and answered those prayers then. Jesus have mercy on America today,” Elsenpeter said.

Firmly believing Christian Americans have a responsibility to live within and then create a biblical heritage for future generations, Tim points to the very words of the Constitution of the United States. “The preamble states, ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’ If you look at the two words ‘ourselves’ and ‘Posterity’ you will notice that ‘ourselves’ is lower case and ‘Posterity” is in upper case’,” Elsenpeter said. “Our Founders had a profound sense of belief that those who came after them should leave a biblical heritage to their posterity. Relative to the impact that our Founders had on me, because of their Christian witness and testimony, as lived out in their lives and recorded for us, my eternity has been changed forever. I can pay an everlasting tribute to them by committing my life to the gospel of Christ and studying and applying the Bible, as many of them did, to every aspect of my life, both public and private.”

Tim Elsenpeter knows God answers prayer. The Lord was faithful in using the Founding Father to draw Tim to Him…and Tim believes God will be equally faithful to hear your prayers as you intercede for America in these final days before the November election.

“Jesus made a comment in Scripture to ‘occupy until I come.’ Translations say to ‘do business.’ The way I take that is that I’m not going to cede one single area to the enemy. Yet if we allow Satan to harden our hearts against praying for our leaders, we have ceded the battle at that point.” Elsenpeter said. “But if we will intercede for our nation that God would work in the hearts of the people, from our leaders on down, for the lost souls in our country that need Christ, that’s where we start. And we have to be careful to make sure our hearts are changed first, putting our hearts under the authority of Jesus.”

Adam Colwell is a freelance writer/editor and Chief Editor of The Presidential Prayer Team website. Active in Christian para-church ministry for over 25 years, he and his wife Ginger have two daughters and a grandson and live in Tucson, AZ.

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