This past week, I had the privilege to visit Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield, Illinois. We toured the house and visited his presidential library and museum. I was nearly brought to tears because of the museum’s wonderful portrayal of this great man, who was destined by God to lead our country through some of its darkest hours.
So, what is the secret of his greatness? As I read and listened to several of his speeches, I began to notice a common thread. Here are just five of his most famous speeches:
- Peoria, Illinois: October 16, 1854 “If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that `all men are created equal;’ and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another.”
- Illinois Republican State Convention, Springfield, Illinois:June 16, 1858 “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Mt. 12:25)
- Farewell Address, Springfield, Illinois: February 11, 1861 Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended [George Washington], I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
- Gettysburg Address, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: November 19, 1863 It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
- Second Inaugural Address, United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.: March 4, 1865 Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other… The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” (Mt. 18:7) If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope-fervently do we pray-that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God will that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’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 still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9)
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
Do you see it—all the references to God and all the quotes from the Bible? As I stood in his tomb and read his second inaugural address, just five days before Lee surrendered and ten days before Lincoln was assassinated, I was amazed to see that the entire speech was laced with references to God! I don’t believe the words were added for effect but came from a heart that beat for God and knew the scriptures. Abraham Lincoln never joined a church and didn’t attend regularly (even though his wife Mary did). But he obviously read the Bible and was familiar with its content.
So, what’s my point? You don’t need to be in church on Sunday? Well, sadly, many of you may not be, especially with it being a holiday weekend; however, even sadder still is the thought that there may be a day when there is no church to go to because of today’s lack of interest. No, this post is not about church attendance.
Abraham Lincoln knew the Bible. Do you? Do you read it daily? Do you love it? Is it your guide book? Could you…
- Name all the books?
- Name five authors?
- Quote any verses? How many?
- Name twenty heroes of the Bible?
- Name twelve tribes of Israel?
- Name in order the days of creation?
- Name the 10 commandments in order?
- Name the 12 apostles?
- Recite the Lord’s Prayer or the Twenty-third Psalm?
- Use verses to lead someone to Christ?
These are just ten random questions off the top of my head. It’s not knowing the trivial facts about the Bible that will change your life, but knowing the God of the Bible, and if you want to know God… know God’s Word!
The message of the Bible came through loud and clear in his speech—he didn’t just tack “and God bless America” on the end. It was his guide, his foundation, his focus, and his Friend. AND, the most amazing part is that it can be the same to anyone who wishes it to be true enough to make it happen! Worried about America? READ THE BIBLE!!