The Real Meaning of the Declaration of Independence, Part 1

July 6, 2020

On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4th, the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed, initially by only two individuals: John Hancock, president of Congress, and Charles Thompson, secretary of Congress, and later by a total of 56 men. We don’t know a whole lot about those 56 men, but what we do know for certain is that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor so that we could enjoy living in a free country.

The day after Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, John Adams (one of the first five signers) wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, saying:

“This day will be the most memorable epic in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

-John Adams

The Declaration of Independence is the reason we celebrate the 4th of July holiday.

The Declaration of Independence states the principles on which our government, and our identity as Americans, are based. It can be divided into six parts – the Introduction, the Preamble, the Indictment (containing the grievances), the Denunciation, the Conclusion, and the Signatures. We’re not going to read the entire Declaration, but we are going to read most of it so we can discern the original intent of the 56 patriots who signed it.

Let’s start with the name – the Declaration of Independence. The name alone means that the United States has no obligation to be part of any one-world government, including one-world organizations like the United Nations and the World Health Organization. It’s worth noting that those who favor a one-world government generally oppose a biblical worldview. This is true because a one-world government necessitates a one-world religion. In order to establish a one-world government, God must first be removed from every aspect of the public arena, with the hopes that He will then be removed from the consciousness of the people. The State is then in a position to indoctrinate the people in order to remove their liberties in order to control them. This has been seen clearly throughout history in places where communism and socialism have been implemented.

The United States has no obligation to be part of any one-world government.

Beginning early in the 17th century, settlers from Spain, France, Sweden, Holland, and England claimed land and formed colonies along the eastern coast of North America. The struggle for control of this land continued for well over a hundred years. By the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, there were 13 fully operational American colonies with independent governments and constitutions.

Even though the colonial leaders tried to remain loyal to the British Crown and reconcile their differences, by the early 1770s, more and more colonists became convinced that Parliament intended to take away their freedom, and they were finally compelled to break away in revolt.  

The Declaration of Independence was then written as a proclamation to the world of their reasons for separating from England. But while the Declaration gives a list of legal offenses that England had left unresolved, the founders saw these as a plan to take away their religious liberties and re-establish the Church of England to rule over them, thus enslaving the colonies.

When these colonial settlers arrived in America, the influence of their Christian faith, and that of the Holy Bible, came with them. This stands out clearly as one sees the goal of government based on Scripture being affirmed over and over by individual colonies, such as Rhode Island. Here’s how the Rhode Island Charter of 1683 begins:

“We submit our person, lives, and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and to all those perfect and most absolute laws of His given us in His Holy Word.”
-Rhode Island Charter of 1683

After reading all 13 charters, it’s easy to see that the Bible was used as the rule of life in the colonies. Every evidence indicates the profound effect God’s Word had on these early Americans. So great was this inspiration that even those among them who were not professed Christians accepted biblical principles as the standard for human behavior, family relationships, and civil government.

Now let’s read the first paragraph (the Introduction) of the Declaration of Independence.

“The unanimous Declaration of thirteen united States of America. When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitles them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence sets the stage for the American Revolution and its absolute reliance on the laws of God. Notice the phrase, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” The laws of nature refer to God’s will; of nature’s God refers to biblical truth. God reveals in the Bible (specifically in the Ten Commandments and in the Sermon on the Mount) the best way for people to govern themselves.

Samuel Adams (a signer from Massachusetts) probably reflected on this when he said:

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.”
-Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams was intimating that no government is needed when people yield to the rule of God in their hearts. The phrase, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” is based on a few specific verses in Romans chapter 1.

Romans 1:18-20, 25 (NKJV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19 Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,

25 Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.

The basic idea in these verses is that everyone knows there’s a God because He has revealed Himself in nature – through His creation. The issue is how people relate to God’s creation. Pantheists (who proclaim that all is god and god is all) worship the creation as God, but Christians worship the Creator as God.

A biblical worldview worships the Creator (Father God), not the creation (mother earth).

Now let’s read from the next paragraph (the Preamble) in the Declaration of Independence.  The first sentence is probably the most renowned in the entire Declaration.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness.”

First, all men are created equal.  This is based on Genesis 1:26-27.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NKJV)

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 

Notice it’s both men and women whom God entrusted His creation to. This intimates that they are equal because they were both created in God’s image and likeness. Please don’t fall for the divisiveness that’s presented by the mainstream media that pits people groups against each other – like men against women and blacks against whites. We’re all equal in God’s eyes, and no one can usurp God’s will – it’s self evident.

God created people equally to rule over His creation.

Next, all men and women are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence identified the source of these rights as “their Creator,” and then accentuated that individual human rights were God-given, not man-made.

The word unalienable means intrinsic or innate – belonging to a thing by its very nature. This is important when talking about individual rights because every person has an internal moral compass, which means they know the difference between right and wrong. Biblical truth is self-evident, whether people admit it or not. For example, every single person knows that murder and stealing are wrong.  Perhaps John Adams said it best when he said:

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.”
-John Adams

John Adams was intimating that self-government is the beginning of all good government. It starts with the hearts of people. There can be no effective government without responsible citizens living under moral order. If human beings (created in God’s image and likeness) have the divine nature within them, then the foundation of unalienable rights is self-government based on biblical truth.

To preserve all unalienable rights, people must be guided by the moral compass within them.

Henry Hyde served thirty two years in the House of Representatives (from 1975 to 2007). He was described as a passionate champion and powerful defender of human life. Hyde was one of the most vocal and persistent opponents of abortion in American politics, and was the chief sponsor of the Hyde Amendment – a House Appropriations bill that prohibited use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions through Medicaid.

In his address after receiving the “Defender of Life” Award on July 16, 1993, Congressman Hyde said:

“That all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator – human beings upon creation, not upon birth.  That is where our human dignity comes from. It comes from the Creator. By membership in the human family, we are endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. They can’t be voted away by a jury or a court. It is the unborn who are the least of God’s creatures. We have been told that whatsoever we do for the least of these we do unto Jesus.”
-Congressman Henry Hyde

Along with the medical and scientific communities, everybody knows in their heart of hearts that life begins at conception. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to vote for biblical principles in every election.

Voting for biblical principles in every election is how you preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson (who drafted the Declaration) said it best:

“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”
-Thomas Jefferson

This quote by Jefferson will only work if government protects, preserves, and submits to the rule of law. Free societies protect private property. They allow their citizens to participate in the political process, to make basic economic choices, to speak their minds (even when wrong), and to freely exercise religious faith. This means that our political, economic, and religious freedoms all stand or fall together.





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Jim Collins is a Pastor, Motivational Speaker, Businessman and Author. Two of his books have been adopted as textbooks by Bible colleges. Jim is the founder of Beyond Positive Thinking Ministries and the Senior Pastor of Victory in Christ International in Jupiter, Florida.  Jim received his Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Education from Evangelical Bible College and Seminary. He is a professor there, and is also a Dean and Professor at Covenant Bible College and Seminary,
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