Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”John 3:16
In the midst of religious revival, Abraham Lincoln was born to Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His mother was a godly woman who sat Lincoln upon her knees day after day and read to him the Scriptures and encouraged him to remember it.
Particularly she encouraged him to learn the Ten Commandments. They had a profound effect upon Lincoln's life. He said that whenever he was tempted to do something wrong, he could still hear the clear tones of his mother's voice saying, "I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before me . . . Thou shalt not steal . . . Thou shalt not kill . . . Thou shalt not bear false witness . . . " Exodus 20
Abraham Lincoln became known, believe it or not, as the most honest lawyer east of China. Once when he was a shopkeeper, he walked for miles to return an overpayment of only a few cents to one of his customers. Lincoln also had a great regard for the Sabbath, as well.
At one time during the war, when he was President, he went to Falmouth and there he visited with the general who told him he was going to begin on Sunday the March to Richmond. Richmond was the heart of the Confederacy, its capital, and this well could mean the end of the war, for which Lincoln had so fervently prayed for so long. The general brought it up because he knew of the hostilities the President had toward beginning military initiatives on the Sabbath day. The President was silent for a long while. He then said, "General take a good rest and begin on Monday morning."
Lincoln was never a member of any church. Most churches today would be thrilled to have members who had as high a regard for the Sabbath as Lincoln did.
Was he a Christian? Listen to Lincoln's own words: "I am not a Christian. God knows I would be one." He said that he did not read the Scriptures like those clergymen in Springfield who opposed his election because of his skepticism. And they were right. When Lincoln came to Springfield he fell in with some agnostic and skeptical friends who gave him among other things, Volney's Ruins, a great volume of unbelief which attacked the Scriptures.
Lincoln was an incredibly humble man. His humility is seen when, immediately after the war, he went to Richmond to the home of the President of the Confederacy who was, as you might imagine "not home". His wife came to the door carrying a little baby in her arms, the baby of Jefferson Davis. The baby reached out to the President. He took the baby into his arms and was given a big wet smack on the face. He handed the baby back to Mrs. Jefferson Davis and said, "Tell your husband that for the sake of that kiss, I forgive him."
Theodore Roosevelt said that Lincoln mastered only one book and that was the Bible. He had committed thousands of verses to memory many whole chapters and he was trying to change his life to be what God would want him to be.
He was a man whose life was filled with tragedy. His beloved mother died when he was only nine. Then his sister died. The woman he loved, Ann Rutledge, died also.
He was married to a woman who challenged his humility, Mary Todd. Lincoln is loved by people all over the world and is considered by many to be the most beloved President that the United States has ever produced. Mary Todd never saw anything good in him at all. As far as she was concerned, he had terrible faults.
Ward Lamon, who had been his law partner, his private secretary when he was President, his bodyguard for years, and had known him intimately, said of Lincoln, " ...the melancholy that dripped from him as he walked, was due to his want of religious faith."
Then little Willie died, the apple of his eye, his beloved son, his little boy. Lincoln was absolutely crushed. He was so overwhelmed with grief that he set aside every Thursday to mourn his death. He would see no one on that day, but wept and mourned and lamented the death of his son Willie.
Dr. Francis Vinton, rector of Trinity Church, came down to Washington from New York. He was a friend of the family, and was allowed in to see the President. Not wanting to beat around the bush, he told him it was not right to mourn like this over his son. He said, "Your son is alive in paradise with Christ, and you must not continue." Lincoln sat there as though he were in a stupor, and then his mind caught onto the words that Dr. Vinton had said. He exclaimed, "Alive! Alive! Surely, sir, you mock me." "No, Mr. President, it is a great doctrine of the church. Jesus himself said that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Lincoln leaped to his feet and threw his arms around this pastor. He wept openly and sobbed, saying, "Alive! Alive! My boy is alive!" From that day on there began a change in Lincoln that even his wife Mary noticed.
His religious views began to dramatically change. There is a remarkable letter from an Illinois clergyman who talked to Lincoln after this time. He said this to Mr. Lincoln, "Mr. President, do you love Jesus?" After a long pause, Mr. Lincoln solemnly replied: "When I left Springfield, I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus."
Even though Lincoln’s invitation to Gettysburg was an afterthought, the world noted, far more than he ever thought, the words that he spoke there. The orator of the day was Edward Everett, perhaps the greatest in the land, who spoke for two hours. What did he say? No one knows. Lincoln spoke for two minutes and no one has forgotten!
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington was where Lincoln attended church regularly, not only on Sunday morning, but also on Wednesday night. Dr. Gurley, pastor of that church, said that Lincoln had wanted to make a public profession of his faith on Easter Sunday morning. But then came Ford's Theater.
The last speech he gave, three days before his death, was one in which he said that he was submitting a proclamation for a National Day of Thanksgiving to God. He said that now that the abomination of slavery was removed, the next point on the agenda would be to get rid of the curse of alcohol, which had so plagued the land.
His last act was to issue an edict that on every coin would be printed the words: "In God We Trust". That night he was invited to Ford's Theater to see a play he wasn't really interested in. He had received that very day the news that the war was over. He sat in his chair in the Presidential Box that was supposed to be guarded by a soldier. He had talked about the curse of liquor that plagued the land.
That afternoon an actor of that play from the south, crossed the street, went into a tavern and had a number of drinks. His name was John Wilkes Booth. That evening a soldier from the north left his post, crossed the same street and entered the same tavern to have a drink while the aforementioned actor quietly opened the unguarded door to the President's Box and went in. Lincoln was sitting up talking to his wife, not paying any attention to the play.
He said, "Mary, do you know what I would like to do ? Now that the war is over, we could go to the Near East. We could go to Bethlehem where He was born. We could visit Bethany where those hallowed steps were so often heard." Lincoln continued, "And we could go up to Jeru--" BANG!
Lincoln was carried across the street to a boarding house and laid diagonally across the bed that was too short for his huge frame. On the next day, Good Friday, he died. He was going to make his public profession on Easter Sunday.
Secretary of War Stanton, when he looked down at his cold form, said, "Here lies the most perfect ruler of men that the world has ever known." He had abandoned his trust in the commandments for his salvation and now he trusted in Christ. Yes, dear friend, at long length, Abraham Lincoln was a Christian. Are you?
You may be reading this and you have never answered the most important question in your life and that is …
How does anyone get to heaven?
First realize that they cannot get to heaven on their own merits. The Bible says that “For all have sinned and come short (that means everybody can’t get to Heaven on their own) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
Jesus Christ (who is the Son of the living God) came to earth and was born of a virgin woman (therefore he was not born of the curse of mankind) he lived a sinless life and died on a cross for all the sins in the world. Three days later, God the Father raised Him from the dead. He was seen of 500 witnesses and returned to heaven. God’s word says that if we believe these things and call upon the Lord, we will be saved. Romans 10:9 - 13