In 1953 Joseph Stalin died. Shortly after Stalin's death, Nikita Krushchev became the Premier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That was before many of you were born. Some of us remember those times well.

Nikita Krushchev was the Premier of the Soviet Union for 11 years. When he became premier, the Cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States began. A number of significant things happened as Krushchev controlled the Soviet Union. Within the Soviet Union, he began the process of removing the memories of Stalin and his influence. He also began promoting the development of technology and the Soviet Union's global military presence.

These are among Krushchev's notable world accomplishments. (1) He ordered the building of the Berlin Wall to control defections to the West. I still remember the pictures of the wall being built.

(2) He crushed a revolt in Hungary by sending in Soviet tanks and troops. I still remember the pictures of Hungarians attacking tanks with rocks.

(3) In 1959 he visited the United States. It was a strained visit. In a United Nations assembly, while sitting at a desk and making a speech he took a shoe off and beat on the desk. He said, "We will bury you." Later, in a visit to Los Angeles, his anger almost caused a major incident. He was angry at a statement the Mayor made, and he was angry because he was refused a visit to Disneyland.

(4) Also in 1959 he and Richard Nixon had a confrontation in Moscow at the American National Exhibit. He declared Russian technology would soon pass American technology. He said, "When we pass you, we will wave to you." At the exposition, Ampex was demonstrating the first video recorder and captured their argument on video tape.

(5) In 1962 he placed missiles with atomic warheads in Cuba. His actions literally brought the world within minutes of an atomic war between the Soviet Union and the United States. I remember those days very well. I was living in Tallahassee, Florida.

  1. In 1964 Nikita Krushchev was deposed as Premier, and he became the first premier of the Soviet Union who did not die in office.
    1. He immediately became a "non-person" in the Soviet Union; it was a crime to even mention his name.
    2. In the thirty-five years that have followed:
      1. The Berlin wall has been torn down and Germany has been reunited.
      2. The Soviet Union has collapsed and no longer exists.
      3. Most of the satellite countries that were under the absolute control of the Soviet Union are now independent.
      4. Soviet technology did not surpass American technology, and today Russian technology is severely distressed by a lack of funds.
    3. To me, the most astounding develop of all is this: his 64-year-old son, Sergei Krushchev, lives in the United States and is applying for American citizenship.

  2. When the Soviet Union collapsed, many of us who lived through the time of the Cold War could not believe the Soviet Union no longer existed.
    1. The greatest, constant, serious dangers we faced in our teens and early adult life were the dangers generated by the Cold War.
      1. When the Soviet Union collapsed, some of us thought, "This is the beginning of a new world."
        1. "The major threat of nuclear war is over."
        2. "The arms race cannot be resurrected as a global concern."
        3. "The threat of the world being controlled by communism is over."
        4. "The world will be a much more peaceful place."
      2. Some of us assumed that the introduction of democracy and Western style economics in Russia would transform Russia as we watched.
    2. Russian was not transformed before our eyes. Instead:
      1. Worsening poverty engulfed the population, poverty worse than anything we have known.
      2. An immense personal struggle began for the majority of the Russian people: no hope, nowhere to turn, no opportunity, nothing to believe in.
      3. An enormous escalation of crime; when the authoritarian control of the police ceased, the crime rate soared
      4. Immediately they became a society without direction or anchors.
      5. Immediately they experienced deep disillusionment.
        1. The people were consistently told that as bad as things were in the Soviet Union, things were worse in the Western world.
        2. The people were told that the only real answer to all their problems was communism.
        3. They placed their trust in those statements.
        4. When both proved to be false what were they to trust?

  3. Atheistic communism systematically removed religious influence from Soviet society.
    1. Church buildings were devoted to nonreligious purposes.
    2. A concerted effort was made to remove all religious words from their vocabulary.
      1. In the early 1990s I had opportunity to lecture to an Institute in Kaliningrad.
      2. The English department invited me to lecture on religious subjects, but I had to lecture in English.
      3. Each day for three days I was allowed to speak once or twice in their largest lecture hall.
      4. I taught about Jesus' sermon on the mount, Matthew 5,6,7 to illustrate how that Jesus' teachings would benefit any society.
      5. The head of the English department was my translator.
        1. It was not unusual for her to stop and explain that they had no word to translate what I was saying.
        2. For example, the word "heart" had only one meaning, the physical organ that pumps blood.
        3. They had never heard the English word "divine."

  4. Since the Soviet Union collapsed, conditions are worse for the Russian people.
    1. Conditions are worse in almost every context.
      1. Society is less stable.
      2. The state provided everything from a job to a home, to energy in a home to retirement; it is very difficult to relearn how to live in a society where the state does not provide for your needs.
      3. Their money has almost no value.
      4. The pensions of the elderly are not enough to sustain life.
      5. The crime rate and the nature of the crimes is unbelievable.
      6. Greed and graft rule and control.
    2. Why? How could a people move from a system of atheistic communism to democracy and things get worse?
      1. Many significant reasons produced that result.
      2. May I cite one significant reason that most Americans never think about.
      3. When a society moves from atheistic communism to godless democracy, there is no progress.
    3. We Americans are deceived about the freedoms provided by our democratic existence.
      1. We think that the primary answer to the world's problems are the rights and freedoms provided by a democratic society.
      2. But again and again we watch as democracy fails to work in other nations that leave a dictator's control or a communistic philosophy.
      3. We watch as such transitions often create new problems and instability.
      4. We watch as situations get worse and the suffering of the people increases.
    4. No matter how often this happens, we fail to see the obvious.
      1. Democracy works to the benefit and blessing of a society only when the people have unselfish values and moral principles that:
        1. Respect the dignity of the person.
        2. Value human life.
        3. Accept the worth and significance of the individual.
        4. Believe "I exist for purposes that go beyond self-interest and selfishness."
        5. Believe honesty and integrity are the responsibilities of every individual.
      2. What will transform a people into that kind of society?
        1. Religion?
          1. No!
          2. Some of the most horrible acts our world has experienced were committed in devotion to religion.
        2. Faith in the living God who loved us enough to give us a Savior will transform any people into that kind of society.
          1. The living God teaches us the value of the person.
          2. The living God teaches us mercy and forgiveness.
          3. The living God teaches us unselfishness.
          4. The living God teaches us to be servants.
          5. The teachings of the living God empower the principles of democracy.
        3. Systematically remove the influence and teachings of the living God from a people, and democracy will not work in that society.
          1. People will sell recreational drugs to people to make money with no concern about what this does to persons, to families, or to society.
          2. People use people for selfish, sexual gratification with no concern about what it does to the persons, to families, or to society.
          3. People in their greed to exploit people for the love of money with no concern about what happens to the persons, to families or to society.
          4. People make victims out of people through crimes of every kind with no concern about what it does to persons, to families, or to society.
        4. Democracy works only in societies where responsible people of integrity value people.
        5. Democracy cannot work in societies where irresponsible people exploit others to achieve their own selfish objectives.
        6. Remove God from society, and you destroy society's ability to be a successful democracy.

Ephesians 4:25-32 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (The New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, La Habra, California: The Lockman Foundation, 1996.)

People who trust the living God and give their lives to the Savior He sent seek to become that kind of people. That transforms the society because it transforms the people.

[Prayer to become increasingly godly people.]

Is the godliness of our society increased because of you?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 4 July 1999

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