Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Sanctity of Life

The following is a sermon given by Hillcrest Church's youth pastor, Dustin Knoedler, last Sunday. The issue of abortion has been weighing very very heavily on my heart for a long time; if I'm passionate about anything it's this. Dustin has done a great job at laying out some important aspects of this extremely important issue, and I'd like you to read it. Especially (but not only) if you are a Christian. I know it's long, but this is huge stuff... take some time and read it. I added the text in italics for clarification.

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Every Political season offers us the chance to engage in rigorous debate about a number of issues affecting our country. We get to investigate the claims of the various candidates regarding their policy positions and then we get to vote for them on the basis of who we believe is the most qualified and best suited to hold the office they are running for. God has graciously given us wide freedoms in evaluating which policies are the most beneficial for the country and we have the freedom, the right, and the responsibility to vote for the people who represent those policies.

There is no Christian …
1) Tax policy (Rom. 13:1-7)
2) Health care (James 1:27, OT provisions for widows)
3) Environmental Policy (Gen. 1:26-31- subdue, not “conquer”)
4) Energy policy- care for the earth in responsible manner

These are all issues which we as Christians have the right to debate and disagree on and vote for the candidate which we believe has the best policy. (The scripture listed above should serve as guidelines for us)

The Bible tells us (in Romans 13) to obey the authorities, but we have an even higher obligation to God’s moral code…
Ethical primacy- Hebrew Midwives- Exodus 1:15:22

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, "When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live." But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this, and let the male children live?" The midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them." So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

1. Obey Authority
2. Tell the truth
3. Save life
*the obligation to save life trumps the obligation to obey authority and tell the truth- it is in a higher ethical and moral category

Similarly, there is one issue that is present every election cycle which belongs in a higher moral and ethical category than most others. We are given specific instructions on. The issue of the sanctity of life is a moral and theological issue BEFORE it is a political issue. As such it must be examined first as an issue on which the Bible has specific things to say before we make a political judgment. It is my contention that the political issues surrounding the issue of the sanctity of life and the right of a woman to have an abortion are settled once the matter of the sanctity and value of life is established on moral and theological grounds.

Three reactions to the abortion issue today, both within the church and without: Some will attempt to find a middle ground where there is none-

One-- Mohler- “For the better part of four decades, some have attempted to find a middle ground between these two positions, but to no avail. The reason quickly becomes clear. If abortion is to be understood as a fundamental right, no woman can be denied the exercise of that right. If abortion is the taking of innocent human life, no justification can be offered for abortion as a means of ending an unwanted pregnancy- none at all. “

Two-- Others will say that this isn’t a significant issue- fetus fatigue (tired of hearing about the issue) - of course it isn’t the only issue, but Randy Alcorn- “treatment of the Jews wasn’t the only issue in 1940 Germany. Buying, selling, and owning black people wasn’t the only issue in the US of 1850. Nonetheless, both were the dominant moral issues of their day. We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ for our decisions, and a vote is a decision in which we assume responsibility for the known beliefs and moral positions of the candidate.”

Three-- Still others will say that this is a private issue, something between a woman, her doctor, and God, if he exists.
“don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.”
(…is like saying…) “Don’t like slavery? Don’t own slaves.”

1. Every human being bears the Imago Dei (God’s Image). This is why every human life is invaluable from conception. The pros and cons of pro-life/choice must be evaluated by Christians in light of the Imago Dei. We cannot divorce our consideration of the issue from the Imago Dei.
Genesis 1:27- "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them."
Psalm 139:13-16- "For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mothers womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

THIS IS HUGE!!! God creating man in His own image as the crowning jewel of His creation. He breathed His living breath into man, different from animals.

Schaeffer-“ In the flood of the loss of humanness in our age- including the flow from abortion-on-demand to infanticide and on to euthanasia- the only thing that can stem this tide is the certainty of the absolute uniqueness and value of people. And the only thing which gives us that is the knowledge that people are made in the image of God. We have no other final protection.“
Plants, stars, moon, sun, light, dark, matter, animals- created Humans- created AND breathed living breath into them. Gen2.7 *note the special care of God in creating humans that the psalmist notes- formed, knitted, made in secret, intricately woven, God recognized the unformed substance of the psalmist as a fetus. This says much about God’s special love for the crown jewel of the created order.

Significance of man as crowning achievement: James Boice
1] created in God’s image
2] rule the earth
3] emphasis on “created”

Schaeffer- “It is as though God put exclamation points here to indicate that there is something special about the creation of man.”

So we have seen how highly God values life- the discussion must be framed in this way, for the Bible is THE authority in faith and practice for Christians


2. Murder is the unjust killing of a human being
Exodus 20:13- you shall not murder
Leviticus 24:21: whoever kills a person shall be put to death.

Dictionary.com- Murder is the unlawful killing of one human by another, especially with premeditated malice
*High premium on life of humans- hence the devastating consequence for those who ignore God’s valuation of life.

1. Cain- Genesis 4:8-12: Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?" And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth."

2. Pharoah- Exodus 12:29-30: At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead.

3. David David has Uriah killed so he can get Bathsheba (Uriah’s wife). 2 Samuel 12:14- the child who is born to you shall die

4.Absalom- Amnon rapes his sister Tamar, and she tells her brother Absalom, who kills Amnon after David refused to do anything. Absalom leaves and raises an army to conquer David. When the two armies met, here’s what happened:
2 Samuel 18: And Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was suspended between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. And a certain man saw it and told Joab, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak." Joab said to the man who told him, "What, you saw him! Why then did you not strike him there to the ground? I would have been glad to give you ten pieces of silver and a belt." Servant refused to kill Absalom, so Joab says “I will not waste time like this with you." And he took three javelins in his hand and thrust them into the heart of Absalom while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him and killed him.

3. Abortion is murder. Period.

4. Because every human being bears the image of God, and murder as the taking of life is violence against an image-bearer of God, and abortion is the taking of life which defaces the image of God, God hates abortion.
Ecclesiastes 12:14- For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Romans 14:12- So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.
Ezekiel 35:6-9: therefore, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; because you did not hate bloodshed, therefore blood shall pursue you. I will make Mount Seir a waste and a desolation, and I will cut off from it all who come and go. And I will fill its mountains with the slain. On your hills and in your valleys and in all your ravines those slain with the sword shall fall.I will make you a perpetual desolation, and your cities shall not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

God hates abortion because it is the spilling of innocent blood.


Final words on being Pro-life

1. The point of being pro-life is to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world. We must celebrate life and create a culture of life that is infinitely more attractive than the current culture of death.

2. Electing pro-life politicians is not getting the job done. The recourse that we must pursue is living out the gospel in a pro-life way to change culture, not simply policy.
David Reardon, biomedical ethicist-
“The political goal of making abortion illegal has always been a truncate vision. Our real desire has always been to create a culture where abortion is not just illegal, but is unthinkable. In such a culture, the physical, psychological, and spiritual dangers of abortion will be common knowledge. In such a culture, commitment, compassion, and a sense of duty to aid and protect both mother and the child will be universal."

Here’s the challenge for the church- we are very well known for 2 things regarding abortion: condemning those who seek to have one as well as those who perform them, and then also for condemning the unwed mothers of the children that we have told them they must not abort and being absolutely inhospitable to them.
Russ Moore- “Our church must become the kind of counter-cultural place where teenage mothers are welcomed and loved, where those children who are abandoned are welcomed, and loved, must be the kind of place where a culture that is in love with death can come and hear a message that life is better than death because there is a former fetus, one ex-corpse, standing in Heaven, ruling the nations and the Universe and He is not dead anymore. “

We kid ourselves- involvement in the slavery issue, the holocaust, host of other atrocities- we are experiencing a holocaust- what are you doing?

Russ Moore- “Previous generations of preachers have stood in the pulpit and preached until they were red in the face about card-playing and movie- going and tax-policy and personal morality and tobacco-smoking and a thousand other issues, but would not speak to the fact that there were African-American brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus swinging in the trees, and there is judgment of God upon that.”

We must act- we must be known as a people who are passionately committed to valuing life above energy policies, tax policies, foreign policies, and other secondary issues. We must hold out the gospel of Jesus Christ as the ultimate reconciliation between God and man for those who have had an abortion. We must welcome unwed mothers, not as a stamp of approval on their actions and behavior but as a way of offering them hope and life and comfort and protection in a world where they receive none.

See, the extent to which you are pro-life is not determined by how many yard signs you put out, and by how big they are. It has very little to do with the bumper stickers on your car or the talking points you’ve got nailed down. It has everything to do with what you DO.

1. Support local Crisis Pregnancy Centers.
2. Pray- hard, diligent, blood-sweat-tears prayers that the collective conscience of the nation will awaken to the horrors that we are perpetrating on the next generation
3. Fast.
4. Support Pro-life ministries like StandTrue.com and Abort73.com

Jesus was given to us as the perfect image-bearer of God. We perpetrated a crime of unbelievable heinousness in killing the son of God, the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians 1:15.

We shed His innocent blood in unbelief and hatred, and yet God used that event to offer us forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope. Though we are guilty, some more than others, of shedding innocent blood in our day and age, God offers us peace and salvation through the shed blood of Jesus, and he offers it freely to all.

*mothers who have had an abortion- Jesus offers you freedom and forgiveness from the crushing and paralyzing guilt that you are carrying around. He died so that you could be forgiven!

As you contemplate making a stand in some capacity to speak up for those who will never have the change to speak up for themselves, whose blood is shed, do not neglect to make a stand for the only truly Innocent One whose blood was shed.


(In the time it took you to read this, close to 150 unborn babies were murdered. By the end of the day approximately 4000 children will be killed by abortions in the United States.)

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