As you know, this morning I'm going to give you the second part of a two-part series on what the Bible teaches about abortion. And I trust that the Spirit of God is going to move in our midst through the Word as He did last Lord's day and that we're going to have a complete understanding of God's revelation in regard to this very, very important subject.
I want to thank you for your response to last Lord's day, it's been wonderful and I've been very, very encouraged by it. With one exception, I received a card, actually someone wrote on the back of a registration card, on the front he wrote his name, put down Ph.D. and then the name of a Christian college in the east where he teaches and proceeded on the back of the card to tell me that he was very upset that I would pass off the viewpoint that is my viewpoint as if it was God's. In other words, he did not agree, parently...apparently, that the Bible forbids abortion.
And I was greatly distressed by that for several reasons. One is I know he is a Christian educator and that means there are going to be young people influenced by his teaching. But on a broader scale, it points up to me the confusion that exists even within Christianity about some things that don't really need to be confusing. The matter of abortion is so clear and so precise in terms of what the Bible teaches that any error is simply a denial of Scripture. It isn't even arbitrary.
And I was reminded of an illustration Paul uses in another setting, but nonetheless a very helpful illustration. In 1 Corinthians chapter 4, listen to verses 7 and 8...pardon me, 1 Corinthians chapter 14, verses 7 and 8: "And even things without life giving sound, whether flute or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"
Now Paul says, if you don't know what's being played, you can't understand the music. If you don't know what's being blown, you don't know what the orders are...an uncertain sound leaves us in confusion. And it's a sad thing to realize but emanating from those who claim to represent Jesus Christ is an uncertain sound. There is a tremendous amount of chaos even within so-called churches in regard to a very clear-cut issue. And this compounds extremely the problem. The church, which should prove to be the great stronghold of truth and morality and should give articulation to the voice of God in Scripture, is giving all kinds of uncertain sounds.
For illustration sake. There is an organization in the United States called "The Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights." Some of the organizations that belong to that coalition are these: The American Baptist Church, The Church of the Brethren, The Christian Churches, The Episcopal Church Women's Caucus, The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church, The United Presbyterian Church, The Y.W.C.A., the Young Men...Young Women's Christian Association, etc., etc. Now the tragedy of this is the fact that when people look to the church to hear the truth of the Word of God, they're not hearing it. And you can understand how this compounds the problem. What hope does the world have when even those who claim to know Christ and believe His Word can't get their own act together in terms of biblical truth? By the way, this same professor also wrote on his card that he looked over The Master's College curriculum and it obviously had too much Bible. How tragic. How tragic that we say we represent God and we misrepresent God.
Now in the matter of abortion, which we began to discuss last time, we looked at some of the scene that we're facing in the world and in our nation today. And then I said I want to give you a few key scriptural truths that you must understand in order to get a grip on what God says about this. And principle number one was: conception is an act of God. And I want to reiterate that this morning and look at a couple of passages that we did not have time to examine last Lord's day.
But the first thing we must understand is that conception is an act of God. We went into that in some detail last time, examining Scriptures that speak about God opening the womb and God closing the womb and God creating everything and God being responsible for life and so forth. But a couple of very vital passages we need to add to what we received last time and I want you to open your Bible now, if you will, to the seventeenth chapter of Acts...Acts chapter 17.
Now you will remember in your study of the book of Acts that in this particular chapter, the Apostle Paul is in the city of Athens, the great city, the thinkers' city, the city of philosophers and philosophies. Paul had really gone there for a little bit of rest. He had created riots in some of the other cities in Greece, namely Thessalonica. He had gone to Berea and some of those from Thessalonica who were mad at him, pursued him even there. And he really retreats to Athens for rest. He goes to Athens to get a little respite from the fury of the battles he's been engaged in. It's as if he needs some time to refresh his heart and he can perhaps get lost in the anonymity of that great city. And so he finds himself in Athens in chapter 17. But to his dismay, the spiritual state of that city is so great that he sees its spiritual needs more important than his own physical needs and cannot restrain himself from finding the nearest opportunity to preach the truth. Instead of resting, instead of recouping a little bit, he takes a pulpit which pulpit is described to us beginning in verse 22 as being on the Areopagus, or Mars Hill, which is a promontory in the city of Athens upon which the philosophers used to gather to articulate and muse over the varying philosophies.
And when he arrives there, he is speaking to those who are really the brain trust of the city, a very vital group of people. And as he begins to speak to them, it is of God that he speaks. They are polytheistic, that is they worship many gods, but he will speak to them of the one true God and he identifies that one true God as the one that they so far have designated as "the unknown god," as if to say we know there's a God out there somewhere other than the ones we worship, but we don't know who he is and Paul says I'm going to tell you who he is.
And so, beginning in verse 24, he begins to articulate the truth about God. "God who made the world and all things in it." And he introduces God as the creator of everything. Keep that in mind because that's basically directing him toward his major point in this particular discussion. He says God is the creator of everything. "God who made the world and all things in it." It sounds like Psalm 146:5 and 6, which says: "God who made heaven and the earth, the sea and all that therein is." And that, of course, would embrace mankind and human life.
Zechariah 12:1 says: "God who forms the spirit of man within him." God not only makes the physical part of man, God also makes the immaterial part of man. God makes the flesh of man and God makes the spirit of man that is in that flesh. God then is the creator of man, body and soul.
God, also, verse 24 says, is ruler. "Seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth." He is not only the creator but He is the sovereign. He is the ruler. He is the proprietor and sustainer of all that He has made. And as such, "Dwells not in temples made with hands." He far surpasses and overreaches any confinement designed by men.
Thirdly, he says, God is not only creator and ruler or sovereign, but God is giver of life. And he becomes very specific in verse 25. "He's not worshiped with men's hands as though He needed anything, seeing He gives to all life and breath and all things." He is the giver of life and that we are saying He is the author of conception. He is the giver of breath. He is the giver of all things that encompass that life and breath. In fact, in the book of Numbers, twice--and you perhaps have overlooked it but it's there--twice He is called "The God of the spirits of all flesh." He is the one who has made all flesh, the one who has breathed into them the breath of life. Material creation and the immaterial creation of their soul is all His work.
And so it is that God is presented as the creator of life. Verse 26 tells about the fact that not only does He create individual life, but He brings all of humanity together according to His own plan. "He has made of one blood all nations of men." That is, all nations of the world flow from one human stream. "And they dwell on all the face of the earth. And He has determined the times," that is the chronology of history before appointed. God is working out history, destiny, according to His own predetermined plan. And within that plan, the end of verse 26, "He has created the bounds of the habitation of nations."
God created every individual. God has created all of humanity. God has organized the flow of human destiny and bounded the varying nations within the human stream. God, then, is in control of everything. He is the supreme controller-- creator, ruler, provider of life, giver of breath, controller of nations and history.
And then in verse 27, all of this in order that men would seek Him and feel after Him and find Him, though He is not far from every one of us. In other words, God in all of this creative work is revealing Himself so that men might know Him. And the sum of it, in verse 28, "For in Him we live and move and have our being." And there's the sum of it. God is the one who creates life. "And certain also of your own poets have said this," and he quotes Epaminodes(?) and Eratus(?), two Greek poets who basically said we are also His offspring.
And then comes the point of all of this in verse 29, "For as much then as we are the offspring of God," what a tremendous statement. We are the offspring of God. We have been created by God. And he's not talking about Christians here, he's talking to pagan philosophers about humanity. Humanity is the progeny of God. "Therefore we ought not to think that the Godhead is like gold or silver or stone carved by art and man's device." He makes a very simple point. God cannot be of your creation, made out of gold and silver and stone and so forth. You can't make God for the simple reason that God...what?...made you. That precludes that possibility. And that's his whole argument. Deity cannot be what you fabricate because it is God who made you.
But the point that I want you to see is that the emphasis here is on the fact that man, life and breath and being is the offspring of God. And that's an important thing for us to understand as we think about the matter of abortion. We have to realize that what is being done in abortion is the execution of the creation of God. It isn't "Mother Nature", folks. There is no Mother Nature. It is God. And human beings are not just the result of a biological process. There is a biological process but every individual is the direct creation of God for His own intents and purpose.
To see this even more graphically, we need to turn to Psalm 139. Psalm 139, one of the most magnificent and enriching of all the Psalms, a magnificent Psalm, a great passage, it is warm, it is emotional, it is moving as the psalmist, very likely David, contemplates the wonder of God who is omniscient and omnipresent. He's thinking about the all-knowing and all-present attributes of God. And first he begins with God's omniscience and he muses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about the vast and incomparable knowledge of God. Follow from verse 1. "O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me."
It is as if he says, to begin with, that God has placed the full force of His omniscience on every thought and every activity of every human being and consequently knows us better than we could ever know ourselves. You have searched me out and You know me intimately.
And then he becomes specific in verse 2. "Thou knowest my down sitting and my uprising." What is that? That seems rather commonplace, rather ordinary. My sitting down and my standing up. You mean God is involved in the common things of life? You mean God cares about those things which seem to us to be very minimal and nondescript? You mean God is intimately acquainted with us as to whether we're sitting or standing?
It's not unlike the words of our Savior in the Sermon on the Mount where He articulated the fact that even the hairs of our head are numbered by the Lord. And it is to emphasize again the fact that God is intimately acquainted with us, whether it be common things or uncommon things. It is not that every once in a while as we live our lives something so grandiose or bizarre or traumatic occurs that God sort of inadvertently looks to see what's going on, it is that God in the commonplace of very breathing moment is involved intimately in our lives from conception on. You know me.
And then in verse 2 he says, "Thou understandeth my thought afar off." And the implication of the Hebrew text here is not that You're afar off because God is near, but what he is saying is You understand my thoughts while I'm still trying to reach them. You understand fully what I'm trying to figure out, the thought which I have not yet made fully captive to my thinking process You already know.
And then in verse 3 he says, "You compass my path and my lying down." In other words, You're around me when I'm walking and when I'm sleeping. "And You are," and this is a beautiful word in the text, "You are intimately acquainted with all my ways." You know all the patterns of my life, all the habits of my personality. You know everything.
And verse 4, "Such as there is not a word in my tongue, but Lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it all together." Not a word ever escapes God's notice. Every word you speak reaches God. He is intimately acquainted with everything about you and everything about me. He knows our thoughts before we fully brought them to fruition. He knows our words before we ever speak them, while they are yet on the tongue He understands.
And verse 5, "Thou hast beset me behind and before and laid Thine hand upon me." Lord, You're in front of me where I'm going, You're behind me where I've been and Your hand is on me where I am. I never leave Your presence. I never leave Your knowledge.
And the sum of such thoughts in verse 6, such knowledge, is too awesome for me, it is high, I cannot attain unto it. I mean, to perceive these kind of thoughts, to think deeply and profoundly on them is an exercise in ultimate frustration. I cannot grasp these things.
And having exhausted his ability to conceive of the omniscience of God, he turns to the omnipresence of God. God is not only all knowing, but He is all present. And he begins to think of that in verse 8...verse 7, rather. And it isn't in this sense that he is trying to run from God. It is that he is musing on a hypothetical or a theoretical problem, to celebrate the all- present God. It is not that he wants to escape, it is that he is affirming that that is an impossibility. And so he says, "Wither shall I go from Thy Spirit?" Where would I go to escape Your Spirit? "Or wither shall I flee from Thy presence?" Where would I go and You wouldn't be there?
Let me think about it. "If I ascend up into heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, or the grave, and go to the lowest place as well as the highest, behold You are there." In other words, wherever I go, You're there. And then he says, "And no matter how fast I go, I can't outrun you." And beautifully expresses this in verse 9, "If I takes...if I take the wings of the morning," and that's a sort of a colloquial expression for dawn, as dawn breaks over the hillside, it moves so fast across the land. It's as if he says if I could...if I could run at the speed of the breaking dawn, if I could outrun the dawn I couldn't outrun You. "If I take the wings of the morning, if I dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea where I would find my place in the depths of the deepest sea." "Even there," verse 10, "shall Thy hand lead me and Thy right hand shall hold me."
And would you notice that it's a comforting presence, not a fearful presence? It is a blessed presence. Your hand would be there to hold me, to lead me. In other words, "You're everywhere.
Ah, but there might be one other place. If it wasn't at the highest heaven or the deepest grave, if it wasn't that I could outrun the wings of the morning, if it wasn't in the depth of the sea, maybe it could be in the darkness that I could escape You. In verse 11, "If I say surely the darkness shall cover me, why even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee, but the night shineth as the day, the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee." If I found my way into the darkest place, You would see me there.
How is it that he knows that? How is it that he knows that there's no darkness in which he can escape the presence of God? Well, he reaches for the most beautiful and graphic illustration. What is the darkest place that any human being in his lifetime will ever occupy? What is it? It's the womb of his mother. That is the darkest darkness that any human would ever know...the totally dark womb of his or her mother. And so, to celebrate the fact that there is no darkness in which we escape the presence of God, there is no darkness in which we escape His knowledge, to celebrate the fact that He is intimately acquainted with us all the time in all places, he moves to the experience of the human womb in verse 13 and it is a marvelous, marvelous insight. Listen to what he says...beautifully descriptive. "For Thou hast possessed my..." and the Hebrew word is "kidneys" and the word "possessed" would be better translated "formed." Literally he says, "You formed my kidneys with Your power. You formed my inner parts. You put me together."
And where and when? Verse 13, "Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb." Literally, "You did weave me in my mother's womb." God, when I was in the darkest place of all and when I was as frail and fragile as any human being could ever be, when I was just the beginning of me, You were there and You were forming my inner parts, kidneys being representative of the internal organs. You were shaping and forming and weaving the network of my human form and my spirit to indwell that form. You were blending those chromosomes to make me that genetic miracle unlike any other that ever lived. You were weaving me.
And so we see from the psalmist then that what's going on in the womb is the act of God, right? It is God weaving the life.
Verse 14, "I will praise Thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works and that my soul knows right well." Look what he says. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And to whom does he attribute the making? "Marvelous are...what?...Thy works." You did it. And so I remind you very simply that to strike a blow against the unborn child is to strike a blow against the creation of God.
Further in verse 15, he says, "My substance was not hidden from Thee." The word "substance" literally means "strength" and is most likely a reference to bones, muscles and sinews. My frame, you might say, was not hidden from Thee "when I was made in secret." And the "secret" place is the womb. "Intricately being woven together," and here he borrows from Genesis 2:7, Adam having being created out of the earth, "in the lowest parts of the earth," sort of euphemism for the womb. You were there and my frame wasn't hidden from You when I was being made in that secret place, intimately woven together.
Verse 16, "Thine eyes did see my," and the Hebrew word is "something rolled together," something that's not unfolded, something balled up. "When You saw me all balled up in one small cell," if you will, "before I had fully unfolded in life, when You saw my...my rolled up embryonic unshaped galem(?) in the Hebrew, my substance, You saw me there and when You saw me there in my book," the best rendering of the text is "all the days were written which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them."
In other words, when I was nothing but that conceived person, that small cell that came together, not yet unfolded, You had already given pattern and shape to all my days. You had already laid out the plan for the history of my life before I ever unfolded to participate in it. Before I ever lived a day, You had ordered my days. You had foreordained my destiny before I ever lived that destiny.
You can see what God is saying here through the psalmist. He is the one who brings conception and at conception is the unformed destiny of a person to be lived out according to the plan of God. A violent act against that life is therefore a violent act against that plan. And God's notice of us, we have to understand, is not a passing thing.
Would you notice verse 17? "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God. How great is the sum of them." God's attention to us is not a passing thing, it's not a sort of a distraction for Him. God's attention to us is because we are precious as His own intimate created person. We're not animals. We're not just part of a biological process. We are the precious personal, intimate creation of God Himself, in His image for His purpose.
Now let's look at that idea of "His image." Go back for a moment to Genesis chapter 1 verse 25. And we need to understand this as we move along. In Genesis 1:25, we are in the process of creating now on the sixth day and the Lord is making the living creatures, the cattle and creeping things and beasts and so forth. And it says He makes them after their kind in verses 24 and 25. And at the end of verse 25, after God had made all of these animals, it says: "And God saw that it was good." It was good. God's creation was good.
"But then God said, Let us make man..." and here comes something brand new, you should have that well in mind, underline that in your Bible, "in our image after our likeness." This is the first and only thing ever created by God in His image...after His likeness. James 3:9 says that men are made after the similitude of God. We are made as acting, thinking, feeling, knowing, hoping creatures who have personality that is like unto that which God possesses. We were made in His image in His likeness.
And so, now listen carefully, not only is conception an act of God but the superintending of the process of development is controlled by God to bring about a life which will live out a destiny ordained by God. And in it all, that person is created in the very image of God. Therefore, to take that life is a serious crime, so stated in Genesis 9:6. And it says there, "Whoso sheds man's blood," that is murders, "by man shall his blood be shed." In other words, the one who murders is to be killed. Why? "For in the image of God made He man."
Now there is...there is a law for human society for all time. If someone murders, they are to be killed. Why? Because it strikes a blow at the image of God which is planted in man. And there must be such serious consequence that men are restrained from such murderous destruction. So we are made in the image of God.
You say, "But isn't the image of God marred?" Yes it is. In Psalm 51 when David faced God to confess the sin of murdering Uriah and having an adulterous relationship with his wife Bathsheba, as he was confessing his sin, he went all the way back to the root of his sin in Psalm 51:5 and he says: "Behold, here's the root of my problem, I was shaped," and here we are back in the womb again, "in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me." It isn't that his mother was an adulterous because that's not the case. It isn't that he was born illegitimate, that's not true. What he is saying is that sin was within my mother and within my nature from my very conception. So man is born and created in the image of God and yet that image is marred by sin. And therein lies the ultimate purpose of the gospel. The gospel comes to accomplish what was lost, to redo man into the image of God. That's why it says in Scripture that we'll be made like Christ for we shall see Him as He is. That's why we wait for the glorious manifestation of the sons of God, Romans 8. We long for the time when we reach glory, when we become all that God intended us to be, when we become that perfect image of God which is lost in our sinfulness.
But nonetheless, no human being is anything less than a creative work of God. No human being is anything less than created in the image of God. No human being is any less than one for whom God has planned a destiny for His own glory and His own purpose. No human being is conceived through accident, no matter what the circumstances, whether it's fornication, adultery, rape. It doesn't matter, every created being is within the allowance of God for God alone gives life. And no baby is an accident. And no baby is an enemy. And no baby is an invasion. For 127 of Psalms and verse 3 says, "Children are an heritage from the Lord." They are prepared, overseen in the womb by a sovereign God. And so we establish again that point we made last week that conception is an act of God and to violate that life conceived is to strike a blow at God who is sovereign and to be a murderer worthy only of death yourself.
Now there's a second principle that you need to understand in understanding the biblical view of abortion and it is this: God is particularly compassionate toward the helpless. God is particularly compassionate toward the helpless. Not only is conception an act of God, but God's compassion is specifically given to those that are helpless.
If you study the Scripture, you will note that it is...it is characteristic of God to reach out to those who are weak. In Psalm 82, just as an illustration, it says in verse 3: "Defend the poor and fatherless. Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy. Rid them out of the hand of the wicked." It's always been the particular business of God to defend the poor, the downtrodden, the weak, the defenseless, the helpless. In fact, that beautiful statement of Proverbs 17:5 is, "Whoso mocks the poor reproaches his maker."
In other words, when you look down on those who are helpless and in need, you reproach the one who made them. God has special concern for those who are defenseless and weak and helpless. And, dear friends, there is no one more weak or defenseless than an unborn child. And God has taken that unborn child and for its own protection placed it in the womb of its mother. And God has built in a natural love and protection of that child that only vile and wretched sinfulness could obviate as it's doing in our society. For the normal love of that mother is toward that child and that is to be a sanctuary of protection for that helpless unborn infant to enjoy. What inconceivable and heinous crime to violate the sanctuary of rest, the place of peace and nourishment, the protection of that womb and tear that life to shreds. Inconceivable. God is concerned with the protection of those who are defenseless.
To illustrate this in behalf of even an unborn child, look at Exodus chapter 21. In Exodus chapter 21, the Lord is giving some laws for the care of personal injuries, protections, even including very serious issues such as the taking of a life. The illustration given in verse 22 is very, very pertinent to our own discussion, notice it. "If men fight, or strive," here's a fight, "and hurt a woman with child." Now the scene is very obvious. Some men are fighting. They're fighting each other but as might occur in an all-out fight, the woman might try to step in and protect her husband or she might inadvertently be caught in the fight and be injured. And so, if while men are fighting they hurt a woman with child, that is a pregnant woman, a woman whose child is still in her. It's important to note the word for "child" is yalad, that word is used 88 times in the Old Testament and always for a child. So the Old Testament Hebrew sees a child in the womb and a child out of the womb as the same thing, calling it the same, a child.
And so, here then in this fight, this woman with a child is injured so that her fruit, that is the child, naphal, that is come out from her. The baby is literally expelled from the body. And if this happens, here is how to deal with this. "If no mischief follows, the one who did it shall be surely punished according as the woman's husband would lay upon him and shall pay as the judges determine."
In other words, if the child lives, for the injury to the woman, for the inconvenience, for the trauma for whatever might have been lost in the situation, the man is to pay as the husband determines and the judge agrees.
But, verse 23, "If any mischief follows..." what is the mischief? I was reading the Hebrew commentary, that is it is a commentary written by the Jews on their old text, written...on their own text, written by Kasudo(?), and he says the proper interpretation of this from the Jewish viewpoint, the Old Testament viewpoint is that the mischief means either the death of the woman or the death of the child. If in either case the woman dies or the child dies, "Then thou shalt give," verse 23 says what? "Life for life." And God therefore has ordained that in the case of the killing of a child premature to its birth, you are to pay with the giving of your own life.
Now you see, don't you, how God has protected in Hebrew law that little infant. Scripture teaches us in specific here and in general because of God's compassion toward those who are weak and defenseless and helpless that the child in the womb of the mother, the most defenseless, the most protected, should certainly be the object of a godly care and concern. And it right from the pit of hell to go into that womb and rip that creation of God to shreds in its most protected place. Inconceivable.
I was so interested to hear this week in talking to Russ Moir that his wife Heidi is to have a baby in a month. And there was some problem with nourishment to the baby still in her womb and the doctor said, "You need to go to bed and lie on your side for a whole month." Totally immobile. And you wouldn't have had to get an argument going to convince Heidi to do that, I'm quite sure, because she understands that that which is in her is an heritage from the Lord. And it is His to determine the life and the death of any individual. For her, she would get into that position as fast as possible and stay as long as possible to preserve that gift of God placed for protection within her body. Such is our attitude who understand the attitude of God.
So, Scripture teaches us that conception is an act of God and that each person conceived is the unique and intimate creation of God made in His own image for His own purposes. And Scripture also teaches us that every person who is particularly weak and defenseless is the special care of God. And certainly an infant in the mother's womb is the most defenseless of all.
Let me give you a third principle. The compassion of love demands that all of God's creatures be protected. The compassion of love...unborn infants in the womb of a mother, said the Jews of old, must be considered as neighbors. And Deuteronomy says, "Love your neighbor as...what?...yourself." And it was among those conservative orthodox Jews who held the strong anti- abortion position, it was this particular theological truth that dominated their argument. They said a child is a neighbor and a neighbor is to be loved as one's own self. See, even they knew what we all know. Even the pro-abortionists know it and all of the scientists know it, that that life within the mother is not the woman's body. It is a body all its own and a spirit all its own and a person all its own. It is in there as a neighbor to be protected and cared for and loved.
To listen to these evil harbingers of the doom of babies who cry out that the baby is an enemy trying to destroy the woman's figure, or an enemy trying to destroy her freedom or an enemy trying to betray her promiscuity, to see the baby as an enemy, somebody to be destroyed is indeed a hellish twist. I don't care whether the child is a product of adultery or fornication or rape, that child is a neighbor to be loved and cared for, not some inconvenient mass of tissue to be thrown out.
And it was among those Jews that this was celebrated as the key factor. And, of course, loving your neighbor was very clearly to them defined in myriad of ways, this being just one of them. But when the church came along, building on that sort of Jewish foundation, it was very common in the writings of the early church to see that they, too, defended their stand against abortion based upon the words of Jesus who reiterated that great Deuteronomic law such as in Matthew 22 verse 39 where He says, "Love your neighbor as yourself having loved the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength." The fact that Jesus reiterated that great truth of "love your neighbor as yourself" then put it right into the priority of the church's argument also and so you'll find in writings of the early church that they argued against abortion based on the same principle that the child was a neighbor protected in the womb of a mother and a neighbor was to be loved even as one loved his own self.
And certainly that would be the way Jesus would love and so those who name His name should love equally. The normal Christian love defined in the New Testament is that which looks on the things of others and not on one's own self. It is utterly self-sacrificial, it is utterly unselfish, it is utterly self- giving, it is utterly motivited...motivated by the care and feelings of others, rather than one's own self. And so, Christians through the centuries have always seen abortion as blood shed, as murder, as violence and as a lack of love to one who is there, a gift of God to be protected. And to destroy such a one is a terrible injustice against innocent defenseless children and the most vile act of lovelessness and selfishness.
Some people would tell us that we have to distinguish which of them are worthy of life. And so, we've got to make a value judgment as to the suitability or the viability or the worthiness of a life. That is foreign to Christianity. There is nothing taught by Christ or the Apostles in the Scripture to tell us that one life is more or less worthy than another. In Christ is there male or female? Are we like the Romans who having given birth to a girl say drown it? In Christ is there Jew or Gentile? In Christ is there bond or free? In Christ is there rich or poor? In Christ is there intellectual and ignorant? In Christ all are considered worthy. And that's been the spirit of the church because that is what the Word of God teaches. And we are not to sit in judgment as to the viability or worthiness of the life of anyone. No relative values like that even exist. And that's why Matthew 18 says, "You had better be careful if you discriminate one of the little ones within the Kingdom of Jesus Christ," Matthew 18:10. And there He uses a baby as an illustration of how we are to treat each other as Christians. Obviously implying that we would never discriminate or despise a little infant, and yet that is precisely what our society is doing.
So, principle number one is that we believe the Bible says conception is an act of God. It's clear. Secondly, compassion toward the helpless is the heart of God. And love is representative of His attitude.
Those are positives. There's also a negative. And that is this very important biblical truth, the Bible teaches the condemnations of murderers is the plan of God. Conception is an act of God. The care of that new life, its defenseless position is the unique concern of God. And loving compassion flows from the heart of God. And the negative is condemnation of murderers is the plan of God.
I believe that murder demands death. And that takes us back to Exodus 20:13, "Thou shalt not murder." And I believe to kill an unborn child is no different than to kill a fully matured adult. No different at all. "Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed for in the image of God made He man," Genesis 9:6.
You say, "Do you believe that capital punishment is still God's will?" Absolutely. Jesus reiterated it. In Matthew 26, do you remember when He was in the garden and the soldiers came to capture Him and Peter took out a sword and Peter drew his sword and hit the servant of the high priest in the ear and cut off his ear? And do you remember what Jesus said to him in verse 52? "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into place." Put your sword away. Why? "For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." And He reiterated basically lex talionis, the law of retaliation, the Old Testament law of capital punishment. He was not whimsically saying "Boy, if you go throwing your sword around, some time in the future you're liable to get it." What He said was, "If you murderously take a life, then you must give your life." And He was reaffirming the Old Testament law, and eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life.
The Apostle Paul affirmed it as well. In giving his testimony in the twenty-fifth chapter of Acts, talking before Festus the governor, he said, "If I be," in verse 11, "an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die." He had a righteous sense of the penalty for some crimes and he said I don't refuse to die, understanding that that would be within the framework of God's will had he committed a crime worthy of death. And in Romans 13, not only out of his own experience, but in his own Spirit-inspired writing, did he not say in verse 4 of Romans 13 that the one in government who is over us is a minister of God and he bears not the sword in vain? He doesn't carry the sword for nothing, for he's a minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath on him that does evil. He has a sword to kill those who kill.
Now the point I'm showing you is that the Bible reiterates, Old Testament and New Testament, that when someone murders, someone is to die. Well, that's not happening in our society. There are murders going on by the millions in our society of unborn as well as born people. And our society not only allows abortionists to go free, but it also allows murderers to get away without having to pay a death penalty which also violates the law of God.
Let me just give you a perspective on how God feels about murderers and what it does to our country, or any country, in response. In Proverbs 6:17, it says: "God hates hands that shed innocent blood." Now you tell me if there's any more innocent blood than an unborn child. Of course not. God hates hands that shed innocent blood, Proverbs 6:17 says. Proverbs 24 and I'm going to give you a few Scriptures that you might want to jot down. Proverbs 24:11 and 12, again says, "If you set out to commit a murder, to be drawn into death, to slay someone, if you say, Behold we knew it not, doth not He that weigh the heart consider it and He that keep the soul, doth He not know it and shall He not render to every man according to his works?" In other words, you can't get away...you can't get away with it. God knows whether you've done it.
In Deuteronomy, I want to go all the way back to a couple of passages in the Pentateuch. Deuteronomy 27:25, very important one, "Cursed be he who takes reward to slay an innocent person." The only thing worse than slaying an innocent person and no more innocent person exists than an unborn child, the only thing worse would be to take money for it. That's precisely what goes on.
In Leviticus chapter 18, verse 21, it says, "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech." The people were offering their little babies in the fire to the god Molech. Because they were doing that, verse 25 says, "And the land is defiled, therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants." In other words, I'm going to wipe you out, I'm going to destroy you, the land is going to vomit you out because you are killing your children, you are killing your children. This is innocent blood.
In 2 Kings 24 verse 4, God brings condemnation upon Israel for the innocent blood that he shed for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood which the Lord would not pardon. Speaking of Nebuchadnezzar and coming in in great judgment. And again we find that Jerusalem is filled with innocent blood, that the...that the blood is unrequited and God is angry because something has to be done, someone has to pay.
In Amos, and we're hurrying through some of these but they're very important. Amos chapter 1 verse 13, God speaks against the Ammonites and He says, "I'm going to punish you because you have ripped up the women with child in Gilead." And again, this terrible sin of the murder of children, the offering of children as a sacrifice and so forth.
Now, the result of this and all other kinds of murders is that the land is filled with blood, unrequited blood, blood for which there is no satisfaction made from God...to God, rather. You go back to Psalm 106, just listen to verse 38. It talks about the fact that the people had sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, that they had shed innocent blood. That's the murder of children. Even the blood of their sons and of their daughters whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan. Here it is, "And the land was polluted with blood."
Now in the land of Israel there was blood pollution because so many children were being murdered and the ground was crying out as it had back in Genesis 4:10 when God confronts Cain and says, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries unto Me from the ground and now art thou cursed from the earth which has opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand." And the imagery here is vivid. Unrequited blood, that is murders for whom there is no justice or for which there is no justice, there is no retribution, fills the land with unrequited blood. And the land becomes blood guilty until payment is made, until retaliation is given.
Now the Old Testament even further discusses this unrequited blood concept that something has to be done. In Genesis 42:22, Reuben speaks and he speaks about the fact that in regard to the sin that they had committed against their brother, he says, "Therefore behold also his blood is required." See, they knew the plan of God and they knew the law of God and they knew that God required blood when blood was shed.
In Leviticus chapter 20, and I can't show you all the illustrations but Leviticus 20 verse 9, "Everyone who curses his father or mother shall be put to death, he has cursed his father or his mother, his blood shall be upon him." Verse 13, again about a man lying with mankind, a homosexual, "They shall be put to death, their blood shall be upon them." Verse 27, a man or woman as a familiar spirit involved in demonic activity shall be put to death, "Their blood shall be upon them." In other words, blood guiltiness, blood sits in the ground unrequited. The crime is unresolved until someone pays the price.
Now you tell me. In a country that is murdering at the rate of two-million babies a year, to say nothing of the criminal murders for which there is no blood shed, you tell me how this land will ever rid itself of the unrequited blood? We are in a place where the condemnation of God can justly fall upon us for mass murders for which there has been made no retribution. And I would suggest to you that there is no more clearer evidence of the moral breakdown of our society and its utter disregard for God than this mass murder of millions of babies and the obliteration of the death penalty. That tells us that we do not believe man is made in the image of God, that we do not care what the Word of God, the law of God says and our land is filling up with blood never to be requited and thus we bring ourselves into a position to be under the almighty judgment of eternal God. There is unrequited blood in this land that no one has paid for and that brings the wrath of God.
That's what the Scripture teaches and there's no way around it. I wish we had time to look even deeper into what the Old Testament says. But listen to 2 Samuel 4:11, "How much more when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed," now you tell me if that isn't a description of an unborn child. A righteous person in his own house upon his bed...sure it means a good man, but if it means a good man it certainly would imply a protected child..."Shall I not therefore now require his blood of your hand and take you away from the earth?" Shouldn't I get you out of that human life and get you out of the earth for what you've done and require his blood from you?" Yes He should. Blood requires blood, that's the law of God.
And so, I believe our nation exists today with a pool of blood that is unrequited blood and the judgment of God waits on our nation and on those who are the murderers within our nation.
Let me digress for just a brief moment and mention another important thought. In the abortions of ancient times, as today, drugs were an important part. Now I believe in medicine and I thank God for drugs. I don't think any of us who have had life saving surgery would like to have just been biting on a rag while they were doing their triple bypass. I'm not against drugs, I think they have a very important place in our society. I thank God for them. I thank God that when I've had a headache, I've been able to take something that assists in that. So, I think there's a proper use of those things that God has allowed. But there's also in society is an improper use.
And in ancient times, drugs were often a part of magic and sorcery and evil doings. And these kind of drugs, if you read some of the ancient writings around the Greek and Roman Empire, around the time of Christ and a little bit after, you find were very commonly used in abortions. Some of them were called "pessaries" and those were concoctions that were literally induced through the birth canal to destroy the child in the womb. They were used in abortion that way. Others of them were called "poisons," or "abortifacients" and they were taken orally. They were drunk by the woman, went in and created the problems, killed the child and caused its body to be expelled in one way or another. This was so common in the Roman Empire that you can read all kinds of ancient writings about it.
For example, one writer, Galen, writing in ancient times wrote about drugs, quote: "To destroy the embryo or rupture certain of its membranes," end quote, in leading to an abortion. You can read about medical experts of the Roman Empire who discussed various concoctions like mixing wine with seeds and myrtle and myrrh and white pepper and cabbage blossoms and ammoniac salt and hedge mustard and it goes on and on with all these strange bizarre concoctions and they tell the people, "Take it on an empty stomach and under certain conditions it will expel the child out of your womb and abort your pregnancy."
Pliny, the great Roman historian of ancient times, spoke of certain potions that were used by the people commonly in abortion. Clement of Alexander, responding to that as an early church father, lived between 150 and 215 A.D., wrote, "Our whole life can go on in observation of the laws of nature if we gain dominion over our desires from the beginning and if we do not kill, by various means of a perverse art, the human offspring." And that's...that was his concern, that people were killing the human offspring. "For these women who in order to hide their immorality use abortive drugs which expel the child completely dead, abort at the same time their human feelings," end quote. He is commenting on the fact that abortions were common and drugs were commonly used in that.
Minucius Felix, a third century apologist, wrote, "And there are women who swallow drugs to stifle in their own womb the beginnings of a man to be, committing infanticide before they give birth to the infant."
And Hippolytus, who wrote after 222, wrote: "Women reputedly believers began to resort to drugs for producing sterility and so to expel what was conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time," end quote.
And Basil who lived in 330 to 379 condemned women and those who helped them by giving them, quote, "drugs causing abortion," and he called them deliberate murderers.
Ambrose, living at the same time, the bishop of Milan wrote about the use of parasital mixtures by which they snuff out the fruit of their wombs.
And the great writer, Jerome, living from about 340 to 420, observed that society which was immoral was encouraging women to, quote, "Practice abortion by use of drugs and murdering unborn children."
Now I want to point that out because it was a common factor in the abortions of the past that drugs were used. Such use of drugs certainly is a sinful thing. And I believe the Word of God speaks to that, in part. Look at Galatians 5:20, and just quickly, I want to show you some brief Scripture. Galatians 5:20, you will notice that one of the works of the flesh which is condemned and for which men will not inherit the Kingdom of God is the second word in verse 20. The word is pharmakia. It is translated "sorcery in some editions, but it is the word pharmakiafrom which we get "pharmacy." Its proper translation is "drugs." It is used of a medicine. It is also used of a drug used in sorcery, magic, or evil doing.
In the book of Revelation, please, quickly chapter 9, first of all, and verse 21, "The judgment of God will fall in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and it will fall," verse 21 says, "because men have not repented of their murders, nor of their pharmakia, their drugs, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts." It could well be that the murders associated with the drugs and associated with the fornications could well also encompass the abortions that were being done by the use of those same drugs. The word for sorceries is the word pharmakia, a cognate form is used several times in Revelation to refer to drugs used in an evil way.
In Revelation 18, verse 23, the verse ends discussing the pharmakia, or the sorceries that all nations were deceived by. In chapter 21, verse 8, it says that the unbelievers and murderers and fornicators and pharmakiaagain, "I hear you come together with murder and fornication and drugs." And it may well be that part of their fornicating and murdering were drugs used in abortions and God says they'll burn with fire in the lake that is the second death. In Revelation 22:15, again outside the Kingdom, shut out of heaven forever and ever are the dogs, and here we are again, the ones who take drugs and fornicate and murder.
Isn't it interesting that all that sort of goes together? The taking of drugs, fornication and murder, all a part of the same kind of life. Are you seeing that today? Did you see that when they captured that terrible sinner yesterday who had killed all those people that all wrapped up in one package was drugs and fornication, rape and sex perversion and murder. It's a package. And that package expresses itself on occasion in ancient history and on occasion in present history in abortion where the fornication produces the need for doing it, the drug is the reason...the drug, rather, is the cause of the murder itself. Could it be that in these passages when the Lord uses the word pharmakia, He has in mind, among many things, those kinds of murders that are drug induced in the womb?
I think the Bible's clear, don't you, about its view of these things? And we ask this question, in conclusion. Can God forgive? Does He forgive? Let me ask...ask you that. Will the Lord forgive this sin? Will He? Sure. Of course He will.
Listen to a letter I received.
My mother raised me in a Baptist church where she was raised and I was baptized when I was in my early teens. Throughout the years, I'm certain that God watched over me and protected me from harm. Of all my family, I was the first to graduate ever from graduate school and certainly the one who was headed for the greatest success in a career. Until the last two years, however, I experienced little Christian growth.
After my family broke up, I went through an unending series of relationships, searching for someone to marry so I wouldn't be left alone. I entered the dating scene and sex was a large part of my life. I mistakingly substituted sexual feelings for feelings of love and one after another, my relationships were destroyed.
Two years ago this month, I sat in my new apartment with a broken spirit. I was failing graduate school. My relationships had fallen apart again. And worst of all, I had gotten someone pregnant.
In violation of everything I believed, I convinced her to have an abortion so that my career and reputation would be protected. I began to grieve for my child, the one I had sentenced to death. I cried when I saw children in television commercials or in movies. I wept when I saw mothers playing with their young ones on the beach.
The worst moment of my life came when the woman I had impregnated was walking on the beach with me. We talked of the future, my career, and the relationships I wanted to form. She explained that she had to change her plans entirely from being a housewife and mother to being a business woman. I told her that children could still fit into that life style and that's when she reluctantly told me that the abortion of my child had caused too much scar tissue and she would never have her own children.
I had never experienced so much emotional pain before, carrying the guilt of having both destroyed your own child and eternally preventing another person from knowing children of her own. I prayed fervently to God, confessing my sin and asking forgiveness.
Well, it's wonderful to be able to say to a person like this that the Lord will forgive you and the Lord has forgiven you if you've confessed that and come to Jesus Christ. For He forgives all our sins, does He not? And the Lord can even restore. The Lord can even put the life back together in a wonderful way. Listen to this letter I received just after last Sunday's message:
What a dynamic sermon. But I have to say the tears that came to my eyes overwhelmed me. My heart was so heavy. You see, I have always been a Christian and about ten years ago, at age 17, I had an abortion. I can't even begin to explain the despair and anger which I felt then.
My relationship with my parents was not good. At that time I moved out of our home to keep my parents from knowing. I worked full time and completed high school. It was hell.
There was no one to help me, no one to confide in. I was so frightened. I went to Planned Parenthood and told them I wanted my baby. They thought I was crazy. In no way did they offer me other alternatives, such as adoption or help from the state. The only advice they offered was that of an abortion and how to go to Medi-Cal and tell them I didn't know who the father was. That way, Medi-Cal would pay for it.
The ordeal was a horrendous nightmare I will never forget. I remember especially the doctor singing opera while the procedure was being done. I cried for months. The only thing that pulled me through was the fact that Jesus forgave me and with His blessings, I now have three beautiful little children and I keep reassuring myself that in heaven I will have a child I haven't yet met.
I believe that. I believe God is a God of grace and He'll forgive. I also believe God is a God of grace and I believe based on what Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for if such is the Kingdom of heaven," what He said in Luke 15:15 to 18, I believe that when that little life is snuffed out, God takes that little one into His presence to fulfill His intended destiny for His glory.
It is the grace of God that forgives the murderer. It is the grace of God that rescues the victim. Yes, God is a God of grace and we can reach out for that grace.