On April 17th, our church hosted a missionary couple. Due to the sensitive nature of some of the material presented, this week's blog post will be from a message that was preached at the church earlier this year (January 17th). The topic is the sanctity of life.
On November 27, 2015, a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A police officer and two civilians were killed; five police officers and four civilians were injured. After a standoff that lasted five hours, police SWAT teams crashed armored vehicles into the lobby and the attacker surrendered. He was taken into custody and later identified as Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. On November 30, Dear was charged with first-degree murder and was ordered held without bond. At a December 9 court appearance, Dear repeatedly interrupted proceedings, made statements affirming his guilt (although he had not entered a formal plea), and expressed anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood views, calling himself "a warrior for the babies." He appeared in court again on December 23, and asserted his desire to act as his own attorney in the criminal case against him; the judge ordered a mental competency evaluation to assess whether Dear is sufficiently competent to exercise his right to do so. (Source Wikipedia)
“A warrior for the babies.” That is what most people think about when it comes to those who cling to a Pro-Life position. But Pro-Life should be about more than the unborn; it should also include the already born. Pro-life is about being for life – regardless of age. And most humans understand that well. It is what separates us from other animals. For instance, if you watch a predatory animal, they typically prey on the very young, the very old, or the injured. Humans tend to look after those who are very young, very old, and/or injured.
But something about an unborn child is different. There are many who do not believe that the form inside the body is a human. Some have even suggested that we shouldn’t consider the form a human until it is a few days old. That is preposterous. I am sure that many of these same individuals gush over a newborn puppy or kitten. The thing is that Christians are often called hypocrites – and, let’s face it, we often are. But that is why we need Christ! Yet, those who oppose God-given principles are often hypocrites, yet refuse to acknowledge it.
But the purpose of this post is not to degrade those who disagree...such tactics do not reflect the nature of Christianity. Rather, my intent is to provide biblical evidence that life does, indeed, begin in the womb. But I also want to point out that our response, as followers of Christ, is not to take a warrior-like position by harming others. To do so, is not pro-life, it is pro-self. We must absolutely be a voice for life, but we do so to bring life and to allow the Lord to restore the hurt that so many experience.
So, let’s look at a few passages that can help us see that God’s choice is life.
God makes us in the womb.
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 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.
Now, these verses don’t really suggest much from the human side, but we see the psalmist recognizes that God knows every detail of what is going on in the womb. Biologically, we are formed in the womb when sperm penetrates the egg, and the cells begin to multiply. But this passage teaches us that God is behind the scenes working to form us. The words intricately woven reveal that no child is made by accident – but is meant to have a purpose. And that purpose is designed by God, which leads us to our second point.
God calls us from the womb.
4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
We see here evidence that God’s plan for us begins in the womb. Psalm 139 showed us that God is busy forming us, and here we see that this forming is done for a specific purpose. God needed someone to speak on His behalf to the nations. Specifically, Jeremiah was the prophet chosen to record the reasons and the actual events of the destruction of Jerusalem in 587-586 BC.
Now some might say that God chose Jeremiah late in his mother's term. So let us turn elsewhere. How about John the baptizer. When Gabriel came to Zechariah (not the prophet, but John’s father) to tell him he would have a son, Gabriel said this (as recorded in Luke 1):
13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
Again, we see God preparing someone to serve Him. This time the preparing takes place even before conception. But the story gets better. Later, Mary arrives at Elizabeth’s house. Listen to what Luke records later in the first chapter.
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
John, as a child inside the womb, leapt when he heard Mary’s voice. Of course, science continues to show that children do hear from within the womb. They can tell their mother's voice from another woman’s immediately at birth because of having spent nine months inside her and listening to her talk and communicate with others. Just like Jesus with Mary and John with Elizabeth.
But there are two more instances that I want to briefly mention which, like John, show activity in the womb.
We are active in the womb.
Both passages mentioned here relate not just to one child in the womb, but to twins. The first passage relates to two well-known twins – Esau and Jacob.
21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.”
24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
Notice verse 22 says they struggled within her. And even as they were born, Jacob was grabbing the heel of his brother suggesting that their fighting never stopped. And again, God’s plan had already been developed as we see in His explanation to Rebekah.
The other set of twins might not be as well known to some, but one of them is a direct ancestor of Christ, so it is an important story. The story begins with some chicanery, but again our purpose here shows that there is at least some activity prior to birth.
27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.
Again, it appears we have a bit of a struggle. Zerah stretches his arm out through the womb, and gets a scarlet thread tied to his wrist before pulling his hand back in. Then, his brother Perez is born first instead. Perez is identified in both Matthew 1 and Luke 3 as an ancestor of Jesus. Zerah on the other hand (no pun intended), was an ancestor to Achan, who caused the Israelites to fail in their battle at Ai because of his thievery at Jericho.
Both of these two passages reveal that there is activity in the womb. The previous verses showed that God is active not only in forming us in the womb, but in planning our purpose in, or even, before we are conceived. If the Bible makes these matters clear then we have to determine whether we believe the Bible. In essence, we must choose whether what God says is right, or if what society believes is right. In this matter God does give us a choice. But His choice is life.
Now, you might be thinking that I have provided some examples of life in the womb, but haven’t really provided any evidence that God favors life. If that is what you are thinking, you are correct. Although, I could provide plenty of examples, I am going to simply give share one. The context of the passage relates to life as a Christ-follower, but the verse no doubt speaks to life in contrast to death.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." John 10.10
Notice life is the gift of God. Jesus came so we might follow Him and have life. It is the devil that seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Again, this verse is about our life as a follower of Jesus, as opposed to the devil who leads us away from true life. But isn’t that indicative of abortion. Children who are aborted have their life stolen from them – the decision to terminate their life is not theirs, it is made by someone else. They are killed and destroyed mercilessly. In contrast, Jesus offers life to all – and an abundant life at that.
That is why we must consider the issue of life and choice as about more than just the unborn. It is ultimately about honoring God. God wants us to have an abundant life – for all of our life. For many the idea of an abundant life equates to winning the lottery. But that isn’t what God promises, and in fact, He promises more because most lottery winners end up broke. But God wants us to enjoy Him throughout this life and beyond. Thus, we must value life that is unborn, life that is young and life that is old, life that is vibrant and life that is fragile. It isn’t just about allowing children to be born, but preventing death as well. That is why the Colorado shooting was so misguided. He tried to protect the unborn by killing those responsible. The Bible does speak of times that God called for this type of action, but we cannot condone what happened in Colorado, and in so many other places, because the principles are against the norms of God.
The Lord Loves the Unborn
Much of this article has been about the unborn, even though the bigger picture is life. So, before I conclude this post, let me provide one last argument for the unborn, in representing all of life. This came from a tweet on December 24:
Jesus arrived as an unborn baby.
The first person to recognize Jesus was an unborn baby.
The Lord loves the unborn.
- Matt Smethurst (@MattSmethurst)
Planned Parenthood has received a lot of bad press over the past year. Some of the allegations have been particularly disturbing. But whatever the full truth is in those situations, what we can truly know is that God has long planned the parenthood for people throughout history, including for some of those mentioned in the Bible such as Tamar, Rebekah, Elizabeth, Mary, and others. And while God often provides a choice of some nature, the Bible reveals that He has specific plans for the adulthood of Perez and Zerah, Esau and Jacob, Jeremiah, John, and, of course, Jesus. Again, they also had choices to make, but God chose to give them life so they could fulfill their God-given potential and their God-chosen ministry.
Our JOURNEY, therefore, is R for Revere. Again, the ultimate decision today is whether we value life as God’s values it, or whether we succumb to the teachings of the devil. I know that sounds harsh, but if Jesus came to die for humanity, and He did, then that puts the true value upon all lives, whether we want to agree or not. We must choose to value what God values, and to revere Him not only for what He has done, but for who He is.
So, what about our next steps? Well, this post has two steps. One is for all of us, and the second is for those who do not yet know Jesus as Savior.
Everyone – Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
If Jesus died for one human sinner, then He died for all human sinners. Therefore, that includes all of us regardless of how we feel about the issue of life and especially for those who have struggled with the pain of an abortion. Too many Christians chastise and criticize people who are in pain, and then we wonder why they won’t turn to God. We are to rebuke sin, but we are to love people – Love your neighbor as yourself! Jesus came to give abundant life to all, so why do we take it from them, acting like a tool of the devil? Sometimes we must be reminded of 1 John 4.19-21 which says that we love because God first loved us. But John goes on to say that we cannot say that we love God whom we cannot see if we don’t love others whom we can. He is primarily speaking of Christian brothers and sisters, but the point is that we often berate the very people God commands us to love. If we are to follow Christ, we must show them compassion and tell them of the life He offers, even as we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4.15) and teach others to obey all the Jesus commanded (Matthew 28.20).
Some – You must be born again.
A part of loving others is help each one to know of the choice to follow Jesus. Many may know the verse John 3.16. But earlier in the same passage, Jesus said one birth is not enough. We must be born of the flesh, but we must also be born of the Spirit. Using the harshness of the word, too many people abort their faith and are never born of the Spirit. Without this birth, this faith, one may live physically, but will face eternal death. Is today the day you choose God? Is today the day you decide to follow Jesus? Like a baby in the birth canal, if you decide to be born again, don’t turn back. The abundant life promised by Jesus awaits.