Genesis 1:25-27; Jeremiah 1:5

Today we continue our series, “Did God Really Say,” looking at God’s design for human flourishing, the brokenness that exists in areas of authority, life, race, gender, sexuality, responsibility, and justice, and then God’s path for restoration. We simply won’t flourish unless we agree with what God really did say!

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the SCOTUS decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortion and the 40th anniversary of honoring Martin Luther King. President Reagan designated a day for both. Both are worthy to remember and both point to sad human realities that should grieve our heart. We will look at ‘sanctity of life’ today and ‘racial harmony’ next week. Tonight we will earnestly pray for both.

I know for many the issue of abortion is not theoretical or cultural, it’s personal. Many of us have either had an abortion, paid for one, or pressured someone to get one. Many can’t completely stop grieving. Addressing the issue of abortion while loving those who have been hurt by it is difficult, so let me remind us of grace. If you have trusted Jesus and confessed your sin, you are forgiven, loved, and valued in this family. If not, I invite you to trust Jesus who can restore your soul as He has restored ours.

A SPECIAL DIGNITY

I have read that when agents are trained to spot counterfeit money, they spend little time looking at fake money and more time looking at the real thing.[1] Similarly, I want to help us look at the Bible to see the dignity of human life. Try to imagine God’s goodness. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). On His own initiative, God created a world fit for human habitation. On the sixth day:

“God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:25-27).

 Many years later, deep into the biblical story, God came to a man named Jeremiah with words important to this issue. 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” (Jeremiah 1:5). How does God plant dignity into human life?

1. GOD CREATES US IN HIS IMAGE (GENESIS 1:24-27)

Unlike the animals and trees, which God created “according to their kind,” God created us “in his own image,” or according to His kind. Look at a puppy and you learn something about a dog, but look at a human and you learn something about God. We are uniquely relational, spiritual, moral, and intellectual because God is relational, spiritual, moral, and intellectual. We love, talk, and pray. We feel guilt when we sin. We wonder about our purpose and count our days. This means that every human possesses unique and equal dignity as an image bearer of God and should be treated with honor. For this reason, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen. 9:6).

2. GOD FORMS US IN THE WOMB (JEREMIAH 1:5)

His hands are present in this special space! God said, “Before I formed you in the womb.” The Psalmist said to God, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”[2] This truth is echoed repeatedly.[3] God’s good hands are at work at every stage of our development. At 2 weeks, cells are dividing. At 4 weeks, the neural tube and head form. At 5 weeks, the heart beats. At 6 weeks, there is brain activity. At 8 weeks, all organs are present.[4] We should want to know this life that He is forming.

3. GOD KNOWS US IN THE WOMB (JEREMIAH 1:5)

He knows us personally in this special space! “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” In the womb, God has intimate knowledge of us and desires that we grow to have intimate knowledge of Him. Our first thought of God was not His first thought of us. We should want to know those He knows.

4. GOD HAS PLANS FOR US IN THE WOMB (JEREMIAH 1:5)

He appoints life purpose in this special space! “Before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the nations.” God dedicates our life in the womb with a purpose and knits us with a unique array of intelligence, aptitude, and interest that aligns with His purpose. God’s plans for every individual are appointed in the womb. We should want to know what those plans are.

A Bigger Story

These truths about life are scattered through a story. In Genesis 3, Satan came into the world and tempted the man and woman to sin by questioning God’s goodness, truthfulness, and justice. Their sin brought devastation and death. In the bleakness of this moment, God promised to send a Rescuer! A special son (seed) would be born of woman. His heel would be bruised, but He would crush Satan’s head.[5] The answer to our sin problem would be a war between the serpent and this ‘son,’ ultimately won by the son.

In Gen. 4, Cain kills his brother Abel. The Bible says Cain “was of the evil one,”[6] meaning his intent came from Satan. So God declared war between the serpent and ‘the son’, and the serpent fired the first shot by killing a son. In Gen. 5, Adam and Eve have another son. Then we get a 10-generation genealogy from Adam to Noah to prove that the promised ‘seed’ would survive the flood. The rest of Genesis traces the promised ‘seed’ from Noah, to his son Shem, and then to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah.

When we arrive at Exodus, Pharoah orders the killing of Jewish baby boys as evidence of Satan’s war on ‘the son.’ God saw to it that the ‘seed’ survived. The promise passes to each generation as the call to hope in ‘the coming son’ is proclaimed. When we get to the New Testament, Matthew begins with a genealogy that connects ‘the son’ in Genesis 3 to Jesus. Jesus is then born in Bethlehem. Do you know what happens next? Herod orders the killing of every baby boy as evidence of Satan’s war on ‘the son.’ God saw to it that ‘the seed’ survived. Jesus grew up. He was tempted as we are, but lived without sin. Jesus then went to Jerusalem where He died for our sin. He was buried and on the third day He rose from dead. Jesus is the promised son who came into this world to seek us, save us, and rescue His design from our sin. For all who put their faith in Jesus Christ, God forgives, justifies, empowers, and enables us to flourish again.

The battle rages on. In Revelation, a book that uses symbolism to describe the final victory of ‘the son,’ John describes a woman about to give birth to a son whom Satan, depicted as a dragon, wants to devour.[7] From Genesis to Revelation, there is a spiritual war between the serpent and ‘the son’ that is reflected in the mistreatment and extermination of human life both inside and outside of the womb.

Jesus did more than provide salvation. He also vindicated the sanctity of human life from conception to death. Jesus could have come any way He desired. He chose to be conceived in a womb. He grew up, experienced life, suffered, and then experienced death. Whether we are talking about protecting babies in the womb or protecting people when they are frail at the end of their lives, Christ validated it all.

Beliefs & Actions

There are no beliefs in Christianity that don’t have corresponding actions. For example, we believe God is holy, so we worship. We believe God cares, so we pray. We believe Jesus is the only way to heaven, so we share. If we believe God forms human life in the womb, how are we to respond?

First, let’s yield to God’s Word as our authority. Each side loves to tell compelling stories. Stories raise sympathy and money. My sister is adopted. Her birth mother was a teenager. Her amazing life, however, is not the authority. God is the authority. Today, ‘lived experience’ is said to be truth. This is why some believe men shouldn’t speak about the morality of abortion because they have no experience with pregnancy. The value of human life is not determined by our thoughts, our desires, or the circumstances surrounding conception, but by God. His words, not ours, must be our authority for life to flourish.

Second, let’s see abortion as sin that can be forgiven by Christ. Abortion is taking a life while it is being formed by God. Abortion neglects God’s goodness in forming life, disregards His truthfulness about the value of life, and denies His justice for how we treat life in the womb.[8] Our sin is deep, but when we look to Christ with contrition, He says, “I am he who blots out your transgressions.”[9] The wage of sin is death. For God to acquit the guilty and remain just, He sent Christ to die in our place. When we trust Christ, He takes our sin and gives His righteousness. There is no condemnation for those in Christ.[10] God’s grace covers even the baby’s place in heaven, as I tried to show in a sermon entitled, “What All Kids Need.”[11]

Third, let’s speak in love for the cause of life. God tells us to “open our mouth for the mute,”[12] those who can’t speak for themselves. For generations we’ve been taught evolutionary theory. If random matter and energy gave rise to life, we have the authority to remove disruptions to our lives. Holding to this view, when people have competing desires, might typically makes right, and the stronger prevails.[13] The world needs to know that God created life. He determines what is right. He provides answers for life in the Bible that we have the responsibility to share in love. Here are three questions commonly asked.

  • What about a baby conceived by rape? What a horrible reality! No amount of sympathy for the woman is enough. I can’t imagine the strain of carrying a child conceived in this manner. The Bible says the man should be punished justly, but the “children should not be put to death because of their fathers.”[14] The mother is hurting beyond measure, but the baby is innocent.
  • What about a baby with a disability? This is no small challenge for a parent, nor is there an easy answer. My own son was born with a tethered spinal cord. I was comforted by the story where Jesus said of the man born blind that his disability was ultimately to show God’s glory.[15] How many testimonies have we heard about the blessing involved with raising kids with special needs?
  • What about women’s health? This is a popular argument that fits a tiny fraction of pregnancies. In complex ethical issues, there is a rule of reason called First Principles. Applied here, it says that in pregnancies where the baby cannot survive (ectopic pregnancy) and the mom can only survive by removing the fertilized egg it is morally right to provide the intervention to save her life.[16]

Fourth, let’s distinguish ourselves by love. Many pregnant moms agree with these truths but feel they have no other option in the moment. For many in church, the guilt of abortion is preferred over the shame of pregnancy. We can help by having a track record of care. We can calm their fears with our presence and acceptance. We can support single moms through their pregnancy and beyond by helping in practical ways. We can look into adoption, foster parenting, and serving or giving to the 89 crisis pregnancy centers in NC. (This same fervency of care should also be extended to the poor, mistreated, hungry, and elderly.) I know that many of you are doing this well. May the Lord continue to strength your hands!

If you deciding on a pregnancy would you talk to us or to a ministry we support called Gateway.[17] They provide sonograms, counseling, and help. If you are hurting because of a past decision related to abortion, let me point you Gateway[18] or to Love Life’s ministry called Restored Life.[19] These trained and caring ministries, which are led by some in our church family, want to help.

 Fifth, let’s tell someone of Christ. We often mistake the symptomatic divisions in society as the primary cause of the brokenness instead of the faultlines in our understanding and relationship with God. When we confuse the symptom with the source, we make fixing the societal divisions our ultimate hope, but this has no lasting power to save. Jesus is the hope of the world. He is alone can change a heart. Billions of people woke up today without Him. It is our privilege to go and tell them where hope can be found. 

Finally, let me invite you to put your trust in Jesus. He did the hard work to make reconciliation with God and peace with one another possible by living without sin, dying in our place, and rising from the dead. Those who put their faith in Jesus’ blood are forgiven, justified, and empowered to flourish. I invite you to admit your need, believe in Christ, and confess Him Lord!

If you are not ready, but would be interested in gathering with a small group of seekers and skeptics to explore God’s story, we have a group beginning Jan 29th. You can sign up at pray.org/explore.

 

 

[1] https://www.challies.com/articles/counterfeit-detection-part-1/

[2] Psalm 139:13

[3] Psalm 22:9-10; Job 31:15; 33:4; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Isaiah 49:5

[4] https://ldh.la.gov/page/986

[5] Genesis 3:15

[6] 1 John 3:12

[7] Revelation 12:4

[8] Proverbs 6:16-17

[9] Isaiah 43:25

[10] Romans 8:1

[11] https://www.pray.org/sermons/what-all-kids-need/

[12] Proverbs 31:8-9

[13] James 4:1-2

[14] Deuteronomy 24:16

[15] John 9:1-3

[16] https://gatewaywomens.care/abortion-info/ectopic-pregnancy-abortion/

[17] https://gatewaywomens.care/

[18] https://gatewaywomens.care/abortion-info/after-abortion/

[19] https://lovelife.org/restoredlife/