This week one of our attendees told me, “I am very nervous about this week’s topic at church. In 1984 at the age of 18, I had an abortion. I already had my daughter and had separated from her father after a violent episode. I know that God has forgiven me…but I haven’t forgiven myself. Do you have any scripture that can help?”
I have been praying about being full of grace and truth all week in preparation for this teaching. That is my heart’s desire for this weekend….so if the service topic has not scared you off, please stay right where you are…I think healing will be found in your heart today.
One of the most difficult experiences in my first year in ministry as a young 18-year-old Youth Pastor was in counseling a fifteen-year-old girl who already had one child, who came to know Christ and then told me two weeks later that part of the fear and depression in her life was that she was pregnant again. I counseled her, cried with her, and shared with her. Right after that, she disappeared for two weeks. I found out that she had had an abortion.
Another woman in our church has given me permission to share a portion of her story….
“As a child, I grew up in a home where love was scarce. It was a weapon used freely against others. So I lived life with no trust in love, including God’s love. You see, I kicked God out of my life at an early age, and that left a huge hole in me. As I grew up, I tried to fill the void in my life with many things. Teen sex was a temporary way to feel the love that I longed for, a way to feel as if I belonged, fit in, or just that someone cared about me.
“Well, just after my 16th birthday, I discovered that I was pregnant. In all actuality, I knew something was wrong much sooner than I did anything about it. Eventually, a friend and her mom took me to Planned Parenthood for a test. I had not told my mom at this point. The test was, of course, positive. In my mind, I became certain of two things: 1) I had to tell my mom, and 2) I had to finish High School. The latter was the reason I initially gave myself for not even considering keeping my baby. So I went to my mom and told her. Surprisingly enough, she already knew something was wrong. She was loving and compassionate, never condemning. She let me know that she would back me no matter my decision. I told her that I had to finish school. You see, in the world, I grew up in, teen pregnancy meant dropping out of school, living in poverty, and going on welfare – none of which I wanted.
“So began the real journey. The process was much more painful than many know. First, I went to a doctor who tried to tell me I was too far along and would have no choice but to carry the baby to term. Determined and together with my mother, I pressed on. Eventually, the situation forced me to have an ultrasound. Since I had waited so long to confirm the obvious, an ultrasound was necessary to confirm the child’s age. This would prove to be the loneliest moment of my life as my mother would refuse to come in the room with me during this procedure. As I lay there, pregnant and alone, I cried. The nurse came in and began to look around. As she looked, a tiny head appeared on the screen, a picture that stays with me even ‘til this day. Finally, it was determined that “he” was 16.6 weeks old, just under the 20-week cut-off. Feeling momentarily relieved, we made the appointment. I would have a DNC, a seaweed insert that opens the birth canal and allows the baby to come too early to survive. After the procedure was over and I went home, my life became blurred for a while. I just existed
“Eventually, I got married, got saved and became a Christian, and went on to have a family. I still struggle with what happened almost 20 years ago, but I am comforted to know that I will see and hold my child one day. Until that day, I know he is safe with God and that God has forgiven me for ending that life.”(CVC Attender)
Today, I do not have the time available within this teaching to share all the medical, scientific, and social information regarding abortion today; however, I would like to share some specific websites that can assist you if you desire more information:
A Biblical Framework for Life
1) God Values Human Life.
Psalm 139:13-15, Luke 1:35, Luke 1:41, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Job 2:10; Ecclesiastes 3:12
In 1990, I preached a sermon about abortion where I made this statement quoting a person I had researched: “the person wondered how our view of abortion would change if we were able to see through the mother’s abdominal wall while the embryo and fetus were developing, how would our view of abortion change as a society?”
In the New Testament, the baby Mary is carrying is called the “holy offspring,” not a “blob of tissue” or a “potential” being Pastor John Piper, PhD, says that the Bible describes the unborn in personal terms-nothing like the impersonal terms of abortion-“choice, contents of the uterus, products of conception, a blob of tissue, pregnancy mass and the like”. (Renaming, slurring or reclassifying humans precedes oppression and is necessary to quiet our guilt). The infancy narratives about the birth of Jesus show that his cousin John the Baptist had a personality in utero. While still a baby in the womb, he leapt for joy. The same New Testament Greek word brephos is used to describe John’s inter-uterine joy (Luke 1.41), the baby Jesus (Luke 2.12, 16) and the children approaching Jesus during his ministry (Luke 18.15). Piper says that Genesis 25.22 uses the ordinary word in Hebrew for children to describe the fraternal skirmish in Rebekah’s womb.
2) The Womb Is Sacred Space.
Psalm 139:13-16: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
This is one of the most precious passages in the Bible. God knew you before you entered this world. The womb of your mother is sacred ground…God was there and He knew you then just as He knows you now. Tragically, we have made the mother’s womb a very dangerous place in America.
3) Every Life Has Purpose
Jeremiah 1:4-5: “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Not only does God not make any “junk”, everything God does has purpose and meaning. When God created the earth, “ex-nihilo”, he made something out of nothing. God never makes nothing out of something. He always makes something from our nothingness.
In his book Sanctity of Life, Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a couple who married during the Great Depression when he was middle-aged and she was in her twenties. Exactly 10 months after their wedding day, their first child was born — a baby boy. Times were tough, but they managed fairly well. Before their second anniversary, along came a second child, this time a girl. Their hands were certainly full with this addition!
And then lo and behold, in January long before their fourth anniversary the following October, the mother conceived her third child, even though they were using contraceptives. The other two children were, obviously, still in diapers. Finances were very challenging. The mother’s health was not good, and understandably she was tired all the time. She didn’t especially enjoy young children to begin with; she was depressed. The pressures were so great that it would’ve been easy to consider seeking out someone, who could perform an abortion, even though they were illegal. However, this couple was convinced that they should accept whatever God had sovereignty planned for them. In spite of the circumstances, they chose to trust God and have that baby in October of 1934.
That baby was Charles R. Swindoll, president of Dallas Theological Seminary, pastor for many years and pre-eminent teacher of the Word. He was his parents’ last child. All three of those children are today in vocational Christian service.
No one, certainly not his parents, knew at that time what God’s plan for him, or his siblings, would be. But they knew God, and they fully believed that He was greater than their rights, their plans or their inconveniences.
That God has not changed. Whether at the beginning of life, at the end or any point in between, His timing is perfect, His plan is detailed and His provision unmatched.
The question is, will we trust Him?
4) We Are Responsible To Bring Life To Our World
Proverbs 24:11-12: “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”)
The first to be killed in Nazi Germany were the infirm, the senile and mentally retarded, the aged and defective children. Eventually, as World War II approached, the doomed undesirables included epileptics, children with badly modeled ears and even bed-wetters. Transportation of patients to killing centers was carried out by “The Charitable Transport Company for the Sick.” The plan then was to kill all Jews and Poles and to cut down the Russian Population by 30,000,000.
We’re all struck by this great Holocaust and wonder how it ever could have happened. Leo Alexander, who was consultant to the Secretary of War and on duty with the office of Chief Counselor for War Crimes in Nuremberg, says that what happened in Nazi Germany “all started with the acceptance of the attitude that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived.”
An elderly German man who lived through the Holocaust tells the following story:
“I always considered myself a Christian. I attended a church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews; but like most people in America today, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we heard cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews.
Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. It some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more.
Years have passed, and no one talks about it much any more; but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene.”
Does this sound like the United States in 2004 — are we tempted to just “sing a little louder”?
Notice, it all began with “the attitude that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived.” That sounds a lot like today’s statistic. Ninety percent of expectant parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of down syndrome will abort their baby. A life not worthy to be lived?
How Should We Then Live?
II Chronicles 7:14: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
The first place we simply must turn is upward….to the One who made us and to whom we must look for grace and mercy.
2) Act Justly and Love Mercy
Micah 6:8: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Second, we turn inward and recognize our responsibility to walk as men and women of justice and mercy.
3) Receive and Release Forgiveness
I John 1:8-9: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Third, we become ambassadors of Christ. We literally beg people to receive the forgiveness that Christ so freely offers.
4) Be an Ambassador of Reconciliation
II Corinthians 5:18-19: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” ()
Physical life and spiritual life are great gifts to us from the Creator of heaven and earth. When we extend the offer of life to others, we give them hope and become ambassadors of the King on high. Today, I pray that we will be people of life….and ambassadors of reconciliation and hope. God, who makes reconciliation and hope possible, challenges us to represent Him in every sphere of human endeavor.
I trust that you have sensed the presence of God here today and that you will bring all of your life, all of your dreams, and all of your hopes, before the One who made you. Life is precious; the giver of Life longs for the opportunity to know you, forgive you, and heal you. Wont’ you come to Him today?