The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 ESV

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Church & America's Abortion Crisis



Message given by Jim McGarvey at the Florida Right to Life
2013 Pro-Life Leaders Forum, October 19, 2013

You can view the PowerPoint slides of this message online here.

I think it would be safe to say that the Church is struggling with its response to America’s abortion crisis. Perhaps you, as I have been concerned with the silent pulpits, and what seem to be even a failure to see thee needs of the post-abortive and those at risk for abortion on the part of the Church.

This morning, I want to share biblical truth to help us see abortion in its spiritual context. I believe that abortion is first and foremost a spiritual issue, a gospel issue.

There is a safe way to talk about abortion in the Church. Randy Alcorn has written,
“Grace without truth deceives people. Truth without grace crushes people.”


Truth and grace always go together. They are theologically inseparable. They are like the two tracks of a railroad. They must run parallel to each other all the way to the end of the destination. We will never understand God’s grace apart from God’s truth. But God’s truth will always lead us to God’s grace.

We are in a battle fought on multiple fronts. As has been recognized in this conference, this is a team effort. I commend and stand with those of you who are focusing your efforts on the political front, in the legislative and judicial arena, and those of you who are working as apologists for life to a secular audience, like Caleb Bonham and many others.

But my fear is that many in the evangelical church are more influenced by CNN and MSNBC, because of a lack of Biblical truth regarding the sanctity of human life in the Church. Could this explain the church’s lackluster response? Could it explains the failure of believers at the ballot box, millions of whom don’t even vote, and countless others who empower wickedness by voting for candidates who defend, support, promote, and even fund a woman’s right to kill her own offspring? 

If abortion is first and foremost a gospel issue what is the spiritual dynamic behind it? What is the driving force propelling the worldwide shedding of innocent blood? Who is behind this epidemic of death?

The Biblical evidence would indicate that abortion is a Satanic enterprise. The stage was set thousands of years ago as recorded in Genesis 3:15 (NIV). After Satan deceived Adam and Eve and man was plunged into sin, God said to Satan,
       
“...I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”  

With that, the epoch struggle between good and evil began. And Satan has been involved in an
unrelenting attempt to kill the offspring of Eve ever since. Jesus, Himself, said as much. John chapter eight records an encounter between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day. In that exchange this was Jesus’ description of the devil, verse 44  (NIV).

The devil…was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of all lies.”
                                                        
Here Jesus identifies two roles of Satan: A murderer from the beginning and a liar and the father of all lies. How successful has the Devil been in fulfilling this job description? It is estimated that between 40 and 50 million pre-born babies are killed by abortion worldwide each year. That’s about one in five pregnancies. (AGI “In Brief”, October 2007) One study released earlier this year, revealed that there have been 1.72 BILLION abortions worldwide since 1973. That is an average of 117,800 per day for the last 40 years. (Dr. Brian Clowes, Human Life International Lifenews.com 4-1-13).

Jesus said, as recorded in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." The Devil has been very successful in carrying out his agenda to exterminate human life.

Satan is a liar and the father of all lies. Deception proliferates in the abortion industry. In fact, it would be accurate to say that deception characterizes the abortion industry. Listen to these words of an abortion counselor:
                                                  
“Although the test is positive, you shouldn’t consider yourself pregnant,” she explained, “It’s really just cells dividing at this point. We can take care of the problem quickly and easily, and you’ll never have to think about it again.”     

She made four statements. Each statement was a lie. That is the mantra of the abortion industry.
Deception also involves withholding the truth. One study of women who aborted, showed that,
“Even though the majority felt rushed and uncertain, 67% received no counseling; 79% were not told about alternatives to abortion.” ( VM Rue et. al.,  Medical Science Monitor)                

As Pastor Randy Alcorn has pointed out,  “In America it is illegal to harm your pre-born child, but it is perfectly legal to kill him.”

You see, spiritual deception leads to moral schizophrenia which plagues our land today.

The Devil is “a murderer” and “a liar and father of all lies.” These two “attributes” expose him as the Architect of Abortion.

Look with me at the ancient origin of child killing. We it trace to back to Molech worship. Molech was a god of the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot. Molech was a fertility god whose worship included child sacrifice. This is what God said, about child sacrifice as recorded in Ezekiel 16:20-21,                                          

“And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols… You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols.”

King Solomon built the first high place for the worship of Molech. Subsequent kings continued the practice including King Ahaz and King Manasseh who sacrificed their own children to the pagan god.         

Notice the parallels with abortion. In Molech worship, a child was sacrificed to gain Molech’s favor. In other words, the parents sacrificed something of value, their child, to gain something at a given point in time they considered to be of greater value. Seeking Molech’s favor for a good harvest, victory in battle, or financial well-being.

Similarly in abortion, the mother sacrifices the life of her baby, for something which at that time is of more value to her than the life of her child - her education, avoiding personal shame, financial reasons, lifestyle preferences, personal convenience, her career, birth control, and so forth

Sacrifice for what? Pastor John Piper writes,

"Abortion in America is not done consciously with any desire to get blessing from a deity. But it is done to gain something ‘better’ than the baby— The life of a child is being sacrificed for something. What that ‘something’ is defines the barbarity of our culture.”    

Do you see the deception? the Scriptures identify the demonic nature of this child sacrifice in Psalm 106:37,38,

"They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood."

Note the second parallel. When we abort out children we abort our family, our sons and daughters,
human life. Time does not allow us to explore the biblical truths of the pre-born as bearing the image of God and the Biblical case for personhood of life in the womb. Suffice it to say, that according to the biblical creation account, God intentionally created man with capacities reflective of God himself in His image and likeness. Man is not the result of a cosmic accident nor the product of a random meaningless evolutionary process, as is widely held today.

Thirdly, notice, verse 38, abortion sheds innocent blood. This is a topic all in itself largely overlooked by the church.

Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of a creature is in the blood...it is the blood that makes atonement
for one’s life”

This truth is central to the Biblical doctrines of the incarnation and atonement. As Paul wrote,
“In him [Christ} we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins...”  (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)

John Ensor writes,

“Is there anything more valuable than human life and the redemption of human life? By virtue of our salvation, Christians have inherited from God a profound commitment to the sanctity of life and a devotion to make Christ known. Both come from holding blood (life) precious.” (Innocent Blood p. 32)

Fourthly, Psalm 106:37, “they sacrificed...to demons.” Theologian, Rev. Thomas Euteneuer writes,

“The spiritual dimension of [abortion] is its systematizing of ritual blood sacrifice to the god of child murder, Moloch.…this demon appears in many forms and cultures through history (Phoenician, Carthaginian, Canaanite, Celt, Indian, Aztec and others) but is always the same blood thirsty beast that demands the killing of children as his form of worship.” He continues, “The modern abortion industry offers ritual blood sacrifice to the ancient abortion demon. It is in every way a demonic religion.” (Resource Molech #24)

Pre-born children killed by abortion are the casualties of the war between Heaven and Hell.

Pastor Randy Alcorn has written,

“As the devil loved the sacrifice of children in the ancient heathen cultures, so he loves the sacrifice of children in our modern culture. Whether children are sacrificed to a heathen god called Molech or to the god of our own convenience, he does not care.” He continues, “…there are demonic forces behind child killing. Abortion is Satan’s attempt to kill God in effigy by destroying the little ones created in God’s image. We are not dealing here with ‘one more social issue,’ but a unique and focused in which Satan has deep vested interests…”

Eric Holmberg & Jay Rogers, in their work, The Massacre of Innocence, summarize,

“The spiritual heritage of the Moabites and the Ammonites is passed down to our own day through abortion. Today the church is fighting against those same spiritual forces for the very survival of our nation.”

Lest you think that that abortion and the demonic is just ancient history, let me bring you up to date. Modern feminism, witchcraft & abortion. In December of 1985, this article, entitled, “Feminist
Spiritualism and Abortion” appeared in the feminist, Ms. Magazine,  written, and I emphasize, by feminists about themselves. 

“The feminist spirituality movement began to emerge in the mid-1970s and has become one of the largest sub-movements within feminism....to women in feminist spirituality, witchcraft had even a more fundamental meaning. It is a woman’s religion, vilified by patriarchal Christianity, and now, finally, reclaimed.”

Eric Holmberg & Jay - comment on this article,

“Much space was given to goddess worship or adulation of the various demons associated with child sacrifice (including Isis and Aphrodite).”  (The Massacre of Innocence)

Let me give you just a sampling of the thinking of modern day feminists.

Patricia Baird-Windle owned three abortion clinics responsible for 65,000 abortions. In an interview after retirement she said, “Abortion is a major blessing and a sacrament in the hands of women...”
(The ‘Sacrament’ of Abortion: An Interview With a Retired Abortionist.”)

Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President of the Episcopal Divinity School in New England, said the following in a sermon in 2007,

“When a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight – only blessing.”

Episcopal Priestess, Dr. Carter Hayward, told the National Abortion Federation in 1985, “Abortion would be a sacrament if women were in charge. Abortion should be a sacrament even today.”

One of America’s educators, Psychologist Dr. Ginnette Paris, in her book The Sacrament of Abortion, wrote,                      

“It’s rare for a woman to choose abortion because in some way she dislikes the fetus. She sacrifices it for the sake of something she judges at this moment to be more important, whether it be her existing children…or her own physical, economic, or psychological survival or the fate of the planet.”
 
Do you remember what I just shared when comparing abortion to child sacrifice? She continues,

“When abortion is necessary, not only should there be no shame but there should be a new consensus that to have a child who cannot adequately be cared for is shameful…It is not immoral to choose abortion; it is simply another kind of morality, a pagan one.”

Frank Pavone, commenting on her book writes, “The fact that some defend abortion as a sacred act should alert us to the depth of the spiritual warfare that is going on. Abortion has never been merely or even primarily apolitical issue.  It is a false religion.”  He writes of a former abortion clinic security guard who “...after being converted, admitted why he was angry at pro-life sidewalk counselors: You were coming to protest in front of our church. That clinic was where we conducted our worship.’”   

The irony, is that the proponents of abortion understand what much of the church has failed to understand; the spiritual nature of abortion. 

How should the Church respond? There is much to do.

First of all, we must pray and fast to end abortion. Then we need to repent of abortion in the church.

Thirdly, live in sexual purity. About 80% of abortions are performed on unmarried women. Why repent of abortion in the church? 43% of women having abortions identify themselves as Protestant, 27% as Roman Catholic. (AGI, “In Brief” July, 2008) 250,000 evangelical women choose abortion each year. (Focus on the Family heartlink.org)

Abortion is a complex issue that demands a practical and compassionate response by the church. Over 50% of all women who have an abortion feel they have no choice. Here are some of the reasons women have abortion: forced by their mother; father opposed; persuaded by husband or boyfriend; no other option given; loss of family support; would have been kicked out; persuaded by the clinic. 
(Frederica Mathewes-Green, Real Choices)

The church must also reach out and minister to the post-abortive. It is estimated that 20 to 40 percent of the women in church are post-abortive. Some of the emotional problems faced by the post-abortive include: anxiety/panic; grief/loss; fear of losing your child; guilt; self-hatred; depression; anger/rage.

And among the behaviors are: drug & alcohol abuse; child abuse'; promiscuity; over-protective parenting; eating disorders and inability to bond with children.
                          
You probably realize as you hear this list, that these are very common problems  pastors and counselors deal with every day in their ministry.  This data has staggering implications  or the pastoral care ministries of the church. For millions in the church the root cause of these destructive emotional and behavioral problems could be an undisclosed and/or unresolved abortion(s) in their past. And unfortunately, the church remains oblivious to their need.

We praise God  for the pregnancy resource centers  across this land ministering the gospel to those at risk for abortion and the post-abortive. It is rare to find a church that has it’s own “in house” abortion recovery ministry to the post-abortive in their church or the community.

Several years ago I was on Facebook one Sunday afternoon. A pro-life advocate was having an online discussion about abortion. A woman joined the discussion, telling us she had three abortions in her past. Listen what she went on to post,     

“The consequences to women who have had abortions (and men as well) cut deep into the soul…The post-abortive women sitting in church on a Sunday morning need to hear about forgiveness for ALL SIN through Jesus Christ,…abortion is not the unforgivable sin so many think it is... women need to know there is healing and hope in Christ that they may also forgive themselves.”

The host asked her about how she was dealing with the loss of her three children. This was the powerful testimony she shared, 

“…the fact of the matter is that I don’t grieve any more.  Christ has delivered me from all of the pain through his healing power! I know that one day I’ll stand in heaven finally meeting my three precious children: David, Rebekah, and Grace Hope!... hen they’ve asked the Father why they couldn’t be with me on earth or why they never knew me here, He’ll look at them with love and say, 'I don’t remember.'" (AV Facebook 09-27-09)

Do you see why abortion is a gospel issue? The Gospel has not failed abortion. The church has failed to apply the gospel to abortion.

Romans 3:23-25, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

A propitiation is a blood sacrifice that covers sin, so that God’s wrath and judgment will be averted! There is only one remedy for the shedding of innocent blood, the innocent blood shed on the cross. Jesus died in our place. He  paid the penalty for our sins, your sin and my sin, any and all sin, the sin of abortion, the sin of pushing a girlfriend, wife or daughter or granddaughter, into an abortion, the sin of paying for an abortion, the sin of performing an abortion, the sin of doing nothing about abortion. It matters not what sin it is. We can be forgiven and justified—declared righteous in God’s sight our sin no longer being held against us, “by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

You are familiar with Paul’s words, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:120

This is the conclusion I have been sharing with the church. The Body of Christ, the church, is the only organism (institution) spiritually equipped to engage the Satanic forces behind abortion. Therefore the Church must take the lead in the efforts to end abortion. Abortion is first and foremost a gospel issue.

What America needs to hear is God’s Truth about abortion wrapped in the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the church sees abortion as a Gospel issue we will win the battle for life! Christ has already won the victory! "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9-10) 

Paul goes on to say, verse 15, “...having disarmed the powers and authorities, [God] he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."  This is how we respond to 40 years of legalized abortion. Unashamedly proclaim the gospel of life; respond with compassionate and practical help through ministries like our pregnancy resource centers; our homes for unwed mothers, our foster care and adoption ministries, sidewalk counselors, prayer at abortion clinics and continue the fight on the political and legislative front.

I close with this illustration. John Ensor wrote,
     
 The commands of Scripture exist that we might be compelled to do what does not come naturally.” (John Ensor, Innocent Blood)

In Luke chapter ten, Jesus tells the story of a man on his way to Jericho from Jerusalem who was robbed and beaten and left half dead alongside the road. Three different individuals had the opportunity to come to his rescue, in all likelihood to save his life. Two of the three did not respond to the needs of the man bleeding by the side of the road. Those two were the church leaders of that day, a priest and a Levite, responsible for the spiritual care of their nation. And Jesus points out that not only did they fail to respond but, they “passed by on the other side.” In other words they went out of their way not to respond.

Jesus then pointed out that the one who proved to be the neighbor to the dying man was the one who showed mercy to the badly beaten traveller. He then said, “Go and do likewise.”

John Ensor, in his book Innocent Life, defines “Samaritan compassion“ this way,

‘Doing right in the sight of the Lord means acting to stop the shedding of innocent blood. The only person in Jesus’ parable who is pro-life according to the demands of love is the Samaritan.
Only he was willing to make the nearly dead man’s problem his own.
Only he was willing to see the victim’s suffering as his own.
Only he was willing to act according to what he would cry out for if their positions had been reversed.”

On January 20, 2011, Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Save America issued the following statement in a press release.                   
                              
“...the time is now, for the Church to rise up and not wait for political parties, or the president, or Congress, or the Supreme Court to take care of the issue. It is our responsibility. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ. Abortion will come to an end, when the Church of Jesus Christ makes up her mind it will come to an end not a second sooner. The responsibility for ending abortion in America  rests squarely upon the shoulders of the Church of Jesus Christ.”

I think he was right.

John Ensor of PassionLife Ministries has been working extensively in China where 13 million pre-born die each year from abortion. He has asked me to join his staff as the National Director of PassionLife.
I am in the process of raising support necessary to assume the position. Here’s the strategy to help the Church respond more effectively to the abortion crisis;

Lead an unrelenting effort to engage Christian leaders, particularly pastors, professors, and      missionaries on the Gospel of Life;

Serve as a pastor to pastors  and a teacher to teachers who are in or preparing for Christian      leadership; 

Help pastors and teachers understand abortion theologically  as the shedding of innocent blood and to hear the biblical call to all God’s people to courageously and confidently rescue those being unjustly put to death;

Help Christian leaders see how the gospel of Christ is advanced by standing for life and is      scandalized by silence;

Assist Christian leaders in developing a plan to make strong, reproducing defenders of life, at home and abroad.

What is the Gospel of LIfe? You are embracing the Gospel of Life  when you:

Treasure human life, including life in the womb;

Expose the offense and guilt of shedding innocent blood, including abortion;

Proclaim the full pardon offered through the shedding of innocent blood on the cross;
Stop the shedding of innocent blood by rescuing mothers and babies;
Advance the great commission by expanding the pregnancy help movement.

May God help His Church in its response to America’s abortion crisis.

© James P. McGarvey All Rights Reserved

NOTE - UPDATE on my relationship to PassionLife: I will not be joining the staff of PassionLife Ministries. Since posting this message, while some progress was made in raising the support needed to assume the position, it was insufficient to do this through PassionLife longterm. I will continue serving the Church in it's response to America's abortion crisis through The Church for Life as I have been for several years now. I will continue to implement many of the strategies outlined above in the continued effort to spread the Gospel of Life.

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