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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

America's Abortion Crisis & The Gospel of Life

(This was the keynote address I gave at the annual LifeChoice Pregnancy Center Fundraising Banquet held at the historic Ritz Theater in Winter Haven Florida on April 8, 2014. You can view the PowerPoint slides for this message here.)

In his pamphlet, Field Manual for Abortion Ministry, published just weeks ago, Pastor Rusty Lee Thomas posed these two penetrating questions, "What does Christianity look like in a nation that murders its own children? Has the church failed to be prolife or have we failed to be Christian when it comes to rescuing our neighbors scheduled to be dismembered?"

I wrestle with these questions. Do you? Admittedly they are troubling questions. But In light of the purpose for which we are gathered here tonight, may I suggest these are timely questions that we need to wrestle with.

So this evening, with the Lord's help and His Word, I want to begin to answer these questions. America's Abortion Crisis & The Gospel of LIfe.

I believe the battle to end abortion is fought on multiple fronts; efforts in the political and judicial arena, the work of prolife apologists defending life in the  womb, adoption ministries, the ministry of prayer and sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics and of course the thousands of pregnancy resource centers, like LifeChoice here in Winter Haven, strategically located across the nation.

However, foundational to every effort to end abortion we must understand that abortion is first and foremost a spiritual issue, a gospel issue. I do not believe we can address America's abortion crisis while ignoring this premise.

Why is that the case? What is the driving force propelling the worldwide shedding of innocent blood? Who is behind the epidemic of death in our nation and the world?

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 8 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 lies."                                                         
        
Here Jesus identifies two roles of Satan: a murderer from the beginning and a liar and the father of lies.
How successful has the Devil been in fulfilling this job description? It is estimated that between forty and fifty 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 late last year, (2013) revealed that there have been 1.72 billion abortions worldwide since 1973.  That is an average of 117,800 per day for 40 years. (Brian Clowes, director of education and research at 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.

But Satan is also a liar and the father of 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 clinic 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. Her words embody the mantra of the abortion industry.

Deception also involves withholding the truth. One study of post-abortive women revealed 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)  

Do you see the critical role LifeChoice Pregnancy Center plays in your community as it communicates the truth about life in the womb and the danger of abortion to those at risk for abortion. We live in a culture of death in which deception on this subject is rampant.

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,” “a liar and father of lies.” These two attributes expose him as the Architect of Abortion.
Look with me at the ancient origin of child killing. We trace it 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 as they led their nation in the worship of this pagan god.       

Notice the parallel 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 child 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.

Rusty Lee Thomas, (Field Manual for Abortion Ministry)
"Though thousands of years have passed,...The pagan ritual...persists. These ancient rites continue through clinics established by organizations such as Planned Parenthood in the abortion industry. The setting has indeed changed, but he lying message and brutal practice remains the same. Can you hear its voice today?  'You are too young.' 'You have to think about your schooling and career.' 'You cannot afford a baby.' 'It will leave stretch marks.' ...Moloch and Baal still whisper, 'Give your child to me and all will be well with you.'"

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."  (Emphasis mine.)
Note three parallels with abortion today. When we abort our children we abort our family, our sons, our daughters, our grandchildren. Time does not allow us to explore the Biblical truth that pre-born children bear the image of God and the biblical case for the personhood of human life in the womb.

Suffice it to say, that according to the Genesis creation account God intentionally created man in His image and likeness, with capacities reflective of God himself. The unborn are recognized by God as distinct and unique persons from the moment of conception. Man is not the result of a cosmic accident nor the product of a random meaningless evolutionary process over billions of years as is widely held today. 

Secondly, notice, (verse 38) abortion sheds innocent blood. Leviticus 17:11 says, "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 both the incarnation and atonement. Jesus' incarnation was the pre-requisite to His work of atonement. The writer to the Hebrews understood this, writing, (9:22) "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of  sin."

And the Apostle Paul wrote, "In him [Christ} we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins..."  (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)

Theologically you cannot separate atonement, our salvation from the sanctity of human life because the life is in the blood. John Ensor writes (Innocent Blood pg.32)                                   

"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."

Thirdly,  (vs. 37) "they sacrificed...to demons. Roman Catholic 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."

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 evil in which Satan has deep vested interests…"

Eric Holmberg & Jay Rogers, in their work, 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 abortion and the demonic is just ancient history, let me bring you up to date. Modern feminism, witchcraft and abortion.

In December of 1985, an 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 the 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 and Jay Rogers (Massacre of Innocence) 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).” 

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.”

Father Frank Pavone, commenting on her book writes,

"The fact that some defend abortion as a sacred act should alert us he depth of the spiritual warfare that is going on. Abortion has never been merely or even primarily a political 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 many proponents of abortion understand what many in the church have failed to understand - the spiritual nature of abortion.  

There are many ways the church can respond. We must give ourselves to the first work of ministry, prayer and fasting, in our efforts to end abortion.

We must repent of abortion in the Church. God has called us to live in sexual purity. About 80% of abortions are performed on unmarried women. Why repent of abortion in the church? Forty three percent of women having abortions identify themselves as Protestant, twenty seven percent as Roman Catholic. (AGI, “In Brief” July, 2008) Two hundred fifty thousand evangelical women choose abortion each year (www.heartlink.org Focus on the Family).

Abortion is a complex issue for many, and demands a practical and compassionate response by the Church. This is another reason why the ministry of LifeChoice Pregnancy Center is so critical.
Over fifty percent of all women who have an abortion feel they have no choice. Here are some of the reasons women have abortions; forced by their mother; father opposed having the child; persuaded by husband or boyfriend; no other option given; loss of family support; would have been kicked out of their home persuaded by the clinic. (Frederica Mathewes-Green, Real Choices)
We must also minister to the post-abortive. Here is a short list of the emotional problems faced by the post-abortive: anxiety/panic, grief/loss, fear of losing your child, guilt, self-hatred, depression, and anger/rage. And among the behaviors are: drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, promiscuity, over-protective parenting, eating disorders and inability to bond with children.

For millions of post-abortive in America, the root cause of these destructive emotional and behavioral problems could be an undisclosed and/or unresolved abortion(s) in their past.

I am told that LifeChoice is already at work making preliminary plans to launch an abortion recovery ministry. Funding is critical to making that a reality.

Several years ago I was on Facebook one Sunday afternoon. A pro-life advocate was having an online discussion about abortion. A woman came into the discussion telling us she had three abortions in her past. Listen to 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 gope!...when 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.”
                                                                           
Do you see why abortion is a gospel issue? The Gospel has not failed abortion. The church has often failed to apply the gospel to abortion.

Romans 3:23-26 "...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, 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 "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 6:12)

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."

How do we respond to forty one years of legalized abortion? Unashamedly proclaim the gospel of life; and respond with compassionate and practical help through ministries like LifeChoice Pregnancy Center.

Tonight you can partner with this ministry in rescuing unborn children literally from the death sentence of abortion, and ministering to mothers at risk for abortion.

The writer of Proverbs says, (24:10-12)

"Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don't stand back and let them die. Don't try to avoid responsibility by saying you didn't know about it."

I think that's a word for us today! John Ensor wrote, "The commands of Scripture exist that we might be compelled to do what does not come naturally." (Innocent Blood)

In Luke chapter ten Jesus helped a lawyer understand what it meant to love his neighbor. He was evidently hung up on exactly what that looked like. So he asked Jesus, "Who his my neighbor?" So Jesus told 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.

The two that did not respond to the man in distress 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, they "passed by on the other side." In other words they distanced themselves from the needs of the dying man.

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." Friends, tonight in a few moments you will have the opportunity to "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."  

In Polk County, 1,499 unborn children lost their lives to abortion in 2013. They were your neighbors. That's over 124 children every month, or an average of four every day.

Tonight, through your support of LifeChoice Pregnancy Center, you have an opportunity to respond in a very practical and compassionate way to help stop the violent death of unborn children in your community, and to reach out to women and men at risk for abortion. Children will die unless someone intervenes on their behalf!

In other words, you have an opportunity to "go and do likewise!"

According to Jesus' parable, our salvation has a moral imperative built into it with regards to the needs of those around us - our neighbors.

LifeChoice Pregnancy Center is where the truth about abortion and the gospel of Jesus Christ are confronting the lies of hell itself. It is where the Church, the body of Christ is intervening in the lives of men and women often at a critical time in their lives when they need love, compassion and the gospel of life. At a time when, literally, life and death decisions are being made regarding their unborn children.
Again, John Ensor, "Loving my neighbor will occasionally arrest me, and maybe even require me to help prevent someone from being murdered."                                                             
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.”

Tonight you can prove him right with your generous support of LifeChoice Pregnancy Center. Remember the two questions Rusty Lee Thomas asked?

"What does Christianity look like in a nation that murders its own children? Has the church failed to be prolife or have we failed to be Christian when it comes to rescuing our neighbors scheduled to be dismembered?"

You can answer that question tonight. Your generous gift and pledge to LifeChoice Pregnancy Center can be your answer to that question.




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