Therefore the Church must take the lead in the efforts to end abortion.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
The Biblical Case for Life
[This is a message I gave at a workshop at the 15th Annual Pregnancy Care Center Conference (Sound the Call) in Lake Yale FL, on October 3, 2014, sponsored by the Florida Baptist Children's Homes. You can look at the PowerPoint slides that accompany the message here. It is a combination of "Abortion, the Devil and the Church" and material from "The Sanctity of the Unborn."]
In his pamphlet, Field Manual for Abortion Ministry, published earlier this year, 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 pro-life or have we failed to be Christian when it comes to rescuing our neighbors scheduled to be dismembered?"
I wrestle with those questions. Do you? Admittedly they are troubling questions, that we in
the church must consider. The battle to end abortion is fought on multiple fronts. The efforts being made in the political and judicial arena; the work of prolife apologists; abstinence ministries; foster care and adoption ministries; homes for unwed mothers; the ministry of prayer and sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics; abortion recovery ministries; and off course the thousands of pregnancy resource centers, strategically located across the nation.
However, foundational to every effort to end abortion is the understanding that abortion is first and foremost a spiritual issue, a gospel issue. The fact that Pastor Thomas has raised these two questions would suggest that perhaps the church has largely failed in its response to this national and worldwide crisis.
Why is that? Why do church members go a lifetime without hearing a Biblical message on the sanctity of human life? Why are the deep seated spiritual, emotional and behavioral needs of post abortive men and women largely ignored by the church?
Why do a quarter of a million women in evangelical churches abort their children each year? Why is it so challenging for pregnancy resource center leaders to gain the support of pastors and churches in their communities?
I believe one reason, if not the primary reason, is the failure of the church to see the killing of preborn children in its spiritual context; through a Biblical paradigm or Christian worldview. We have failed to consistently place abortion in its theological context.
I want to address this subject from the authority of Scripture. But I want to do so, in the context of two very important biblical truths. Let me illustrate it this way. There are two things a train must have to safely reach its destination. Two tracks. Two tracks that run parallel to each other all the way to its destination. A train will go nowhere without riding on both tacks at the same time all the way to the end of the rail line.
In the same way, we must communicate what God says about abortion in the context of God's grace and God's truth. You see, theologically grace and truth always go together. In fact, they are theologically inseparable. They are like the two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other.
And here's why this is so important. Pastor Randy Alcorn has written, "Grace without truth deceives people, truth without grace, crushes people."
We will never understand God's grace apart from God's truth. But God's truth will always lead us to God's grace. This is the context in which we address abortion in the church, and society at large.
Abortion was legalized forty-one years ago on January 22, 1973. According to the National Right to Life on that day '...the Supreme Court handed down its Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion in all 50 states during all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason, medical, social, or otherwise.”
In other words, a woman was given the legal right to take the life of her preborn child at any time during the nine months of pregnancy right up to moment of natural child birth for virtually any reason. The Court ruled that an unborn child is not a person and therefore lies outside the protection of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, these words of the Declaration of Independence, “...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Court ruled that these words do not apply to preborn human beings. Therefore the preborn become the property of the mother and the mother has the “right” to keep or kill her unborn child.
This ruling parallels the 1857 Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court that declared an African American freed slave named Dred Scott was not a person for one reason: his skin color was black. This gave the slave owner the right to keep, sell or in some instances kill the slave. The slave was the property of his owner without the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The question that concerns us first and foremost is, who are the unborn? Or to state it in even broader terms, what is the Biblical view of man, and what value does God place on human life?
To answer that we begin at the beginning. Notice first of all that man was created by God, Genesis 1:26a (ESV), then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness....then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." Genesis 2:7 (ESV)
Contrary to modern evolutionary theory, man was not the product of a meaningless, random evolutionary process over billions of years. Man was not the result of a cosmic accident. On the contrary, we see in this creative act meaning that transcends the notion that man is but a creature who over millions of years has risen from the primordial chaos to the top of the evolutionary chain having succeeded in the survival of the fittest.
Why in the abortion debate is it important to note that man was created by God and not the product of random chance? As already noted, the Founding Fathers recognized that man was endowed with certain unalienable rights, including the right to life. Endowed by their Creator. Not the Federal Government, not the Supreme Court, not the state of Florida, but their Crestor! You see the Founding Fathers understood Genesis one.
Secondly notice that, man was created in God’s image and likeness, Genesis 1:27 (ESV), "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them." Let me explain some of what that means. Pediatrician, Dr. John Rendle-Short identifies some of the Godlike qualities man shares with God.
Language. Humans can communicate. My dog Maggie can bark, whine, growl, but I have yet to hear her utter a single word, no less speak a sentence. Intelligence. Man can think. Not only can he think as a rational being, he can think in the abstract. He can compute complex mathematical, chemical and engineering problems. Creativity. He can create sophisticated products. Think of the technology of modern scientific, medical, engineering and construction industries, just to name a few. He can send a man to the moon and back and communicate instantly around the world from a smart phone and on the internet.
Love. Man lives in relationships, fellowship, and community. Man is a social creature with the ability to love and be loved, to care for and nurture its young and live in enduring committed relationships like marriage and family. Holiness. Man has a moral conscience, the ability to tell right from wrong. Immortality. He is eternal. Unlike the rest of the animal world, he will live forever. Freedom. He can make choices. This is “because he is human, made in the image of God.” (John Rendle-Short, M.D, Man: The image of God)
What a huge statement this makes about man’s capacity to relate to God. The fact that God created man in his image and likeness speaks of God’s intention and purpose in creating a unique creature having the capacity to live in relationship with His creator. As Marcus Dods wrote years ago,
“Man is dear to God because he is like Him... Man, alone among God’s works, can enter into and approve of God’s purpose in the world and can intelligently fulfill it. Man is incommensurable with the rest of the universe. He is of a different kind and by his moral nature is more akin to God than to his works.”
Thirdly, man was given a mandate to multiply and have dominion over the earth. Note Genesis 1:28 (ESV), "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Oswald T. Allis has written, "Man is made in the image and likeness of God. This sets him apart from all the other creatures and entitles him to have dominion over them. He is the climax of the creation…”
Note that God links creation with procreation. Please do not over look the significance of this in the abortion debate. Thomas Paine, one of the authors of the U. S. Constitution wrote,
“...All men are born equal and with equal natural rights, in the same manner as if posterity had been continued by creation instead of generation...the latter being only the mode by which the former is carried forward...and consequently every child born into the world must be considered as deriving its existence from God. The world is as new to him as it was to the first man that existed and his natural right in it is of the same kind.” (The Rights of Man)
This speaks directly to the culture of death that has shaped the thinking of millions of men and women who abort their own posterity when faced with an unplanned and often unwanted pregnancy. In every conception we must see the creative work of God in fashioning another human being created in his image.
Fourthly, note the personhood of the unborn. We see personhood in God’s relationship to the unborn. Of John the Baptist it was written, “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb." Luke 1:15 (ESV). The prophet Isaiah’s testimony “Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.” (Isaiah 49:1b)
The Apostle Paul, "But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.” (Galatians 1:15 ESV) God said of the he prophet Jeremiah, "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 ESV)
Listen to this incredible incident. These words were spoken by Elizabeth who was six months pregnant with John the Baptist when Mary, just days pregnant with Jesus Christ, visited her.
"When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.'" (Luke 1:41-44)
Do you realize what took place here? The text says that John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother's womb when he came into the presence of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, who was but days old in the womb of his mother Mary. This is the first recorded worship of the Messiah, and it took place in the womb. I call it intra-uterine worship. Do you see the personhood of the unborn in these narratives?
What is God’s View of human life? Douglas Erlandson has written,
“God deals with the lives [of man] from conception to adulthood. The Bible does not appear to recognize a special change in God’s dealings with man at birth. God values each of the above men while he is still in the womb, knows him, chooses him, shapes him.” (Abortion: Answering the Arguments)
The Biblical evidence is very clear. The unborn are created by God and for God. They are created in His image and likeness and are recognized by God as distinct and unique persons from the moment of conception. Understanding this truth is critical in forming a Biblical worldview that shapes the church's response to the shedding of innocent blood.
Recent science and technology validates the Biblical conclusion that human life begins at conception. Listen to an abbreviated description of the development of the unborn in the womb. Douglas Erlandson has written,
“When the fertilized egg (or zygote) is first formed, it already possesses its full complement of DNA or genetic information. That information never changes. A person’s sex, blood type, hair and skin color, and future height are all determined in that first cell. From that moment on, unless its life is terminated, it will develop until it becomes an adult human being.” He adds, “It will never become a cat, dog, gorilla, or anything other than a member of the species homo sapiens. From the moment of conception, it is every bit as much a human being as you or I. Nothing radically changes at birth. Birth is simply a change of address one stage on a continuum of life stages.”
At 20 days, or almost three weeks, the foundation of the entire nervous system has been laid down. Twenty-five days after conception the heart beats. At twenty-eight days, forty pairs of muscles are developing along the trunk of the new life and arms and legs forming.
By the forty to forty three days, the brain registers waves on an electro encephalogram and the heart energy output is reported to be almost 20% of an adult. By the forty-second day the skeleton is complete and reflexes are present and movement of the baby in the womb may begin. Psalm 139:13 (NIV), “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
By the eighth week or fifty sixth day, you have a perfetly formed baby with hands, fingers, including distinctive fingerprints, feet and toes. All vital organs are present and functioning. The baby responds to touch. Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.”
In the eleventh week, about three and a half months, all bodily systems work. The baby swallows, tastes, sleeps, wakes, responds to light and darkness, warmth and cold. Psalm 139: 15, “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in the secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”
In the eleventh and twelfth weeks, the arms and legs move, the baby sucks its thumb, inhales and exhales amniotic fluid, and nails begin to appear.
By four months, or sixteen weeks, the fetus is five and a half inches long. The genital organs are clearly differentiated. The baby swims, kicks and turns somersaults. The baby cries, hears voices, has rapid eye movement, eyebrows and eyelashes.
At five months survival is possible if born. The baby can learn and remember, is well coordinated and kicks are being felt by the mother. Psalm 139:16 (NIV), “Your eyes say my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Pastor John Piper has written, “Psalm 139 emphasize(s) God as the primary workman nurturer, fashioner, knitter, Creator in this time of gestation. Why is this important? It’s important becuase God is the only One who can create personhood. Mothers and fathers can contribute some impersonal egg and some impersonal sperm, but only God createas independent personhood.” (Brothers We Are Not Professionals, p. 219-220)
Whether we approach the issue of the personhood of the unborn from a Biblical point of view or from a purely scientific or biological perspective, the inescapable conclusion is that life within the womb is human life, a distinct person from the moment of conception.
The vast majority of women and men considering an abortion and the vast majority of women and men in the church have never had the opportunity to hear what you have just heard. Neither the church nor the billions dollar abortion industry is giving them the truth about life in the womb or the risks associated with killing life in the womb.
Who is behind the abortion holocaust? What is the driving force propelling the worldwide shedding of innocent blood?
Fifthly, the Biblical evidence would indicate that abortion is 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 a group of religious leaders. In that exchange Jesus said this about the devil,
"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." John 8:44 (NIV)
Here Jesus identifies two roles of Satan, a murderer from the beginning and a liar and the father of lies. It is estimated that between forty and fifty million babies are killed by abortion worldwide each year. About one in five pregnancies end in abortion worldwide. (AGI “In Brief”, October 2007) It is estimated there have been 1.72 billion abortions worldwide in the last forty years. That is an average of 117,800 per day for forty years. (Dr. Brian Clowes, director of education and research at Human Life International Lifenews.com 4-1-13)
In John 10:10, Jesus said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." The devil has been very successful in carrying out his agenda.
Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Deception proliferates in the abortion industry. Deception characterizes the abortion industry. Deception involves telling lies. The 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.
Deception involves the withholding the truth. This study 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)
Deception leads to moral schizophrenia. As Pastor Randy Alcorn has noted, “In America it is illegal to harm your pre-born child, but it is perfectly legal to kill him.”
The Devil is “a murderer...a liar and father of lies.” These two “attributes” expose him as the Architect of Abortion.
Six. Look with me at the Ancient Origen 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. In Ezekiel 16:20-21 God said,
"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. 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 even greater value, such as seeking Molech’s favor for a good harvest, victory in battle, or financial well-being.
Notice the similarity with abortion. In abortion the mother sacrifices the life of her child for something which at that time is of more value to her than her child; her education, avoiding personal shame, finances, personal convenience, her career, or birth control.
In his book, Field Manual for Abortion Ministry, Pastor Rusty Thomas writes, "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 the 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.'"
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 parallels between Molech worship and abortion. Abortion is the “sacrifice” of the preborn. “They sacrificed their sons and their daughters.” The preborn are family – sons and daughters. “They sacrificed their sons and their daughters.” Abortion sheds innocent blood. “They shed innocent blood.”
Leviticus 17:11 reads, "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 incarnation and atonement. Jesus' incarnation was the pre-requisite to His work of atonement. The writer to the Hebrews understood this, writing, "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin." (Hebrews 9:22) 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,
"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 pg. 32)
The innocent blood of the aborted is sacrificed to demons. “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. The modern abortion industry offers ritual blood sacrifice to the ancient abortion demon. It is in every way a demonic religion." (Resource Moloch #24)
Pre-born children killed by abortion are the casualties of the war between Heaven and Hell. Pastor Randy Alcorn,
“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. Whether these children are born or unborn does not matter to God’s enemies, for each of them is equally created in the image of God, and by killing them Satan comes as close as he can to striking out at God Himself. In killing those created in God’s image, Satan kills God in effigy.”
Eric Holmberg and 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. Without all out spiritual warfare, what are our chances of victory when the demons' lust is being gorged on the blood of not just one, but over one million children killed each year?”
Lest you think that abortion and the demonic is just ancient history, let me bring you up to
Seven. Modern feminism, witchcraft and 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 [Roe v. Wade 1973] 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 write this about the article, “Much space was given to goddess worship or adulation of the various demons associated with child sacrifice (including Isis and Aphrodite).” (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 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 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.’”
Again, Holmberg and Rogers “Abortion is the sacrifice of human pre-born infants on the altar of convenience by those with a pagan worldview. Abortion is not just a political or social issue; it’s a spiritual issue. Witchcraft is the spiritual force behind the politics of abortion.”
Eight. Unmasking a "woman's right to choose" and "reproductive rights." If you watch the news; if you read the secular press if you listen to the main stream media; if attended in a public school or a state university; if you dialogue about abortion around the water cooler at work or at home over the back yard fence, these are the words that always come into play. These are the two terms the proponents of abortion use to frame the debate. "A woman's right to choose" and "reproductive rights" are code words for a woman's right to take the life of her unborn child.
Looking at this from a Biblical context, Genesis 3:1-5 is the key Scripture.
"Now, the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” ‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Note the significance of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Here are the temptations faced by Eve and everyone since. To live independent of God - self idolatry – self love rules. Man becomes his own god “you will be like God.” Man determines right and wrong (moral relativism). This is the underlying premise of the proponents of “a woman's right to choose" and "reproductive rights.” As Dr. Carl Ellis has said, Eve became, in essence, the first secular humanist."
Notice the link between abortion and the Garden of Eden. "I do not want a child at this time." Pastor John Piper writes, “…that is one of the most powerful sentences a person can speak…the ‘want’- of a mother has become the will of a god....Our modern, secular, God-dethroning culture has endowed the will (the ‘want’) of a mother not just with sovereignty over her child, but with something vastly greater....the right and the power to create personhood.”
He points out that the legal right “to choose” gives women the legal right to define personhood or play god. Again John Piper, “…the awesome thing is that we endow her will not just with sovereignty over her unborn baby, but with the to define it. If she wants it, it is a baby, a person. If she does not want it, it is not a baby, not a person.” (John Piper, "Abortion and the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.”)
Nine, how should the Church respond? First of all, live in sexual purity. About 80% of abortions are performed on unmarried women. “…among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity.” (Ephesians 5:3, NIV)
We must repent of abortion in the church, "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:.…hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:16a) Why repent of abortion in the church? Thirty seven percent women having abortions identify themselves as Protestant, twenty eight percent of women having abortions identify themselves as Roman Catholic (AGI, “In Brief” July, 2008), and 250,000 evangelical women choose abortion each year. (www.heartlink.org Focus on the Family)
Earlier this year (2014) Dr. R C Sproul, Jr. wrote, "...one in six abortions in America is procured by a confessing evangelical. That means that if only professing evangelicals secured abortions since Roe v. Wade, we would account for roughly 9 million dead babies, more than Nazis killed in the Holocaust."
In light of the spiritual nature of abortion, make prayer and fasting the first work of ministry. “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)
Abortion is a Gospel Issue! I have been sharing these two conclusions: for the last eight years.
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.
Therefore the Church must take the lead in the efforts to end abortion.
Provide practical and compassionate help to those at risk for abortion. Abortion is a complex issue that demands a practical and compassionate response by the church. Over fifty percent of all women who have an abortion feel they have no choice. Notice some of the reasons women have abortions: forced by their mother; father opposed giving birth the child; persuaded to abort by husband or boyfriend; no other option given; loss of family support would have been kicked out of the home; and persuaded by the clinic. (Frederica Mathewes-Green, Real Choices)
The church must also minister healing and restoration to the post-abortive. One study showed that, "65% report symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder they attribute to their abortions.” (VM Rue et, all)
This is, I emphasize, a short list of emotional and behavioral problems faced by the post-abortive: emotions such as anxiety/panic, grief/loss, fear of losing your child, guilt, self-hatred depression, anger/rage and behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, promiscuity, overprotecting parenting, eating disorders, Inability to bond with children.
You probably realize as you look at this list, that these are very common problems pastors and counselors encounter every day in their ministry. This data has staggering implications for the pastoral care ministries of the church. For millions in the church and society the root cause of these destructive emotional and behavioral problems could be an undisclosed and unresolved abortion(s) in their past.
In his book, Answering the Call, Pastor John Ensor has written, “Abortion destroys the essence of femininity. All women are ‘Eve’ (in Hebrew, ‘mother of all living’), possessing the potential ability to bear life. As one mother who aborted three times told me, ‘John, never, never forget that a woman is connected to her child by an umbilical cord that is not just physical, but emotional, psychological, and even spiritual. When we murder our own babies, we die as well.” (John Ensor, Answering The Call)
There is forgiveness, healing and restoration for the post-abortive in Jesus Christ. 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 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 is the powerful testimony she shared…the fact of the matter is that I don’t grieve any more. Christ as 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!... 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.”
The blood of Jesus Christ shed over 2000 years ago, has covered our sin, all of our sin, your sin and my sin, any and all sin; the sin of killing your preborn child; the sin of pushing a girlfriend or 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 to end abortion.
Through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness and cleansing; there is a way to resolve the guilt, shame and hurt that abortion inevitably bring to the human experience.
America needs to hear the truth about abortion wrapped in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel has not failed abortion. Rather, out of our fear of offending those in most need of help, out of our fear of being divisive or too "political," the church has largely failed to apply the gospel to abortion.
Tragically those involved in the abortion industry are themselves the casualties of Satan's deceptive schemes. To the Corinthian church Paul wrote, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV)
This is how we respond to 41 years of abortion. Unashamedly proclaim the gospel of life while responding with compassionate and practical help like that offered in pregnancy resource centers. They are fulfilling the Lords command embodied in the parable of the Good Samaritan. 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 (vs. 25-37) 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 is my neighbor?" Jesus then tells him 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 likely hood 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. Jesus points out that not only did they fail to respond but, they "passed by on the other side."
In other words they consciously, deliberately distanced themselves from the needs of the man dying by the side of the road. 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." (Innocent Blood)
The Church in America is struggling in its response to America's abortion crisis. We have failed to expose the shedding of innocent blood and proclaim that repentance brings full pardon - through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We have failed to grasp the implications of the gospel with regard to the killing of over 3,300 preborn children each day.
According to Jesus' parable salvation has a moral imperative built into it with regard to the needs of those around us - our neighbors.
Again, John Ensor, "Loving my neighbor will occasionally arrest me, and maybe even require me to help prevent someone from being murdered."
The writer of Proverbs said something very similar, "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." (Proverbs 24:10-12)
On January 20, 2011, Rev. Flip Benham, then head 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.”
In closing, I want to encourage you who serve in Pregnancy Resource and Pregnancy Care Center ministries.
We are at war!
Ephesians 6:12, “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.”
The enemy has been identified.
Abortion is a Satanic Enterprise. His strategy has been exposed. Satan is a killer and liar, the Architect of Abortion! You are on the front lines of that war. You a disrupting his worship. You are a target.
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith..." (1 Peter 5:8-10)
The enemy has been defeated.
The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8 NIV)
…having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:15 (NIV)
We are equipped for 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 ever power and authority. (Colossians 1:9-10)
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension (lofty thought) that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. " (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the Devil." (Ephesians 6:10-11)
The priority of prayer and perseverance.
Make prayer your priority. Saturate you personal life and ministry with prayer. Persevere!
"praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert, with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)
(c) James P. McGarvey All Rights Reserved