Where Does Child Killing Come From?
Sanctity of Life Sunday
On this last Sunday of Sanctity of Life Week and three days after the 25th anniversary of the Supreme court decision called Roe vs. Wade — which virtually undid all the state laws regarding and regulating abortion, and made abortion on demand the law of the land, and affirmed and enshrined an individualistic, unencumbered view of human liberty, which has enabled and affirmed the killing of 35 million children in the last 25 years — on this Sunday, I want to say abortion is about God.
Abortion Is About God
Abortion has to do with God, the creator of the universe, the giver and sustainer of all life, the judge of the living and the dead, the Redeemer, the forgiver of all those who trust in him. Abortion is about God, and therefore it’s not trivial.
Everything that is dealt with in the world not related to God is trivialized. Abortion is trivialized where it is dealt with as a problem or a choice, but not in relation to God. It is bringing things into their relationship with ultimate reality that brings things significance. In God, we live and move and have our being, the Bible says (Acts 17:28).
Therefore, if you try to deal with an issue of something, anything, and don’t bring it into its relationship to that in which we live and move and have our being, you make nonsense out of it. You trivialize it. You disunite it and disconnect it from the biggest, most important, and most awesome things in the world.
It’s about God. Abortion is about God and therefore it’s not trivial. Motherhood is about God and therefore it’s not trivial. Fatherhood is about God and therefore it’s not trivial. Sexual relations are about God in the Bible and therefore they are not trivial. Babies in the womb and out of the womb are about God and therefore they’re not trivial. And so, I want to declare this morning — this is my main point — abortion has to do with God and therefore it’s not a trivial thing. We trivialize it to deal with it out of connection with God.
Links to Ultimate Reality
I very simply have four connections with God. The first two I will pass over relatively quickly because they are more usually dealt with, and John Ensor dealt with them beautifully yesterday and this morning. The third one is coming from our text and is the one we will linger over. The fourth one I will bring in because of what’s happening in Washington at these very moments that has everybody’s attention and has very much to do with abortion. That’s my plan. Let’s do it.
1. Created in the Image of God
Number one: Abortion is about God because the child in the womb is created by God and in the image of God. The reason Genesis 9:6 is important in affirming that all humanity is in the image of God is that it came after the flood, and thus it reinforces what was spoken at the beginning of creation.
Genesis 1:27 is the text we usually go to, which says that God created man in his own image, male and female. He created them in his image. But lest anybody think, “Oh, well, yes, he did that with the first pair, but everybody else gets created in their image or something else,” Genesis 9:6, years later after the flood says this:
Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.
This is not a sermon on capital punishment, but I will say in passing over this text, that this is the biblical warrant for capital punishment. Human beings are created in the image of God, and the killing of a human being created in the image of God is so serious that it warrants being killed by governments who bear the sword, not in vain, according to Romans 13:4. But this sermon is about abortion, and it’s about taking the life of unborn children who are created by God in the image of God.
In his three-hour lecture yesterday, John developed that unborn children are humans created in God’s image. I doubt that he did it again this morning, but I’ll just mention that in several texts in the Old Testament — like Genesis 25:22 — and in several texts in the New Testament — like Luke 1:44 and Luke 2:12 — the word for baby or child in the womb is the same as the word out of the womb. And the way the Bible deals with babies in the womb and out of the womb is similar. The Bible makes no big distinction between when they come out and when they’re in as to whether they’re babies, people, or humans, or not.
What Is the Image of God?
What does it mean to be made in the image of God? It means many things, but I’ll say this just in passing. It means that you are created to image God. Images exist to image. This is not hard. This is easy. This is 101. Images exist to image. And what they are to image is what they are images of.
We are told that we are the image of God, and therefore we’re on planet earth to image him, which means that to kill one of these is an assault on God. God created human beings to image God, to glorify God, to reflect God, and to magnify God. That’s why you exist today. If you need a reason for being, this is it.
Everybody in this room is absolutely unique. Chromosomally, you’re unique. All you have to do is look in the mirror and you know you’re unique. And every baby in the womb is unique. Every one of those created human beings is intended to refract the glory of God on planet earth for his great name, and to attack one of those is treason against the King of the universe and an assault on the glory of God. That’s why it’s important. Abortion is about God because every one of us is created in the image of God.
2. Only God Can Forgive Sins
Number two: Abortion is about God because God is the only person who can forgive the sin of child-killing. Last week when I just alluded to the fact that we were going to be dealing with this issue, I got an angry note to the effect that to speak of the sin and the horror of child-killing is so wounding and so painful for some that this is not a loving church if we talk about it.
Well, we’re going to talk about it and we’re going to name it. It is child-killing; it wounds and it’s painful and it’s horrible. Now, the second point is that God is the only being who can forgive it. And he does, not through any lifelong labor in the pro-life movement, making atonement through works of love and charity. No, but through an absolutely free, undeserved, triumphant act of grace and mercy through the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the worst of sinners like me. Let me read the key verses. Romans 3:23 says:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The glory of God is intended to be refracted in the image of God in every baby conceived in the womb. When they are killed, it is an attack on God and an exchange of the glory of God for the glory of my preference, my boyfriend’s preference, or my parents’ preference, which is treason.
Now that act can only be forgiven by God. No parent can forgive it. No boyfriend can forgive it. No counselor can forgive it. But God can forgive it. So let me read the next verse and listen to the word of God. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now, I believe Romans 3:21–26 is the most important paragraph in the Bible, and these verses are the center of the most important paragraph in the Bible. Romans 3:24, referring back to those who had sinned so grievously, says:
[They] are justified (made right, given a right standing, reconciled, brought into relationship, have everything cleared away so that it’s now okay, acquitted, forgiven) by his grace as a gift (you can’t earn it, you can’t barter for it, you can’t bribe for it, you can’t argue your way into it, and you can’t live for it; you can only welcome it, love it, cherish it, sing about it, and fall on it), through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Every Sin Deserves Wrath
This means that every sin — and not just abortion, believe me, but every day’s inconsistency and falling short of the love of God — merits the wrath of God coming down upon it because it’s sin against an infinitely glorious being. And God, not being a God of mere wrath, interposes his precious and beloved Son that this wrath might fall upon him and crush him to death, so that it might be averted from us who stand in wonder that for simply believing we can now have the smile of the almighty, sovereign, creator God of justice.
So if you heard point one that it’s treason to kill God’s images, and you did it or you encouraged having it done, hear this second point, please. God loves to forgive sinners. He loves it. He loves to forgive sinners. Receive it. Abortion is about God because only God can forgive sin, and I’m thankful.
3. Failure to Love God Supremely
Number three: Abortion is about God because the root cause of abortion is a failure to be satisfied in God as our supreme love. Now let’s go to James 4 to get this. I want you to see where I’m getting this, and I want you to see the shocking language that James uses to make this point. If we were to read James 4 just up to the middle of verse two, we would have an analysis of the origin of abortion that would be true and yet trivial. Let’s read it:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have (here’s the root), so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel (James 4:1–2).
So the issue of the origin of murder here is unsatisfied desires. You desire and do not have, so you commit murder. Now we could just stop right there and develop a long analysis of where abortion comes from. We could talk about what desires, for example, are threatened by the arrival of this little baby — parental happiness, a boyfriend staying pleased, education being completed on time, financial solvency, career, freedom from morning sickness, diapers, runny noses, terrible twos, sleepless nights, homework help, sports, band, drama transportation, teenage moodiness, college expenses, and other kinds of pain that come with grown children.
All of it you did not bargain for. You have desires for freedom and this little critter is in the way. James says, “Therefore, you commit murder.” Now, I said if you stopped there, that would be a trivial analysis. Why? There’s no God in it. He’s not there yet. Well, let’s not stop then. Listen to this language. I’m picking up in the middle of verse two:
You do not have, because you do not ask (asking is prayer, so God is now coming a little bit into the picture). You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Friendship with the World
Now let’s stop here and get this picture. James has a picture in his mind. He’s going to explode with an interpretation of it in just a minute, but let me get the picture clear for you. You have a God, and you come to this God and you find him less than satisfying. You turn to something else — some person or some thing — and you find it more satisfying. But you can’t get it. It’s too expensive or you don’t have the wherewithal to get it.
So you come back to your God in prayer, and you ask him for the wherewithal to get it so that leaving him behind you may now be satisfied with what he enables you to get in the world. And in James 4:4, James cries out, “Adulteresses.” That’s a very clear and literal translation from the NASB, and it’s the right one — adulteresses. Where did that come from? Right out of the blue he calls the nominal Christians there “adulteresses,” both men and women. He says, “You’re all adulteresses.” Where did that come from?
It came from the picture in his mind. We have a husband in heaven. Our God loves us. He created us to image him forth, to enjoy him, and to have a relationship with him that James will risk calling a kind of sexual relationship. This relationship is so powerful in its ability to satisfy if we would see him for who he is and love him for who he is, yet we don’t find him a satisfactory husband. So we turn to the world — television, money, career, power, sex, food, Superbowl, etc. These things satisfy. These things feel good to us.
So since we don’t get enough of them — or our health is failing and that would jeopardize our enjoyment of all of them because if we die, we can’t enjoy them — we will go back to our husband and say a form of piety, “Oh God, please give me health that I may enjoy life, which you have given me.” Then we turn away and James comes in there and says, “Adulteresses.”
You see, God did not create you to leave him and then by his power, embrace another mistress and then give him thanks. Why not? Look at the rest of James 4:4:
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world (just fill this up with the image here of adulteresses) is enmity with God?
Every husband knows this and every wife knows this. You may treat me as nice as you can possibly treat me, but if you’ve got another lover, there’s hostility in this house. Name it what you will. Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Jealous Yearning for an Undivided Heart
Well, so what, right? So what? James 4:5 is the “so what.” It says:
Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?
Now, I don’t think the word spirit there should be capitalized. I know the NASB does. The RSV doesn’t, and I opt for the RSV for this simple reason. The most natural sense that this verse seems to have to is this: Our husband created us. He breathed life into us, that we might love him, enjoy him, and be satisfied in him as our lover forever and ever. So the verse means he jealously desires for our life and our spirit and our heart, which he made to dwell in us, to be his. God is jealous for you. He doesn’t want a divided heart. He wants a whole heart for him.
Therefore, abortion is not rooted merely in the fact that you have frustrated desires because the baby got in the way and you dispensed with the baby. Abortion is rooted in the fact that God has not been our treasure, our husband, our lover, and the infinitely satisfying beauty, friend, and spouse of our lives. That’s the origin of abortion. And that’s why it has to do with God.
If we found in God what he really is, and if we weren’t so willfully blind and so much in love with his gifts instead of himself, we wouldn’t abort our children. The root cause of abortion is the failure to be satisfied in God as our supreme love.
4. Justice in the Hands of God
A lot of political work has to happen if we’re going to get an amendment, or have the supreme court reverse things, or have laws passed. And I hope, frankly, that some of you will become lawmakers, but the call on Bethlehem Baptist Church — it’s on the wall up there and it’s written across our hearts and written in my mind with blazing fire — is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in abortion for the joy of repentant abortion providers at Midwest, at 33 5th Street South, and at Meadowbrook at the corner of 8th Street and 9th Avenue where 42% of the abortions in the state are done. About 4,000 abortions a year are done blocks from this place.
Here is the fourth point: Abortion is about God because the political and cultural events that will make abortion unthinkable and illegal are in the hands of God. Beware of thinking that the impeachment of Bill Clinton in the next weeks may be the best thing for the country or life. Beware. Beware of praying your little, puny construction of the future into reality because we’re not wise enough to run this world, let alone this country. There are designs in heaven that are far above our designs. Let me illustrate.
It is likely that our president will not survive this term. It is likely, I would say from what I see, that he will not weather this. If that comes true, and he is impeached and convicted and resigns, Al Gore becomes president, probably for 10 years because it’s easier to elect an incumbent than a non-incumbent. Where did Al Gore spend Thursday afternoon? Did he spend the anniversary of Roe V. Wade in a kind of politically protective atmosphere of neutrality? Did he spend it with pro-lifers on the mall? No, he spent it with an aggressively pro-abortion group, which means that one scenario is that if Clinton is impeached, we get 10 more years of a pro-abortion presidency.
That’s one scenario. All I’m doing is saying we don’t know, so beware of praying your little reconstruction of how it ought to come to pass into reality. Rather let us pray broad, biblically-based prayers: “Oh God, let justice rain down in Washington. Let truth hold sway in Washington. Let there be no deceit and no hypocrisy and no duplicity in our leaders in Washington. Give courage, Oh God, to those who stand for the right and let there be wisdom in our leaders, oh Lord God.”
He Humbles Kings
Pray those prayers. And let God run the world. In Daniel 4:31–32, it says that Nebuchadnezzar was proud, arrogant, and above all accountability, and then a voice came from heaven saying:
O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.
That includes Supreme Court justices and presidents. We may trust God. God is doing things today you never dreamed of. There are powers at work, culturally, and spiritually in our land today that nobody understands but God, and it is awesome to behold. Pray those things forward. Get behind the sovereign work of God with your prayers and join him that these great movements might result in massive recognition in our land of the absolute folly that we have been in as a culture.
God can open eyes through things like this. He can turn nations upside down through things like this. He can release spiritual power in churches through things like this. Don’t presume to tell God how to run the world. Just get behind your never-failing sovereign God and say, “Hallowed be thy name in this land. Thy kingdom come in this land. Thy will be done in Washington the way the angels do it in heaven. Oh God almighty, do it, do it.” And just get on your face and bless it into reality.
Let me sum this up. Abortion has to do with God because you’re created in the image of God. Abortion has to do with God because only God can forgive you for child-killing. Abortion has to do with God because the root of abortion is not being satisfied with God. And the last point is that the political and cultural events that will make abortion unthinkable and illegal are in the hands of God.