Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN” Part 1

Matthew 19.14

Tomorrow’s date is January 22, 2007. Though many of you will not remember, 34 years ago tomorrow the Supreme Court of the United States violated the constitution of the United States they had sworn to uphold by handing down a decision called Roe v. Wade. Let me read a portion of the Wikipedia free online encyclopedia entry for Roe v. Wade:

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is a landmark judicial opinion regarding abortion in the United States. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe decision, most laws against abortion violate a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings. It is one of the most controversial and politically significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history, and its lesser-known companion case was decided at the same time: Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973).

 

The central holding of Roe v. Wade was that abortions are permissible for any reason a woman chooses, up until the “point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable,’ that is, potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.” The decision prompted national debate that continues to this day over whether terminating pregnancies should be legal (or more precisely, whether a state can choose to deem the act illegal), the role of the Supreme Court in constitutional adjudication, and the role of religious and moral views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the nation into “pro-choice” and “pro-life” camps, and inspiring grassroots activism on both sides.

 

Critics describe Roe as illegitimate for straying from the text and history of the Constitution, and for imposing abortion policy on the states and Congress contrarily to American principles of federalism and democracy. Some critics of Roe also believe in the personhood of fetal human life, beginning either at conception or later.

 

Supporters describe Roe as necessary to preserve women’s equality, personal freedom, privacy, and the primacy of individual rights, although the opposition to Roe often references the primacy of the individual when referring to the fetus.[1]

 

Of course, Christians do not rely upon Supreme Court decisions as a guide to right and wrong, as an indication of moral uprightness. Neither are laws passed by legislatures and signed by presidents and governors useful to us in such matters as this one. Our guide is the Bible. It is of no consequence to us that a majority of Supreme Court justices insist that taking the life of unborn children is a legal right, or that depriving a woman of the means to end her pregnancy is sexist or enslaving. Our firm conviction demands that we resort to the Bible for guidance in matters of right and wrong. So, on this 34th anniversary of a ruling that opened the floodgates for the greatest mass murder in the history of our country, an assault on our children that would have resulted in nuclear war had anyone done this to us (as opposed to the mothers of our country doing this to their own children), we are going to spend some time bringing clarity and focus to this and related issues.

There are two important principles that need to be established before we go any farther: First, we need to establish when life actually begins, an issue science was unqualified to speak to when the Supreme Court handed down Roe V. Wade, but which the Bible has always been very clear about. Then we need to consider the sanctity of human life, so that we might know God’s judgment concerning the killing of a child, whether or not that child has passed through the birth canal. The reason these two principles need to be established should be obvious to all but the youngest, but I will explain for their understanding. Some people think abortion is not wrong because they think no child is actually being killed in the mother’s womb. However, discovering when life begins will reveal whether abortion does or does not end someone’s life. As well, there are an increasing number of people in the world who think it does not matter when life begins; because they place such a low value on life that they believe it is not only natural, but also necessary, to kill people (even unborn or infant children) for need or for convenience.

I suggest that we tackle one principle at a time, first with the beginning of life. Our source of truth is God’s infallible Word, the Bible. Why the Bible? For two reasons: First, because it is true and without error. When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He said these words to His heavenly Father: “. . . thy word is truth.” Thus, it is no reach for us to cling to the conviction that the God Who is truth has given to us a Book that is true. It is simply a reflection of His character as a God of truth. Therefore, when David wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” he was speaking of its usefulness as a truthful beacon, clearly showing life’s travelers not only where we presently are, but also where we should next place our feet to journey in safety to the safe harbor at the end of this life on earth. The second reason we resort to the Bible is its vast superiority to science in matters spiritual. Keep in mind that science is a work in progress, while the Bible is a work that is completed. It is the completed revelation from God. Additionally, the scope of the Bible extends far beyond the scope of even the most advanced science.

When Charles Darwin formulated his theory of evolution, he speculated that microscopic cells were merely blobs of protoplasm. Science has since discovered that cells are astonishingly complex feats of applied physics, chemistry, and engineering. On the other hand, the Bible is the final word on spiritual matters, needing no further development. As well, consider this about science and the Bible: Science is very limited, being relevant only in the realm of physical events that are reproducible and observable. To be sure, observations might be made using very accurate instruments. However, nothing, which cannot in some way be observed, is within the grasp of science. There is, however, a universe of relevant truth contained in the Bible that is wholly beyond the reach of science. Therefore, we will turn to the Bible, which has always been accurate, rather than risking very error-prone science (which is always changing its views of things) and scientists (who are by no means automatically worthy of being credited with impartiality, accuracy, or honesty, as the recent revelations of cloning fraud in Korea have shown us).[2]

What does the Bible show us that would enable us to draw conclusions about the beginning of human life in the reproductive cycle? To phrase it another way, what evidence is found in the Bible that would suggest when life begins for an unborn child? Does life begin at conception? Does life begin when there is a heartbeat? Does life begin when blood is formed in the developing child? Does life begin when there is brain wave activity? Alternatively, does life begin when the baby is no longer attached to the mother by means of an umbilical chord? Though it is accurate and factual in every way, keep in mind that the Bible is not a physiology text. It is not Grey’s Anatomy. That being the case, you will not find a statement anywhere in the Bible that says, “Life begins at this point.” What we must do to arrive at the truth with the Bible is to study it and to interpret it.

Genesis 2.7 shows us when Adam’s life began: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” However, Adam, and later Eve, became living beings by means of supernatural creation. What we are interested in is when life comes into existence by means of natural reproduction. When did your life begin, and when did my life begin? Three passages are very important in making this determination from Biblical evidence, Psalm 51.5, Psalm 139.13, and Jeremiah 1.5. Let me read them to you:

Psalm 51.5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Psalm 139.13: “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.”

Jeremiah 1.5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Thus, it was David who was conceived by his mother, not something that later became David. He was covered in his mother’s womb, not something that developed into him. Finally, Jeremiah was formed in the belly of his mother, not some blob that came to be Jeremiah. Particularly in Psalm 51.5 and Jeremiah 1.5, the identities of those two men of God can be traced to their earliest moments in their mother’s wombs, those earliest moments being when conception occurred. Their lives began at their conceptions.

When reference is made to the sanctity of life, what is being referred to is the sacredness of life, the importance of life, and the value of each and every person’s life. In these days in which we live a shift in thinking has taken place away from valuing the sanctity of a person’s life to what might be termed valuing the quality of a person’s life. The result of this shift in thinking is a simultaneous alteration in people’s thinking about the wrongness of ending someone’s life.

Some think ending the life of a man who is not enjoying his life, or ending the life of an old woman whose life is not thought to be of high quality, is perfectly acceptable. They would argue that it is better to be dead than to live an unenjoyable, unpleasant, or unhappy life. They are convinced that it is better to be dead than to endure prolonged suffering. Such people also argue that the life of an unborn child does not measure up to the required quality of life to justify allowing the child to live. They maintain there is no sanctity of life, no essential sacredness of life that prohibits mothers from killing their unborn children. These people insist that it is of no importance that life begins at conception, because life is not necessarily important, or because the child’s life is not nearly as important as the mother’s life.

Again, we turn to the Bible. Is life, in and of itself, important? Does every person’s life possess some inherent value, just because it is life possessed by a member of the human race? If so, why so? Turn with me to Genesis 1.26-27, where we see something interesting about the essential nature of Adam and Eve:

26     And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27     So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

What the image of God is, precisely, is not as important to us as the fact that God created Adam and Eve to be His image bearers. Being image bearers of God, they were for that reason valuable. That establishes the sanctity of their lives. However, some argue that Adam and Eve sinned, and in their fallen state mankind no longer bears God’s image. Genesis 9.6 answers that assertion. After the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, and even after God judged the human race by means of the worldwide flood, we read God’s pronouncement concerning those who bear God’s image and the consequences for taking someone’s life: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”

Therefore, you see, the issue is not the quality of one’s life, but the sanctity of one’s life. Therefore, though one might be disabled and another malformed, though one may be terminally ill and another severely retarded, each in his own way bears God’s image, and has the mark of God on him. For that reason, each person’s life has value, and God declares the death penalty for any intentional ending of a person’s life. However, there are still people who are not satisfied that the Bible has sufficiently spoken about this issue of abortion. They resist the logical conclusions that right thinking people draw from an objective consideration of Bible facts. In doing so, they cling to the notion that abortion is somehow acceptable. After all, what could possibly be more important than a woman’s right to choose? Turn to Exodus 21, and read verses 22-25 with me:

22     If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

23     And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,

24     Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

25     Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Here we have a hypothetical situation in which two guys get into a fight with a pregnant woman standing nearby. Because of the fight, one of the combatants knocks the pregnant woman down and she goes into labor and miscarries. If the baby is born healthy, the Law demands that the combatant who caused the miscarriage be punished in a manner that satisfies her husband and in accordance with the ruling of the judges presiding over his trial. However, what did the Law of Moses call for in the case of a baby who was not born healthy, because of the accident of the two foolish combatants? Verse 23 shows that the loss of life was to be punished by a loss of life. In other words, if the baby the woman was carrying dies, the man who caused the miscarriage forfeits his life as well.

Think about this. Under the Law of Moses, an accidental abortion (and the word abortion means to cause a miscarriage[3]) that resulted in the death of the child was a crime punishable by death. So precious is the life of an unborn child that God called for the severe punishment of any man so foolish that he would fight with another man and accidentally cause such a thing to happen. Is it not obvious, then, what kind of a crime it is for a mother to intentionally abort her own child, or for a physician to intentionally abort a child for the purpose of causing that child’s death? If God demanded the death penalty for the accidental abortion of an unborn child, what do you think the penalty would be for the intentional abortion of an unborn child? That, too, would be a capital offense, would it not?

To this point, then, we have established several doctrines found in the Bible. First, we have established that life begins at conception. That is, a person is a person from the moment of his conception, and not at some later time. God deems each one of you to have been who you are from the moment you were conceived. People can fuss about that all day long, and argue about the scientific merits of different positions, but the Bible is very clear on this issue . . . and always has been very clear on this issue. Life begins at conception.

Additionally, the Bible speaks very loudly to this matter of the sanctity of life versus the quality of life. God’s will is clearly expressed concerning the appropriate punishment for someone who willfully takes another person’s life. Because the slain person bears the image of God, and not because of anything he is or has done, or with reference to the so-called quality of his life, anyone who slays him should pay for it with his own life, “for in the image of God made He man.”

Speaking directly to the issue of abortion that has claimed so many lives in our country since January 22, 1973, the Bible is also extremely clear. The death penalty for someone who accidentally causes what we would designate an abortion. Therefore, if the penalty for an accidental abortion is death, the penalty for an intentional abortion would certainly also be death. However, the United States of America is not Israel, and God does not rule our country by means of a theocracy through the Law of Moses. Therefore, unlike many denominations, we Baptists have always understood that our charter as Christians is not to seek the implementation of a theocracy in any country (though I hope we can muster the influence to end legalized abortion in the USA once and for all). However, we should not hesitate to call abortion what it most certainly is, the murder of the unborn.

How could the Supreme Court get away with deciding, by a 7-2 margin, with only Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Byron White opposing, that the murder of the unborn should be legal? The ruling reflected the opinions of just enough people in the country, with most of the others being completely apathetic about the murder of the unborn, that the small number of people who opposed the coming slaughter of the unborn were completely marginalized by the media, by the intelligentsia, and by the mainline Christian denominations. Why were so many people in the United States, seemingly so decent and law-abiding in their own lives, so profoundly apathetic about this ruling from the highest court in the land? My own opinion is that, because of the great culture war that has been raging for a long time, our national attitude toward children had been changing for decades. Things had gone so far downhill, with the nation’s attitude toward children, that this last step was simply the logical conclusion to what most people had been moving toward in their own lives anyway.

Let me explain what I mean by stepping back just a bit. God is a God of consequences. Just as in the physical realm you have an equal and opposite reaction for every action, in the spiritual realm there are always consequences for every decision made and action taken. For example: Did not God warn Adam that a consequence would result from the disobedience of eating the forbidden fruit? Yes. God promised Adam, in Genesis 2.17, “. . . of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

Of course, Adam and Eve did eat the forbidden fruit. God, true to His word, responded by expelling them from the Garden of Eden that very day, resulting in their spiritual death. Their physical death, following many years later, was also another consequence of their decision and action. The Fall of the entire race into sin was yet a third consequence of their decision and action. There are always consequences. So it has been ever since. With each decision and action, there are consequences of various kinds. However, since man has become sinful, he has protested and reacted against the entire concept of consequences for decisions and actions that are made. For example: A child will lie, but he does not want to face the consequences of his lie. A thief will steal, but does not want to be punished for his crime. Sinful man always tries to avoid the consequences he does not anticipate enjoying. Even when people do right, their sinfulness can lead them to react against the appropriate consequences of their decisions and actions.

May I interject an important point here? Many parents are thoroughly confused about their role with their children concerning this matter of consequences. They think their job is to shield their children from the consequences of their actions, when the Bible clearly shows that good parenting involves making sure their children face the consequences of their decisions and actions.

Take marriage. Many people will want to get married, but they do not want to have children. Alternatively, they do not want to have as many children as God wants them to have. The unwillingness to accept the natural, normal, and blessed consequences of a normal married life has motivated many women to interfere with the normal processes of life to prevent the possibility of pregnancy. Oh, perhaps they will have one, or two, or three kids. However, at some point they take matters into their own hands to prevent the natural, normal, and God-blessed consequence of marriage, which sometimes is the conception and eventual delivery of a baby.

The reasons for this ungodly behavior are many. “We can’t afford more children.” “I can’t handle another kid.” “I am too old to have another baby.” “It is better not to have a child than to have an unwanted child.” “The world is overpopulated, and I don’t want to add to the strain on the food supply.” There are as many justifications conjured up for preventing unwanted pregnancies as their are wicked women who prevent children. However, such actions by men and women are not always the result of conscious decisions to thwart the will of God. So much of what we do in our lives we do without a great deal of thought. We are swept along by the current of cultural trends, without realizing that in so doing Psalm 127.3 is completely ignored: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

The bottom line is that many people have decided that they want to short circuit God’s divine plan of consequences. However, do you not see how, at the bottom of it, there is no difference between the woman who murders an unborn child and a woman who prevents an unwanted pregnancy? Be it the pill, the patch, or some form of surgery to prevent further pregnancies, here is what women who do that have in common with women who obtain abortions, and men who take steps to ensure that they do not sire children: All of them are opposed to God’s plan of consequences resulting from decisions made and actions taken, to the point of taking steps to interfere with those consequences.

My friend, God wants good consequences to follow good decisions and actions. However, some people’s values are so fouled up that they have judged children to be a bad consequence of perfectly normal and natural behavior in God’s institution of marriage. Thus, when you have decided that having another child (or having any child, or having a child at an inconvenient time) is a bad consequence, you have already abandoned the basic principle of accepting God’s consequences for what you decide and do. You no longer live a life of letting God be your God. Thus, whether anyone was willing to admit it or not, by 1973 our country had long ago stopped valuing and loving children as we had before. Oh, we say we love the first one and the second one. However, when someone takes steps to stop having children they have started playing God, they have rejected God’s plan of consequences for what we do, and we come to the point of trying to convince ourselves that although we love that last kid, we just do not want any more like him. Try convincing your last child that you love him after he discovers that.

It is all a matter of convenience. So many people are absolutely convinced that life is supposed to be, and that people have a right to insist on, convenience. That is how young people justify premarital sex. Right here and right now is convenient. That is how moms and dads justify no more children. More children are inconvenient. What do you think lies behind the decision to stay home on Sunday nights instead of going to church? However, do you notice that nowhere in this reasoning, nowhere in this equation, is there any mention of God? Does this please Him? Is this His will for my life? Will He give grace to deal with the good consequences of my good behavior?

Please understand that just because someone has children does not mean they are not devoted to personal convenience. I am convinced that this slippage into the trough of convenience, which is partly the result of our entire culture no longer loving the most lovable among us, our children, has affected us all. Pastors now counsel church members not to have children. Even those who are otherwise very gracious Christians fall into this dead culture’s trap of either not having children, or not loving them as much as God wants us to love them.

Convenience, convenience, convenience. It is all about convenience any more. Even those who have children seem to think it is their right to raise them conveniently. They seem oblivious to the reality that raising children conveniently damages them. My prayer is that we will put some of that nonsense to an end. Oh, that our eyes might be opened to yet another area of our lives in which the Lordship of Jesus Christ be demonstrated.

My text for this series of messages is Matthew 19.14. Please turn to that portion of scripture and read along with me as I read aloud: “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

For convenience sake, our Lord’s disciples were blocking the access He wanted little children to have to Him. This verse shows His displeasure when anyone interferes with a child coming to Christ. The thrust of my opening remarks this morning has been to alert you to some of the forces that seek to push us in a direction we should not go with our children.

You have children, or grandchildren. Do you love them? Do you really love them? Are you sure our dead culture’s hatred of little children, are you sure our convenience-based society’s refusal to deal properly with our children, has not affected you in some small way? I am convinced our culture has adversely affected me. Are you sure you have not explored every option, attempted every measure, to see your child come to Christ? Why are so few of our children coming to Christ? Why is it that they seem not to come to Christ at a young age? Have you ever asked that question? Do you love your children enough to face some of the answers? We begin answering the questions next Sunday morning, Lord willing. In the mean time, in your prayer life, ask God to so bless your life that your children will want to walk with God, as you do, will want the Savior you love, and will hunger for the fruit of the Spirit that they see in you.



[2] For suspected fraud by scientists see http://www.unh.edu/rcr/Misconduct-FraudGoTo.htm 1/19/2007

[3] Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), page 5.



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org