Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SANCTITY OF LIFE SUNDAY”

Today is our church’s “Sanctity Of Life Sunday,” that day each year when we mourn the appalling loss of human life that takes place in abortion clinics around the country, totaling more than 55 million unborn Americans since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was handed down on January 22, 1973. Only a fool would insist that whatever is legal is right and whatever is illegal is wrong. The issue of right and wrong is a more complex matter than the laws of any land can describe. At best, laws are enacted to protect the weak and prevent exploitation by the strong. Therefore, I will pass on the opportunity to address the issues of law. What divides us is more fundamental than whether an unborn baby’s life should be protected even from his own mother. What divides men has to do with our conception of God. He is invisible, and cannot be investigated or discovered beyond what He has revealed in creation, for those who have the eyes to see. I read Psalm 19.1-3:

1      The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2      Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3      There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

However, God has chosen to reveal Himself by means of supernatural revelation, given to us in written form as the Bible by inspiration, Second Timothy 3.16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Therefore, it is my privilege to speak to you for a few minutes on the subject of God, speaking to you about God as He reveals Himself in the Bible, revealing things about Him that can be known by no other means.

First, GOD’S PERSONALITY

Psalm 19.1 begins, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Thus, we can look into the nighttime sky, or investigate the environment in which we live, and learn some things about God, that He is a weighty consideration, that He must be immense, that He must be omnipotent, and such things as that. However, apart from the Bible, we are almost as ignorant about God as are the practitioners of the contrived religions. It is when we open the Word of God to study the nature of the God who made us, and who sustains this universe in which we live, that we are told what He is like, insofar as His personality is concerned. May I share but a few characteristics of God’s personality? He reveals Himself to be holy.[1] Allow me to simply state what I will leave you to verify, that God’s holiness is active and not passive. That is, not only is He in Himself clean and pure in all respects, but He seeks to cleanse and to purify all else. The holiness of God is intrinsic, uncreated, and untarnishable. Next, He reveals Himself to be just.[2] That is, the essential character of His rule over all that He has created is righteous and noble, with God exercising the absolute right and authority over all that He has created and sustains. His justice is exhibited by the fact that righteous laws are given to men, that these laws are sustained by proper sanctions, and that these laws are given an impartial execution. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Honor thy father and mother. Those are laws governing man’s relations to men. Toward God, He commands that we love Him and have no other gods before Him, that we bow down to no statues, and that we make use of His name in a respectful fashion.[3] Third, He reveals Himself to be love.[4] Love should be recognized as what God is, and should not be limited to what He does, though God’s love for us is one of His prime motivations. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Contrary to the world’s notion of love, it is not something one falls into or out of. Love seeks to meet the most fundamental needs of the ones who are loved, as God shows Himself doing throughout human history. Fourth, and this is all I have time to bring to your attention about God’s personality today, God reveals Himself to be good. Notice that it is only through God’s Word, the Bible, that we see He is holy, just, love, and good, attributes that cannot be discovered apart from the truth of Scripture. What is goodness? It is a necessary aspect of moral perfection. It is benevolence. It is mercy. It is grace. Doing good toward others, goodness exercised on behalf of our need, and God’s free actions toward us despite our utter lack of merit to deserve anything from Him.[5]

Though many other things can be said about the God with whom we have to do, keep in mind that it is His personality to in every respect be holy, just, love, and good. That is not to say we do always understand Him, since His ways are way beyond our limited comprehension.[6]

Next, GOD’S PROGRAM

Almost every non-Christian belief system assumes an endlessness of the ages, that time and existence as we know it has always been and will always be. However, scientific minds no longer accept that view as plausible, bringing the scientific world more in line with what has been held by Christians since the beginning. There was a beginning and there will be an ending, and what links the beginning to the ending is the One who began it all and who will end it all, with His program connecting the two ends.

The program of God is seen in the ordering of the succession of the ages. That God has a program of the ages is disclosed in many passages in the Bible.[7] Likewise, there are well-defined periods related to God’s program.[8] The Apostle Paul writes of the period between Adam and Moses (Romans 5.14); John speaks of the law as given by Moses, but of grace and truth as coming by Christ (John 1.17). Christ also spoke of the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), which are evidently to be distinguished from Jewish “times and seasons” (Acts 1.7; 1 Thessalonians 5.1). Likewise, He spoke of a hitherto unannounced period between His first and second coming and indicated its distinctive features (Matthew 13.1-51), and predicted a yet future time of “great tribulation” and defined its character (Matthew 24.9-31). There are “last days” for Israel (Isaiah 2.1-5) as well as “last days” for our present age (2 Timothy 3.1-5). The Apostle John anticipated a period of one thousand years and related this to the reign of Christ, at which time Christians, His bride, will reign with Him (Revelation 20.1-6). That Christ will someday sit on the throne of King David and reign over the house of Jacob forever is declared by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1.31-33), and that there will be an ever abiding new heaven and new earth is as clearly revealed (Isaiah 65.17; 66.22; 2 Peter 3.13; Revelation 21.1). In Hebrews 1.1-2, a sharp contrast is drawn between “time past” when God spoke to the fathers by the prophets and “these last days” when He is speaking unto us by His Son. Similarly, it is clearly disclosed that there are ages past (Ephesians 3.5; Colossians 1.26), the present age (Romans 12.2; Galatians 1.4), and the age, or ages, to come (Ephesians 2.7; Hebrews 6.5).

May I remind you that God’s dealings with people during different eras of His program have varied? Of particular importance is that period when He dealt with the nation of Israel from the time of Moses until the time of Christ by means of the Law of Moses, which also served as the rule of law for that nation for 1,600 years, when they entered the land possessing only the first five books of the Bible. No credible Christian believes that God’s dealings with Israel and the surrounding nations during that era can be reflected or should be recreated in our day with the completed revelation of God’s Word. Thus, the straw man that some erect to frighten the foolish and ignorant, that our goal is to impose a theocracy, runs directly contrary to any understanding of God’s program, which Christ spoke to when He said to Pilate, in John 18.36, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Third, GOD’S PEOPLE

Everything and everyone belongs to God by right of creation, and He retains absolute sovereignty over His creation, while working to accomplish His will in discreet ways we very typically do not comprehend.[9] Though references to God as the Potter and His creatures as clay to illustrate His sovereignty were made most frequently by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah (echoes of God’s creation of man from the dust of the ground),[10] let me read Paul’s declaration in Romans 9.1: “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”

Do you see the implications of what is asserted in the Bible? God claims we are His and that the final disposition of our affairs is His prerogative by right of ownership. That said, I think it is fair to say that most people would insist that they are sovereign individuals in their own right, and that they alone have the right to self-determination and the prerogative to dispose of their own affairs. Would you not agree? Whichever side of that issue you happen to be on, what is to be said about someone who exercises the invented right to determine issues of life and death for a third party? What would you say about someone claiming the prerogative to dispose of the affairs of another person?

That Brings Us, Fourth, TO GOD’S PLAN

We know from the totality of God’s Word that God has a plan for each person’s life, though the specific details of His plan for each life is not revealed, but is discovered as events unfold. It was God’s plan for me to be born, for that was no accident. It was God’s plan for my parents to be who they were, for that was no coincidence. As the prophet Daniel said, “there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known . . . what shall be in the latter days.”[11] How does God know what things shall come to pass? He knows what will happen because He has a plan for all things that He executes with precision.[12] This is how predictions made centuries in advance can be literally fulfilled. Consider the nation of Christ’s birth, the tribe of Christ’s birth, the family of Christ’s birth, the ancestors of Christ’s birth, the virgin of Christ’s birth, the time of Christ’s birth, the city of Christ’s birth, the nature of Christ’s death, the fact of Christ’s resurrection, and the time of Christ’s resurrection. Each predicted centuries in advance and fulfilled to the letter. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth, Revelation 13.8. Thus, it was always God’s plan that His Son would die on the cross. Anticipated in Scripture as far back as Genesis 3.15, His substitutionary sacrifice is described in great detail in Isaiah 53 seven centuries before it took place, and in Exodus and Leviticus by typology some 1,600 years before it took place.

However, we should also consider individuals like you and me. What is God’s plan for you and me? We are given a glimpse of God’s plan in Genesis 1.26, where God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Unlike any other creature, including angels, God made us with the imprint of His image upon us. The question is, to what end did He do this? As well, Adam and Eve sinned, with the destructive effects of sin visited upon our race since that fateful day. Unexpected to God? Not at all. God, who knows the end from the beginning, is never surprised by a turn of events. He allowed the temptation of Eve, the subsequent temptation of Adam, and the sin that lead to man’s current predicament. For what purpose and to what end? This brings us back to God’s nature, His holiness, justice, love, and goodness. Repeatedly in the Bible, we see examples and illustrations of what Paul put into words in Ephesians 2.5, “by grace ye are saved.” That is, God extends to undeserving sinners who are in open rebellion to Him the blessing of salvation. To accomplish this, He satisfies His own holiness and justice, and expresses His love and goodness, by sending His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die a substitutionary death on the cross of Calvary to provide the basis for forgiving and someday delivering all the way to heaven sinners who trust Him. Thus, each person who is conceived and born into this world is responsible for his own relationship with the God who created and sustains him, and who provides to him various amounts of spiritual light leading out of the darkness to life. It is up to each individual to respond to the truth he is exposed to, and to either enjoy his compliance to God’s will or suffer the consequences of continuing to stray and asserting his independence and autonomy. Understand this: Second Peter 3.9 reveals to us that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Further, understand that when men turn to Christ, God gives them “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,” Second Peter 1.4. Thus, it becomes clear that the reason God created man in His image and after His likeness was so that He might someday, through a series of events too intricate for us to understand or appreciate, elevate those who turn to Christ to the status of sonship, and thereby make us heirs of a rich inheritance in heaven.[13] Of course, those who do not obey the gospel will not enjoy the riches of God’s grace.

Finally, GOD’S PURPOSE

Where does it end? What is the grand and final purpose of it all? What is God ultimately and finally seeking to accomplish by His program and plan to express His personality and to work through the lives of His people? Most men are too proud to be taught, but to the humble grace is given. It is really quite simple. Revelation 4.11, a song that will be sung in the future in heaven, by men and angels, makes it quite clear for all to see: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

There is room in this universe for only one God, you or Him. Either He is God, and you bow before Him and worship and serve Him, or you are god and you bow to no one. Either way, you enjoy the benefits or suffer the consequences. Whatever happens, He will be glorified, either by your worship of Him as God, or by your punishment by Him for refusing to own Him as the one true and living God.

Perhaps now you see how it fits together, and why we who believe the Bible are so adamant about the sanctity of every human life. It is simply not our place to so interfere that we prevent God’s plan for each life to be fulfilled and for each human being to deal with God Himself about His eternal destiny. No one has the right to take from another human being his life and thereby end his right to choose. That is what the right to choose should mean. It has been forty years of political upheaval and turmoil, certainly not turning out the way Associate Justice Harry Blackmun thought it would, according to a note he wrote to himself as he drafted the final opinion and looked to its aftermath. Blackmun revealed an astonishingly naive and optimistic mindset when he wrote about Roe v. Wade, “It will be an unsettled period for a while.”[14] Unsettled is a mind-boggling understatement. A while?

Over the last four decades, there has been an abundance of rage, a great deal of violence, and a major rethinking of the abortion issue on the side of the dispute that favors legalized abortion on demand. As for the rage, I suggest that we consider Ephesians 4.26 (“Be ye angry, and sin not”) and James 1.20 (“For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”). Ever notice how difficult it is to discuss anything rationally when those with whom you disagree respond with bullying anger and condescending judgmentalism? My experience has been that we get nowhere with that attitude, and recognize that what we are dealing with, according to Professor Lawrence H. Tribe of the Harvard Law School, presents nothing less than a “clash of absolutes.”[15] Acknowledging Professor Tribe’s remark, allow me to calmly comment, though I marvel that anyone who denies the existence of moral absolutes takes an absolutist position on abortion.

Regarding the violence associated with this entire issue, allow me to commend the mainstream media for rightly reporting those rare occasions when violent acts have been perpetrated against abortion clinic staff. The National Abortion Federation web site reports that there have been sixty-seven reported acts of extreme violence against individuals connected with abortion clinics.[16] That total reflects four incidents in 2000, three in 2001, one in 2002, three in 2003, two in 2004, two in 2005, none in 2006, two in 2007, none in 2008, and one in 2009. Thus, acts of extreme violence against abortion clinics and employees that work there, as reprehensible as they are, is actually quite rare, according to the National Abortion Federation web site. That said, it is not surprising that their web site does not report extreme acts of violence perpetrated by abortion clinics when taking the lives of some thirteen to fourteen million unborn children during that same time frame. While commending the mainstream media for accurately reporting violent acts by misguided opponents of abortion, I must also rebuke that same mainstream media for refusing to report to the public at large the lethal violence that occurs whenever an unborn child’s life is ended by abortion.

What does it tell you about a society that counts as a story fit for the evening news the tragic death by unusual circumstances of a beloved dog or cat, while the more important but completely legal execution of a baby goes unreported? These are troubling issues, are they not? They are matters that go to the very core of our identity as human beings and our understanding of who and what we are as a society. Andrew Johnson is an American bioethicist and abortion advocate. Despite his position, he admits that there is an incontrovertible case in support of the fact that the fetus is a live human being, he discounts as nonsense the argument that abortions must be legal so they will be safe, and he dismisses claims that a right to abortion “follows from a woman’s right to control her body” (recognizing that with pregnancy there are two bodies involved).[17] He is among those favoring abortion that allies with Professor Peter Singer of Princeton University, who has distinguished himself by arguing that the killing of babies and even young children should not always be considered murder. These are among a growing number who think that we who have the power should also have the right to decide who will and who will not be recognized as a person, therefore deciding who has a right to live.[18]

Does this line of reasoning chill you as much as it does me? I read from The Oxford Companion To The Supreme Court Of The United States, second edition. I bring to your attention the Dred Scott decision of 1857, in which in effect the personhood of a man born a slave was decided. According to Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney, blacks were “regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”[19] Is that not perilously close to the logic and the rationale that is used by attorneys in court arguments advocating abortion on demand? Theirs are not questions of life, because science now clearly shows life begins at conception. Neither are theirs questions of a mother’s safety, according to bioethicist Andrew Johnson, himself an abortion advocate. Finally, it can no longer be claimed that these are matters related to viability outside the mother’s womb, since premature babies routinely survive thanks to advances in medical technology. The real struggle is over when someone is legally a human being.

May I suggest that you not argue with someone over this issue? May I suggest that you address other issues with them, issues that are more fundamental? I am not suggesting that you capitulate, but that you recognize the futility of arguing with someone who has a different set of assumptions than you and I do. You see, with the wrong set of assumptions you cannot arrive at correct conclusions . . . about anything. Therefore, having rehearsed some of the basics of this tragic controversy that has so divided our nation for the last forty years, and which I suspect will continue to divide us as a people, a commend you to a consideration of God, His personality, His people, His program, and His purpose.



[1] Isaiah 6.3; Exodus 3.5; Leviticus 19.2; 1 Samuel 2.2; Job 15.15; Psalm 22.3; 47.8; 111.9; 1 John 1.5; Revelation 4.8; 6.10; 15.4

[2] 1 John 1.9; 1 Corinthians 11.31-32

[3] Exodus 20.1-17

[4] 1 John 4.8; 3.16; John 3.16; Romans 5.8

[5] Ephesians 2.4-5; 2 Corinthians 1.3; Hebrews 4.16; Isaiah 54.7; Romans 9.15, 18; 1 Timothy 1.13

[6] Romans 11.33

[7] Deuteronomy 30.1-10; Daniel 2.31-45; 7:1-28; 9.24-27; Hosea 3.4, 5; Matthew 23.37-25.46; Acts 15:13-18; Romans 11.13-29; 2 Thessalonians 2.1-12; Revelation 2.1-22.31

[8] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. I, (Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947), pages 253-254.

[9] Exodus 19.5; Leviticus 25.23; Job 41.11; Psalm 50.10, 12; Ezekiel 18.4; 29.9

[10] Genesis 2.7; Isaiah 29.16; 41.25; 64;8; Jeremiah 18.2-3, 6; 19.1, 11

[11] Daniel 2.28

[12] Psalm 40.5

[13] Romans 8.14, 17; 2 Corinthians 6.18; Galatians 3.29; 4.5-6; Philippians 2.15; Titus 3.7; Hebrews 12.7; 1 John 3.1-2

[14]http://www.albertmohler.com/2013/01/18/forty-years-after-roe-human-dignity-hangs-in-the-balance/?utm_source=Albert+Mohler&utm_campaign=8415d7ca6c-Albert_Mohler_Email_January_18_2012&utm_medium=email

[15] Ibid.

[16] http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/violence/history_extreme.asp 1/18/2013

[17] http://www.albertmohler.com/2005/03/09/are-all-humans-persons-a-new-assault-on-human-dignity/

[18] Ibid.

[19] Kermit L. Hall, Editor in Chief, The Oxford Companion To The Supreme Court Of The United States (Second Edition), (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), page 440.



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org