1. The aim of this message is to awaken and intensify your joyful, grateful reverence for the gift of human life from conception to eternity
a. The beginning of human life is a magnificent thing
b. There is nothing else like it
c. Only humans come into being day after day, created in the image of God, and live forever - with God or in hell
2. There is no compelling evidence in the Bible or anywhere else that any animals come into being with souls, or that they live after they die
a. There is no compelling evidence in the Bible or anywhere else that angels are being created today
b. The only being in the entire universe who keeps on originating and then living forever in the image of God is man
A. Genesis 1:26-27
B. Genesis 5:3
1. This was to show that the image and likeness of God is passed on from generation to generation
2. It was not just the first pair who was in the image of God
C. Genesis 9:6
D. Even after all the wickedness, which was punished by the flood, the image of God is retained in man
A. James 3:9-10
1. From the first man and woman to each succeeding man and woman down to our own day, when human life begins the image of God begins
2. Eternal existence begins
B. That is why I say that the beginning of human life is a magnificent thing
C. So I pray that this message will awaken and intensify your joyful, grateful reverence for the gift of human life from conception to eternity
1. The beginning of human life is a magnificent thing - it is the only newly originating life in the universe that is in the image of God
2. It is the only newly originating life in the universe that lasts forever
3. What amazed and happy reverence we should feel for the beginning of every human life!
A. As everyone knows, our President does not share this reverence for the beginning of human life.
1. He is firmly Pro-Choice, Pro-Abortion
2. On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, January 22, 2009, he said, "We are reminded that this decision not only protects womenís health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters." - CBSNews, MSNBC, USAToday
B. To which I say:
1. No, Mr. President, you are not protecting womenís health; you are authorizing the destruction of over half a million tiny women every year
2. No, Mr. President, you are not protecting reproductive freedom; you are authorizing the destruction of freedom for over a million helpless people every year
3. No, Mr. President, killing our babies does not cease to be killing our babies no matter how many times you call it a private family matter. Call it what you will, they are dead, and we have killed them. And you, Mr. President, would keep the killing legal
4. And may God grant that there arises in your heart a reverence for the beginning of every human life
A. We are talking about the wonder of human beings in the womb, and the moral question of whether it is right to kill them before they are born
B. Until recently, there never has been any doubt in the mind of Christians that such killing is wrong
C. Among the earliest sources for Christian thinking outside the New Testament (the beginning of the second century), the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas both forbid abortion
D. You shall do no murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not corrupt boys, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not deal in magic, you shall do no sorcery, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born. (Didache 2:2; cf. Epistle of Barnabas 19:5 - Note: these are early writings that are not inspired, but demonstrate thinking of the time)
E. Why did the early church, and all succeeding generations of Christians, come to this conclusion - that it is forbidden to take the life of the unborn?
1. We have already seen the root of this conviction
2. When a human life comes into existence something magnificent has happened - created in the image of God, to live forever
A. Another consideration for Christians was that the Bible says God has sovereign rights over birth and death
1. When Jobís children were killed by a wind that destroyed their house...
2. Job fell on his face and worshipped God and said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" - Job 1:21
3. The Lord gave - they were conceived and born by Godís act - thatís his prerogative
4. The Lord took - thatís his prerogative - Not ours
B. So Christians have always shrunk back from intruding on the rights of God
1. He gives - he takes
2. Birth and death are His to grant - not ours
A. But the consideration for Christians that I wanted to focus on today is a glimpse into the womb that we get at several places in the Bible
1. Letís look at Luke 1
a. The situation is that Elizabeth and Mary are both given a child in the womb
b. Both pregnancies are miraculous
c. Elizabeth because she is too old, and she had always been barren. She becomes pregnant with John the Baptist
d. Mary, because she is a virgin. But the Holy Spirit comes upon her, and she becomes pregnant with Jesus, the Son of God, who would one day die for our sins and rise again
2. - Luke 1:24
3. - Luke 1:26
4. The angel says to Mary, to encourage her that her impossible pregnancy really can come true, "And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." - Luke 1:36-37
5. So be encouraged, Mary, nothing is too hard for God. Witness the pregnancy of Elizabeth
6. When the angel had gone, and Mary knew what was happening to her, she made a beeline to Elizabeth
7. What a consultation this would be: two of the most important and impossible pregnancies in the world - Luke 1:39-44
8. "In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.'" - Luke 1:39-44
B. Now, of course, none of this may have been written with abortion in mind. Thatís not the point. The point is:
1. How did texts like these shape the way Christians thought about the unborn?
2. What were the assumptions here and the implications here?
1. The Word Baby
a. First, the word baby - Luke 1:41, 44
b. That word baby is not a specialized word for the unborn. It has no connotations of "embryo" or "fetus."
c. It is the ordinary word for baby (Greek brefos)
d. And what makes this crystal clear and significant is the way itís used in - Luke 2:16
2. What the Christians have seen in this is that what the persons Jesus and John were outside the womb they were already inside the womb.
a. Jesus was the God-man in Maryís womb.
b. When the Holy Spirit caused Mary to be pregnant, she was not pregnant with anything less than the Son of God - Luke 1:35
c. The baby inside was the same as the baby outside
e. Today science has only made that easier to believe, not harder
1) Ultrasound technology has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint.
f. Yet virtually all abortions happen later in the pregnancy than this date.
3. Treated as a Person
a. The next thing to notice here in Luke 1 is the way the baby in Elizabethís womb responded to Mary who was carrying the Son of God
b. "When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb." - Luke 1:41
c. Elizabeth interprets that leap like this: "Behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy." And Luke says that Elizabeth said this because she was filled with the Holy Spirit - Luke 1:44
d. "Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed" In other words, the Holy Spirit prompted her to say that this leap of the baby in her womb was a leap of joy. - Luke 1:41-42
e. To increase the significance of that leap even more, consider what an angel said to Elizabethís husband Zechariah before his son was conceived
1) The angel said, "And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his motherís womb." - Luke 1:14-15
2) So that leap is not only a leap of joy but a leap of Holy-Spirit-inspired joy
f. Only Persons Are Filled with the Spirit
1) What shall we make of this?
2) Never in the Bible is any animal said to be filled with the Holy Spirit
3) Tissue is not filled with the Holy Spirit
4) Only persons are filled with the Spirit
g. What Luke is doing - and he is doing it as the spokesman of Christ - is treating this child in the womb as a person
1) He uses the word baby, which he later uses for Jesus in the manger
2)He uses the word joy, which is what a person feels
3) He uses the phrase filled with the Spirit, which is what God does to persons
4) He simply is dealing with a human person in the womb
1. The beginning of human life is a magnificent thing
a. It is the work of God
b. It is the forming of a human person in Godís own image who will live forever
2. Let there be at Gahanna, and beyond, a joyful, grateful reverence for the gift of human life from conception to eternity. Never cease to be amazed at the gift of life - the gift of children
-- Don Treadway, January 2011 -- (see abortion statistics)