“Got Questions about the Sacredness of Life?”

Pt. 3 of the Series, “Got Questions”

January 20, 2019

 

Psalm 139:1-2, 13-16

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

 

Today, I want to talk with you about life. I want to talk with you about the joyful tears that just about every new mom sheds as she delivers her baby and the doctor lays her child at her breast.  I want to talk about the laughter of little children, the no holds barred giggles, when their granddad tickles them to no end.  I know about that one first hand.  I want to talk about the utter joy of children swinging on a swing—push me higher, higher.  I want to talk about the glow of a teen girl as she is picked up for her first date.  I want to talk about the dance of delight at a daughter’s wedding.  I want to talk about the toast of a new job, I want to talk about the memories accumulated through the years.  I want to talk about the wisdom and faith of older age.  I want to talk about that wonderful, miraculous thing that God has given us, the preciousness of life, even the sacredness of life.  Today, I want to talk about life.

 

In this third in our series called, “Got Questions?” a series about some hot topics, I want to share some theological principles of life, things that from a theological perspective become overarching considerations, things that get at the essence of life, things that are even non-negotiables when we consider how sacred life really is.  Then, I want to apply those principles to some real life circumstances.  Finally, I will have one final word for you.  Today, I want to talk about, “The Sacredness of Life.”  So, let me begin with

 

  1. Some Theological Principles Regarding Life

 

  1. Life is a sacred gift from God

 

Right out of the gate, that statement can be quite controversial with far reaching implications.  If you are an evolutionist, then human beings are no different than animals.  That is all we are.  We are nothing more than animals, maybe a higher life form than the duck billed platypus, but according to evolution, we are simply beings that are born, live, procreate and die and that’s about it.  According to the theory of evolution, we are no more sacred than that duck billed platypus. 

 

For Christians, human life is far more than that.  Human life is a sacred gift from God.  We need to go back to the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth.  He created the sun and the moon and the plants and the trees.  He created the birds and the fish and the animals.  But, over none of those things did God make the pronouncement, “Let us make man in our image…” 

 

  1.  Being made in the image of God makes human life sacred

 

Being made in the image of God is what, theologically speaking, separates human beings from every other life form.  The image of God means not that we look like God.  The image of God may have more to do with having a moral compass, having a conscience that kicks in concerning right and wrong.  But even more importantly, the image of God means that we have a soul, a spirit.  Call it a divine essence within us.  It is an image that Adam and Eve had and which was passed down, albeit in distorted form, even after the Fall.  It is something that every single human being has, every one.  Pastor John Piper said it this way; “Only humans came into being day after day, created in the image of God and live forever—with God (in heaven) or (without Him) in hell.”  [1] Animals don’t have that.  Angels don’t either, only human beings.  He went on to say, “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. Eternal existence begins. That is why I say that the beginning of human life is a magnificent thing.” [2]

 

Human life is sacred because we are made in the image of God.  The Psalmist cried out; 

 

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands.” Psalm 8:3-6

 

That speaks of the preciousness of human life.  It speaks of its sacredness.  Jesus speaks of the sacredness of human life when He said: 

 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:29-31

 

And, if we ever questioned the sacredness of human beings, consider that we are so special that Jesus would dare die for us.  He didn’t die for cows or sheep or puppy dogs and you know He didn’t die for cats.  No, Jesus died for human beings.  That is how sacred life is.  Life is sacred because we were made in the image of God and here is the second thing about what makes human life sacred.

 

  1.  Realizing that it is God who made us makes human life sacred

 

“Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”  Psalm 100:3

 

“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.”  Psalm 127:3

 

Pastor Scott L. Harris said;

 

Your value is not based in how well you perform in school, or what you scored on an intelligence test, or on what you can do physically or how well you fit into society’s concept of beauty, how well you behave, or on your family background, ethnic heritage, or social class, or in what other people think of you, good, bad or indifferent. It is not even based in what you think of yourself. Your value is based in God creating you in His image and in His declared love for you proven in Jesus Christ. [3]

 

Life is a sacred gift from God.  That is the first principle I want to bring to you.  Here is the second;

 

  1. All human life is sacred

 

That almost sounds like the first principle but it is different.  All human life—as in every single human life--is sacred.  There is no human life that is not sacred.  Yet,

 

  1. Some say that one life is better than another

 

The thinking that one life is better than another is the basis for dome terrible atrocities human beings have perpetrated on one another.  That thinking is the basis of blatant racism.  It was the basis for holding black people in slavery in the time before the Civil War.  It was the basis for beating them and even killing them and considering them less than human, property to be managed.  Those abhorrent practices came from one race saying they were better than another.  The thinking that one life is better than another was the basis for the Aryan race maintaining that they were better than other races.  It was the basis in Nazi Germany for herding 6 million Jews and 6 million non-Jews, gypsies and other people groups and those with any kind of infirmities, it was the basis for herding these people off to the gas chambers.   The thinking that one life is better than another is the basis for sexism, the thinking that men are better than women or, not to be outdone, that women are better than men.  (More on that next week).  All human life is sacred and yet some say that one life is better than another.  All human life is sacred and yet,

 

  1.  Some say that life is valuable based on what you can contribute

 

According to that thinking, life gains value by what money an individual can generate or what that individual can contribute to society.  Following that line of reasoning, the disabled, the infirmed, the elderly do not have value because they cannot produce. 

 

The Bible says differently.  The Bible says that all human life is sacred.  The Bible says that life has value not because one life is better than another and not because of what someone can contribute.  No, the value of something is determined by its owner.  God is the owner and He values every single life.  All human life is sacred.

 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.”  Psalm 139:13-15        

 

God knits together every child in their mother’s womb.  God does that.  He knits together every single human being, bar none, with varying degrees of ability.  He knits them together in their mother’s womb for the purpose of displaying His glory. 

 

“The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?”  Exodus 4:11

 

God did that. 

 

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

 

Jesus came across a man who had been born blind.  His disciples brought a theological conundrum to Jesus.  Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?  That’s the best the disciples could come up with either that a. his blindness, his disability, was caused by sin, or that b. the sin was either committed by his parents or by the man.  (That the disciples thought that maybe the man sinned before birth says something about life in the womb, doesn’t it?)  Jesus rejected both options.  You see, the disciples were concerned about where the blindness came from.  Jesus was concerned about what that blindness, that disability, was leading to.   It was leading to the point where the works of God might be displayed.  This man’s life wasn’t a throwaway.  His life brought glory to God.  Therefore his life is sacred.  To quote John Piper again;

 

From this I conclude that in every disability, whether genetically from the womb, or circumstantially from an accident, or infectiously from a disease, God has a design, a purpose, for his own glory, and for the good of his people who love him and are called according to his purpose… But the work of God through these disabilities in the lives of others — that is often the miracle. The works of faith and labors of love and steadfastness of hope are amazing works of God that put his all-satisfying glory on display in the lives of parents and brothers and sisters and friends and churches. [4]

 

And so I look around our congregation and see foster parents, and parents of children with special needs, and parents of a Down Syndrome child, and parents of children with other significant disabilities, and in parents caring for these children, I see works of faith and labors of love and steadfastness of hope.  In these dear children I see children loved by God, endowed by Him with incredible value.  And, I see a congregation loving and caring for these children and here is the reason; all human life is sacred.  All human life is sacred.  That is principle #2.  Here is principle #3 

 

  1. The extent of life is from conception to the grave

 

It is from the womb to the tomb.  We’ve already seen that Psalm 139 tells us that we are knit together in our mother’s womb. 

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.  Jeremiah 1:4-5

 

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”  Psalm 51:5

 

“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord,
    the Maker of all things…  Isaiah 44:24

 

As one person wrote; “What is happening in the womb is God’s unique and sacred person-forming work.” 

 

After the angel visited Mary and told her she would be the mother of the Christ child, Mary went to visit Elizabeth who was in her fourth month carrying John the Baptist.  When Mary arrived, now in the early stages of pregnancy carrying the Baby Jesus, John the Baptist kicked in Elizabeth’s womb.  This was more than the usual kicking that any mother would feel.  John the Baptist, in the womb, recognized that Jesus, His cousin and His Lord, was present.  There was life in the womb.  Second, we need to see that the Greek term referring to John as he was in Elizabeth’s womb was “brefos”, the same term used of Jesus after He was born.  Thus, “brefos” was used to describe both the baby in the womb and the baby outside of the womb.  That says an amazing amount about life in the womb.  Third, we learn that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from His mother’s womb.  Again, quoting John Piper: 

 

What the Christian church has seen in this is that what the persons Jesus and John were outside the womb they were already inside the womb. Jesus was the God-man in Mary’s womb. When the Holy Spirit (according to Luke 1:35) caused Mary to be pregnant, she was not pregnant with anything less than the Son of God. The baby inside was the same as the baby outside. [5]

 

The point is that from God’s perspective, the extent of life is from conception to the grave.  That is principle #3.  Here is the 4th principle;

   

  1. The taking of a life is God’s prerogative

 

Maybe you are familiar with the name Jazmine Barnes.  Jazmine Barnes was shot and killed on December 30.  She was the little 7 year old who was killed by a drive by shooter in the case of mistaken identity.  We recoil in horror that this little 7 year old’s life was snuffed out so tragically.  And, we should.  We should recoil in horror every time someone is shot in the city of Rochester, every time a terrorist blows people up, every time someone, anyone, loses their life in war.  We should recoil in horror that someone, anyone, would take another’s life.  Life is so precious.  It is sacred.  The taking of a life is not something anyone but God should do.  When Job lost everything, he recognized that it was God who gives life and it is God who takes life away.   

 

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  Job 1:21

 

The 5th commandment tells us “You shall not murder.”  It is ironic that Moses was the one who received these commandments, particularly this 5th commandment, and yet Moses had taken another man’s life.  I wonder how he felt in receiving that commandment from God.  The taking of a life is so serious that the Bible prescribes the harshest of punishments, yes, even the death penalty, for those who commit murder.  Jesus tells us in Matthew;

 

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”  Matthew 5:21-24 

 

Jesus is telling us that we don’t have the prerogative to murder someone.  He even says that we must be careful with the attitudes and actions which incline us toward murder, attitudes like, anger, viewing someone as inferior, and having irreconcilable differences.  The New Testament even says this;

 

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:15-16

 

So, Jesus not only calls His church to not take another’s life, but He calls His church to sacrifice to allow a life to live.  The taking of a life is God’s prerogative. 

 

The 4 principles I am bringing to you today are:

 

  1. Life is a sacred gift from God,
  2. All human life is sacred,
  3. The extent of life is from conception to the grave and
  4. The taking of a life is God’s prerogative. 

 

Now, let’s go about

 

  1. Applying the Principles to Real Life Circumstances

 

Talk about hot topics!

 

  1. Abortion

 

If life is a sacred gift from God and the extent of life is from the womb to the tomb, from conception until death, and if no one has the right to take a life except for God, then these principles have a lot to say about abortion.  I will leave it to you to make the application. Another hot topic is 

 

  1. Eugenics

 

Eugenics has been defined as “the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.”  An example of this is the practice in China of aborting girls.  Through genetic testing, if it is found that a child in the womb is a girl, she may be aborted.  One writer tragically said, “You don’t have to be a feminist to know that being a girl is not a birth defect.”  Part of the tragedy of that quote is the assumption that if there is a birth defect, then abortion would be advisable.  Of course, the other tragic aspect of that quote is that girls might be considered as expendable.  Not in God’s eyes.

 

You can extend this thinking even farther.  So, according to this thinking, babies in the womb might be tested for Down Syndrome and the mother be encouraged to abort them.  Couples might want children of a certain IQ, or with a propensity for music or sports, or with a certain color hair.  So, couples might pick fetuses that would provide those traits and abort those who won’t.  Doesn’t this all sound suspiciously like Nazi Germany.  Science is moving in this direction.  What do these theological principles say to that?  One more hot topic. 

 

  1. End of life issues

 

Perhaps you have had a loved one who was near death and decisions had to be made as to how far treatment would be offered.  Perhaps you were the one making those decisions.  Perhaps, you have considered end of life issues in a will.  The theological principles we have discussed today have direct bearing on certain end of life issues.

 

Many have heard about physician assisted suicide.  By this is meant that a doctor will give a patient a lethal dose of medicine that will kill the patient.  Is that consistent with the theological principles we have discussed today?  But, what about what some call heroic measures.  What about withholding either natural life-sustaining sustenance like food or water, or unnatural life-sustaining means like life support machines?  Removing a life support machine may not be a sin against the 5th commandment in that God can still keep that life alive even without that machine.  Withholding food is a more difficult topic.  Again, no one has the right to take anyone else’s life.  Keeping these principles in mind can give you direction in dealing with these end of life issues.

 

  1. One Final Word    

 

Fifty-nine percent of Americans agree with abortion on demand.  Maybe you are in that 59%.  Maybe you are someone who has had an abortion.  My hope is that today’s message might have you re-think that topic from a theological perspective.  Or, maybe you have had to make end of life decisions and after today’s sermon you may not feel comfortable with the decisions you made.  Or, maybe deep down you think that one person may not be as good as another.  Some have suggested that we all have some racism in us and maybe, deep down, you think that one race is better than others.  Or, maybe you have seen children with disabilities, maybe severe disabilities, and you have wondered, “What kind of life do they have?”  Maybe today’s sermon has surfaced some practices or attitudes that are clearly not what God asks of us. 

 

Here is my final word to you; there is forgiveness.  We spoke about this in the first week of our series.  God’s forgiveness is real and it is total.  Listen now;

 

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”  1 Timothy 1:15

 

“God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

 

If you are harboring in your spirit any sin particularly about life issues, repent of it, take it to the cross, and there receive forgiveness.  There is no sin beyond God’s ability to forgive.

 

I told you at the top that today, I wanted to talk with you about life.  I wanted to talk with you about God’s view of life, about four principles of life, that; life is a sacred gift of God, that all human life is sacred, that the extent of life is from the womb to the tomb, and that the taking of a life is God’s prerogative.  I hope and pray that as you think and pray about some of these very pertinent hot topics connected to the topic of life, that you will indeed allow God’s Word to guide you and that you will indeed see life as a sacred gift from God.

 

In Jesus’ name.

Amen

 

 

 

[1] From the sermon, “The Baby in My Womb Leaped for Joy,” found at DesiringGod.com

[2] Ibid.

[3] From the Sermon, “The Value of Human Life,” by Pastor Scott L. Harris

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.