(Note: this transcript was created automatically and may contain some errors)
Today is what’s been set aside as national sanctity of human life Sunday where we reflect on the innate worth and dignity of every single person from conception to natural death and every stage in between. But on this day specifically, we want to reflect on the innate worth and dignity of all unborn persons too.
And this isn’t just an arbitrary day. You might think, “Why today? What makes this Sunday in January that day?” Well, in 1973 on January 22nd, the Supreme Court of the United States decided the case Roe v. Wade. And that case and cases that have followed have basically led to abortion on demand for any reason being acceptable or at least legal in our country. And since then, over 60 million children have been aborted just in the United States, over a billion worldwide. To put that in perspective, the Holocaust saw six million people lose their lives, have them taken from them. And so we’re dealing with something of epic proportions even beyond that. It’s an evil that we don’t even necessarily have a category or a word for, and it’s interesting because it’s legal. So it leads to somewhat awkward conversations where we might say, “Well, this is wrong,” and someone says, “it’s legal.” And we have to be able to work through, okay, so some things are illegal and wrong and some things are illegal and right, and how do we know what’s true?
What is our source of authority and knowledge about what is right and what is wrong about who we are? And so those are some questions that hopefully we will reason from the scriptures with today and wrestle with, like how should Christians think about abortion? What do the scriptures have to say? Now, in a room this size, it’s likely that there are several people who have some experience with abortion. Maybe you’ve had one, maybe you’ve encouraged someone to, maybe you’ve participated in one, maybe you have wanted one, a whole range of people. And my goal here today is not to heap condemnation on anyone, it’s not to judge anyone. I do want us to reason from the scriptures, from God’s word to a robust conception of what the value of every single human life is, every single person.
So I understand this can be difficult, but we can’t difficult topics. God’s word speaks to the full range of issues we encounter in life. And so we don’t want to selectively look at certain things that may make us uncomfortable or not. Perhaps today some of you will come to change your mind about something. It was sermons and people reasoning with me about this issue that led to me changing my mind about this in part over the years. And I’m thankful for faithful friends who are willing to have those conversations with me. And perhaps some of you will say, “I need to do something. I have these convictions, but I want to put feet to them.” And so that might look like care net, it might look like helping a mom who’s struggling in your neighborhood or in your church. But let’s not just be people who believe right things, let’s be people who do right things. So I hope the Holy Spirit will guide each of us as we look at our text today and then apply it.
So if you have your Bible, if you would turn with me to Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:26. If you have a Pew Bible, it’s probably page one. I didn’t check, but it’s a safe guess. So while you’re turning there. So Genesis is given by Moses, it’s the first kind of recorded revelation of God after he takes his people out from under 400 years of Egyptian captivity, slavery, and oppression. We know from other places in the Bible that the Hebrew people, God’s people had taken Egyptian gods as their gods. They had imbibed deeply from the well of how the Egyptians and surrounding cultures viewed the world, what made us valuable. Are human beings valuable? They were much more Egyptian and Canaanite than they were God’s people. So God takes them out from under this captivity and he gives them Genesis one, Genesis two, Genesis three to tell them here’s who God is, here’s who you are, and you’re here.
Kind of starting to answer right off the bat in the very first pages of the Bible the most important questions any of us will grapple with in life. And so it starts out, God creates the heavens and the earth, literally everything that exists was created by God. And we go on to see that on earth God separates the sky from the land, the water from the land, he populates those spaces with birds and vegetation and animals on subsequent days of creation. And then we arrive at day six, and that’s where our passage picks up today. So would you stand with me as we read God’s word. Starting in verse 26, then God said, “Let us make man in our image according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, he created him in the image of God. He created them male and female.
God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” God also said, “Look, I have given you every seed bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth. Everything having the breath of life in it, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good, indeed. You may be seated. Thank you.
So the Bible is very clear that Adam and Eve were real people, like the first two human people. So regardless of how you understand the days of creation in Genesis one and Genesis two and how do those fit, and is the earth young or is it old? There’s some things we as Christian should just all be on the same page about, God created human beings in his image, distinct. We’re not the results of a random process or anything like that. Jesus and Matthew 19 affirms that human beings, Adam and Eve were literal people. So he’s asked about divorce and remarriage and something like that. And he replies as he often does have you not read, and he goes on to quote Genesis one, have you not read that he who made them in the beginning made them male and female?
So I’m just going to side with Jesus on this and say Adam and Eve, real people, the first two people, this is history. God is telling us what happened. And these first two people were created in the image of God, and we will unpack that phrase in a little bit. But we see in this text that humankind, we are the pinnacle of the creation account. You could say that God saved the best for last. Humankind is in a different category than the animals. We are the only creation that is made according to the image of God. So physical world, plants, animals, and then mankind. We’re a distinctly different kind of being. Now, we can’t… you can’t get on social media or anything like that and not understand that the issues people care about today are very much issues of rights, dignity, equality, justice. And those are all very good things to be concerned with, that we should care deeply about.
Now, we may understand what justice entails differently than someone else. We may say that you’re excluding a certain category of person from equality or we may even disagree about what equality means. But if humankind is not created by God distinct from the rest of creation, there’s no real reason to have that conversation around rights and dignity and human worth. So if we’re just slightly more evolved animals and there is no God, there’s no binding reason for us to treat each other any way, much less a good way. Because if we want to say there’s a moral law that says I have to treat you with dignity and respect, that means there’s a moral law giver who sits over both of us to give that moral law. But if the prevailing non Christian worldview is true and we’re just the products of a random process that didn’t have us in mind, then something similar to what Richard Dawkins said is true.
For instance, he has said the universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference. Now, not everyone who is an atheist or a non-Christian would affirm that, but I would say atheism consistently affirmed, ends up with something where there’s nothing but blind pitiless indifference. And this is basically the view of the alien intelligence and Star Trek when it encounters human beings, it says that we are ugly bags of… Now, you can decide which part of that applies to you and the person sitting next to you. But we all at least are bags of water from a physical, biological standpoint. But the question is, is that all we are? Well, if Christianity is true, no, that’s not all we are. If atheism and other worldviews are true and we’re consistent, then yes, that’s all we are.
There really are only two consistent views when it comes to human worth. God created us and hence we are valuable and have innate worth and dignity or God didn’t and we’re just the products of recycled stardust. And one bag of mostly water that’s recycled stardust does not have an obligation to treat another bag of mostly water who’s recycled stardust in any sort of way. There’s no true middle ground. People will act like there is, that we have certain obligations to each other, and that’s good. Anytime someone’s inconsistent in the right direction, I want to commend that. But can we actually be consistent in our affirmation of rights and equality and justice and the worth of human beings if we don’t ground them in the scriptures? And the answer is no. Without a biblical grounding, all attempts to ground human worth will exclude some people.
We saw this with slavery, we see with other end of life issues, and we see it today with abortion. So my goal for us today is that we will look at this passage of scripture that we have already read through, and we’ll kind of dissect it. We’ll see five different dimensions of what makes us as human beings special and distinct and worthy of respect and honor. And we will see the ways that abortion and other affronts to the image of God robs that and diminishes what God has created. So we’ll see that man is God’s good creation, that he’s made according to the image of God, that we as humankind, mankind are made with a purpose. We’re also put here to enjoy God’s good world. And more ultimately, we are put here to glorify God. So man is God’s good creation. We see this in verse 31 that after God has created mankind and given him dominion over all the world, it says that God saw all that he had made and it was very good indeed.
Now, previously, after each day of creation, God sees what he’s made and he says it’s good. And I don’t want to diminish that, that means it’s exactly what he wanted it to be. It accorded with his will, it fit the template of what he wanted to make. Now, however, after the creation of animals, and most recently in the passage, mankind, God looks at it all and says “It’s very good,” that man is the jewel and the crown of creation. But a question we must answer is, does this apply to unborn persons too? So he’s talking about Adam. Adam is walking around, he’s on the planet, he’s breathing air, that sort of thing. And he’s talking about mankind, and mankind is very good, but does this apply to unborn persons? And the answer is yes. Because what God is talking about here, and indeed the Bible’s conception of what makes a person a person and gives them worth is that they’re a human being. Because every human being has innate worth and dignity because every human being is created in the image of God.
And the unborn is human. For some reason, there’s confusion on that point, but no one’s confused about cows earlier. Do cows have babies that are cows? Yes. And frogs produce after their kind and have frogs, and dogs do the same thing. But for some reason when it comes to people, we’re not quite sure what’s in the mother. It’s a human being, it’s genetically human. It has a blood type that’s distinctly human, and in fact often different than the mother’s such that if they mix, the mother’s body doesn’t see it as a part of her body. She sees it as something different because it is. So the unborn is distinctly human, but it’s also alive. I think there’s confusion on that. When does life begin? And I’m not going to get very scientific today except to say by any meaningful medical and scientific definition of life, the unborn is alive.
It takes in nutrients, it expels waste. It adds cells to itself according to a self-guided process. More than that, its cells undergo a process where it uses oxygen. Its cells are breathing just like your cells are and making energy from that. The unborn is a human that’s alive. And hence what we read in Genesis one applies to the unborn. Any rights we afford to other human beings that are alive, human rights, rights in virtue of being human should be recognized for the unborn person too because the unborn is part of God’s very good creation. Now, when the Bible says mankind is very good, this isn’t just an uninformed person’s opinion. God knows what he’s talking about. Now, how well a person knows the subject matter, what expertise they have has a lot to do with how much we should pay attention to their opinion.
We should listen to everyone, but some opinions have more weight than others. I’m going to trust what my mechanic says about how to fix my car over my cardiologist for instance. Now, if you had a friend who didn’t know much about sports and that person told you that such and such a team was really good, then you probably wouldn’t have to know much about the stats of that team to realize they might not be that good cause this person does not know what makes a good sports team. By the way, if we’re ever having a conversation about sports, I will be the person who makes that comment. I’m Jason’s non sportsy friend because I don’t know much about sports, so you shouldn’t listen to me when I talk about sports. But God knows what he’s talking about when it comes to humanity, he designed us, he made us, we bear his image.
So when he says that we are very good, and by extension that unborn children are very good, we should listen. Yet today, just like in the times of slavery, the strong and powerful use their strength to oppress and destroy the lives of those who are less powerful, less strong, those who are deemed less than. And nowhere is this more true than when it comes to abortion. So far from upholding and cherishing the good of God’s creation, we often destroy it. And if we treat as refuse that which God calls good, we’ve shown ourselves to be morally bankrupt, and abortion destroys what is good. And so do any other means of man caused premature ends to life. But our goal is people who want to love our neighbor, are very good creation neighbor, made in the image of God should be to align how we treat people with how God sees them.
God says people are part of his very good creation, so we should treat them very good. Love your neighbor. Treat them like God’s very good creation. So that’s the first kind of takeaway I’d like us to see from this passage that we are God’s very good creation. But secondly, we are made according to the image of God. One of the most remarkable statements in all of the Bible is that man, this creation of God is created in the image of God. One of the most difficult statements in all of the Bible to understand is that man, this creation of God is made in the image of God. So much has been said about this, so much has been written. There are lots of opinions, but it’s a remarkable claim on the face of it. But I’d like to suggest to you today that sometimes we might attribute too much, too much to being made in the image of God.
Now =, it’s also worth noting that mankind is made according to the image, and Jesus is the image. So we’re made in or according to that image, and Jesus actually is the image of God. There’s a difference there. Jesus is the picture, the pattern of what we are supposed to become, of what we’re supposed to develop into. Now, the image of God is not something we have in degrees where some of us have more of it and some of us have less of it. Some of us are not more the image of God or more in the image of God than others. The image of God is also not lost, it’s not damaged in the fall. Now, there’s a lot about us that is. Sin has corrupted every facet of every part of us and society and cultures and everything, but the image of God is not part of that.
Nowhere in all of scripture do we see that the image of God is diminished or that it’s somehow marred or effaced. We have many problems, that is not one of them. It’s also unwise, I believe, to think of the image of God as abilities, like the ability to reason or be righteous or rule because some of us have more capacities in that area than others. Some of you are smarter than the person sitting next to you. I don’t say that to make you feel prideful, but just simply to say some of us have greater innate capacities than others, but that doesn’t mean anyone is more the image of God than someone else because the image of God is not based on our abilities, it’s a status, it’s a plan, it’s a pattern that all of us have and are made according to.
And I think there’s a similarity between sometimes how Christians talk about the image of God that’s based on capacities and attributes and how non-Christians often argue in favor of abortion. Let me explain. There are about four different kind of categories that pro-abortion arguments often fall in. They want to say the unborn is different in one of these four ways so that it’s not worthy of protection. And there’s a little acronym to help you remember these. It’s called SLED. S-L-D. some people would say the unborn child is so small, that’s the S, that they’re not worthy of protection. “How could something so small be a valuable human person?” Some might say. But is it really our size that gives us our worth? Have I been becoming increasingly more valuable the two years since my daughter was born in the scale just keeps going up and up? No, I haven’t because our size doesn’t give us our worth. A toddler is not worth less because he or she is smaller than a 50 or 60 or 70-year-old.
Our worth is not based on an attribute we possess. So no, we shouldn’t discriminate based on size when it comes to who’s valuable and who’s not. L, level of development. Some people would say the unborn child is sufficiently less developed so they’re not worthy of protection. But once again, a toddler is less developed than most of us in this room, you and me. But does that mean that they don’t need protection? No, because the unborn child is just exactly as developed as they’re supposed to be at that point in time. It’s not our level of development that gives us our worth. It’s not based on our capacities or our abilities. Third, environment, so S-L-E, environment. Some would say that the unborn child is in a different environment. It’s not in the world yet, so it’s not worthy of protection.
I mentioned earlier that my daughter is two, and I remember, I was looking for this. I was really excited about seeing when this happened because there’s an age when you can put a coin on a table and put your hand on it and the child thinks it just disappeared. It’s kind of fun. And then at some point they realize, “Dad, it’s under your hand. Move your hand, I want the coin.” And I remember paying attention for that. But what’s interesting is for some people today who want to say that the unborn child isn’t in the world, they’re kind of falling prey to that thing that my one year old did where it’s like you can’t see it, so it doesn’t exist, it’s not in the world. But that’s not true because the unborn child is in the world, it’s in our space and time, and it’s in exactly the environment that it’s supposed to be at at that stage of development.
If it were somewhere else, that would be the problem. But because it’s there, that’s a good thing. So we don’t treat people differently because they’re in a different environment. It’s not eight inches down a birth canal that somehow makes you go from invaluable to valuable. Our location, our abilities don’t give us our worth. So S-L-E-D, some people would say the unborn child is much more dependent than the rest of us so it’s not worthy of protection. But I think this actually does too much damage because the combat veteran who’s been hit by an IED is probably wholly dependent on his or her doctor. Does that mean that person is not worthy of protection? No, they have a high … That doesn’t mean they’re not somehow valuable. Once again, a one day old, very dependent, wholly dependent on his or her mother. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve protection.
So size level of development, environment, degree of dependency, none of these things give us our worth and hence none of these things should be used to argue against protecting the worth of every human being. So we don’t have our worth based on degrees, it’s not based on our attributes just like the image of God is not based on our attributes or capacities. So what does it mean to be created according to the image of God? Well, for starters, it means that God has a special connection to mankind, also that we’re his stand-ins on this world. So one way of looking at Genesis is God creates a garden temple, and he places his people, his image bearers in it to tend it and keep it and cultivate it and create more image bearers so that … Kind of like this mirror analogy.
I loved what Allen did earlier because one of the pictures I think of what we are supposed to be as people is covering the face of the planet with mirrors that reflect the glory of God. As the Psalms and the prophets sometimes say that the surface of the earth would be covered with the knowledge of the glory of God like the waters cover the sea. So we are God’s stand-ins on earth, we’re here to reflect and grow in our ability to reflect his glory and attributes. Now, this pattern of creation, the status of the image of God is so important even after the fall, even after Genesis three that in Genesis nine we’re told that if someone murders a person, that justice requires that that murder’s life be taken. And the reason given is that mankind is made in the image of God. It’s not like we were somehow lower status after the fall.
In James three, the reason we’re given to not curse another person is because everyone is made in the image of God. Every single claim in the Bible to worth and dignity is founded on this. And here’s something we don’t often consider to strike at mankind, to do violence to a person, to curse a person is to strike the one in whose image they are made. So we don’t treat people poorly because we don’t want to face the image of God in that person. It’s also a way of loving our neighbor, but that person bears the mark of their creator. So we’re God’s very good creation, we are made in the image of God, but we also have a purpose. I’m sure you can think of many examples in movies where a character says something like, “I was born for this.”
For me, this was Friday night at Texas de Brazil with restaurant week when things are much cheaper in DC this last Friday, and they just keep bringing you meat, like 10 different meats. You just have this little card, and when you want to stop, which why would you ever stop? You put it up on the red side. So I just kept mine on the green side, and they keep bringing you meat. And they say, “Would you like some of it?” I’m like, “My card’s green, of course I want some.” And so that must be what the wedding, Supper of the Lamb in the book of revelation is like, people just keep bringing you good food and you just leave your card green. Anyways, so I leaned over and I said to my wife, I was born for this.
There’s this implicit belief most of us have that whatever deeply resonates with us is what we should do. That whenever we think we found our purpose, that’s what we should be allowed and encouraged and aided in doing. Well, God doesn’t make us guess what our purpose is, he doesn’t make us wonder why we were created. The scriptures tell us what our true mission and purpose is. In verse 26, we see that God says, “Let us make mankind in our image according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in his own image. He created him in the image of God, and he created the male and female.
And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.” And in the second creation account in Genesis 2:15, we see that God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch it. So there are just a few things I want to pull from this, kind of some quick bullets when it comes to our purpose, like why are we here? Well, we’re here to exercise dominion over this world not to use it and abuse it, but to steward it and to enjoy it, which we’ll talk about more in a minute. We’re supposed to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
Once again, with those kinds of mirrors, those reflectors of the glory of God. We should cultivate. So chapter two verse 15, that word used for work when God says that he put the man in the garden to work can also mean cultivate, improve it, to enrich it. That’s what all of us are here to do. Whatever sphere God has you in, he’s looking for you to improve it where you’re at, to bloom where you’re planted, to cultivate. And we’re also to spread and reflect the knowledge and glory of God. And this mission is for everyone, everyone’s… If you’re a human, you have this human mission that God created you for. Now, I do want to recognize that due to the fall to sin and brokenness in the world, there will be some of us who are not able, even though we may desire to, to participate in every aspect of that. There may be something I’ve said and you realize, “I want that, and I have not been able to do that.”
We live in a broken world. However, wanting and not being able to is very different than intentionally taking someone’s purpose away from them or from intentionally going off on a different path and saying, “I don’t want that, I’m going to do something differently.” For instance, recently at the Golden Globe Awards, an actress spoke of how she had advanced in her career thanks to exercising her choice. And what she used, the euphemism for I will remove, which I think is always helpful when we’re discussing issues of life and death. Let’s not speak in euphemisms when we’re trying to communicate the truth. She effectively was saying that she had exchanged the calling and mission of motherhood that God had given her with her own mission by murdering her child for the advancement of her career. For her own success and enjoyment, she prevented the success and enjoyment of her child. And she ends up worshiping her own choice, her own autonomy.
There’s an exchange picture here sadly, and it’s very similar to the exchange described in Romans one. But for all of us, it should be encouraging. It should bring us peace to realize God has told us what our mission is. He’s told us that he created us in his image to do something. None of us are lacking that foundational calling and purpose because all of us, by virtue of being human beings have that God given purpose. We’re God’s very good creation created in his image with a purpose. And forth, we’re created to enjoy. I think sometimes we forget that God created us and put us in this world in part to enjoy it even after sin entered the world. We’ll talk about this in a minute, but when God judges the sin that came in the world, justice would have been like no more enjoyment of the world. You’re dead right then, instant judgment. But he doesn’t do that.
Yes, the earth is cursed. Yes, work becomes toil and there’s pain and suffering, but there’s still enjoyment in this world. In verse 29, God says, “Look, I have given you every seed bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you.” It’s easy to read these verses and I think not consider the depth of them. But God isn’t just saying, “I made you, you need food, here’s some food. Next thing.” God created us with the ability to experience powerful flavors. God’s creation with vegetables and fruits and plants and meat is, well, it’s very good, it’s very tasty. He didn’t have to make it like that, did he? But he created the foods as tasty, as delicious, and he created us with the ability to experience them that way because he wanted us to enjoy the world.
It’s the same way with a sunset or a sunrise to the expanse a mountain range or a forest on a fall day. It’s not just that, it’s objectively beautiful. God created us with the ability to enjoy that, that’s distinct to us. You don’t see a dog sitting there looking at the sunset. And if he is, something might be wrong. But that’s unique to us because God wants us to enjoy. He wants to share his good creation with us. That enjoyment in addition to being intrinsically good is not just supposed to stay there, it’s also meant to lead us to glorify the one who gave us that gift of his good creation. As evangelicals, at least in my experience, we almost exclusively focus on the aspects of personal guilt and forgiveness when it comes to discussing sin. And I don’t want to minimize that, so let’s hold that here.
I do want to raise a consideration of how we think about human flourishing. So let’s definitely talk about sin and forgiveness and guilt, yes, but I think often we forget that sin is bad for us. The more sin, the less flourishing of the person involved. And in fact, all of us, we don’t put enough weight on human flourishing because sin doesn’t just lead to guilt before God, it’s bad for us too. When we live according to God’s design, it goes better for everyone. And nowhere is this perhaps more profoundly seen than when it comes to abortion. The sin of abortion literally prevents the flourishing. It takes the very life of a child, and it harms the mother and the soul of everyone involved. When we live outside of God’s design, it’s not good for us.
God created the world that we live in by us to be enjoyed, and we should care about how each other as human beings enjoy God’s world. We shouldn’t prevent the enjoyment of this world by someone. And that leads us to the fifth kind of facet I’d like us to look at today, that mankind is created to glorify. And maybe what you’re starting to see is all these aren’t that separate after all, they’re kind of five threads that make a common chord. There are five ways of looking at the same thing that we are created in the image of God, and part of that means to glorify and reflect God.
And we glorify God when we enjoy him, and we enjoy him by glorifying him. And part of that involves our purpose. All of these are different ways of considering the same truth. But sometimes due to our actions, it leads to God not being glorified. It takes away from the glory of God. I think Jason mentioned last week that earlier in my 20s I had a crisis of faith where if you’d asked me if I’d been honest, I would’ve probably told you, “No, I don’t think God exists. And if he does, I’m pretty sure he’s not good.” And by the grace of God and friends and different resources… through that. And so I love with people who have those struggles cause I can empathize, I understand in some way what that’s like. But one of the things that never made sense to me that always seemed like a contradiction is we’d say, “Well, God’s perfect, and due to your actions you can take away from the glory of God.”
How does that work? Well, simply there are two ways we talk about the glory of God. There’s the glory of God as he exists, that he is perfect and his attributes and his holiness, no one can take away from that. He’s perfectly glorious on his own. The second way we talk about it though is how much is God seen as glorious? How much is he esteemed as glorious? To what degree do our actions reflect the glory of God? So we can’t actually change who God is, thankfully, but how we act can either add to how much God is seen to be glorious or detract from how much he is seen to be glorious. So depending on how we live here affects how that works out. And I’m going to assume here that it’s basically a given that abortion doesn’t glorify God. It breaks the sixth commandment, thou shall not murder. It ends the life of an innocent human being without proper justification.
However, I want to focus on something else, how the act of abortion and all other fronts to the image of God and man with regard to end of life issues. Take away the ability of an image bearer to grow up to glorify God. We’re preventing people who were made to glorify from coming to glorify. And we were created by God, like I said, to enjoy him, and in enjoying him glorify him. That’s a core thing about who we are. Now, non-Christians partially that without intent glorify God when they enjoy God’s world, when they do partially good acts because the law is written on their hearts. But this is only a shadow of the glorying we were created for. It’s only through a personal saving knowledge of God that we move from enjoying the gifts of God to enjoying God himself, from a superficial morality to wanting to do the good for God’s sake.
And abortion robs all of this. It takes away the possibility of that lesser glory and of that greater glory. It destroys what is good and God’s, it steals man’s purpose. It prevents man’s enjoyment, and it robs God’s glory. It takes away from how much he’s seen to be glorious. So after looking at those five dimensions, you may wonder, “Does the Bible only speak a word of condemnation about this? Is that the end of the story?” And the answer is no, far from it. So we’ve looked at Genesis one, I’ve kind of talked a little about Genesis two. But in Genesis three, God’s very good creation that bears his image who was placed in his garden goes on to say, “You know what, I don’t want to do what God has said.” So they abuse what is good, they pervert their purpose, and they choose for themselves and not for God’s glory. So instead of reflecting the glory of God, they say, “No, me, my choice, my autonomy.” And God responds graciously and also justly. And there are consequences still today for their sin, we still live in a broken world because of them.
But I want us to see what God says in chapter three verse 21. And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them. And here we see a picture of God providing for their shame and guilt. They knew what they had done was wrong, and this foreshadows what Jesus would go on to do for the world at the cross, that everyone who comes to Jesus in repentance and faith and turns from their sin, whatever that sin is, however many they are, however big they are, whoever turns from their sin and turns to Christ will find him to be a perfect savior. And he will cover their sin, their shame, their guilt. So what we see in the garden is kind of a type, it’s a pre shadowing of what Christ would do at the cross once and for all because we can not out sin God’s ability to forgive when we humble ourselves.
I think of Romans where it says all of us have sinned and fall short. We’re talking about one specific area today, but every one of us have sin and guilt before God. No one is exempt from that. So in some way you could say everyone… image of God, and everyone is equally in need of redemption and grace from the God in whose image they have not consistently lived up to. That’s all of us, that’s your story, my story. But we also see that for all those who are in Christ, there is no condemnation. So when we turn to him in repentance and faith, regardless of our past, we will find him to be a perfect savior who will cover our sin, our shame, and our guilt.
So it’s important for us to remember that just personally when we reflect back on our lives, but it’s also important for us to remember that we don’t just speak a word of law, of right and wrong when we speak to someone about this issue, that we also speak a word of grace because if we don’t, what we are somehow communicating is I needed and received that grace, but you don’t need to know about it. And so when we speak about any difficult issue, let’s not just say the right and the wrong, though we must say that. And sometimes to our shame, we have not. Let’s also speak about the redemptive grace of God, that there is repentance available for all who come in faith. And if that’s you and you realize, “You know what, I need Jesus’s forgiveness. I need redemption, I need restoration.” In a moment, we’re going to sing that song that the band just played a minute ago about grace.
And Jason and some of the elders will be down front, and they would love to talk with you about what that looks like. What does it look like to see and experience the grace of God in your life? Perhaps you are a Christian here today and you’re wondering, “Okay, so what do I do with this?” Well, I think we always need to be reminded of the grace of God on our behalf. We are saved by it, not by ourselves. But another takeaway I would suggest is that you think of how you look at your neighbor, how do we think about human beings? What makes someone valuable to us? Is it their ability to help us get a promotion? Is it because they let us borrow their lawn tools because we didn’t want to buy any? I don’t know what that looks like to you. But do we think of people’s value in terms of their economic benefit to us, what they can bring to us? Or do we see them primarily and firstly as valuable because they bear our creator’s image, the same image we bear?
So we should all consider, how do we look at our neighbor? How does love of neighbor flow from the image of God and man? And secondly, we should pray. I think often we think, “Well, I’ll pray if nothing else works.” Could it be that nothing else works because we don’t pray? I was distinctly moved by something Steve Gaines did when he came to speak to the college students, some of the college guys at my church. So Steve Gaines is a previous president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he just calls up the pastor at my church one day and says, “Hey, I’d like to come spend some time with about 12 of your college guys. And we’re like, “Okay.” And so he comes and he does this little impromptu. And Steve Gaines carries around this little stack of index … Well, they’re not index cards, they’re little cards.
And on them are written things that he wants to remember to pray about. And what’s really interesting to me is the reason he came down to speak to our guys is because he was giving a talk to that same group three months earlier and realized he didn’t have his prayer cards and was so distraught that he left. Just like mid talk, “I don’t have my prayer cards.” And he goes to find them and he talks to the person at the restaurant, he goes back to the hotel. And he felt so bad about that that on his own dime he comes to our church to talk to our guys and talk to them about his prayer cards. And this is a man who so believes in the power of prayer and the power of God working through prayer, perhaps better said that he writes down the things… and carries them with him.
He has Roe v. Wade on one of those cards, he has each of our Supreme Court justices on those cards. He has other concerns of country, of his family, of his church. This is a man committed to prayer because he believes God acts and answers in response to prayer. So if we care about this issue, may we pray too fervently. I would also encourage you to be involved locally. It’s really easy today with media and technology to be concerned about what happens in Washington DC or nationwide laws and forget that I don’t have a lot of impact there. I should care, I should be involved to the extent that I can, but I will have a much larger impact when I work in my community. So that might look like ministering to a mother who’s not sure if she’s going to keep her child. I think sometimes we forget pregnancy is not a sin. Regardless of how the child came to be, there’s a mother made in the image of God or the child made the image of God. That’s not a bad thing, that’s an opportunity for us to minister to that person.
So may we be involved locally, maybe that’s carrying that, maybe that’s something else, but care locally. And then I would also encourage you to vote, petition, walk, take advantage of every means afforded to us under the law to try and see this evil changed and turned back. I mentioned earlier that I have had my mind changed on how we should interact about this issue of abortion. And it was because people reasoned with me. But a step that flowed from that was I actually registered to vote. And I have one vote, you have one vote. But I wanted to do everything I could, let’s care about this. For me, that meant getting informed somewhat and getting involved. This issue is actually what persuaded me to do that.
And lastly, I would encourage you to contend personally. For some reason when you get around the dinner table, you’re not supposed to talk about, what is it, politics, religion or money. So nothing important. I think that’s very sad. We should be able to talk about these issues with each other, even people who disagree with us. And now I’m just going to put this on you, it’s your job to make sure every … You’re responsible for everyone in the conversation because no one’s listening when they’re upset. No one has an open mind when they have a closed heart. So contend winsomely, kindly, persuasively with grace. But we have the facts on our side as Christians on this issue, almost every single embryology textbook affirms that life begins at conception. We’ve already looked at the fact that the unborn is a human being that’s alive by any meaningful or scientific or medical definition.
We also, with what we’ve looked at today in Genesis one have seen that the only consistent way to ground the worth and dignity of every single person is because of what God says about us and how he created us to be. So when coworkers or friends or neighbors want to talk about issues of justice and rights and equality, let’s have those conversations. We have a more persuasive and more robust conception of what makes people worthy of being treated with human rights because we understand the God who made them in his image to be worthy of those rights. So my hope and prayer for us today is that we will be people who uphold the worth and dignity of every single person from conception to natural death. People who look like us, who act like us, who don’t look like us, who don’t act like us because our worth is not based on our abilities or attributes or anything like that, it’s because of who God is and what he says about us. Would you pray with me.