Posted in Abortion, Doctrine, Nature of Man

The God of Human Governance

The Bible offers plenty of passages that bespeak the sovereignty of God and his complete management of human affairs. After all, why would God make man in his image and then leave him unattended? I think, however, that the attention divinely given to our affairs on earth is far, far more extensive and encompassing than many of us Bible students have in the past realized. God is not simply an occasional visitor or infrequent penetrator into man’s affairs. It is only by constant involvement that God could control the history that is recorded in Scripture. And it is only by constant involvement that God today moves history to his glory and to the good of his family. If the prayers of the righteous avail much, then God is very, very involved in our lives and what affects them. Divine intervention in the past at times entailed the miraculous; today it entails the supernatural non-miraculous. But divine intervention is an essential feature of our situation on this earth.

Scripture assures us that God calls the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10), and he calls the things that are not as though they were (Rom. 4:17). He never lies (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2), and yet in the ultimate sense of control, God claims to be the One who deceives the deceived prophet (Ezek. 14:9). He arranged the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh in order that God’s name “might be published abroad in the earth” (Rom. 9: 17). No one can come close to the management of life’s affairs! And we must remember that man is not the center of reality. God is! “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Prov. 16:4). How God can mix his determinate counsel and foreknowledge with man’s free will only he knows. But he does know, and he does do that very thing, including his use of evil men (Acts 2:23; Amos 3:6; Isa. 45:7). Let us briefly notice a short summation of his governance in the affairs of any given man.

God governs the WOMB. This is indeed a most fascinating thought. According to Scripture God is the One who decides who is conceived. Those that are conceived, God knows beforehand (Isa. 49:1, 5; Jer. 1:5). God controls barrenness. You might recall that on one interesting occasion God “had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech” (Gen. 20:18). Sarah’s barrenness was of divine design in order that in time she would become the mother to a child of promise in her older years (Rom. 4:19; Heb. 11:11). In fact, Paul says that while Ishmael was born “after the flesh,” Isaac was born “through the promise” (Gal. 4:23). And the definite article “the” is there in the Greek text. And Hannah became the mother of Samuel although earlier “the Lord had shut up her womb” (1 Sam. 1:5, 20).

The degree of the divine control of the womb comes down to a consideration of a single question: Does natural law determine conception in the sense that when natural law is in effect it “triggers” or necessitates human conception, or is it the case that God’s supernatural law governs natural law in procreation? In other words, is God’s power limited by human free will, or is human free will limited by divine power? Which is always the superior force: natural law or supernatural law? According to Hebrews 12:9, God is the father of our spirits. No human being is conceived unless God sends Holy Spirit to join human flesh! God controls natural law; he is not controlled by it. This is ultimately why abortion upon demand is wrong. Such would be the malicious taking of a life that God produced. God could have prevented the conception by simply not sending Holy Spirit. Human spirit comes from Holy Spirit (Mal. 2:14-15). And if God doesn’t send it to the womb, no child is conceived. Divine governance is extreme. If God knows when a sparrow falls and how many hairs are on each man’s head (Matt. 10:29-30), he certainly knows when and why he sends Spirit to flesh to form a human and when and why he does not do so.

God governs the ROOM. And just here by “room” I mean the space or the area or the atmosphere in which human lives operate. This is the place where we make our decisions as pilgrims and sojourners on the earth. Our choices are somehow attached to our will, and our will is a part of our rational and emotional makeup. Jesus once declared that salvation was determined by a man’s will (John 7:17). Salvation is not simply a matter of intellectual elevation. Rather, it is a matter of character and whether or not someone wants to do right and be right. And no one can ultimately want to do the right thing while having a heart that would reject the truth that demands the right thing (2 Thess. 2:10). There is a degree of trust that I must essentially have in myself as a truth searcher (Acts 17:26-28). But I know that my human capacity is inferior to God’s divine capacity when I personally come to the realization of his existence, and so when I find him, I trust him. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). Here there is a definite line drawn between finally trusting in myself or in trusting God. But why should any man acknowledge God with regard to all of that man’s ways?

It is so because any man can see only so much. And it is not very much at all. That is why Jeremiah told us long ago, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). It is in man to search for God and to find him (Acts 17:27), and it is in man that when he finds him he begins to lean on him. And when we lean on him, we are declaring the recognition of our need. We do need help in large amounts and all the time in all places! And the writer of Proverbs says that God will direct the paths of his people. Here our prayers and his paths intersect. The Proverbs writer also says, “Man’s goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?” (Prov. 20:24). There is altogether too much for one man to comprehend regarding his own situation: (1) why he was allowed to be conceived in the first place, (2) why his conception entailed the two people who became his father and mother, (3) how that genetic mix contributed to the personality that he could and would in time have, (4) why he has a specific ethnicity, sex, and inherent capacity that he has, (5) how he arrived at the current point and place in his life—his present situation, and (6) how it is that he is currently making a personal contribution to the accomplishing of the Lord’s will either on the good side or on the evil one. This is TOO MUCH for any of us to know. It is one reason why we always should say with Christ, “Let thy will be done.” God controls the room!

God governs the TOMB. James warns us about depending on tomorrow. So far, every tomorrow that we thought was coming has, in fact, come. But the next one may not. And the arrival of the previous ones was not because it was guaranteed. We simply have no divine promise of more time on earth (Jas. 4:13-17). James reminds us that we do not know what will happen tomorrow even if it does come. We are completely dependent on God for the preservation of our earthly lives. In verse 15 James says, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall both live, and do this or that.” Did you notice that James by inspiration declared that our continuation in life or the termination of our earthly life is a matter of divine will. There is no way to get around the fact that if a man is still alive on the earth, it is because God has allowed his life to continue. And when, for reasons some of which are known only to God, a given man dies, we have to conclude that there is a sense in which God was willing for that man to die. Not all death cases are the same, but there is an identical truth respecting all of them. Given all relevant factors involved in God’s will for human living and dying, God did not choose to allow that life to continue. Each life reaches its final earthly appointment (Heb. 9:27). According to James, we live by permission. According to the writer of Hebrews, we die by appointment. I am glad that regarding my forthcoming death, I do not know when, where, or how it will come. But I do know, unless the Lord comes first (1 Thess. 4:13-18), I am fast approaching it.

Posted in Abortion, Christianity and Culture, Church and State

What’s So Bad About Abortion?

Since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973 the elective taking of unborn life has been woven in the fabric of our unraveling society. Some think it murder. Some think it no big deal. Some resign themselves to it and move on. Some think the Court’s decision borders on the sacred and must be protected at all cost. For those who care what the Bible says, consider these truths.

Abortion takes human life. If God defines human death as the body’s separation from the spirit (James 2:26), then human life is the body’s being joined to the spirit. God is the “Father of spirits” (Hebrews 12:9) and, at death, “the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). If an unborn baby is alive, then it has a spirit. The Greek word for “baby” is brephos, and the Bible uses it to refer both to a baby still in the womb (Luke 1:41) and a newborn baby (Luke 2:12). God makes no qualitative distinction between the unborn and the just-born. Further, Jesus is spoken of as being a person at the moment of conception (Luke 2:21). God claims credit for the formation of a child in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). As David wrote of God, “you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13-14, ESV).

Abortion sheds innocent blood. This is no small matter, as “hands that shed innocent blood” are listed among things the Lord actually hates (Proverbs 6:17). If an unborn baby is alive, then it has a spirit, made after God’s own image (Genesis 1:27). Is any blood more innocent than that of the unborn? America has enshrined into law a practice God says he hates. Can that be healthy for the country’s future?

Abortion is ingratitude for God’s gift. If “children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3), then why is pregnancy often addressed as though there is a dilemma, or a choice that must now be made to either continue or terminate it? To abortion advocates, the unplanned pregnancy is a potential burden, punishment, or inconvenience. In reality, killing the unborn is a slap in the face to God, the Giver–a “thanks, but no thanks” written in innocent blood.

Abortion tries to cancel sin’s consequence. Children are supposed to be born to a mother and father married to each other. Abortion is the “get out of jail free” card for a selfish generation who want sin’s pleasure without sin’s price. The morality of many seems based on a barnyard model, but God still demands that sex be confined to a husband and wife, rightly married to each other. Sex outside marriage is sin. Fornicators and adulterers will be judged by God (Hebrews 13:4), and it will not be in their favor. Abortion is often the culmination of a train of sins, but it increases, rather than erases, them.

Abortion hardens hearts. The Lord asked, Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?” (Isaiah 49:15). Yet, some are “heartless” (Romans 1:31); some are “brutal” (2 Timothy 3:3); some have seared consciences (1 Timothy 4:2). Does abortion demonstrate the compassion of Christ, or make us more the devil? Women are supposed to “love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4). How does that square with paying to have the unborn ripped apart? Does it increase our respect for life, or make us calloused?

Abortion is sanitized child sacrifice. Millennia ago, a wayward Israel burned her own children as offerings to pagan gods (Jeremiah 7:31)–a practice the Lord found abominable. Americans do not sacrifice our unborn on a pagan altar. Instead, we sacrifice them on the altar of convenience, selfishness, irresponsibility. With abortion, there is no scream to hear, no mess to clean, no body to bury, no face to forget. In a sterile medical facility, murder is carried out as though a tumor were being removed.

Abortion is an entry ramp on the road to ruin. Once a culture rationalizes and accepts the killing of the unborn, there is no sustainable argument against killing other people who fall short of society’s evolving standard of acceptability. Euthanasia rears its head. Why not do away with those who impose an economic burden, or those whose religious convictions are out of step with the politically correct? If abortion is acceptable, it is very hard to argue the Nazis were wrong to send their unwanted to the gas chamber. We send ours to Planned Parenthood in greater numbers than Hitler ever presided over. If all human life is not sacred, no human life is sacred. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).