Recently I’ve been writing about the Pro-Life movement. This is not a new fight, but has been going on since the sad episode in the garden. My last post touched on the fact that we might find ourselves, at times, with some (unlikely allies). But this shouldn’t stall us in our fight to preserve life.
What I have come to realize is that there are various misconceptions about what being “Pro-Life” even entails. But before I get into all of that, I wanted to take a few moments about why it is we are so error prone when it comes to the Christian faith. In particular, what that faith entails.
The Christian Faith is…Life
Let’s start off with an easy question:
**From where do we acquire the knowledge and wisdom to live the Christian life?**
“From God!” the ever so eager student answers. “Right on,” responds the teacher, “but how so?” “By prayerfully reading His Word,” a thoughtful student opines. “Exactly.”
We are all responsible to live for the Glory of God, and in so doing enjoy Him forever.
“Now, can anyone tell me what we are responsible for?” inquires the teacher. “To glorify God!” the student quickly chirps confidently from somewhere in the back. (You will find that when someone assumes they have the correct answer, they are quick to speak. Sometimes this gets them the approving nod at other times disappointment.) The correct answer is “to live.”
Seeing the “Before” …
Before we can fulfill the obligations given to us—1) glorify God, 2) enjoy Him forever—we need to live. Our first priority is living. God has given us life in order that those other two necessaries will follow. In short, God is Pro-Life.
Understanding that our first priority is living, the next question is how do we live life well? We have already identified the what’s (i.e., glorifying God, enjoying Him forever), and we have rightly spotted the where (i.e., God’s Word/The Holy Bible) for living. But some very important related questions are “How do I live in order to fulfill my obligation to my Creator? How does the Bible instruct my living?”
How Obligatory Living Works…
When the apostle Paul spoke to the elders of Ephesus, he gave them a charge as overseer’s (elders, presbyters) over the flock of God with a reminder of what he had done:
- The Charge: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood…Therefore be on alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years. I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20.28, 31).
- The Reminder: “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose [counsel] of God” (Acts 20.18b-21, 26-27).
Paul preached life in Christ. He warned those in leadership in Ephesus to guard that life with their very lives. The life Paul preached is found in the full counsel of God alone.
Where the Teaching of Life Originates
This teaching emphasis did not originate from Paul, but from God.
“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish…I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him…” (Deut 30.15-18a, 19-20a; emphasis mine).
It does to apply…
Realizing that some might challenge the application of this particular text saying, “This only applies to Israel, not the Church of Jesus Christ!” I want to nip it in the bud. First, by asking a very important question: “Who says?” If God says this, then show me where. If He doesn’t say this, then why do you open your mouth? “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38.2; ESV).
Secondly, have you not read God’s Word? For Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness by Satan to turn the stone into bread—being hungry—offered the following retort:
“It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD” (Matt 4.4; emphasis in original).
Odds are we have some familiarity with that passage. Many a preacher has made countless points regarding Jesus’ words here. But what is the root to which Jesus points? Is it possible that we are missing something in the Lord’s rebuking of Satan?
Jesus’ words go back to a time in Israel’s infant years; during the Exodus under the leadership of Moses. The message of the Lord delivered to Moses and explained to the people is the same as that which we just saw a moment ago in Deuteronomy 30:15, 20a: “I have set before you life…and death.” Jesus quotes to Satan from Deuteronomy 8:1-3 which reads,
“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live…You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you into the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8.1, 2-3; emphasis mine).
The lesson of the manna was that people will either live or die in response to God’s Word. Torah often translated law means instruction. The author of life gives instructions to His creation so they might live. Living is dependent upon their response to His commandments, statutes, instruction, etc. If we are to learn anything from the incident that occurred in the garden of Eden it ought to be this, to be obedient in humble submission to the Lord above is to eat the blessed fruit of the Tree of Life. Just like the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was not poisonous, so too was the fruit from the Tree of Life not miraculous. They were real trees that produced real fruit, similar to the apple trees growing in my front yard. What made them either a blessing or a curse was the response of God’s chief representative on earth—Man—when God said “Do and don’t.” Do eat of every tree in the garden, don’t eat of the tree that I put a no-trespassing sign on.
It is said of Jesus that He is the light of all men (i.e., people) and that in His light is life (John 1.4). Thus he rightly told His hearers that if they came to Him in faith they would have life—“I say these things that you might be saved” (John 5.34), but many did not (John 5.40). Peter rightly stated that Christ’s words alone have life (John 6.68). Jesus affirmed that those who abided in His word “the truth will make you free” (John 8.32), and that “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11.25-26). Therefore, the charge that He gave to His disciples before He ascended to the Father’s right hand was that in making disciples of the nations they were to “[teach] them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt 28.20a).
In other words, God is not only the author of life, but His Word is the sustainer of life (eternally so). If one wants to live, then this act of faith is first weighed in response to His commandments. When Jesus taught to obey His Word, to keep His commandments, He was speaking about all that was written. When Paul spoke to Ephesian elders in Miletus his reminder and warning was charged with the life-giving sustenance found in the Word of God alone.
God’s Word not only gives life, but sustains it from the works of sin. And for those of you like Andy Stanley that falsely assume that Old Testament saints did not have a Bible, but is somehow only a New Testament reality…you are wrong. Bible means book. And when believers speak affectionately of the Holy Bible, they mean God’s book. Jesus was sanctified according to all that was written in that book, and it is that same book by which we are sanctified and being sanctified for in it contains the Word of Life (see John 17 ).
God is Pro-Life, which does not begin and end on the debate that has been raging for a couple generations now regarding abortion. No doubt the fight over abortion is a Pro-Life fight. To fight to preserve the lives of little babies, unborn, in the womb is a holy war. To strike against that which is unprotected in what is supposed to be a sanctuary of safety and love, is to attack the very author of life Himself.
My last few posts on this issue are meant to drive awareness into unknowing hearts. The issue is confrontational because at base it is an issue of life vs. death (Debating Abortion). The issue is not new but old and has already been fought and won in our nations past (History of the Pro-Life Movement). The issue will at times bring together combatants that are polar opposites theologically, but being made in God’s image they know intuitively that life is sacred and must be protected at all costs (Unlikely Allies). Which brings me to my final thoughts for this post.
Perhaps you noticed that I used the picture of a lamb and a wolf in my last post entitled “Unlikely Allies” linked above. I did this for two reasons. As things stand right now wolves and sheep are mortal enemies. They have different appetites and opposing natures. This symbolism is used in Scripture to show how believers are at odds with those in the world. But being the creations of God, this has not always been the case. In the beginning all things were very good (Gen 1.31). Not just in status as God’s creatures, but in function as God’s creatures. The fall in the garden changed all of that. Death, violence, pain and suffering were ushered in as the results of sin. However, God promises that this will not always be the case, and it is demonstrated in the prophetic writings of Isaiah.
“And the wolf will dwell with the lamb…” (Isa 11.6a).
“The wolf and the lamb will graze together…” (Isa 65.25).
Why? What brings about such change in the creatures of God? The answer is found in the root of Jesse named Christ Jesus (Isa 11.1; Acts 13.22-23), the very one who is the author of all things new (Isa 65.17; 2Cor 5.17). Christ brings peace and righteousness and healing in His wings. This is a future hope that is being played out in a present reality. We, who bear the name of Christ, are charged to fight for the very things that He did. And at times this will mean siding even with wolves, in the hope (trust) that our efforts as faithful stewards (i.e., salt and light) will bring glory and honor to our Lord and win others to our side.
For some of you this presents an eschatological problem, but that is a discussion for another day…
 There is a bit more to “prayerfully reading His Word” but the students answer is appropriate. There is a correct way and a wrong way to do this. Opening the Bible with closed eyes and putting your finger on the page, just because you’ve prayed “God give me insight into this or that situation” doesn’t make your method legitimate. Such behavior will surely lead you into error. A better way and what we ought to be doing (what should be meant by prayerfully reading His Word) is looking into the context of the writing (Historical, linguistic, cultural—who is being written to and why? Are appropriate questions), being observant of what is written, before we attempt to interpret it, and this we do with great care using Scripture to interpret Scripture and even checking what commentators of the past and present have had to say on the particular portion we are studying, long before we try to apply it to our lives (and the lives of others). But being mindful of whose word it is (i.e., prayerfully reading His Word) is a necessary first step in the right direction.
 All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the New American Standard (NASB).
 Due to various misconceptions that may arise with this statement, I turn the reader to Acts 17:30 where the apostle Paul rightly declares that believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ is a commandment: “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” The gospel is NOT an invitation. That might be a popular way of speaking about it, but it misconstrues the biblical message.