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Jan. 18, 1997

A Sanctity of Life Message

churchThe following are my message notes from the Good Shepherd Community Church services of January 18 and 19, 1997. Pastors and all others communicating on this subject are welcome to use this material.

We who follow Christ sometimes have to face realities that make us uncomfortable. This is one of those times. We must not allow our discomfort to keep us from facing the truth—from coming to terms with God’s Word. So let’s give each other permission to be uncomfortable. The hurt we experience today will be the beginning of healing.

In a few moments we will do something we’ve never done in this church. People will come forward and cross the platform, carrying white roses that they’ll put in the cradle. Each rose represents one million children—one million little boys and girls—who have died from abortion in America since it was legalized twenty-four years ago this week.

The people who will come forward are part of our church family at Good Shepherd, and each has a special connection to the unborn. Some of them are men and women who have lost their children to abortion. Some have lost grandchildren; some siblings. One used to work in Oregon’s largest abortion clinic, the Lovejoy Surgicenter in Portland. One is a nurse who helped perform abortions. One, a few months ago on the fifth anniversary of her child’s death, went down to place flowers at the Lovejoy abortion clinic where her baby died. While there, she met people from a Good Shepherd growth group who were praying and offering counsel on the side­walk. Good Shepherd people meeting—one grieving, others ministering—and they embraced each other.

One is a teenage girl from our church who got pregnant, then made the right decision to have her baby. She lived at Bethany House, a home for unwed mothers, with house parents from our church. Another woman as a preborn child survived an attempt at abortion and was then carried to term and born.

One woman was strongly advised by two doctors to get an abortion and told that if she didn’t, both she and her baby would have serious physical problems. She rejected their advice and carried her baby, who was born prematurely but without complications. Her health has suffered, but she’s glad she made that sacrifice.

One is a woman conceived when her thirteen-year-old mother was raped. One is a prolife physician who stands up for the unborn.

Several teenagers and adults are volunteers in prolife ministry. Many of these people are involved in sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics, CPCs, and other ministries.

Not all of these people have had abortions—about half of them have—but unless they’ve told you, you won’t know which, because they choose today to walk in solidarity with each other, standing together as the Body of Christ. They willingly take the risk of someone judging or misjudging them.

I was with these people in a prayer meeting Monday night, one of the most pow­erful times I’ve ever been part of. There were tears of healing and gratitude to God for His grace. Many unforgettable prayers were offered through the tears. One of the teenage girls prayed, “Lord, I ask you speak to the adults this weekend because I know girls who haven’t wanted to get abortions but were pressured into it by their parents at our church.”

One rose for each million children killed by surgical abortion in America. Each rose carrier’s life touched by abortion, through personal experience, through volun­teer ministry, and many through both. One of the women who has had an abortion said, “Thanks for asking me to do this. It will be another step in my healing.”

As the music plays and these dear sisters and brothers come, remember the chil­dren and the parents and ask God to speak to your heart.

church windowAs a soundtrack of Brahm’s Lullaby played, fifty people (several came as couples and as parents with children) walked across the platform and placed the roses in the cradle. The cradle swung slightly from their touch. Some of the women kissed the roses before putting them in the cradle. The lights were dimmed, and a slide of a beautiful intrauterine child sucking his thumb was projected on the large front screen. Weeping could be heard throughout the auditorium in all five of the services. Before each service we had a powerful prayer time with the rose carriers. After each service many of them had great interactions with hurting people in the church body. After the last rose carrier I stood up to speak again.

Main Message

Today we are addressing something very close to the heart of God. The issue is not what we want to hear, but what God wants to say. If He is our Lord—if we are His people—we must listen to Him.

According to the Scriptures, there are spiritual beings present here, righteous angels and fallen angels, and we are under attack. There is a battle for our minds and a battle for our souls: It’s not fiction, it’s not imagination; it’s revealed reality. There is great spiritual warfare associated with the issue of abortion.

God is the creator of children and a lover of children; Satan is a hater and destroyer of children, because they have been created in God’s image and they are his weakest and most vulnerable victims. Killing children is his way of striking out at the very heart of God. If he cannot kill God, the next best thing to him is killing God’s lit­tlest children. By killing those created in God’s image, he is killing God in effigy.

Every time this subject is brought up, some people get offended; but the alterna­tive is not bringing it up, which offends God, whose approval is the one that really mat­ters. He is the Audience of One. My prayer is that for every person offended today there will be three people deeply touched by the Holy Spirit. We’re going to get to some very good news, but in order to be touched by the good news, first we’re going to have to hear some very bad news.

Church is more than just a social club. We are not here simply to help each other feel good; we are here to help each other be good. And sometimes that means taking some medicine we’d rather not take in order to get well. I was asked by the elders to speak to you, and I will try to accurately convey God’s perspective. That is an awesome task—one I am not up to—so I ask you to please pray with me.

PRAYER:

Lord, we come before You completely inadequate.
I lack the ability to communicate this message well,
and we as a people lack the ability to hear it well.
We are blinded by the relentless propaganda of this culture that
pretends to love children, while sacrificing our youngest, weakest,
and most vulnerable children on the altar of our convenience.

The evil one, the one our Lord called a murderer and liar,
has lied to cover his murders, and we have bought into his lies.
We ask you to break through the rationalizations to speak to each of us.
Father, protect us from the relentless lies of those evil
beings who love the shedding of innocent blood.

God, help us to put on spiritual armor and to use the sword of the
Spirit, Your Word, to fight the darkness that whispers lies into our ears.
We pray that by Your grace You would let us hear the truth
and that the truth would set us free—
free to experience Your forgiveness, Your grace, and Your blessing.
We pray this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

There are 1.4 million children killed by abortion in this country every year. Over four thousand each day, twelve every five minutes, one every twenty-five seconds. One in every four pregnancies in America ends in abortion. Statistics show that a soldier’s chances of survival in the front lines of combat are greater than the chances of an unborn child’s avoiding abortion. What should be the safest place to live in America— a mother’s womb—is now the most dangerous place.

I want to emphasize that every child has two parents and that God puts the biggest responsibility for protecting children on men. More instructions in Scripture are given to fathers than to mothers. If we men took our responsibility to be pure and to guard the purity of women rather than take advantage of them, there would be a fraction of the unwanted pregnancies. And if we took our responsibility to raise the children we have fathered, there would be a fraction of the abortions.

Men, we should be the first to accept the responsibility for our actions, the first to stand up for women who need help, and the first to stand up for weak, vulnerable children. When men exercise deep loyalties to women and children, we are at our best; when we violate those loyalties, we are at our worst. We become abusers or pas­sive cowards. And God will surely judge us for it.

A man in his sixties here at Good Shepherd called me a few days ago and told me of a girl he got pregnant thirty-nine years ago. She gave him a choice of what to do; he chose an abortion. He said that it has haunted him since. He thinks about the son or daughter he lost and wonders about the grandchildren he’d now be holding. He said to me, “Tell people about the consequences. Warn our young men—tell them God will hold them accountable for what they do with their children.” Then, he broke down in tears and said, “I don’t want our young men to do what I did thirty-nine years ago.”

Last week at church one of our growth group leaders came up to me, tears in his eyes. He told me of an abortion he had paid for years ago and what a terrible choice it was. Abortion isn’t a women’s issue. It’s a human issue, and its effects are devastat­ing to women and men alike. People, we are all in this together.

Transparency 1: (Picture of preborn child sucking his thumb) This isn’t an issue; it’s a baby. It’s not a choice; it’s a child. It’s not politics; it’s a human being cre­ated in the image of God. This child is as precious to God as my children and yours— as human, as important, as valuable to God as every child in our church nursery. We need to learn to look at this child through the eyes of God, not through the eyes of the world.

Transparency 2: (Picture) This is a child at eight weeks old, when the earliest abortions take place. Doesn’t look like a blob of tissue, does it? It has a measurable heartbeat twenty-one days after conception and measurable brainwaves at forty-nine days after conception. That means that every surgical abortion stops a beating heart and stops brain waves. When I showed this picture on a college campus, a student said, “You’re not fooling us with that trick photography.”

What she was saying is, “Obviously that’s a baby, but I want to believe that abor­tion doesn’t kill children, therefore I will choose to believe this can’t be a real picture.” That’s why people hate to see the pictures of aborted babies—if they were just blobs of tissue, they wouldn’t be hard to look at, would they? What makes it hard is that we know these are babies.

I’m not going to show pictures of aborted babies today, but there’s a tremendous irony here. It’s not considered appropriate to show pictures of a baby killed by abor­tion, but it is considered appropriate to do nothing to stop the killing of those babies in the picture. The problem with the Holocaust wasn’t the sickening pictures of bodies stacked like cord wood. The problem with the Holocaust was the evil the pictures simply pointed out. If something is too horrible to look at, shouldn’t it be too horrible to defend and too horrible to ignore?

But the truth is: These are babies even before they look like babies. Science and Scripture tell us the same thing about when human life begins.

Transparency 3–4: Scientists—when human life begins (see PLA argument 1)

Transparency 5–7: Scripture—when human life begins (see PLA Appendices B and C)

Let me ask you a question. In what city did Christ’s incarnation take place? In other words, where did God first “become flesh and dwell among us”? Ninety-nine out of a hundred Christians will say Bethlehem. But the answer is Nazareth. That’s where Jesus was conceived.

Science and Scripture agree. There is a point of creation, where one moment there is only an egg with twenty-three chromosomes and a sperm with twenty-three chromosomes, neither of which has a life of its own. But when they are joined, there is a new human being with absolutely unique DNA, a distinct identity, with the equiva­lent of hundreds of volumes of detailed information down to hair thickness, eye color, height and thousands of other markers. That point of God’s creation of the new indi­vidual is indisputably the point of conception.

This has tremendous implications, because no matter how soon after conception it happens, an abortion causes the death of a human being. Therefore using RU-486, the abortion pill, is absolutely wrong. So is the IUD, because it prevents implantation of a fertilized egg. So is the morning-after pill and the minipill. Often so are Depo­Provera and Norplant. These can cause early abortions.

Even the standard birth control pill states in its own manufacturers’ literature, as indicated in the Physician’s Desk Reference, that sometimes it can fail to stop ovula­tion and after conception takes place can prevent implantation of an already fertilized egg. No one seems to know how often this happens, and some think it is rare, but given this information, it is a risk I don’t believe we should choose to take. Please, I am not trying to point the finger. Nanci and I used the pill for years, like many of us who are prolife, completely unaware of this possibility. If we believe that each life begins at con­ception, we need to take a careful look at what we might be doing to threaten the life of an already conceived child.

Transparency 8: Testimony of early church (see Appendix B)

The truth is, it doesn’t take a theologian or a Bible scholar or a scientist to know when life begins.

Transparency 9: (See answer 8f) Have you seen this? Every establishment in Oregon that serves alcohol is required to prominently display it: “Pregnancy and alco­hol do not mix.” Notice the baby inside, with its human features. The message is, “what a pregnant woman does with her body may adversely affect another human being with his own body, and that’s not right.”

In Portland judges have put women in jail because they were taking drugs that endangered their unborn babies. But that same woman who is jailed for endangering her child is perfectly free to abort her child. In America today, it is illegal to harm your preborn child, but it is perfectly legal to kill him.

We wonder why child abuse has dramatically increased since 1973—that’s when abortion was legalized. Not a coincidence. If it’s okay to kill a child before he’s born, what’s so bad about slapping around the same child a year later? The first thing I thought when I heard the horrible story of Susan Smith in Carolina drowning her chil­dren was, “This is just a very late-term abortion—four years late.” Same mother, same children. Other than timing, what’s the difference?

Some of the lies sound so noble: “Every child a wanted child.” This is the slogan of Planned Parenthood. I agree—“Every child a wanted child, so let’s learn to want children more and get them into the hands of those who want them.” But what they mean is, “Every child a wanted child, so let’s kill unwanted children before they’re born.” Planned Parenthood’s true slogan should be, “Every unwanted child a dead child.” Doesn’t sound quite as nice, does it?

I’m prochoice. Prochoice about what? Whether you have Mexican or Chinese food? Where you live? What kind of car you drive? Of course. But are you prochoice about rape? About burglary? About kidnapping? Are you prochoice about killing chil­dren? Of course not. Let’s cut through the lies and identify what choice we’re talking about—killing children.

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise us that unbelievers would buy into these lies. Scripture says that Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of unbelievers. But the greatest tragedy with abortion is that it isn’t “out there” somewhere. It’s right in here. Right inside the church. This isn’t just about our nation or our community, people. It’s about us.

Ten years ago the statistics indicated that those who call themselves evangelical Christians accounted for one out of six surgical abortions in America—a quarter of a million abortions per year. Statistics that came out in July 1996, published in Family Planning Perspectives, show that now 18 percent, or nearly one in five abortions, are done by evangelical Christians. That’s 300,000 per year. And that doesn’t count the chemical abortions.

There are hundreds of women and hundreds of men in this church who have made abortion decisions—some ten or twenty years ago, some two years ago, some last year, some last month. With the twenty-five hundred people in our combined ser­vices, I have no doubt that sitting in church this weekend are some who have made the decision and are planning abortions within the next few weeks. I ask you to pray that God would penetrate their hearts.

Scripture says it is time for judgment to begin with the house of God. We need to look to ourselves first. An unholy world will never be won to Christ by an unholy church. We have no moral authority to speak to the world in the realm of sexual morality or on the issue of abortion unless and until we deal with it in our midst. In order to help bring a solution, we must first deal with the fact that we ourselves are a large part of the problem.

Scripture teaches that God is the Creator and owner of all people and therefore has exclusive rights over them. It teaches that God alone is the giver and taker of human life. It tells us God has sole prerogatives over human life and death. He warns us, “You shall not commit murder.”

Suppose you’re told by your doctor, “The fetus is deformed. It probably won’t survive more than a few weeks after birth, and if it does, it will never be able to walk, talk, see, or have a normal life. I recommend you terminate the pregnancy.”

What do you do? Well, the last thing you should do is kill the child. If God chooses to take this child, that is His choice, just as if He would choose to take our five-year-old or ten- or fifteen- or thirty-year-old. Let God do what He wants. The decision is His, not yours. If you found out that your five-year-old was terminally ill, would you say, “Since he’s probably going to die anyway, we’ll just kill him.” No? Then don’t do it to your unborn child. Let God decide, not you and not the doctor.

“But what if the doctor says the child will have handicaps?” I’m glad you asked that question.

Transparencies 10–11: Children handicapped or conceived by rape (see Appendix C). Don’t kill an unborn person because she is handicapped or conceived by rape any more than you would kill a born person because she is handicapped or was conceived by rape.

Of all the sins committed in the Old Testament, one stands out above the others in its utter abomination to God: the killing of children. Whether children offered to the demon god Molech then or the god of convenience and affluence today, God hates the killing of children. He says in Leviticus 20 that to kill children is “to defile my sanctu­ary and to profane my holy name.” He says in Proverbs 6 there are seven things that are detestable to Him. One of those is “hands that shed innocent blood.”

In 2 Kings 24, God says that He brought destruction on the nation Judah because of the evil of King Manasseh, for “he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood,” the blood of children. I thought of that passage just a few months ago when the president of the United States officially approved partial-birth abortion. This is a practice in which chil­dren are delivered to the point that their whole body is out of the womb up to their neck; then the “doctor”—and I use the term loosely—inserts scissors into the base of the baby’s skull and makes a hole. Next he inserts a suction catheter into the wound which pulls the baby’s brains out. Then he crushes his skull.

I know we don’t want to hear this any more than the German Christians wanted to hear what was happening to Jews. But it is happening and we must face it. If we can’t face the truth in church, where can we face the truth? Don’t get angry at me; get angry at the killing of innocent children and what legalized abortion has done to this coun­try. I assure you, God is angry.

Our United States Congress couldn’t even come up with enough votes to override the president’s action. God help us. And where was the church? By our silence we con­sented to child-killing, as the people of Israel consented to the evil of their head of state by their failure to speak up. I confess I did not do enough to speak up against this hor­rible evil. God forgive me. God forgive us. We surely deserve every bit as severe a judg­ment as the destruction God brought upon the nation Judah. Don’t think for a moment America is somehow immune to God’s judgment. We are not.

God is a lover of children; Satan is a hater of children. When we care for little children, we do the work of God. When we destroy little children, we do the work of Satan.

These are hard words, but they are true. I wish they weren’t. I debated whether to say some of these things, and last night I asked a dear friend her advice. She said, “Yes, you should say them.”

I want to introduce that friend to you now. She is a sister whom my wife and I deeply love and respect. Fifteen years ago she lived in our home; now she works with our ministry. For all those fifteen years she’s been a part of the Good Shepherd Community Church family. She is a true disciple of our Lord Jesus. The hand of God upon her has been powerful; many have been touched by her life. Please listen and pray as Diane shares her story with us.

When I was seventeen, I found myself apart from my family, involved in an unhealthy relationship with a man, and pregnant which was something I didn’t want to think about or deal with.

Eventually, though, I did go down to Lovejoy abortion clinic in Portland to make an appointment to have an abortion. I made this decision because I had no desire to be a mother, and quite honestly, because I was terrified of going through the pain of labor. I just didn’t think of it as being wrong.

When I was examined, I was found to be 24 weeks, or six months, pregnant. But I was assured that although I couldn’t have a simple clinical abortion, I could still have one done at a nearby hospital. I agreed. I would have done anything to not be preg­nant, and I showed up at the hospital on the scheduled day.

I was placed, along with about a dozen other young girls, in a large basement ward which was lined with cots. There, we received a saline injection in our abdomens which was designed to kill our unborn babies and expel their tiny bodies.

I will never be able to forget the sights or sound burned into my mind on that day. After a few hours of labor, we all began to lose our babies.

When the girl on my right lost hers, she began shrieking and screamed for the nurses to “get that away from me!” as she crawled backwards up her bed. The girl on my left cried quietly and asked the nurses if hers was a boy or a girl.

I felt a violent lurching sensation as the baby slid from my body. It is so sad to me that the only memory I have of my child is that of a small, still huddled form cov­ered in blood laying on the white sheet of my cot.

When I left the hospital, I determined to put this horrible episode behind me— never thinking about it, never talking about it.

My relationship with my boyfriend, never strong, was now almost nonexistent. About this time, some friends of mine introduced me to the pastor of their church. His name was Randy Alcorn. When he saw my precarious living situation, he invited me to come and live with himself, his wife Nanci, and their daughter Karina. While living there, I sensed the extraordinary joy in their existence and I wanted that, too. So I accepted Christ as my Savior. Unfortunately, I was already pregnant again. Knowing that I would never go through a late-term abortion, I decided, with the full love and support of Randy and Nanci, to give my baby up for adoption. I had my baby just before Angela, the Alcorn’s second daughter, was born.

I was completely unprepared for the feelings of awe that overwhelmed me when I give birth to a healthy baby boy. I was, however, content with my decision to give him up to a childless Christian couple.

Afterwards I moved out on my own, eager to begin my life as a new believer at Good Shepherd church. I became involved with the college-age group, attended a weekly Bible study and weekly functions, as well as church on Sundays. I met a lot of really neat people, including a guy named Rod, who became my boyfriend.

I wish I could end my story there, but I can’t. Though I had accepted Jesus as my Savior, I hadn’t put my sinful lifestyle behind me. I became deeply involved with Rod, and I became pregnant again. If anyone could die of shame, I would be dead. I was so scared everyone would find out and see what a phony Christian and failure I was. I was too scared to tell Rod. I knew he would marry me, but then he would have to tell his parents that I was pregnant. I was so ashamed. My only option seemed to be abor­tion. So I went down to Lovejoy and had it done, never giving a thought to our baby. I would never tell anyone what I had done. I would go to my grave with this secret.

Time passed and my secret remained deeply buried. Eventually Rod and I mar­ried, we had two kids, Josiah and Amy, we bought a house, attended Good Shepherd Church and Growth Groups. But something was wrong.

My hidden sin held God at arm’s length. I couldn’t grow as a believer because I would never let God close to me, afraid He would see me as I really was, sinful and ugly.

One day when I had been married for eight years, God decided it was time for me to come to know Him better. I felt an intense, growing awareness of the Lord. I was totally overwhelmed by the incredible knowledge of His love. I felt chosen, special, humbled, and loved, not because of what I had or hadn’t done, but simply because it was His pleasure to do so. For a week I was compelled to immerse myself in Scripture and constant prayer. And for the first time in my life I fell in love with my God.

At the end of the week I was praying in my room. I prayed, “Lord, I asked You into my life a long time ago but I never understood about wanting to give something back. I’m willing to die for You.” No sooner had the words left my lips when my hor­rible sin rose up before me. I fell to my face on the carpet and wept as all the years of deceit and hypocrisy paraded before me. I cried even harder as the truth of having murdered my own children slammed into me.

When I went to Rod, I began by saying how sorry I was, over and over. I just couldn’t say the words that would tell him that I had taken the life of his first child. If you know Rod, you know how he loves babies.

When I finally got the words out, Rod lay his head in his arms at the table. I remember looking at him suffering from this horrible loss, and all I wanted to do was reach out and comfort him. But I couldn’t touch him. I felt so unclean. I was the one who had done this to him.

When he finally looked up, Rod tried to take my hand in his but I pulled away. He caught it and held on. Then he asked me to forgive him.

I was stunned. I couldn’t say anything. He hadn’t responded like I thought he would, like I deserved. Instead he accepted his responsibility in everything and asked me to forgive him. We cried and we asked each other and the Lord to forgive us.

The consequences to what I’ve done are great. I wonder about the children I lost to “choice” and see who they might have looked like in the smiles of Josiah and Amy. Sometimes I think I can almost hear them. But comforting me through it all is the awe­some knowledge that Jesus’ blood fully paid for my debt and that He loves me com­pletely.

I want to thank both Diane and Rod. Without Rod’s full support, Diane would not have been up here. They have given us a gift of honesty and transparency, at cost to them­selves. It’s a gift I believe will result in many saved lives—more children in our church nursery, fewer men and women suffering under the weight of guilt, more confession and repentance and healing, more effective kingdom work because of cleansed hearts.

As she spoke, you saw that children are not the only victims of abortion. Mothers and fathers and grandparents and uncles and aunts and many others are victims, too. You may think our children’s classes are full, but they are missing many children. Maybe one of them would have been your child’s best friend. Maybe several of them would be going on one of our summer missions projects.

If you have been damaged by an abortion, you are not alone. This room is full of damaged people. All of us have been damaged by the loss of those who should be here with us today.

Thirty-five million abortions—at least six million by those who profess to be evan­gelical Christians. But that’s just the moms. Throw in an equal number of dads and you have twelve million. But that’s not all. There are mothers who drove their daughters to an abor­tion clinic; fathers who gave them money to get an abortion. People who talked someone into an abortion or didn’t try to talk them out of one. Health care professionals who have referred people for abortions. In some churches, there are pastors and lay leaders who’ve failed to speak up for fear of offending the congregation or chairman of the trustees; or to protect their reputation they’ve stood by while their own children had abortions.

There are a lot of guilt feelings here today. And you know what? The reason we feel guilty is usually quite simple—it’s because we are guilty. A lot of people think we need to get rid of the guilty feelings. What we need to deal with first is the guilt itself. No matter how often someone may say to you, “You have nothing to feel guilty about,” your guilt feel­ings will remain because deep inside, in your conscience, in your heart, you know better.

By denying reality you can try to avoid guilt feelings, but this denial is unhealthy. It sets you up for emotional trauma whenever something reminds you of the child you once carried or the killing place where your child died. It doesn’t help to ignore a cancer. It doesn’t help to put a Band-Aid on a cancer. When a person is writhing from the pain of cancer, it isn’t truthful and it isn’t loving to say to them, “You really have no reason to feel bad.”

We all need a permanent cure to the disease of our guilt—a solution based on reality, not denial or pretense. Because as long as we deny we have cancer, we won’t get treatment for it. As long as we deny our guilt, we won’t experience God’s forgive­ness and healing.

Look at our sister. God got hold of her life when she faced head-on the reality of her abortions. Probably some people were tempted to say, “It’s not so bad.” But she knew how bad it was. She had the courage to face it for what it was, and God has gotten hold of this woman and done something amazing, something beautiful with her life. And He wants to do the same with every one of us.

In C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, there’s a part where the boy Eustace becomes a dragon, and he must submit to Aslan, the Lion who is Icing, to claw away at his dragon skin and make him into a new person. I have felt the claws of the Lion of Judah. I can tell you, it hurts. But I would rather be hurt by my God as He cleanses and heals me than to slowly die without His cleansing and healing because I’ve tried to protect myself from being hurt.

Transparencies 12–13: God’s forgiveness (see Appendix A)

You may feel, “But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.” That’s exactly right. None of us deserves forgiveness. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it. Christ got what we deserved on the cross, so we could get what we don’t deserve—forgive­ness, a clean slate, a fresh start.

No matter what you have done, no sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace. The apostle Paul himself was a murderer; he had participated in the killing of Christians. He called himself the “chief of sinners.” Do you think God used Paul? Then He can surely use you.

Maybe you imagine that in heaven the skeleton’s going to come out of the closet and someone will discover you had an abortion. Well, no skeletons are going to come out of the closet, because there are no skeletons and there are no closets. God knows already. God has seen us at our worst and still loves us.

God loves us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way. He is determined to bring us to our knees to confess, repent, and be healed.

Once we acknowledge our sin and repent and ask God to forgive us, we must resist the temptation to wallow in guilt feelings, for we are no longer guilty. Christ calls upon us to accept His atonement, not to repeat it. I spoke with a woman recently who said, “I believed God could forgive any sin, except my abortion.” She discovered that she had been wrong. She’d been punishing herself for a sin Christ had already taken the punishment for. No sin is too big for the Savior to forgive.

That’s the amazing grace of God. Are you thankful for that grace?

choirThere are some unique aspects to abortion that often require a very special healing process. Ninety-five percent of people in the church who’ve lost children to abortion have never really come to terms with it. There are a number of people hear­ing this message who’ve never told a single person they’ve had an abortion. They’ve suffered in silence. We need to create a climate that lets them come out of the closet if that’s what they want to do.

The church isn’t a showcase for saints, it’s a hospital for sinners. You’re a sinner? Welcome to the club. The truth is, I’m a worse sinner than you know, and you’re a worse sinner than I can know. So we’re even. You will not be judged and condemned for a sin Christ has forgiven. The rest of us at Good Shepherd are just as human, just as imperfect, just as needy as you are.

In your bulletin and growth group lesson are phone numbers of the HEART pro­grams, fourteen-week Bible study groups designed for women and men touched by abortion. There are also phone numbers of women at our church who have worked with those who’ve had abortions. At the table in the foyer we have these booklets from Focus on the Family (“Overcoming Post-Abortion Syndrome”).

You need the help and support of your church family. This week a woman in our church told me that there are thirteen people in her growth group. She shared her tes­timony and talked about her abortion, and now five out of the thirteen have acknowl­edged that they’ve lost children to abortion. Sometimes it takes one person with the courage to speak up and a group with enough love to put their arms around and weep with those who weep and comfort the hurting.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” We cannot heal on our own or carry all our bur­dens on our own. God has given us to each other to help carry the load.

Some of you may choose to share in High Ground or Bible study or accountability group or your growth groups this week. There will be no pressure whatsoever. You may not be ready to, or it may not be God’s timing for you. That’s between you and the Lord. We want what’s best for you.

I want to share with you a powerful passage, one which is a prophecy of the min­istry of our Lord Jesus, written seven hundred years before He was conceived. It is for anyone who feels as if her life is in ashes, anyone who feels brokenhearted, impris­oned, in darkness, to anyone who mourns and grieves and feels despair:

Transparency 14: Isaiah 61:1–3

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the bro­kenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from dark­ness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Transparency 15: Proverbs 31:8–9

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

What can we do for weak and helpless children? A thousand different things. If you’re interested in knowing, call the phone numbers in the bulletin for our local pregnancy resource centers and other prolife groups we have listed.

Last week I heard the director of our PRC’s postabortion Bible study program say that one of the biggest things women recovering from abortions have to work through is their anger toward those who knew abortion was child-killing but didn’t speak up and try to talk them out of it. I want you to think carefully about that statement. You owe it to others to speak up. To be silent is a sin against God, a sin against the child, and a sin against the person getting the abortion.

It is never the loving thing to do to ignore sin, and it is never in their best inter­ests to encourage or assist people in their sin. If you knew your friend was going to kill her three-year-old, would you consider it an act of friendship to look the other way? If you know someone is going to get an abortion, would you ever say, “I can’t risk my friendship by confronting them?” If you understand abortion and you understand friendship and you understand what it means to be a follower of Christ, then you must speak up, or you will have betrayed your friend, an innocent child, and your Lord.

A word to young people: Pregnancy outside marriage can be prevented by not having sex outside of marriage. Even if you don’t get pregnant, if you have sex outside marriage you are violating the law of God and setting yourself up for disastrous con­sequences. I can’t overemphasize the importance and the rewards of sexual purity. But if you’ve gotten pregnant, realize there’s a child there. Don’t try to cover one sin by committing a greater sin.

 Transparency 16: (Picture of preborn child) Remember, this is who we’re talk­ing about. This isn’t an issue; it’s a baby. It’s not a choice; it’s a child. It’s not politics; it’s a precious human being created in the image of God.

Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cow­ards of men.”

Silence is never the solution. When churches are silent about abortion, we encourage it. Silence becomes a form of consent, a quiet permission. Let’s not be cow­ards. Let’s stand up for truth; let’s reach out in compassion.

Whenever I see the face of a child in our church nursery, and I happen to know his mother was going to get an abortion until someone talked her out of it, I praise God that someone spoke up. And I pray that God will make a great champion for Christ out of this precious child whose life was spared.

 Transparency 17: Choose life, Deuteronomy 30:19:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

Before you leave, remember to pick up the brochures “Identifying and Overcoming Post-Abortion Syndrome” and “The First Nine Months” from the table in the foyer.

In the Next-Step Room to my left are people who would love to talk with you about your relationship with God. Today we have in each service several people who know about abortions and God’s grace, including some of the rose carriers. They would consider it an honor to help you in any way they can.

As the worship team comes to lead us, let’s pray.

Lord, when we walk out of this service, we’re going to go back to a
world of lies about this issue. We go back to a godless generation that
won’t let their children get in the way of their careers and won’t let
their elderly parents get in the way of their retirements.

 We want to be different, God.
We must be different or we have nothing to offer this dying world.

 Please, Father, bring healing to those who’ve had abortions—men and
women. Help them to get the help they need; help our young people to
practice sexual purity; and help all of us not to succumb to the spirit of
our age and sacrifice our children.

 Teach us not only to abstain from the wrong, Lord, but to do the
right—to intervene on behalf of unborn children. Our Lord Jesus said,
“Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brothers,
so you’ve done it to me” and
“Inasmuch as you’ve not done it to these, you’ve not done it to me.”

 May we serve You, Lord, by looking out for and standing up for the
weakest and most helpless children You have created.
May we be their defenders and may You be pleased with our efforts
done in Your strength and for Your glory.
Who will stand up for the children? May the answer, Lord, be us.
We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The service concluded with a soloist and our worship team singing “Who Will Stand Up for the Children?” An image of an unborn child sucking his thumb was projected on the screen. As Jim Seymour asked, “Who will speak up for the chil­dren?” people in the congregation stood to express their commitment.

ProLife Answers to ProChoice ArgumentsAfter the five services (all of which were full, a few standing room only, making about twenty-seven hundred people for the weekend), many wept and shared their encouragement with the rose carriers, Diane, and the rest of us. We have heard many wonderful stories. Three years later we still hear people talk about it. We will not know all the results until eternity, but based on what we’ve seen, it’s clear that God did an amazing work. May He receive all the glory, and may His people experience the warmth of His presence and blessing.

 (This article was originally published as Appendix G of ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments by Randy Alcorn.)

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