(The following is a transcript from a sermon I preached on May 31, 2015)
A month and a half ago, Pastor Tony told me that he would need me to preach today. As you know Pastor Tony has been going through a series of sermons on the 10 Commandments. He told me then that I was free to preach the next sermon in the series or whatever sermon God had instructed me to preach. At the time he initially asked me, today was supposed to be the 8th commandment, Thou Shall Not Steal. However a few Sundays back, Pastor Tony felt God leading him to take a break from the series for a sermon on Romans 1 and then the next week for special sermon for Mother’s day. This change meant that instead of the 8th commandment, this week’s message will be about the 6th commandment. Pastor Tony and I have both seen God’s hand at work in how this has fell into place. God has gifted me the opportunity to share with you a passion from my heart and quite frankly from God’s own heart. I pray that God will use me today to awaken our hearts to obey God’s commandment to Hold Back the Slaughter. Let us, pray. (Pray)
Please turn in your copy of God’s word to Exodus 20:13 and Proverbs 24:11-12. And as your turning to these passages I want to give by way of introduction a reminder regarding God’s law. First, God’s Law was given as a gracious move on God’s part after rescuing the Israelites from slavery. It is an act of grace that he gives believer’s his word and expectations for their life as his covenant people. God’s commandments are truly meant for our benefit and not our harm. Secondly, we must always remember that we cannot be saved by law keeping. Ephesians 2:8 &9 tells us that we are saved by grace through faith, and that it is not our own doing. It is the gift of God, not a result of works. The Law never was meant as a way for salvation. It was never given that power. Let me repeat, we are saved, justified, made right with God by his total grace through faith. Now having been saved, we are now set apart or sanctified to good works. If anyone is in Christ he is a new Creation. We have been recreated and now enabled by The Holy Spirit to keep the commandments of God. So if the law was meant for salvation what was it given for? 1. The commandments point us to our need for a savior. They are like mirror that reveals our sinfulness and inability to save ourselves. 2. They are given to restrain evil. One way they do this is by providing to the magistrate or rulers the standard for what constitutes a crime and the prescribed punishments thereof. 3. The third purpose of the law is to reveal what is pleasing to God. As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve. The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). This is the highest function of the law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honor and glory.
As we look now to Exodus 20:13, I want us also to remember that Jesus summarized all of the Law in Two Commandments- Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind. And Love your Neighbor as yourself. These two summarize all of God’s law. The 10 Commandments though in a way are summaries too. They act as chapter titles or a table of contents for the rest of the law. Therefore to fully understand each commandment we need to keep in mind both how they fit into Christ’s summary and how it in turn they are broadened and defined in the rest of God’s word. One thing we see is that each commandment often has a negative or forbidding aspect and a positive or commanding aspect. We also see that the commandments are not just concerned with outward obedience but also the condition of the heart.
That said let’s read our passage. Exodus 20:13 :“You shall not murder.” Aright that’s pretty easy to figure out, let’s all go home. Seriously, while containing just four words, this commandment when fully understood should drive us to our knees in repentance and then on further to action. I want to briefly share with you first a theological foundation to this commandment and then transition to a specific implication and application for us as Christians in a culture of death.
First let’s look to the theological foundation for this commandment. To do that, we begin of all places in the beginning. Genesis 1:1 tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. We then see throughout this chapter God speaking forth into the darkness and by his words creating. The Earth, Sun, the moon, the stars, fish and birds, plants and animals are all created by God speaking them into existence. But on the sixth day, God does something different. He forms a person from the dust of the ground and breath’s life into him. The Genesis account gives the briefest of mention to the fact that God created the stars. The vast expanse of the heavens is almost seen as an afterthought. But the Bible, spends a great deal of more time on the creation of people. In fact it gives an account in chapter 1 and then turns around and gives a more intimate account in chapter 2 on the creation of Adam and Eve. There is something personal about how God forms man and breathes life into Him. We are told here in Genesis that God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. We are all created in the image of God. What does this mean? Not wanting to bore you with the many definitions, I am going to give you what I have come to believe through my studies this to mean. “Being created in the image of God” means that we are made to be his representatives on earth. We are to operate as his image or ambassador. In Genesis, the first humans were commanded to subdue the earth, to take dominion of it. We are to do this in God’s name as his image bearers. Thus our lives have value as we are created to be God’s representatives.
I want to look at a few more passages here that drive home the point that God has created us and formed us. God’s Word says that He personally made each one of us. Speaking personally of Jeremiah, God says in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” Before we were even conceived God had a determined to create us. We also see God’s choosing and purpose for Paul before he was born in Galatians 1:15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 139:13,16 “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb… Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” And in Job we read “Your hands shaped me and made me… Did You not clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life.” Isaiah the prophet writes “This is what the Lord says—He who made you, who formed you in the womb. “ And again in Job, “Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One form us both within our mothers?”
God has determined to create us and give us life. He formed us in the womb. Life is a gift from Him. And as Job tells us “In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being” Job 12:10. If God gives us life and makes us in His image, then it is He alone who has the right to determine what to do with that life. In fact it is his prerogative to decide when to give life and when to take it.
However in the garden of Eden we see that the Image bearers Adam and Eve did not believe God. They were willingly deceived into believing a lie. They believed the lie that they could be not just image bearers but God themselves. They could cast aside the name they were supposed to rule in and instead attempt to reign in their own. What follows shortly after is that their son Cain again claims a right reserved to God alone and he kills His brother, Abel.
Thus I want us to see four things about Murder:
- Murder is an attack on the image of God and thus truly an attack on God himself. It is an act of war against God the Creator of the Universe. We understand this when it comes to ambassadors of a nation. Ambassadors are given referential respect in the nations that they are sent to. To attack imprison, threaten, or worse kill an ambassador of a nation for most of history was seen as not just an attack on that person but an attack upon the nation He represents. In 2 Samuel David sent representatives to a nation who has just lost its king. The new King saw them not as the delegation of honor they were meant for but as a threat. This new king shamed the delegation by cutting off their beard and shredding their clothing. David saw this an act of war against God’s people and went to war. Murder and unjust violence against a fellow human is an act of war against God. David again acknowledged this in his Psalm of repentance. David whom had stolen a wife and committed murder acknowledge that this was first and foremost a crime against God.
- Murder is a crime against God and man. It therefore is a capital crime. The state has been given the responsibility of being an agent of wrath upon those who kill. Christians should not oppose the death penalty for murder because God has prescribed that very thing. Exodus 21:12 12 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
- As I said above, the law is not just content to deal with outward conformity but it has our hearts conditions in mind as well. . Matthew 5: 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. Hate in your heart toward another person created in the image of God is a sin against God. And while God has not given the government the responsibility to punish people for their heart “hate crimes”, he has promised a sure and just punishment for an unrepentant person full of hate.
- The 6th Commandment is not just a prohibition but it also entails upon God’s people a responsibility to defend life. God’s people are to protect the less fortunate. We are to seek to justice. You can’t read through the prophets of the Old Testament without seeing the concern for life and justice. We are to love our neighbor as our self. We all know the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus tells us to even love those who hate us and pray for them who persecute us.
There is so much more than can be said here but I want to turn now to a particular implication of this commandment for today. Having now laid down a general understanding of this command I want us to look at our passage in Proverbs and see how it applies for us as a church today. Proverbs 24:11-12 says “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?”
I recently watched a video from the end of the Second World War.
The Americans after having defeated the Germans and liberated the residents of the concentration camps made sure those residents of Dachau and other towns were forced to confront the horrors of the concentration camps. According to Harold Marcuse, in his book “Legacies of Dachau,” after the liberation “a group of Nazi elite was forced to tour the Dachau crematorium on May 8 1945.” There they were made to look at the naked, emaciated bodies of the innocent victims of Nazi barbarity, piled up in the mortuary room right next to the gas chamber. Young boys in the Hitler Youth were brought to the camp and forced to look at the corpses on the Death Train.
Just a short distance from these concentration camps, the German people had went about their business in the towns. They went to work, raised their children, listened to music, and even went to church while a hike a way Jews, Gypsies, blacks, and other unwanted people were forced into death champers and slaughtered.
As you watch the video footage of these Germans hiking up the five miles to the liberated camp, you can see that they are woefully unprepared for what they are about to see. Many of them look like they are just out for gentle stroll through the country side. They have smiles and pep in their walk. But as they were marched through these camps, their faces change. The smiles are gone and replaced with tears of pain and outrage.
According to Peter Wyden, in his book “The Hitler Virus,” a few of the Dachau notables, who were forced to view the corpses, fainted. Some cried and many shook their heads. Most of them turned away, eager to avoid the scene. Afterwards, they were heard to whisper, “Unglaublich!” (Unbelievable)
The practice of bringing German civilians from nearby towns to the concentration camps after they were liberated was started by General Walton Walker who ordered the Mayor of the town of Ohrdruf and his wife to visit the Ohrdruf labor camp after it was discovered by American troops on April 4, 1945. After their visit, the Mayor and his wife returned home and killed themselves.
What a gruesome and horrible scene. The German people had long heard rumors or even know about what had happened in those camps but they refused to acknowledge it. They lived in a culture of death and pretended like nothing was wrong. And we look back today wondering how that could have happened in a modern society in enlightened Europe.
How could they have allowed that to happen? My question is How Can we allow the same thing to happen. Just an hour down the road from this church building, Tuesday through Saturday, people go into a building and pay someone to slaughter their child. Every year 4,000 children are taken to the butcher by their own parents here in Kentucky. We are living in a Holocaust. Every year in the US, 1.06 Million Children are killed. Since 1973 there have been almost 58 Million children killed in our nation. Every day 2600 babies are murdered by the very ones who are supposed to love them. And we would ask the Germans how they could allow such a thing to happen. How can we allow it to happen?
Since I can’t take you on a physical tour of the facilities in Louisville and Lexington, please allow me just a minute to describe for you the procedures that they do at these facilities. I have taken the names of these procedures straight from the website for the abortion death camp in Louisville called EMW’s womens surgical center. Please listen as to what happens day in and day out at this place in Louisville.
EMW’s Abortion Mill does both medical and surgical abortion. Let’s begin with the surgical abortions: The first procedure is called :.
D & C (Dilation and Curettage): within first 12 weeks
The abortionist uses a dilator or laminaria to open the cervix. Laminaria are thin sticks from a kelp species that are inserted hours before the procedure and allowed to slowly absorb water and expand, thereby dilating the cervix. A suction device is placed in the uterine cavity to remove the fetus and placenta. Then the abortionist inserts a curette (a loop-shaped knife) into the uterus. The abortionist uses the curette to scrape any remaining fetal parts and the placenta out of the uterus. After suction, the doctor and nurses must reassemble the fetus’ dismembered parts to ensure they have all the pieces.
D & E (Dilation and Evacuation): within 13-24 weeks after last menstrual period
The fetus literally doubles in size between the 11th and 12th weeks of pregnancy. Soft cartilage hardens into bone at 16 weeks, making the fetus too large and strong to pass through a suction tube. The D & E procedure begins by inserting laminaria a day or two before the abortion, opening the cervix wide to accommodate the larger fetal size. The abortionist then both tears and cuts the fetus and uses the vacuum machine to extract its remains. Because the skull is too large to be suctioned through the tube, it must be crushed by forceps for removal. Pieces must be extracted very carefully because the jagged, sharp pieces of the broken skull could easily cut the cervix.
As for the Medical or Chemical abortion. They use:
RU-486 (Mifepristone): within 4-7 weeks of the last menstrual period.
Also called “the abortion pill.”
This drug interferes with levels of progesterone, a hormone that keeps the fetus implanted in the wall of the uterus. The woman is prescribed Mifepristone and then Misoprostol (Cytotec) is taken two days later at home. This medication causes the uterus to contract, induces labor and expels the dead fetus. A follow visit may be required if the baby is not expelled, at which time a woman has a 5-8% likelihood of needing a surgical abortion to complete the process.
This happens not an hour from our church. People take the precious life that God has gifted them with and have it destroyed. Moms and Dads who are supposed to care about their children will have their child ripped limb by limb. This is our Holocaust. These are Kentucky’s children being killed, children who should grow up to make a difference in this world. These mother’s and father’s will not experience the changing of the first diaper, seeing the first smiles, hearing the coos, and watching their child grow. These children will not experience learning how to walk, clumsily falling down just to get back up and do it all over again. These children will not hear the sound of their mother’s voice saying I love you. They will not say their first words, da da or mama. No these children will not do any of that because they will have been murdered by their own parents. And far worse is that for the most part the church, the bride of Christ has set back and done very little.
A Christian Philosopher Francis Schaeffer once said ““Every abortion clinic should have a sign in front of it saying, “Open by the permission of the church.” Wow that is tough to hear. But in many ways it is true.
For one many of these people who are going to the mill in Louisville claim to be Christians. Many of them go to churches and sing hymns. I’ve even been at there one Saturday and had a man who brought his daughter for an abortion tell me that He was a minister after he threatened to beat me up.
Secondly, for most we have relegated this to a political issue. We have bought the lie that this is best fought in the senate or Whitehouse. Because of that too many preachers have been afraid to speak to this issue. Thirdly, for many we have just become too apathetic or resigned to defeat. There are a lot of excuses we give to keep from doing anything “I don’t want to get involved.” “It’s none of my business.” “I might make enemies if I say something.” “It’s too much trouble.” “I’m too busy to take the time.” “I’ll leave that job to the professionals.” “Someone else will take care of it.”
Excuses will not do. Proverbs 24: 11-12 tells us Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer a christian preacher put to death by the Nazis for speaking out said “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” And the bible agrees with Him.
Our work being biblically mandated and sovereignly ordained, we are called to be salt and light in a darkened, and defiled world; we are commanded to care for the fatherless and bring justice to the oppressed and preyed-upon. We have been exhorted to expose deeds of darkness, and destroy speculations raised up against the knowledge of God. We are exhorted to rescue the weak from death, snatch the falling from flames, and hold back the stumbling from the slaughter. We are to be against the world, for the world. So what is the answer?
Supreme above all philosophies, all isms and ideologies, is the fullness of the Gospel of God; (that God himself stepped down into human history as Jesus Christ, conceived in the womb of a young unmarried woman who did not choose to be with child or plan on being a mother, to live a sinless life before wicked man whom he came to die for, and redeem from the just wrath of God against sinners. It is the will of God that all men might come to know Him, and in the fullness of time, Christ Jesus has made this possible). The Gospel above all else possesses the capacity to mobilize human action, motivate moral behavior, and mandate consistent compassionate social justice. It is the answer to all of societies ills and injustices. It is the bulwark against an ever increasing inhumanity of man against man. It is the Gospel alone that will end human oppression and redeem mankind from the dominion of evil powers and sinful man. It is the wellspring of love, hope, and joy. The actual foundation for justice. And the real answer to abortion
We have been given the weapons of God to take down all strongholds. The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church. We have the power of the Gospel. Paul says it is the power for salvation.
We have to begin dealing with the excuses. Each of us need to look at the fullness of the gospel and repent. We need to repent for our apathy. Repentance will involve us turning from apathy and doing nothing to being what we are called to be, salt and light.
We need to reclaim a culture of life. Our world is a culture of death. It celebrates abortion and all types of sexual perversions that are incapable of producing life. We who are in Christ have been given life. We are being empowered to keep God’s commands which bring forth blessing. We have to put to death in us the idea that children are a curse and not a blessing. My brother has 5 children and I can’t tell you the number of well meaning people who have asked him if he knew what causes children. Our culture looks at having children as strange. Test yourself, if you are of the age where you can have children and you are married, What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about having another child? Is it money? Is it Oh No , what would we do. I am not discounting the importance of providing financially. But our first concern should be whether it is God’s will that we have children. We should think about what God would have us do. I am grateful that our church does celebrate children. But there is more we can do. We need to educate them in the Lord.
We all need to be sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We have wonderful and great news. How often do we share that news with others around us? Do your friends and coworkers see in you a transformed life? Have they heard from you the glorious truth of the gospel? Sharing the gospel is not just for the pastor, it is all of ours blessed responsibility.
God has gifted us as a church with many different people with many different talents and skills. We can use them to God’s glory and to end this evil on our land called abortion. God has gifted some of us to be teachers and principals. How can you use that vocation and skill to fight abortion? How can you be used to make a difference? There are teenagers every week who go to the clinic who have abortions. They need to be told the gospel. They need to be called to repentance. God may have placed you where you are to make that difference.
We have people who maybe God has gifted with good business skills and know how to use their resources wisely. Maybe you can contribute by buying tracts, drop cards, signs, cameras, ads, or a host of other resources that can be used to stop abortion. We need people who are willing to give of their resources to help unexpected mother’s who are seeking help instead of an abortion. We need someone whom we call when a mother leaves the abortion clinic having changed her mind but needs help. We need people willing to adopt a child, to give them a loving home and family.
Many of us have Saturday Morning’s off or any other mornings for that matter and I know we like to sleep in. But there are children dying. God can use you driving to Louisville to hold a sign for a couple of hours. You can pray there and reach out to plead with the woman going to murder their child. Just this week, we saw a couple change their mind after having been pleaded with by Christians.
Maybe you can’t do that because of health reasons or job situation but you can write letters to politicians, post on facebook, and do a host of other things from your home. The opportunities are almost endless here. But we must act.
I’d like to close today with two quick stories.
The first is of the early church. They were persecuted and lived with many fearing for their lives. They had been sent by Jesus into a dark world. In the city Antioch where they were first called Christians, abortion and a host of other evils were rampant. People would not only abort, they would throw their unwanted babies out into the street to die if they were born. People with disabilities were mistreated. It was a culture of death. This ragtag band of believers there worked tirelessly under threat of death to take in these unwanted children. One of the first Christian documents outside of the Bible, speaks out against abortion. These Christians suffered and many died. But God used them. They transformed that city. Eventually the whole of the Roman Empire would succumb to Christian influence. The gladiator games where people were put to death for other’s enjoyment were ended. Christianity transformed Europe and led to the foundation of our country. This was all by God using Christians working with the power of the gospel. They rescued those going to death.
A second story is told from a German man who lived during World War II.
“I lived in Germany during the Nazi holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. I attended church since I was a small boy. We had heard the stories of what was happening to the Jews, but like most people today in this country, we tried to distance ourselves from the reality of what was really taking place. What could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church, and each Sunday morning we would hear the whistle from a distance and then the clacking of the wheels moving over the track. We became disturbed when one Sunday we noticed cries coming from the train as it passed by. We grimly realized that the train was carrying Jews. They were like cattle in those cars!
Week after week that train whistle would blow. We would dread to hear the sound of those old wheels because we knew that the Jews would begin to cry out to us as they passed our church. It was so terribly disturbing! We could do nothing to help these poor miserable people, yet their screams tormented us. We knew exactly at what time that whistle would blow, and we decided the only way to keep from being so disturbed by the cries was to start singing our hymns. By the time that train came rumbling past the church yard, we were singing at the top of our voices. If some of the screams reached our ears, we’d just sing a little louder until we could hear them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it much anymore, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. I can still hear them crying out for help. God forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians, yet did nothing to intervene. “
Irvington Baptist Church will we be like the Christians in Antioch who we willing to suffer unto death to rescue those who are to being taken away to death or will we be a church who just sings songs louder over the cries of our unborn neighbors are stumbling to the slaughter.
Let us Pray.