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Sanctity of Human Life Sunday: The Death of Christ and the Fight for Life Print E-mail
Sanctity of Human Life
Sunday, 22 January 2012

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We set aside a Sunday every year in January to celebrate the sanctity of human life.  As a Church we want to encourage each other this morning in the fight for life.  Over the past few years I have preached about adoption and the Bibleís call for us to fight for the needy and helpless.  We intentionally spend this Sunday celebrating life.  Yet, in another sense, this morning is a memorial service.  We weep and mourn over all the lives that were sacrificed this year at the altar of convenience.  Millions of lives throughout our world were taken since our last Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.  As we considered last year, we weep and mourn for them this morning.  And just to be honest, as I studied this week, reading and listening to statistics and stories, I became overwhelmed at the tragedy yet again.  It saddens me so much to think about the continual holocaust that is sweeping our nation and world. 

Yet, as we noted last year, we cannot stay there.  Yes, I believe that as Christians we should weep and mourn over the darkness that is all around us and the culture of death that is choking the life out of future generations and the elderly and others.  We weep, yes, but not as those who do not have hope.  So then, where is our hope?  Do we hope in Washington or the next election or the courts or the next movement or the next generation of voters or what?  Where is our hope for the seemingly endless battle against the culture of death?  Our hope is in the gospel!  Our fight for life is motivated and empowered by the death of our Savior.  What I want to do in our time together this morning is answer one simple question: how does Christís death inform our fight for life?  Since Paul explains his understanding of the gospel and its implications in Romans 1-8, I want to use these chapters as our guide for answering this question.

The necessity of Christís death: justly deal with sin (1:17-3:31)

Paul opens his letter to the Romans with a lengthy discussion of manís sin.  It begins in chapter one and stretches all the way through chapter 3.  The simple point that Paul is making is that all of us are sinners.  He makes it very plain that none of us can claim to be innocent or without sin.  He concludes: Öall, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin (3:9) and for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23).  We are all sinners, we are all lawbreakers, we have all gone our own way.  It is this grave truth, the sinfulness of man, that necessitates the death of Christ.  During our Advent Season, we said that it was the Fall that made the coming of Christ necessary.  Jesus took on flesh, became a man, and died on a cross to deal with sin.  The only just way for God to forgive sinners was by punishing His Son in their place.  Thus, through the death of Christ, God is just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  Jesus died to justly deal with the sinfulness of man. 

So then, what does manís sinfulness and Jesusí death to save us teach us about our fight for life?  It teaches us that sin necessitates the fight.  We fight against the culture of death because sin is real.  How exactly does this inform our fight?  First, we must begin with our own sinfulness.  The fight for life begins with humility.  We cannot wage this war and be prideful.  If we try to do this, and I fear that many times we do, our pride will drive away from us those that we are trying to reach.  People need to know that abortion is sin.  They need to know it is wrong.  But they do not need to hear it from someone who has forgotten that they too are a sinner.  Paul writes these chapters to tell us all that we are sinners.  We are not excluded.  We are sinners who simply have good news to share with fellow sinners.  Second, as long as sin remains, the battle will continue.  Thus, we cannot grow lax in our fight.  We must continue to labor for justice and never grow weary.

The hope of Christís death: salvation through faith (4:1-5:21)

Of course, Paul does not end his letter with manís sinfulness.  No, he writes that hope for man has come through the death of Christ.  He writes: But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to itóthe righteousness of God through faith in Jesus for all who believe (3:21-22).  The good news is that even though we are all sinners, we can be saved by turning from our sins and believing in Jesusí death to redeem us.  Jesus died to save us from our sins.  He died to pay the price that Godís justice demanded.  When we repent of our sins and place our faith in Jesusí work, then we can be saved.  This is the glorious good news of the gospel.  And Paul goes on to make it clear that we cannot be saved by doing good works.  We cannot earn our forgiveness or salvation.  No, it is a gift that we receive by faith.  It was faith that saved Abraham and it is faith that saves us (ch. 4).  Even though we are all sinful as descendents of Adam, we are made righteous through faith in Christ (5:12ff).  The great hope of the gospel is that we can be saved from our sins through faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.

So then, again, how does this inform our fight for life?  Because of the death of Christ for our sins and salvation by faith in Him, we have forgiveness to offer in our fight for life.  We do not sit in judgment of those who have had abortions as if we are not sinners.  No, we go to them with the glorious good news that if Jesus can save a sinner like us through faith, then He can save them as well.  We preach the message of faith and forgiveness to any and all who have been involved in abortion: men, women, parents, doctors, advisers, etc.  Without the gospel, without the death of Christ, we could only anticipate judgment as sinners.  But Christ has died to deal with our sin.  And not just certain sins.  No, the blood of Christ covers all.  May the forgiveness of sins that we find through faith in Christ be the hope that we carry into the fight for life.

The goal of Christís death: victory over sinfulness (6:1-7:25)

Not only does Christís death provide forgiveness for sin, but it provides victory over sin in our lives.  Paul argues that those who have turned from their sins and trusted in Christ are no longer slaves to their sin.  They have died to sin through the death of Christ and been raised to live for God.  He commands us not to sin or to give our members to sin, for sin will have no dominion over you (6:14).  We were slaves to sin, but now we are slaves of righteousness (6:18-19).  We are no longer slaves to the sins of selfishness and self-fulfillment.  We no longer have to believe the lies of the Enemy about convenience and comfort.  No, we belong to King Jesus.  He is our gracious Master and Lord.  He has given, is giving, and will give us, victory over sin. 

How does this apply to our fight for life?  It reminds us that we can live victoriously in the fight for life.  The culture of death that can be so overwhelming at times has no dominion over us.  The world cannot keep us from valuing life.  It cannot tell us that we have to be selfish.  It cannot prevent us from giving our lives away for the helpless and the needy.  Sin has no dominion over us.  Thus, as Christians, we need to live victoriously.  This is not me saying that we will face no suffering or difficulty, the world can (and will) give us that.  But they cannot make us slaves to our sin.  We can live sacrificial lives for the sake of others.  May this indeed be how we live.

The promise of Christís death: eternal life in the Spirit (8:1-39)

The good news of Christís death is not limited to this lifetime only.  The glorious promise is that there is coming a day when death will ultimately and finally be defeated.  There will be no more death.  As we suffer and fight and struggle throughout our lives on the earth, we do so knowing that this is not the end.  Christ died to defeat death.  He died to lay death in His grave.  Through His death we have the promise of eternal life.  The Spirit that is given to believers is the guarantee for this future inheritance.  Paul writes of this in Romans 8: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirsóheirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we might be glorified with him (v. 16-17).  The Spirit tells us that we are the children of God and heirs of the future inheritance, provided that we suffer.  Thus, the promise of future inheritance encourages us in the present.  We battle and groan for what is to come.  We long for the redemption of our bodies (v. 23).  And the Spirit we have been given empowers us to continue the fight.  The battle will grow long, but we know that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (v. 37).

So then, we must never grow weary in our fight for life.  I admit that the darkness seems overwhelming at times.  The statistics and the stories can leave us reeling.  But we must always remember: death will not win in the end!  The death of death is guaranteed in the death of Christ (to borrow from Owen).  I do not tell us this so that we can grow lax in the battle.  Rather, I remind us of this promise so that we will be encouraged to continue faithfully in the fight.  May the promise of eternal life spur us on in our fight against death.

After Paul writes about Godís sovereign grace in chapters 9-11, he gives us an important charge in 12:1-2.  Look at that with me.  We are to be living sacrifices.  We are not to be sucked into the culture of death (either knowingly or unknowingly).  We are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds so that we can willingly lay our lives down for the gospel and for others.  This means that the death of Christ equips us and calls us to fight for life.  Let me close by mentioning some specific ways that we can do that. 

First, we should volunteer and support crisis pregnancy centers.  There are a couple of these in Cape: Birthright and Cape Girardeau Crisis Pregnancy Center.  We need to find ways to support their work.  It will take time and money, but it is part of our fight for life.  Second, we should continue to support adoption.  I believe that we are building a culture of adoption at our Church and I want to always encourage us in that each year.  We have two couples seeking to adopt right now and I pray that we always have folks working toward that end.  Third, we should vote in the upcoming election for those who support life.  No other issue is more important that this one, so I encourage you to use your vote to fight for life.  Fourth, and finally, we must fight for life by believing, living, and proclaiming the gospel.  What does the girl need who is thinking about abortion?  What does the girl need who has already committed abortion?  What about the doctors and parents and abortion activists and politicians and everyone else who supports abortion and the culture of death?  What do they all need?  They need to be told about the death of Christ and the hope we have in the gospel.  Only the gospel can ultimately defeat the culture of death.  So then, letís commit ourselves to fighting for life by being living sacrifices for the gospel.  Amen. 

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Monday, 30 January 2012 )

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