Swift Creek Baptist Church
Warm Hearted Church with a Heart Warming Message

Sermon notes prepared by Steve Felker, Pastor of Swift Creek Baptist Church; (c) 2000

"The Sanctity of Human Life"

Exodus 20:13

    Intro. Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Many churches, all across denominational lines, observe this special emphasis. The reason this day is observed as sanctity of human life Sunday is because this is the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized abortion in 1973. It has been quite some time since I have preached a special message on the subject of the sanctity of human life. I’ve just completed my series of messages from Ephesians, and it seemed like a good time to preach a message on this very important subject.

    I hope you will understand the seriousness of what I will share today. The very moral foundations of our society have been crumbling for some time. One of the most clear-cut evidences of this is the erosion of the concept of the sanctity of human life. Christian philosopher Francis Shaeffer warned over two decades ago that the legal and popular acceptance of abortion would snow ball to the acceptance of other forms of killing. Today, doctor assisted suicide is becoming accepted in more and more states. There has been an overall increase in the murder rate since 1973 when abortion was legalized. And even though the total murder rate has leveled off, I believe more and more murders are being committed without the murderer even feeling bad about what he is done. The murders at Columbine High School are one of the most shocking examples of this. Two teenage boys killed 12 of their classmates and one teacher and laughed about it.

    There are some people who place very little value upon human life. To them, life is cheap. In many countries there are leaders who think nothing of having people killed. Sadam Husein has killed thousands and thousands of his own people. In Africa, literally millions have been killed through political, tribal, or religious conflict. This has also been true of the past. I remember reading about Napoleon, who was making plans for a great battle. 0ne of his associates said to him, "This will cost 100,000 of our men." He replied, "100,000 men! What is 100,000 men to me?" Many people do not have a great value on human life.

I believe that we need a restoration of the concept of the sanctity of human life. I realize that most of you already hold a high view of human life. Few if any of you would seriously contemplate abortion. But Jesus said that we are to be the salt and light of the world. My task is to strengthen your conviction and equip you to influence others. Those of you who are students need to promote the pro-life position at school and with your fellow students. Adults need to vote for candidates who support the pro-life position, and you need to speak out on pro-life issues.

So let’s look into the Word of God together. I want to start with:

I. the basis for The Sanctity of Human Life

    A. The Commandments Of God’s Word – Ex. 20:13 gives us one of the 10 commandments: "You shall not murder." In this commandment God has established the sanctity of human life. Did you noticed the changing translation? The New King James uses the word "murder" instead of "kill." That’s because the Hebrew term does not refer to all types of killing, as in the case of the killing of an animal. The term specifically refers to murder and the taking of human life. And even before the 10 commandments were given, God had said in Gen. 9:6, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." Even before that, in Gen. 4:10 God says concerning the murder of Abel, "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." God did not ignore the murder of Abel, and He will not ignore the bloodshed of millions and millions of people.

    By the way, this commandment does not forbid the death penalty. The only one who has the right to take life is the one who has given life. Therefore, only God has the right to give to man the authority to take another life in certain cases. God has done this in the Word, as we have already seen in Genesis 9:6, "by man shall his blood be shed." So far as I am able to discover, that commandment of God has never been revoked in Scripture. In Romans 13 the Scripture seems to be very clear that God gives to legitimate government the authority to take human life in the instances of those who have themselves taken human life.

   B. The Uniqueness of Human Life - Gen. 2:7 says, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (NKJV). Human life began when God shaped Adam and breathed into him the breath of life. Adam no longer was just a mass of material compounds, but a living, breathing, and thinking person. Also, back in Gen. 1:26-27, we read that we are unique in that we as humans are made in the image of God (read). Being made in the image of God gives life its sacredness. When you kill a bug you are just killing a bug. But when you kill a human, you are striking at the heart of God. And when God created Adam in His image, He distinguished human beings from the animal kingdom by breathing into their bodies the breath of life, and human being became living souls. And through the process of human reproduction, this life is transmitted from generation to generation in an unbroken chain.

    Folks, the animal rights activists just do not accept the biblical distinction between the sacredness of human life and the proper use of animal life. It is one thing to be against the cruelty of animals (Prov. 12:10), but it’s another thing to be vocally and radically oppose to be the killing of animals for food, for clothing, and for the use of animals in important medical research. Why do you think they make such a big deal about the treatment of animals? Is because they have rejected the biblical basis for human rights. The Declaration of Independence says that we have been endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. But if godless evolution is true, then there is very little essential difference between human life and animal life. And so to be consistent, these people must grant the same rights to animals as we give to people. Do you see what happens when we reject the Bible?

    C. The Creator Alone Controls Life and Death Decisions - Psa. 100:3 says, "It is He that hath made us and not we ourselves." God gives life, and only God has the right to take human life. Job proclaimed, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away." In a miscarriage an unborn baby is lost, but that is often a result of something being wrong with the baby, and in a sense the miscarriage is an act of God, not an act of man. We must not "play God" with human life.

II. THE APPLICATIONS OF The Sanctity of Human Life

    Once we acccept the biblical teaching regarding the sanctity of human life, then we must apply that understanding to various situations. Obviously it applies to homicide. I read that about 23,000 people are murdered in America every year. We are living indeed in a violent society. Only the most morally depraved among us would defend the murder of another fully functioning human being from the time of their birth. But there are other forms of the killing of human life that many more people would agree with. We need to address these applications of the sanctity of human life. First of all this began with:

   A. Suicide – This is taking your own life. As we have seen, it is God that gives life, and only God has the right to take life. Yet there are 30,000 suicides every year in America. Some have estimated that there are as many as 400,000 attempted suicides every year. Suicide is becoming more and more an experience that is happening to young people. 5,000 young people a year successfully take their own life. I realize that many of them feel like that they have serious problems, but it is not right to take your own life. But some will say, "I'm just going to take my own life. I'm just going to end it all." If it were true that there is no God, then suicide would end it all, at least for the person who dies. But suicide doesn't end it all, not for your family that's left with that hurt and heartache that will stay with them the rest of their lives. Death by suicide doesn't end it all for you either. You still can't avoid having to meet God. The Bible says in Heb. 9:17, "It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment." There are no circumstances that are so serious that the God of heaven cannot help you go through them and bring you to a deeper experience of His grace in the midst of them. Many saints of God have demonstrated an ability to go through incredible suffering, and yet maintain peace and joy. God assured us, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. 12:9).

    B. Euthanasia – The last 10 years or so there has been a growing acceptance of the practice of euthanasia. Those who believe in euthanasia say that we should have the right to end human life when life becomes too painful due to terminal illness or even emotional illness. The country of Holland legalized the practice years ago. Dr. Jack Kevorkian, known as Dr. Death, has dared legal authorities and juries to convict him of murder for his practice of doctor assisted suicide. Though I agree that we should not feel obligated to keep a terminally ill patient alive artificially, God should be in control of the time of our death. Also, once we’ve permit the assisted death of some, we open the door for certain humans to make a decision regarding whose life is no longer valuable, worthwhile, or needed.

   C. Indirect Killing - You can kill in indirect ways. You can kill by hiring a hit-man as the mother did in Texas who wanted her girl to be elected to cheerleader. King David did that. He saw to it that someone else would kill Uriah that he might cover his sin. You can do it indirectly by drunken driving. Half of all of the traffic deaths by accident in this country are a result of drunken driving. 25,000 people a year are killed - slaughtered on our streets by drunken driving. Those who consumed alcohol run the risk of indirect murder. You say, "I wouldn’t drink and drive." That reminds me of the beer commercial. They have a slogan that says, "Know when to say when." Have you thought about that? After you have had a couple of drinks and your judgment is already beginning to be impaired, your supposed to have the sense to know when to stop drinking. That’s really smart! Furthermore, the sale or giving of alcoholic beverages can be indirect killing. You can rationalize or excuse it anyway you want, but alcohol has many defenders but no defense. In 50-80% of all murders alcohol is involved. In 30% of all suicides alcohol is involved. Half of all of the traffic deaths by accident in this country are a result of drunken driving. 25,000 people a year are killed - slaughtered on our streets by drunken driving. Alcohol is also involved in much of the sexual sin that results in abortion. In the book of Habakkuk 2:12 the Bible says "woe to him that buildeth a town with blood…" (that is, murder). Then the 15th verse says, "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk…" (NKJV).

    D. Abortion – As I have indicated, there are about 23,000 homicides per year, 30,000 suicides per year, but about a million and a half abortions per year! Do you see why abortion is such a major issue to those who believe in the sanctity of human life?

    Now in order to apply abortion to the issue of the sanctity of human life, then we must establish that an unborn baby is a human life. Justice Blackmun, who supported the court's decision to legalize abortion said, "We need not resolve the question of when life begins." But that is exactly what the court has done. The Roe vs. Wade decision means that in the eyes of the Court, life begins at birth and not before! But when you die you will not stand before the Supreme Court of the U.S. as your judge. You will stand before God. So we should be more concerned about what God thinks, than what man thinks. Is an unborn baby a human life? The answer is, "yes." First of all, there are,

        1. Scriptural Indications - Isa. 49:1 says, "The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me." Another important text is Psa. 139:13-16a (read). The psalmist refers to himself 10 times in his unborn condition with the personal pronouns. He clearly declares his personhood while yet in his mother's womb. In Jer. 1:5 God says to the prophet, "...And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." And the development of John the Baptist is the womb of his mother Elizabeth is instructive. In Luke 1:15 it says that John was "filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb." The filling of the Holy Spirit comes only to persons, and not mere cells & tissue. Furthermore, Luke 1:41 says that after Mary, the mother of Jesus spoke, John leaped in his mother's womb!" Elizabeth was at least 6 months pregnant at this time. By the way, doctors know that an unborn baby can hear, and even respond. Also, I believe it is worth noting that Dr. Luke uses the word "babe" to describe John as an unborn baby. That same word is used elsewhere in the NT of a newborn baby (Lk. 2:16), and even used for a "young child" (2 Tim. 3:15). Thus, the Bible makes no distinction between the humanity and personhood of the born and the unborn. Can anyone rationally conclude that the unborn child is not a human being?

    There is at least one text where God decrees the protection of the unborn from harm. Look at Ex. 21:22-25 (read). This text has been used to prove just the opposite, but a careful and correct translation can be very helpful here. The law is describing a pregnant woman who is struck in the process of a fight between two men. Perhaps she tried to come to the aid of her husband. Then the law gives two scenarios. The first is that "her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follows." That translation is not clear enough. Literally it simply indicates that the unborn child "came out." The NASB interprets this to refer to a miscarriage, while the NIV & NKJV interprets it to refer to a premature birth. I believe it is the latter. On the one hand, suppose the fight causes her to go into an early labor, but the baby and mother turn out to be OK. In that case, only a fine is to be given. But if she goes into early labor, and the baby dies, and/or the mother dies, then the offender is subject to his own life being taken.

        2. Physical & Scientific Evidence - Before the end of the first month there is beating heart and the eyes and other organs are developing. Brain waves can be detected by the end of the fifth or sixth week. By 6-9 weeks the baby already has its own fingerprints. At 8 weeks all the organs are functioning. A 12 week-old unborn baby is only about 2 inches long, yet every organ of the human body and every attribute of a human being are already developing in place. Tiny fingers and toes, the intricately formed ears and nose, the arms and legs are firmly in place. The baby reacts to touch, kicks, makes fists, and sucks its thumb. Furthermore, psychiatrist Thomas Verny says that the baby, soon after conception "possesses enough self-awareness to sense rejection." The pre-born do hear, feel, and respond. They are even aware of their mother's attitude toward them.

    The "pro-abortionists" are wrong when they tell young women that the so-called fetus is nothing more than a protrusion or a growth that is part of their body. Scientists and doctors know that once conception takes place, a separate & distinct human life begins. Jules Carles, Dir. of the National Center for Scientific Research in France stated that at the point of conception, "an autonomous and genuinely living being has come into existence." At conception all physical characteristics have been determined. Dr. John Warwick Montgomery says that after conception nothing else is added by the mother to make the baby any more human. All that remains is that the fully human baby grows and develops with the food provided by the mother.


    A. Maintain Sexual Purity – There are many issues to consider before becoming involved in sexual intimacy, but one key issue is the potential for the creation of human life. Many young people get involved in premarital sex thinking that pregnancy would not happen to them. But young ladies, you or probably the most for during your middle too late teenage years. Since sexual passions so often cloud good judgment, and since intimacy so often results in the creation of human life, sexual intimacy should only be exercised within the commitment of marriage. I can safely say that most abortions come following immoral sexual relationships. If you have sexual relations only within marriage, you will avoid putting yourself in a situation where there will be great pressure to cover up your sin by having an abortion. This will deal with the root of the problem. Feminists protest that they have the right to "control their own bodies." If they would only control their bodies before becoming pregnant there would be no need for abortion. Rabbit-brained promiscuity and self-indulgence is the problem. And you young men have a responsibility here as well! You need to exercise self control. Better yet, yield yourself to the control of Holy Spirit. And parents, you have a responsibility here as well. Talk to your kids about the biblical teaching of sexual morality. Set rules which will protect them from premarital sexual activity. And fathers, I believe you have a special responsibility in regard to your daughters. If you allow them to date, insist that the boy come to your door to pick up your daughter. Make sure that the two of you stand face-to-face, eyeball to eyeball, and put some of the fear of God in him! Make it clear to him what you expect.

    B. Choose, Advise, and/or Support Life for Those Who Are Faced With A Problem Pregnancy - For the unwed mother, I believe usually the first and best alternative is to give your baby up for adoption. There is hardly such thing as an "unwanted baby." There are thousands of loving families who fervently desire to adopt a baby, but they are frustrated because of the small number of children available for adoption. What a blessing these parents would be to a child. Most all of these parents would provide much love and many advantages to these children. Many of these children can become great leaders for tomorrow. Abortion not only denies life to a baby, but it deprives many would-be parents from adopting a child.

    Of course there can be some situations where it is in the long-term best interests of the child to keep and raise him or her. If the grandparents are able and willing to give financial support and much time to the raising of the child, including a grandfather as a substitute father figure, then that can work out acceptably well for the child. I would add that an unmarried woman who desires to keep her child should make a commitment to the well-being of her child above her own desires and interests.

    We should also support those who are working to make a positive contribution to the protection of human life on a local level. Every time you give to support our church, you are also giving support to the Tri-Cities Crisis Pregnancy Center. They offer confidential and free pregnancy testing and counseling to those who are facing problem pregnancies. Through their efforts hundreds of children have been saved from the abortionists. You should also consider volunteering your time to our local crisis pregnancy center.

    C. Speak Out And Vote Against Those Who Condone the Taking of Human Life - Jesus said to His disciples, "Ye are the light of the world" (Mt. 5:14). Isa. 58:1 says, "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression...." Prov. 24:11-12 says, "Deliver those who are being taken away to death... If you say, "See, we did not know this," does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?..." And since we have the right of free speech, and since we can participate in the political process, then we have even more reason to do so.
One function of government is to protect the poor and the oppressed, the weak and the helpless. If we believe the unborn are persons, and we have shown that they are, then we believe that the government should protect them. And if the government is failing in its role, that we have the right to petition our government to fulfill its role.

    What should we do then? It seems that one of the best ways to guarantee that government fulfills the role of protecting the helpless, unborn children of this country is through passage of a constitutional amendment concerning the right to life for the unborn. But you say, "Why is this needed?" Well even though the 5th & 14th amendments state that a person cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, the Supreme court has gotten around that by declaring that the unborn are not "persons." They further concluded that since the rights secured by the Constitution apply only to citizens of the US, then the unborn do not have rights since they are not specifically included in the definition of a citizen. So it boils down to a matter of broad & loose interpretation on the part of the High Court. Even though the court will change in membership with the passing of time, still without a specific amendment, the right to life for the unborn will remain in jeopardy. So we should encourage our legislators to pass a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn.

    Probably the upcoming presidential election is also very important. For almost seven years now we have had a president who has vetoed the prohibition of a cruel and inhumane procedure known as partial birth abortion. It’s time we elected president who will sign this bill. We also need to elect a president who will appoint judges to the Supreme Court who will protect life, and who will reject previous interpretations of the Constitution that have read into it some contrived right to privacy, and the right to kill your unborn child.

    I do believe that via video games, movies, and television contributes to the problems that we have been speaking about today. Parents need to do their job, and pre-strict or limit to the amount of violent material that their children are exposed to. We need to help put pressure to bear upon the entertainment industry, who consistently put profits ahead of the moral interests of our nation.

    Conclusion: It is certainly possible that my message may have disturbed someone who has had an abortion. While I do not minimize the seriousness of abortion morally, I must remind you that God is willing and ready to forgive, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Jesus died on the cross for that sin. Would you agree with me that three of the greatest men in the Bible are Moses, David and Paul? Did you know that Moses was guilty of the killing of an Egyptian. David was guilty of a killing of Uriah. Paul was guilty of the killing of Christians. Yet look at your Bible. The first five books of your Bible were written by Moses. Most of your Psalms were composed by David. Perhaps half of your New Testament was written by Paul. They all had committed murder, but oh, dear friends, they had been saved by the grace of God. So I have good news for you. You can be saved and you can be forgiven. God's grace is greater than our sin. All you need to do is to repent of what you have done, confess it as sin, and turn to Jesus for forgiveness.

Sources: What the Bible Teaches About Abortion, by Larry Lewis; E.J. Daniels article, Abortion! America's Holocaust... (see abortion folder); Dr. Jerry Vines (notes from his sermon on Ex. 20:13);Online Bible 8.0 .

  To find out how to order more of Pastor Felker's sermon notes or cassette tapes of his messages,  please write to SFelker2@aol.com.
or P.O. Box 235, Colonial Heights, VA 23834

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