Jack Graham - When Does Life Begin?
When Does Life Begin? On our STRAIGHT UP series we have desperately attempted to deal with the most explicit and important questions of our times. Life issues. Really, questions of life and death. And we are communicating that there is only one opinion that really counts. Not my personal opinion, not legal opinion, not cultural opinion or my friend's opinion but the only opinion that really matters is the opinion of Almighty God. Now I believe the most important issue facing America today is the value and the worth of every human life, the value of the immortal, eternal soul created by God! And a biblical world view, looking at this question through the lens of God's Word will really settle the abortion question and the issue of when life begins.
Now the debate rages, of course. Perhaps you've had discussions with your friends regarding when life begins. You've listened to politicians talk about it and we've watched the media as the politicos and the philosophers of this world have engaged in this debate. So some say life begins at birth when the baby is out of the womb. And that is before birth, therefore, the baby is called a fetus or a product of conception. Others say life begins when the fetus has grown and developed enough to live outside the womb. This is called viability. The problem with determining viability is that scientifically this is a moving target. There's not a reliable standard as to when viability takes place within the womb. Some would suggest between five and six months, and therefore believe that life begins at viability. Others say life begins when a baby has a measurable brainwave.
The argument goes something like this: Because the secession of life, the end of life is determined by the ceasing of the brain function, the death of the brain, then it is reasonable to suggest, they say, that life begins when the brain is alive and is functional. And so a brainwave is observable at about six weeks after conception. Still others claim life begins when the heartbeat can be measured. Thus the answer would be life begins three to four weeks after conception. And then, of course, others say life begins at conception, that is, when the male and female cell unite, life begins. So who is right? Well, science can certainly be helpful to us at this point because science is very clear on the fact that a unique DNA schedule is framed and formed when the life is formed at conception. And what happens at conception has never happened before; that is, what is produced at conception has never existed before and will never exist just like that again!
And it is clear at conception that what is given, we believe by the hand of God, is not a vegetable, it's not broccoli or an animal but a living, breathing soul! A human being with personhood. It's sad to hear abortion activists refuse to use the word baby for the unborn. And it sounds so much better to say the fetus was aborted or the product of conception was eliminated or terminated rather than to say the baby was killed! And yet the same mother who would call that which is within her a fetus one second after birth would say "That's my baby". Yet did you know the word fetus is Latin and it actually means child? Life is a process that begins in the womb according to science. And each person begins at conception, is nourished in the womb, is delivered into the world and nurtured and grows into adulthood and even in cell structure beyond adulthood. This is the obvious and overwhelming evidence as seen in science.
But remember, we said scientific proof, legal proof, personal proof or opinion, that doesn't matter as compared to what God said. So certainly for the followers of Christ what matters most is God's opinion. And the Bible teaches us that life in the womb is formed and framed by God sovereignly and is therefore sacred to Him! Both born and unborn! Psalm 139 is about the omniscience and the omnipresence and the omnipotence of Almighty God. And in the passage he refers to life in the present tense, He refers to life in the past tense, He refers to life in the future tense, and, yes, He refers as we are about to read, to life in prenatal tense. "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame", referring to the skeletal framework, "was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance", which could be translated embryo, "in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them".
And so there it is! If this was the only passage we had, this is all the evidence we need regarding when life begins. Life begins in the womb. But this is not all the evidence we have. Consider Jesus. Our Savior stepped into personhood through the portals of a virgin's womb not at His birth in Bethlehem but rather at His conception announced at Nazareth. The Scripture records, Matthew 1:20: "But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream", this is Joseph, "saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit'". Our Lord's life and virgin birth is linked to this issue of when life began, and to Mary the same angel announce in Luke 1:31: "And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus".
So if you accept abortion, you must reject the Bible, including disregarding or denying the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can't have it both ways: if you believe the Bible if there's an authoritative word for every generation the Word of God. Life begins at conception! This is explicit in the Bible. As a matter of fact the Bible tells us that life begins not in the womb but in eternity in the heart and mind of a sovereign God who knew our names and our time and birth date and death date before we were born. we read that in Psalm 139, about our lives being written in His Book. And then in Jeremiah 1, verses 4 to 5: "Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.'" There was a prophet alive in the womb of his mother but known of God before time began! So Jeremiah in chapter 20 and verse 17 spoke of his mother who did not kill him in the womb. "So my mother would have been my grave".
How tragic that what should be the safest place on earth, a mother's womb, has become a grave to millions of innocent babies. Ephesians 1:4: "Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him in love" So because life is sacred, because life begins in the heart and mind of God and conception in the womb begins this process of life, the Christian cannot remain silent as these little ones, these innocent ones are terrorized and murdered. Listen to the Scripture again, Proverbs 24:11: "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'". How can we turn our heads? How can we say, in light of the information that we have today, how can we say, "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"? To take an innocent life, born or unborn, is to break the sixth commandment which says "Thou shall not murder". It is a serious offense in the law of God.
Exodus 21:22-23: "When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life". The Bible speaks of those whose hands shed innocent blood. Proverbs 6:16-17: "These six things, yea, seven that the Lord hate", and right at the heart of that are "hands that shed innocent blood". But some object, "Oh, it's my body! It's my choice! What about me"! The Bible teaches us that our bodies do not belong to ourselves, but our bodies belong to God! Blood-bought! Purchased at the cross! First Corinthians 6:19-20, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own". You cannot say, "It's my body", for the body is the temple of God. "You were bought with a price. So glorify God with your body". The church must take a stand!
The Scripture says, Romans 12:21: "Overcome evil with good". Now there is much that could be done and should be done regarding political activism on this issue, our votes should be heard. I love what Jerry Falwell said years ago. I've never forgotten it, regarding political candidates and this issue. Falwell, like only Falwell could say it, said, "I wouldn't vote a man in as dogcatcher who was pro-choice because he'd probably kill the dogs"! How's that for straight up? How's that for straight up? But regardless of your vote, let your voice be heard! Take a stand among your friends and people you love, in your own family! You know, it's amazing how many Baptist people are pro-life until their daughters get pregnant! May God help us! And just so you'll know the statistics, I'm wrapping up here, but just so you'll know the statistic: only one percent of abortions are due to rape or incest. Six percent are due to health problems of the mother or the child, the other 93 percent are for reasons such as the baby being unwanted or ill-timed or inconvenient.
Mother Teresa said this: "Only God can decide life and death. That is why abortion is such a terrible sin. You're not only killing life but putting self before God. Yet people decide who has to live and who has to die. They want to make themselves Almighty God! They want to take the power of God in their own hands! The way to say, 'I can do without God; I can decide!' That is the most devilish thing a human can do". America needs to repent of our sin of this holocaust. Morality is the strength of this nation. Our military is great and strong and we respect it and celebrate it, but the strength of this country is not primarily in our military, but in our morality! Proverbs 14:34, "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people". So let this be a cry, a call, a plea for morality! Sexual immorality and sex outside of marriage has become now the rule, not the exception! May God help us to repent of our sin. 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If My people who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land".
May God help us to pray! We've already lost a generation. Did you know that more babies have been aborted, far more babies have been aborted, 4 times the babies have been aborted in America since 1973 than all the men and women killed in combat since the Revolutionary War and all the American wars that have followed! Thank God for those who have perished in battle, but put it in perspective! 9-1-1 thrust the world into a battle against terrorism, America into this battle. Over 3000 Americans perished on that fateful day. But over 4000 babies are aborted every day in America! Put that in perspective. "Choose life, not death"! Can you imagine what has happened? In Genesis 25:23, "Two nations are in your womb" God said, "and two peoples from within shall be divided. The one shall be stronger than the other. Two nations are in your womb", the nation is in the womb!
Can you imagine just the sheer loss of potential and economic power due to the 45 million that have been lost? we're hearing now that this current young generation of Americans may be the first generation to have a lesser lifestyle than their parents before them. And in great part this can be attributed to the loss of life in this generation! And the sheer monetary power that is now lost! May God help us. The future of our nation is at stake and a culture of life must become a reality. Now to those who have aborted babies: it is a sin, but not an unpardonable sin. Run to the mercy seat. Find grace. The hurt and the grief and guilt you feel, and nobody much talks about the regrets and the hurt and the guilt and the trauma that people live with for a lifetime, but that hurt and that pain and that guilt and remorse, regret that you feel, Jesus bore that all on the cross for you. He died for your sin. The Good News is that you can be set free and fully forgiven.
Listen to the beautiful words of Paul in Romans 8, verse 1: "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". He opens up His life to you. He died for you; He lives for you. His love is eternal. And if you will confess your sin and repent of your sin and receive Christ, Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool"! "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's vein. And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains". Take the plunge! Come to Christ and His cross. The one who said to a woman taken in the very act of adultery, John 8:11, "Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more"!
If you are considering an abortion, please, for God's sake, don't do it. Don't make a decision that will take an innocent life and a decision that you will regret for the rest of your days! And don't say, "Well, my baby is unwanted. It's an inconvenience", when there are thousands of couples, multitudes of couples right now who are praying to adopt a child! Don't do it! Make the compassionate choice; make the courageous choice. Choose life! There is hope, there is help, there is healing for you and you can find grace enough in times of need. Strong message, straight up as I can give it. Jesus came in grace and truth. I hope you hear truth; I hope you hear grace today. I hope you know that you're in a grace place. While we are holding high the standards of God which we are called to do in the Scripture, while the prophetic voice of the church must be heard in this generation, we also extend the arms of the love of God to you this day who will come to Him and find fully and freely deliverance and healing and change forever.
So wherever you are in this room listening to me, watching, radio and television, right now, where you are, pray and receive Christ as your Savior. Take the plunge; run to the mercy seat. Pray a prayer like this: Lord Jesus, I know I've sinned and broken Your commandments. Thank You for dying for me, for Your love which bore my sins on the cross. I believe You rose again. The Bible says Romans 10:9: "If we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved". So believe in your heart, and confess Him now by calling upon Him. Lord Jesus, you've said whoever calls upon Your name will be saved. I call upon Your name. Come into my life and cleanse me and change me. Make me Your child. May I live for You in the power of Your Spirit, a brand new life until You come for me.