Life from A-Z

[The following post is a transcript of my message given on
Sanctity of Life Sunday, January 21, 2024, at First Family Church.]

Let’s open our Bibles to Proverbs 8. In all of our locations, let’s get under the weight of the Word, for it’s the Word that does the work! And today, on this Sanctity of Life Sunday 2024, I want to bring a message from Proverbs 8 centered around this thought: “Life from A – Z!”

As you locate that chapter, be aware Proverbs 8 is a first-person metaphor where wisdom is the speaker. She is calling to humankind to listen and obey her voice. Why? Because her voice is
 fundamental to all of life (1-21), and
 from God for all of life (22-31).

No doubt Solomon was illustrating through this personification, this metaphor, that essential to life at every juncture is God’s wisdom.

While that is helpful, I want you to mainly look at how she closes her call.

Proverbs 8:32-36
[32] “And now, sons, listen to me; those who keep my ways are happy. [33] Listen to instruction and be wise; don’t ignore it. [34] Anyone who listens to me is happy, watching at my doors every day, waiting by the posts of my doorway. [35] For the one who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, [36] but the one who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death.”

Essentially, she, wisdom, closes with a quite staggering warning and exhilarating promise. The warning? Disobedience to God is a death march. The promise? Delighting in God is life-giving at every level. This is what wisdom cries out. This is her call (v 1) to all humankind. (v 3)

As we unpack that today, I want to first further define and expand our understanding of these two key words “life” and “death.” What do I mean? Moreover, what does the text mean, when it uses them? What is this “life” that is promised? What is this “death” that is warned against?

In a phrase, “life” is referring to long-term, penalty-free satisfaction. “Death” refers to sure but often silent destruction.

Most assuredly, “life” is not about immediate deliverance from momentary pain, but instead an eternal trajectory towards divine flourishing and satisfaction. This is the idea behind “happy” (v 34) and “favor” (v 35). Again, not short-term and pain free but long-term and penalty free.

In the same manner, we see what death is and is not. “Death” is not about a clear and present danger; an end-of-the-cliff situation that’s always obvious. It’s about the slow and deceitful “boiling of the frog” in the skillet of disguised comfort and pleasure. This is the sense of the word “ignore” (v 33) “misses” (v 36). It’s a slow strangulation by the intoxicating and invisible fumes of selfish desires and lusts.

These are the two things contrasted, both in the specific words and the general concepts: Long-term flourishing, which comes from God’s wisdom over and against long-term futility, which comes from man’s wisdom.

Let’s continue to ponder this by realizing this really is the essence of the blessings and cursings in Deuteronomy, culminating in 30:19 when Moses said, “Today I have set before you life and death.” Fundamentally it was a question of obedience vs disobedience; God’s wisdom or their own wisdom.

To put a bow on this exploration, consider the way the Bible Project summarizes and connects these 2. I really found this helpful:
“…Yahweh’s blessing is an invitation to be fruitful and multiply and participate in God’s life-sustaining power in a secure, abundant environment. A curse is the inverse…when humans choose to reject the blessing of life, they automatically choose death. God’s blessing has everything to do with his power to create order and abundance out of chaos…[so] to make choices that separate you from the one who is the source of all life puts you in the realm of death and destruction.”

Incidentally, Proverbs 12:28 echoes this same principle—
“There is life in the path of righteousness, and in its path there is no death.”

As well as the James 1:14-15
[14] But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. [15] Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

So set this biblical principle in your mind early and resolutely: Disobedience to God is a death march. But delighting in God — obedience—is life-giving at every level.

There’s no better example of this than the fundamental concept of and invitation to salvation. To obey by believing is life; and eternal life at that. To disobey by rejecting — unbelief — is death. And eternal death. In other words, believers experience long-term satisfaction—God’s presence—without the penalty of death and separation. Unbelievers the opposite. This is the ground floor for understanding the life that God offers—God grants it and grows it by his wisdom. And the avenue by which we experience that is obedience. This is what God invites you into through belief in the gospel — life. Would you believe today? Believe in the truth that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, and trust only and fully in him as the only way to receive forgives of sins, freedom from death, and the gift of eternal life.

Now follow me — What is true spiritually is also true physically. Obedience to God’s wisdom is the means by which a person, family, church, or society/civilization experiences the blessings, or effects, of this God-given life. True long-term satisfaction and contentment. And to avoid obedience —to disobey God and reject his wisdom — is nothing short of a death march.

With that in view, allow me to provide some examples of the death march our society is currently on when it comes to the sanctity of life, not as a way to shame you or scare you, but as a way to steer you. After all, leaders must sense a divine compulsion to speak when life and death is in the balance.

Some will say I’m being political here. Not at all. I’m aiming to be biblical and pastoral so you will know how to think and live boldly, politely, and without apology in a culture increasingly loosening itself from God’s plan for life both inside and outside the womb. That unhitching is, inevitably, a death sentence for a society. So I’d like to expose the deceitfulness of sin for a bit, and also provide an application or two after each one, a step of obedience you could take so you experience in greater degrees the life-giving joy of God.

1. It’s a death march to devalue life in its conception.

The statistics are stark and dark — they show there is an increasing devaluing of life. From 2020 to 2021, which is the last year for which have complete statistics, the CDC reported a total number of reported abortions was 622,108, an increase of 5 percent among the 47 reporting areas (i.e., typically states). This is the first year of increase since 2012, so the previous 8 or so years were better numerically. Still, we’re looking at millions of babies being electively aborted—murdered—since 1973.

Sadly, the reality is the increase was probably greater than 5%. Why? The research suggests that the 4 areas which did not report probably account for an additional 235,000+ abortions (25% of the total number). This is why the Guttmacher Institute reports that a more accurate number of abortions in that same time frame was more realistically over 900,000. Hannah Daniel, policy manager for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is spot-on when she says, “As new trends emerge around chemical abortion drugs and ‘abortion tourism’ in this post-Roe era, we must also adapt and combat these areas where evil is being allowed to grow and flourish. We grieve these precious lives lost and commit, once again, to work until the day that abortion is no more.”

But stats are only the initial indicator there is a devaluing of life in its conception. Intensifying deceitfulness in language also shows this. I hope you’re seeing the hideous swing taking place in front of us — the pro-death culture is not just asking for legal permission to abort babies; they’re openly pursuing idealogical promotion to be able to kill a baby at any stage, some even saying it should be allowed after birth. However, they’re using language that has the sense of ethical principles, such as “reproductive health” or “reproductive justice,” when they’re really talking about extinguishing a person! They’re openly embracing murder as an option to avoid having children, yet trying to paint it with language and words that are have the appearance of protection and care.

There’s a sign by the Des Moines airport that says, “Reproductive health is crucial to a strong family.” What a deceptive and definitionally conflicting statement. Add to this the illogical statement that “abortion is healthcare,” and one can quickly begin to see the decadent and devious slide many in our society are on when it comes to valuing life at conception.

This is raving lunacy! And clear disobedience to God — which is why this is a death march. I and this church will forever stand with God the Creator that life begins in the womb at conception (Job 31:15; Ps 51:5, 139:13-15, and Luke 1:41-44), and mankind has no right to take the life God gives.

What can you do?
Embrace the beginning of procreation, i.e., conception. This is God’s wisdom. Pray for our leaders to protect life. Speak up for life and on this issue. Vote only for clearly pro-life people. Get verbal and visible when it comes to this issue. This is the issue of our day — we’re murdering our own offspring! May God have mercy on us!

Treasure the necessity of procreation. In the US, the birth rate has been falling since 2007, dropping almost 23 percent till 2021. It did see a small uptick in 2022-23, getting to 1.7. Today, the current birth rate is 1.64, significantly below the “replacement rate” of 2.1 children needed to sustain a stable population. (Incidentally, in South Korea, the birth rate is down to 0.81 children per woman. In Taiwan, the birth rate stands at 0.87.)

This should concern us greatly from several vantage points, theologically yes, but even economically and generationally. Frankly, even if I was a pagan and an unbeliever, I’d see the ludicrous nature and end result of abortion — that we are enabling the end of our own civilization by not having enough children to keep our society stable and sustaining; we are killing our future. And I’d be against it for the sheer sake of a future work force and tax base. We as believers have even greater and deeper reasons than those, namely the first command given in Genesis after the creation of man and woman—“multiply and fill the earth.” So assuming you can, have children.

Furthermore, a prophetic and dire warning to us —Here’s what we’ll see happen in the next few decades barring a significant shift spiritually and procreationally. Because our population is also living longer, yet having less children, fewer people will have to care for more people. The result, I predict, will be an increase in euthanasia of the elderly — getting rid of the older people who are a “burden” on the fewer younger people. We’re already killing off the children in the womb; it won’t be long till we’ll see an unashamed embracing of killing those near the tomb. After all, when you get comfortable with murder, it will reach its deathly tentacles into every aspect of our society. Be alarmed — Our infatuation with killing babies will inevitably lead to the promulgation of killing the elderly.

This is why I’m so thankful for local ministries like Alpha Women’s Center, Agape Pregnancy Resource Center, and Together for Good, our nursing home pastors, our deacons who care for our homebound and widows. These are places and people who come along side us and help us with foster care, adoption, senior care, palliative care. Please FFC, intersect where you can. Turn the trajectory of a child’s or adult’s life by standing up to the pro-death culture and being visibly and verbally pro-life from A-Z!

Before I move on, let me recommend a resource for you and your family: The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf. Released last year, it’s a fantastic new resource to help you be more bold, brave, and informed about the single issue that matters most: Life!

Let me provide a second example of our culture’s death march.

2. It’s a death march to devalue life in its development.

There are at least 3 specific and deathly dangers to stay cognizant of:

The transgender trap. The current transgender craze undermines biological, natural, and divine authority. God’s wisdom is clear from Genesis forward (1:28) — he made male and female. And only male and female marry and reproduce. There’s been 2 genders since the beginning, with 1 way to procreate. This is biological, natural, and divine law.

Thinking one can add a gender and exert some kind of self-autonomy to change this “law” leads to abuse—the gender mutilation of our children. This is indescribably destructive, vile, and evil. It is wrong for leaders to board the train of medical procedures and prescriptions that maim, injure, and kill. What’s needed is courageous patience and clarity to our children, not timid confusion and made-up spectrums that allow for non-biological and unbiblical identities and pseudo-realities.

Admittedly, Gender Dysphoria is a real thing, and we should not be surprised that Satan confuses and twists. This is like other good things that the enemy distorts. It’s a result of the fall and the curse. Knowing that, let’s embrace the task to resist Satan, and let’s work hard to biblically clarify and straighten what he twists. Frankly, the transgender craze is just the next iteration in…

The immoral revolution. It’s what I call the “my sex my way” revolution, and it is a death march for sure! Frankly, this is one of the main reasons our country keeps promoting and pursuing abortion—they want to do away with the consequence of sex. But the more we skirt around God’s design for sex, the deeper we’ll dive into debauchery and death.

Sometimes Christians are accused of being against sex. We’re not. We’re against sex outside of God’s design. I remind you that God’s version of sex is sacred and life-giving. The culture’s perversion of sex is personal and societal suicide. So don’t be lured into the fatal trap of porn, the LGBTQIA+ agenda, adultery, fornication, hooking up, or open marriages. Everyone of those ends in death.

Of course, to make these vile practices more tolerable, our culture has created, and is creating, more and more identities … labels you “can’t help” because that’s the way you’re made. So it must be ‘right’ and others must accept it. This identity game is just a front and an illusion for perversion and division… it’s actually a death march.

In the identity game, the culture tells you you’re not simply a human linked by and to a common race. You’re something else, something more, maybe multiple something else’s and something more’s. The end result of this sectioning of the human race is greater and deeper division — DEI— which only leads to a culture of greater separation and isolation, a deathly existence culturally and individually. It’s killing community! Such a culture has left us with a multitude of damaged and separated kids and families.

What can you do? Prioritize purity. This is the act of obedience to God that will preserve and protect your life, and also speak loudly to those who are being led away to the devil’s gallows. Purity is a preservative and a protector!

Not only does 1 Thess 4:3-8 show this, but the chapter before our main text today shows this so clearly — Prov 7:24-27. It ends with “…her path leads to Sheol!” So pursue purity. And preserve your life!

Lastly, a final example of our culture’s current death march.

3. It’s a death march to devalue life in its conclusion.

Listen carefully — It’s clear that God honors “the gray haired” ones. This is seen throughout Proverbs, as well as in the pastoral epistles. But consider this angle as well —When the Bible teaches us to expect and accept suffering, showing it to be one of the ways we actually grow, it is, in a very practical sense, giving us a reason to endure in our old age and not circumvent God’s process of natural death. That reason is this: we may experience some of our deepest spiritual growth in our older years because of the suffering during those years. I imagine this is difficult to hear, grasp, and embrace.

However, consider this. When a culture dismisses suffering and paints it as something to be avoided at all costs, the unintended result is a devaluing of life when that life isn’t that “good.” You start sliding towards ending life when it’s not your best life. How sadly tragic!

Instead, let’s do all we can to sustain natural life, and serve the aged all the way to the end — natural death. In fact, a simple, succinct definition of life is this —Conception to natural death. This is God’s design, and let’s embrace it fully.

What can you do?
Connect intergenerationally. Visit senior care centers and nursing homes. Contact our homebound. Teach your children to respect the elderly.

Endure your suffering. Regardless of age, when you persevere, you display a value for life that speaks volumes about what you knows matters most. You exhibit that your comfort isn’t the main thing; ease isn’t paramount. I see many of our elderly, even in their struggles, living with purpose and commitment. What a testimony to the value of life all the way to the end!

This is why we reject any form of euthanasia, which is legalized murder, usually at the end of life. It’s the evil twin of abortion, which is legalized murder in the beginning of life. Both are the tragic results of individual bodily autonomy instead of scriptural “boughtonomy.” You can check out more on this idea in my previous series “The Autonomy Myth” on our Web site.

Make no mistake — The autonomy myth is the root reason we rebel against God’s design and disobey, instead of obeying. We think we own ourselves. But the Bible teaches that he owns us. He owns all of once by creation, and he owns believers twice — creation and salvation. As a result, all of your life is his, and we are to obey him.

That’s the roadway to ultimate flourishing — obeying God’s wisdom. From A-Z, conception to conclusion, life is all about obeying God’s wisdom! That’s the trajectory-setting action for long-term flourishing.

So it is no wonder we are seeing a national rot and decay when it comes to the value of life — many leaders in our country have abandoned God’s wisdom at every stage of life. God’s clear Word on these matters is rejected and overridden. And the end? Death.

This year, be a lover of and advocate for life by being obedient to God!

Live with life in view by delighting in God’s wisdom.

Stand with me for life at every stage and level.

Let your voice be heard.

Take action whenever you can.

Speak up.

Get involved.

Get verbal.

Get visible.

Because life matters, so does your obedience.

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