Sanctity of Human Life Sunday: a day when we celebrate the gift of life eternal, God-breathed.Not only do we think today of the unborn in this consideration. We are grateful for all human life whether it meets earth’s definition of perfection or not. We are grateful for the unborn, the handicapped, the old, the infirm. Our hearts are full of praise for God’s magnificent creation. But, though we are grateful, today is not only a day when we rejoice in life but we also grieve about death. When we consider America’s Holocaust it is almost too staggering for our minds to understand and doubtless God’s wrath will not be staid forever. When the headlines mention euthanasia we shudder. When the Darwin Awards are given each year for deaths mocked by society we cringe at the callus treatment of sacred life. When we are reminded how much lives and bodies are marred today as a result of man’s sins, we sorrow as Christ did at Lazarus’ tomb.In the face of hopelessness, emptiness, and despair which drives so many down these paths of darkness, our world today needs to see the light of the Gospel and hear its glorious message of freedom, hope, and change for life that is genuine and eternal. Now, more than ever, it is time for men and women of Christ to STAND.
Right is under attack. This comes as no surprise to you. You live in the same culture I do. Hysterical headlines scream of murder, mayhem, lies, war, and hate. And as the talking heads rant, people wonder why there is no peace. Many turn off their televisions, switch off their computers, or put down their mobile devices in disgust turning away from the garbage. But still it floods into our homes and lives. In movies, music, games, books, and magazines. In schools, colleges, and even churches, teachers, professors, politicians, preachers, and even friends and neighbors spread further stories to remind us Righteousness is under assault.
Sadly, many of us become immune to the constant barrage, and tune it out hoping it will pass us by. But this is dangerous. For like a small fire left unattended in a pine forest, evil will leap into a towering inferno raging against all that is good. Ignorance and negligence feed evil. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.So it is that we must STAND.
In his famous poem about slavery, James Russell Lowell wrote: “Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side; Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight, Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right, And the choice goes by forever 'twixt that darkness and that light. Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand, Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land? Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 't is Truth alone is strong, And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong. Backward look across the ages and the beacon-moments see, That, like peaks of some sunk continent, jut through Oblivion's sea; Not an ear in court or market for the low, foreboding cry Of those Crises, God's stern winnowers, from whose feet earth's chaff must fly; Never shows the choice momentous till the judgment hath passed by. Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word; Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,— Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own. We see dimly in the Present what is small and what is great, Slow of faith how weak an arm may turn the iron helm of fate,….”
Yesterday I took the children to the Virginia War Museum. It is a well cared for collection of artifacts from all of America’s wars through Desert Storm. However, I was very sobered when I came to the section dedicated to uniforms, and artifacts from the Nazi regime and the Wall-sized portraits of one of history’s most evil tyrants, Adolf Hitler. I only briefly explained to the children that He was a terrible man, but inwardly I was remembering the stories I’ve read and the pictures of Horror I have seen and recalling how fragile our world is when evil stalks the land.
Evil is powerful. But thankfully our God is mightier still. So great is His strength, He calls upon us all to abandon ourselves to it and rest in His greatness. He tells us not to be overwhelmed by our culture but to trust in Him and stand courageously.Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world1 John 4:4 ¶ Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.So serious was God about this, that He held a church accountable for yielding to their culture and not standing against it in His strength.
We read about it in Revelation 2:12-17:“12 ¶ And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”A couple of cultural Notes: “Satan’s Seat” was likely the great altar of Pergamon (now in a Berlin museum). We do not know who Antipas was or anything about him other than that he was a bishop of the church. The doctrine of Balaam involved immorality. Nicolaitans were an infiltrating sect of heretics shading the truth with gray and mingling with it much that was ungodly. Hidden Mannah is a Hebrew reference (Josiah hiding the ark and contents). White stone means pardon.)
Dr. Michael Yousef put it this way: “The church in Pergamum also endured intense social pressure to walk away from the Truth. On the outside, the church seemed to be following God's commandments. Inwardly, they allowed the culture to weaken their courage. They began tolerating the customs of their pagan society. They permitted false teachings to infiltrate their church. They remained followers of Christ but chose to blend in with society instead of standing for His Truth.”Slide shows a ruin in the old city of Pergamum and a shot of the modern city as well.
So how can we avoid the trap of Pergamum? How can we stand against our culture graciously, compassionately, firmly, and courageously? Some of you here have asked me this. And how do we raise our children for Christ in this environment.Well, I am sorry to say there are no magic formulas. However, there are Biblical principles we can follow that will guide us down the path to success.Always remember we do not stand in our strength alone and we must rest upon the rock of our salvation, Jesus Christ.Ro 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
1Co 16:13 ¶ Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Ga 5:1 ¶ Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Th 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.So I have prepared a less than Perfect Acronym for us today:S – Stand for Right (actively stand)T – Turn the Tide (resist the culture, train your children, influence your society)A – Answer for the Hope (Have one. Discipline and train yourself.) (1 Peter 3:15)N – [K]neel Prayer is your weapon of strength and source of power (Thy Kingdom Come)D – Declare – the truth in your heart, in your home, in your workplace, among your friends and family.Practically this means:Embrace the CrossPrioritize Prayer & the Word in your HomeTeach your Children the Principles of character and holy living from the WordActively stand in the culture (don’t hunker and hide)Share the message spread the word
Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.It is my prayer for you just like Epaphras, that each of us will stand perfect and complete in the will of God in our culture today.“and having done all, to stand. ” (Ephesians 6:13)
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These thingssaith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even whereSatans seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not deniedmy faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr,who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast therethem that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast astumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificedunto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of theNicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fightagainst them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto thechurches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hiddenmanna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new namewritten, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
– Stand for Right– Turn the Tide– Answer for the Hope– [K]neel– Declare
“and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:13)