Why You Need to Attend Small Groups

For every Christian, hearing the Word of God read and proclaimed to their hearts each week in worship with the church is absolutely essential. The Bible warns every believer to not neglect meeting together every week, “as is the habit of some” (Hebrews 10:25). But “going to church” is not enough for the Christian. In order to grow and continue in the faith absolutely depends on regular face-to-face meeting with other Christians where we are personally involved in each others lives (1 Peter 4:10). There are things God will only do in a Christian’s life when they are in a small group setting, such as is happening in our Life Groups at Providence Church. The following is an excerpt from a sermon from John Piper that is helpful in explaining some reasons we need small group community in the church:

7 Reasons We Need Small Groups

God has given pastors to the church “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–12). I believe in what I do. And I believe that it is not enough. Here are the seven reasons I gave the small group leaders.

  1. The impulse to avoid painful growth by disappearing safely into the crowd in corporate worship is very strong.
  2. The tendency toward passivity in listening to a sermon is part of our human weakness.
  3. Listeners in a big group can more easily evade redemptive crises. If tears well up in your eyes in a small group, wise friends will gently find out why. But in a large gathering, you can just walk away from it.
  4. Listeners in a large group tend to neglect efforts of personal application. The sermon may touch a nerve of conviction, but without someone to press in, it can easily be avoided.
  5. Opportunity for questions leading to growth is missing. Sermons are not dialogue. Nor should they be. But asking questions is a key to understanding and growth. Small groups are great occasions for this.
  6. Accountability for follow-through on good resolves is missing. But if someone knows what you intended to do, the resolve is stronger.
  7. Prayer support for a specific need or conviction or resolve goes wanting. O how many blessings we do not have because we are not surrounded by a band of friends who pray for us.

So please know that when this small-group ministry of our church is lifted up, I don’t think it’s an optional add-on to basic Christian living. I think it is normal, healthy, needed, New Testament Christianity. I pray that you will be part of one of these small groups or that you will get the training and start one. This is the main strategy through which our pastors and elders shepherd the flock at Bethlehem: Elders > small group leaders > members to one another.


A Beloved Son

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.” -Matthew 12:18

This verse describes God the Father’s feelings for Jesus. The Father wants the Son because He chose Him. He is His Father’s beloved. And the Father is well pleased with His Son.

There is an incredible truth taught in the Bible known as the doctrine of Union with Christ. The Apostle Paul was obsessed about it. Over 160 times in the New Testament Paul used the phrase “in Christ”  or “in Him.” It means, when our faith is in Jesus, and His Spirit is in us, God the Father feels the same way about us as He does about Jesus. Meaning, for Christians….though we are a huge habitual failures, Jesus was not…and He paid for ALL our failures on the cross. So no matter how bad a day you’re having, if you are trusting in Jesus’ life and death in your place, God treats you like He treats His son …chosen …beloved …well pleased.

As I meditated on this truth this morning I thought, “How can I understand what that must feel like to have God love me like this?” “What can I relate that to?” Then I remembered a phone call I received first thing this morning. My father called to check on me. He had been concerned about my well being. He wanted to express his love for me and for my family. I felt his love. I was very glad to hear from my dad.

Then it came to me…”That’s what it feels like! It should make me feel the way I felt when my dad called me this morning out of the blue! Only, as much love as my earthly dad has shown me in this life, God’s love for me is infinitely greater.” God used my dad’s call this morning both to bring encouragement to a son from his father, and to give me a small illustration of how God’s love for His Son should affect me.

So, I wrote my dad and shared that with him. He has shown great love for me throughout my life. And God has used all the good he has given me as my father to show me just a little bit of what its like to have a heavenly Father.

The greatest thing a person can have these days is a relationship with their Heavenly Father that resembles the relationship Jesus has with His Father. Any suffering we face, all the trials, and even the triumphs, do not compare to what God has given us when we are united to Christ. It helps to put all of this in perspective. When we are in union with Christ, we have access to all the resources accessible to Jesus. And in the way God treats Jesus, he treats Jesus’ followers the same.

Though it may not have the exact same implications for us as it does for Jesus our Redeemer, if your hope is in Jesus today, God is saying these very same words of you right this moment: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.” You’re His beloved child. That is an incredible reality!

Why We Do Missions & Why We Can’t Afford Not To

A popular question for many people has been, “what is my purpose.” Some naturally ask this question of themselves. It is not unusual for someone to wonder, “where did I come from and why am I here?” Others are counseled to ask this question for themselves. I just finished a book that was a New York Times Best Seller and the authors advised that one of the first things in any life stage is to ask, “What is my purpose?”

And still many others have had their interests peeked when the answer to this question is offered. There was a nation craze 10 years ago over the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It seemed like everyone was reading it. If by asking this question you look for the answer from the Bible, which is what Warren’s book sought to do, you’ll find that God did make you with a unique purpose. And one of the first things you discover from the Bible about your purpose is that it is absolutely connected to a bigger question, one I am not sure many ponder enough. The bigger question for us all is, “What is God’s purpose in the world?”

I wonder how many people ask the question, “What is God’s purpose?” Have you ever asked that question? Stop for a minute and think how you would answer that question. I wonder how many people in churches who come to worship God each Sunday are confident they know what God’s purpose is in the world today? What is He doing? What is God after?

What Is God’s Purpose?

The Bible teaches that God’s purpose is to uphold and display His own glory. Many, I would guess, have not thought enough about this. The word “glory” means widespread honor; magnificence; great beauty; something impressive; praise, worship, and thanksgiving offered to God; to take pleasure in (Concise Oxford English dictionary).

God created the world to declare his glory (Ps. 19:1). In fact, He created us for His glory (Is. 43:6-7). Even the animals were made to glorify Him (Is. 43:20). We are chosen to be saved for His glory (Eph 1:4-6). We are commanded to do good works for his glory (Mt 5:16). We are to do everything for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31). Jesus suffered on the cross for His glory (Jn 17:1). Jesus said His ultimate aim for us is to see and enjoy His glory (Jn 17:24).

Throughout the Bible we are commanded to glorify God. We’re told to rejoice and give him the glory (Rev. 19:7); to glorify God in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20); to tell of his glory among the nations (1 Chr. 16:24; Ps. 96:3). And if we do not glorify Him through obedience, He will be glorified through our disobedience. He used the hardness of heart of Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, saying multiple times; “I will be honored through Pharaoh” (Ex. 14:4, 17, 18).

To not glorify Him has consequences, and will be punished. Herod did not give God the glory and God killed him (Acts 12:23). And of the unrighteous He said, they did not honor him as God (Rom. 1:21). Therefore God gave them up to their evil desires. King Belshazzar of Babylon literally saw God’s writing on the wall and was killed because, as Daniel explained to him, God in whose hand is your breath you have not glorified (Dan. 5:23).

God Deserves to Be Glorified and Desires to be Enjoyed

There is much more that could be said of God’s glory. It is magnificent. It is impressive. It is beautiful. And because of His glory, God deserves widespread honor. In fact, in the new heavens and new earth, there will be no need of sun or moon in the city, for God’s glory shines on it (Rev. 21:23). He deserves to be worshiped. It is something we certainly should take pleasure in.

Psalm 67 verses 3 and 4 say, “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth.” Have you ever thought that God desires for people to be satisfied in Him? To enjoy him? To be glad in him? We should enjoy him so much that we praise Him. In fact, “God is most glorified in us,” says pastor John Piper, “when we are most satisfied in Him.”

People are not satisfied with God, therefore He is not glorified

But that is not the condition of the people in our world, nor in the context of our passage, Luke 24. By the time the reader gets to Luke 24, God has already sent His Son Jesus into the world to rescue sinners. Not one person in history has been able to adequate return glory to God. No one has found their absolute satisfaction in God. There was no hope for humanity.

So God sent Jesus to become our hope. God became a man and lived among us in the world. And this God Man, Jesus, lived a full life in total satisfaction with His Father. Jesus glorified God with His life. Then He died a death only sinners deserved and He glorified God in His death. But He didn’t stay dead, He was raised to life three days later. His death and resurrection gives sinners hope. Sinners are forgiven when they rely on Jesus’ work and not their own for God’s favor.

That’s the context of Luke 24:36-49. Jesus is about to show Himself alive to His disciples the same Sunday evening of His resurrection. And in so doing, Jesus shows that missions is a significant part of God’s purpose.

God is fulfilling His purpose to be glorified by all peoples through missions. Missions is significant because God is serious about fulfilling His purpose. Everything He does should bring Him glory, to show off His amazing beauty. People being satisfied in God would lead them to worshiping Him, which would bring Him glory. A large portion of people in the world are not doing this, therefore missions is important.

Four things we need to understand about Missions…

1. Missions is necessary because humanity is not right with God.

One might ask, why should we do missions? Missions is needed because people are perishing and the gospel is their only hope. There are several keys to this truth found in this passage. Jesus said that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name (47). People needed to hear this because their sin has separated them from God. This is also why the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead (46).

Not to mention, even the closest men on the planet to Jesus were not convinced Jesus was who He said He is (36-43). Jesus knew their hearts were not right with God and asked, Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (38). They did not recognize the Lord who lived with them for three years. They were troubled in their hearts about Jesus. They needed their minds opened to understand what is written in the Bible

People are going to hell and only Jesus can save them (2 Cor. 4:3-4)

The greatest missionary in the New Testament wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

People are sinners. They are unable to glorify God. So Paul is explaining, the gospel is not plainly seen by sinners—it is veiled. Therefore, they are perishing. This means, they are going to hell. Hell is real. It is an eternal place for sinners who do not to glorify God. And they cannot glorify God, because they do not understand the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. They need to have their eyes open by God to the person and work of Jesus, just as the disciples needed to have their minds open to the Scriptures.

In Kosovo, God is not Worshiped and Enjoyed

In Let the Nations be Glad, John Piper writes, “Missions exists because worship does not.” He makes the point that we are not to be mission-driven, but God-driven, meaning, “Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.” All over the world there are people and places where God is not worshiped and enjoyed, places where He is not being glorified. Missions is necessary because there are places where God is not glorified, where people are not right with God.

Two weeks ago our church announced that Providence is intentionally partnering with other missionaries on the ground in the nation of Kosovo, where there are few, if any, churches. It is a Muslim country where there are only 20 Christians for every 10,000 people. Our hope in targeting Kosovo is for God to be glorified in that nation by Him reconciling thousands to Himself.

2. Missions is the task of the church to proclaim the Gospel to all nations

What exactly is missions? This passage answers that question. Missions is the cooperative effort of the Christ’s church to proclaim the Gospel. Jesus tells them that what was written about Him in the Old Testament had to be fulfilled. These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you that everything written about me [in the OT] must be fulfilled (44). This shows us that according to Jesus, the Old Testament is not a Jewish book, it is a Christian book.

But that’s not all. Something else in the Old Testament had to be fulfilled: the proclamation of the Gospel to all the world, beginning in Jerusalem. From the beginning of history God saw His people being a blessing to all the nations of the earth. He said this to Abraham in Genesis 18:17-18 and 22:18. He also said it to Isaac (Gen. 26:4).

In Isaiah 66:18-20, God said, For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations…that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord.

So, it also had to be fulfilled what was prophesied in the Old Testament concerning God’s purpose for His people. God’s people were to declare God’s glory among the nations and bring many from all the nations to the Lord. This requires we proclaim the gospel.

It is a simple fact that Jesus could have come to them individually, but instead He waited until they were ALL gathered together (v33). Jesus was about to build His Church with these guys (Mt 16:18-19). You might say, they were the first church and Jesus the first pastor. They were being sent corporately to do the work of missions together by proclaiming the Gospel to all nations.

People must hear about Jesus and His work to be saved.

Belief in the Bible necessitates the work of missions in many ways. And we must not forget that it is necessary for people to hear the gospel in order to be saved. Paul explains this in Romans 10:13-17:

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

It is a beautiful thing when people GO

One of my favorite memories in seminary was the International Missions chapel. At the end of the service, the preacher would call out those who God was calling to go overseas as missionaries. Tears would stream down my face as I watched countless people walk to the front. Singles, married couples, some with small babies, older people, younger people, all surrendering their lives to proclaim the gospel to the nations. Some were going to nations where they could lose their lives, willing to go and never come back. It’s a beautiful thing “to go” the Scripture says, How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

3. Missions happens when people become passionate about God’s glory

So when do we start doing missions? Missions happens when people become passionate about God’s glory, and with delight, go as they are commanded to bring the gospel to all nations in hopes that all will find their supreme satisfaction in God.

We begin by glorifying Jesus and proclaim His message…by His Spirit…from where we are. Then we go to places where He is not being glorified and continue to glorify and proclaim Him.

Jesus tells them to wait where they are for the promised power of the Spirit. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high (49). Passages like this, along with the Book of Acts, shows us that the possession of the Spirit is THE decisive mark of being a Christian (cf. Acts 10:44–48; 11:15–18; 15:8; 19:2–7). Therefore, it is correct to say we do missions when we become born again Christians.

This may require training and preparation for some things, but as soon as you have been given enough understanding to believe the Gospel and be saved, you can explain what you know to others in the power of the Spirit.

Where a passion for God exists, a zeal for missions will exist.

God has commissioned the church made up of Spirit-empowered Christians for the task of missions. Where a passion for God exists, a zeal for missions will exist. And the reverse is true. If hearing this does not give you a passion for missions, then you cannot have a passion for God. It amazes me that people can claim they love God if they do not have a desire to cooperate with fellow believers to do the work of missions. When you’re not passionate about God, you cannot be right with Him.

Six months after I became a Christian, my wife Mary, whom I was dating then, asked if there was something between God and me? What motivated her question was my loss of passion for God. When God first saved me, I was on fire for Him. But six-months later my zeal was fading. Shortly after our conversation, God revealed the idol of baseball in my life. I repented to God and got right with God. My passion for God soon returned.

God deserves our praise. Because of this, it is required of all peoples to glorify God. But people are not right with God because they are sinners and therefore cannot adequately glorify God. The truth is, they do not want to glorify God. But even if they did, no matter how hard they would try, they could not. They could not worship Him, and they could not enjoy Him. How can you enjoy someone you are not right with? How could you find joy in someone who has something against you, and vice versa? The reason many do not enjoy the Word of God (reading the Bible, or listening to it being taught) is because there is something between them and God. The reason many do not enjoy being around the church to worship God is because there is something between them and God. When we get right with God, a passion for Him follows. When this happens, missions can happen.

4. Get involved in seeking God’s glory among all peoples

So, how do we get involved in doing missions? Again, you do nothing until you have the gift of the Spirit. But think about what that means. “Even as the Spirit was present in Jesus’ conception (1:35, 41), earliest years (2:25–38), baptism (3:21–22), and ministry (4:1, 14, 18; 5:17), so the Spirit would come upon the disciples. Shortly the ‘baptism of the Spirit’ promised by John the Baptist (3:16; Acts 1:5) would take place as they became ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ (2:4)” (Wiersbe).

When God truly saves us, a passion for God will enter and increase. And an increasing satisfaction in God will come over you. This will glorify God. David said, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (Psalm 37:4-5). Out of this passion for God’s glory, do what you desire, as long as it does not violate Scripture.

Pray for the nations and opportunities to impact the nations with the gospel. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16). According to Jesus, missions is necessary, therefore praying is necessary. Prayer was given specifically to accomplish missions.

Cooperate with your church in order to proclaim the gospel to the nations (Luke 24:47). It might be that your church would train you to become a full-time missionary to a people group that is not reached with the gospel yet. Or maybe you can join a short-term mission trip for a couple weeks where you will be given opportunities to share the gospel. And if you are unable to go, you can financially provide or encourage others to go on your behalf. Missions is a cooperative effort.

Nevertheless, my prayer is that we would become a people who have a passion for God’s Glory, and out of this, a passion for missions. God’s mission for His church is to proclaim the gospel to all peoples. If you are a Christian, my hope is that you will be convinced that your God-given passion must be to cooperate with your church in taking the gospel to places where God is not glorified and the gospel is not being proclaimed…for God’s glory.

What God Thinks of Unborn Children

Yesterday on Sanctity of Life Sunday, I shared at my church how God loves the helpless, especially the unborn. Then, earlier this morning I was inspired by this short video containing the words of our President Barrack Obama.

Here’s the transcripts of yesterdays message. You can also find the audio here.

God Loves the Unborn
Luke 1:39-45
January 13, 2013, Sanctity of Life Sunday


It’s Sunday, January 13, 2013, and do you know what happen forty years ago tomorrow? Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, and the Miami Dolphins completed the first and only perfect season in NFL history (Jan. 14). (In my opinion, that makes them the greatest team of all-time. Yah that’s right, they beat the Patriots twice (52-0 once), the Colts twice (23-0 and 16-0!), the Steelers, and the Redskins!). Elvis also performed on national television from Hawaii that day in front of 1.5 Billion viewers, which for 1973 standards is incredible.

This was the beginning of an incredible two weeks of American history. The very next day (Jan. 15), the war in Vietnam was suspended. Five days later (Jan. 20), President Richard Nixon was inaugurated for his second term. Two days after that (Jan. 22), George Foreman defeated Joe Frazier for the Heavyweight Championship of the world. That same day (Jan. 22), former President Lyndon Johnson died. Five days later (Jan. 27), the Vietnam War was officially ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accord. And three days after (Jan. 30), bringing an historic month in American history to a close, former Presidential aids James McCord and Gordon Liddy were convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and wiretapping for their roles in the Watergate scandal (dates found on Abort73.com).

Somewhat quietly, something else happened this month 40 years ago. And it will be talked about this week, more than any of the other events I mentioned. A week after the Vietnam War officially ended, Newsweek published this in their magazine:

“The end of a war and the death of a President got bigger headlines. But in a quiet way, a third event last week may have as lasting an influence on American life…

In one of the boldest and most sweeping decisions of the Nixon years, the [Supreme] Court ruled 7-2 that the criminal abortion laws of almost every state violate a constitutional ‘right of privacy’ and must therefore be struck down.” – Newsweek, February 5, 1973

On January 22, 1973, quieted by the crowning of a new heavyweight champion and the death of a former president, 7 men changed the course of human history, by wiping away every state law that had previously protected the life of human beings in the wombs of their mothers. “The decision was simple enough in its main point — that a woman had a constitutional right to an abortion for any reason or for no reason within the first trimester of her pregnancy” (Mohler, Losing Ever Since Roe?). And so today, it is legal to abort the life of a baby in the womb in all fifty United States, at any time during the 9-months of pregnancy, for almost any reason at all.

Why Talk About Abortion in Church?

Since that decision, the issue of abortion has been one of the major issues in American life. “In every presidential election since Roe v. Wade, abortion has been a central issue — and never more so than in the 2012 election. The two party platforms of 2012 had diametrically opposed statements on abortion” (Mohler, Losing Ever Since Roe?).

And since that decision, forty years later, nearly 60 Million abortions have been carried out legally in America. That means the lives of unborn babies have been terminated equaling the size of the population of Florida, multiplied by 3, in just forty years.

Our sermon series is called “How He Loves” and today is Sanctity of Life Sunday.

Sanctity of Life Sunday is celebrated in churches across America each year on this Sunday because of the anniversary of a court’s decision forty years ago called “Roe vs. Wade.”

Abortion is a Biblical Issue

Some might say, “Wait a minute! This is a political issue and has no place as a topic on a Sunday morning message at church.” Well, I want to assure you, we are not a politically motivated church. We believe there are Christians who are Democrats and Republicans, and we welcome both in our church. And in the past, we have been openly critical of so-called “Christian Politics” or the aim some might have in establishing a “Christian government.” That’s not the agenda of the New Testament.

My aim this morning is to show that the issue of abortion is first a biblical issue, before it is a political issue. And once a Christian sees what God has to say about the issue of Abortion, they are obligated as a Christian to respond accordingly. And if part of that response requires political action, then we go there.

God Loves the Helpless, and so should the Church

I want to show this morning How God Loves Those Who CAN’T Help Themselves. People like to say God helps those who help themselves. That’s never true in the Bible. God loves the helpless. And as one example of this, we’re going to see How God Loves…the child in the womb. God loves the helpless, and so should His church.

I have a second goal with this message. I want to show How God Loves the mothers and fathers of these aborted children. Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U.S. says, “Abortions are very common. In fact, 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.” If that’s true, it could mean that 5-10 ladies here this morning have had (or will have) an abortion.

This could be a difficult message to hear for some. But it’s a message you really need to hear. What I have to say this morning has more power to help you than to hurt you.

My main idea this morning is that God Loves the Child in the Womb and we will see this by answering the question, “What does God think about the unborn?” Which means, since the Bible is the Word of God, what does the Bible say about the unborn? And if we are to be real Christians, then how God in His Bible thinks is how we as a church and as Christians should think.

We’ll end up in Luke 1:39-45. But I want to lay a foundation for this topic by answering three foundational questions. So am taking a little longer than normal to get to my text.

What is a Human Being?

First, lets answer the question, “What is a Human Being?” You go to Genesis 1 and 2 to answer the questions. “…God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). “the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Gen 2:7). Human beings are both male and female and are made by God in His image. We are designed to reflect the image of God.

Isaiah (43:6-7) tells it wasn’t just Adam and Eve who were formed by God. God forms all human beings too. And they too are made for His glory. But Adam and Eve where formed as mature adults. Does that mean the definition of human beings only includes adult persons? The Psalms help us with this question.

King David wrote, “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” (Psalm 139:13-14). So God formed the first two people as adults, but every person after them are formed as a person in their mother’s womb.

And David makes it potently clear that this is in effect at conception. He explains, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). He became a sinner at conception. One cannot become a sinner before they are a human being, and therefore a person. So a human being is a person created by God beginning at conception and each one bears the image of their Creator God. Each person here, starting at conception, is a work of God.

Some of our students tried to be smart-alecs this week when we allowed them to submit questions for the pastor to answer. They pressed me to answer the question, “Where do babies come from?” I told them to come this morning and I would give the answer. So there you go. That’s what the Bible teaches. Babies are a work of God.

What does it Mean to End Someone’s Life?

Second, what does it mean to end a person’s life? Early in Genesis God told Noah, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen 9:6). God warns of taking the life of another who is made in God’s image. And in Exodus God said, “You shall not murder (unlawfully cause human death)” (Ex 20:13). The life of a human being is a work of God. To unjustly kill a human is to destroy a work of God.

And Exodus 21:22-25 shows what God’s sentence was on those who unlawfully ended an unborn babies life: 22 “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. 23 But if there is harm,then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye… That’s called capital punishment! God is saying here that an unborn child’s life is of equal value to your life.

What is Abortion?

Third, what is an abortion? I Googled “define abortion” and Google defines it as, “The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy.” Planned Parenthood says, “There are two kinds of abortion in the U.S. — in-clinic abortion and the abortion pill.” So abortion can be as simple just taking a pill. And the cheapest form of an in-clinic abortion “costs about $300–$950 in the first trimester.” It’s actually quite a business in the U.S. to abort babies.

Merriam-Webster defines abortion as “the termination of a pregnancy…resulting in…the death of the embryo or fetus.” The embryo or fetus? Here it is. This gets to the main idea behind this message. It’s clear that abortion is the deliberate killing or termination of a human pregnancy. The question is, “What are we allowing the mother and father to kill by supporting the right for a person to choose abortion?”

What does God think about the unborn? – Luke 1:39-45

The Bible tells us what a human being is and what God thinks about killing one. And we’ve looked at the definition of an Abortion. The debate behind Abortion is the question, “Does a mother’s womb contain a fetus or a human life?” This question is answered in Luke 1.

The context is, Elizabeth and Mary both conceive because God gives them a baby. Two women. One a teenager, a virgin, single, and a small town girl. Another, Mary’s relative, middle-aged, and barren. Both scenarios are looked down upon in society. Both deal with the scrutiny of peers. Many women in these circumstances in our day consider abortion.

No matter the mother or her scenario, God loves the child in the womb. One way we know this is because this passage shows us What God thinks about the Unborn.

I’ll read verses 39-45:

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

1. God sees a Baby in the Womb!

First, when God looks at the unborn, He sees a Baby in the Womb! Notice the word baby in verses 41 and 44. Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes this account and purposefully uses the Greek word for baby (brefos). He does not use a medical or political term for the unborn. The unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb is a baby.

Here is how we can be certain that God meant for us to see what he thinks of the unborn from this. In Luke 2:12, an angel announces to shepherds, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” See what he calls Jesus in the manger? The Son of God is called a baby. The same word for baby (brefos) used for Jesus is used for unborn John in the womb (see also Luke 18:15-16; Acts 7:19).

Consider What Science Says

Mounting scientific evidence supports the Bible. Science confirms that at conception, the baby has a unique DNA, and the baby’s blood type, fingerprint, and sex are already determined. Ultrasounds confirm that long before most women even discover they’re pregnant, the baby’s heart is beating; and has fingers and toes, eyes and ears, a mouth and nose.

And according to the Law of Biogenesis, when life creates life, it always creates after its own kind. Meaning, it’s impossible to create something in a human womb that is at first not human, then becomes human after some time. No, what is created in a mother’s womb at conception is a human being, not an embryo or a fetus. Some object, “But its only tissue!” And so are you. That doesn’t make you a fetus.

2. God sees a Person in the Womb!

But not only does God see a baby, He sees a person in the womb too. Look at verse 41 and 44 again. It says the baby leaped in her womb. Why did little John leap in his mommy’s womb? Elizabeth tells us the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

Joy is an emotion. This little baby showed emotion. And this is not just based on any old interpretation. This is God’s interpretation. In verse 41, we’re told that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when she explained that this was a leap of joy. God told her that John was overjoyed when the newly conceived baby Jesus arrived at his house.

I never thought of this. John’s purpose in life was to announce the arrival of Jesus. John actually began fulfilling his God-given purpose as a pre-born baby boy. What an incredible thought! That little child in his mother’s womb is a person capable of feeling and expression emotions. And each unborn child has a God-given purpose that they begin fulfilling at conception; chiefly, that each baby is formed at conception to glorify God.

God Loves the Child in the Womb and So Should We

So there you have it. Does a mother’s womb contain a fetus or a human life? According to the Bible, a mother’s womb contains a human life. What does God think of the unborn? He thinks of them as precious little babies, and little persons. He loves them, so should we.

Knowing this, our response shows what we think about God. If an expecting mother or father finds himself or herself in an unplanned pregnancy, there’s no difficult circumstance too difficult to support opposing God and unlawfully causing a human death.

When it comes to abortion, the question is, Who are you going to let be God over that human life in the womb? God the Creator or you? When a person chooses abortion, they choose to play god and enforce their will above another person’s will. That’s no different than infanticide or euthanasia. Why do we see these as evil, and not abortion?

You say, what about when doctors predict that the child will not have a good quality of life or will die a premature cruel death? The two babies in Luke 1 both died premature cruel deaths. If these ladies expecting under these circumstances today, someone would take them to the nearest abortion clinic. Under this kind of thinking, the world would never know a John the Baptist or Jesus Christ.

Besides, Planned Parenthood, who advocated abortions, admits that 93% of all abortions are performed on healthy mothers with healthy babies. And less than 1% of all abortions are performed because of rape of incest. These cases are a fraction of the whole. They are usually brought up as tactics to divert from the truth about abortions.

What if They Accuse Us as Against Women’s Rights?

Does being pro-life or anti-abortion make me anti-Women’s Rights? No! In this country, as many baby girls are murdered through abortion as baby boys. What about the rights of the nearly 30 Million baby girls who have been killed while in a helpless state over the past 40 years? Moreover, around the world more baby girls are killed than baby boys, especially in countries where families are only permitted one child.

Maybe some might say this is a political form of Racism? Well, TIME Magazine reports that the abortion rate for African-American women is 3.5 times that of white women (Mohler). The way I see it, a pro-life person who opposes abortion is pro-Racial Unity and pro-Women. All women and all races should be against abortion, not to mention all Christians!

What to Do? [Application]

So, What can we do?

1. Pray…for expectant mothers and those doing abortions.

2. Read and become knowledgeable. Let these facts set in (from The Ethics &Religious Liberty Commission):

  • 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion.
  • Two out of five unplanned pregnancies end in abortion.
  • Half of all abortions are women under-25.
  • The largest category is 20-24 year-olds (33%).
  • Two-thirds of abortions are by unmarried women.
  • And 60% of abortions are from existing mothers.

3. Speak up with patience, compassion, and conviction.

Listen, if we as Christians minimize abortion because we think we are being loving to those who have had abortions, we actually minimize the Gospel. As awful as abortion is, Jesus suffered and died for abortionists and for murders. He paid for the sin of taking the innocent life of another. He forgives this sin. Why minimize that? That’s a great sin too.

4. Volunteer. Get into the lives of those in need.

5. Adopt. Or at least be an advocate and help others to.

6. Dream. Help Providence discover ways to serve Lehigh.

7. Receive forgiveness.

None of us have done all we should regarding abortion. We all need of forgiveness. If you have had an abortion, know that God loves you as He does the unborn. In fact, He sent Jesus as a baby to demonstrate His love for the greatest of sinners.

Some of the greatest men in the Bible were murderers. Arguably the greatest man of the Old Testament, King David, and the greatest man of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul, were both guilty of causing the unlawful death of another human being.

Both men found comfort and experienced the amazing grace and forgiveness in Jesus. If it saddens you beyond comfort that you had an abortion or you encouraged another to have one, acknowledge right now to God your guilt and repent. Turn to God and put your trust in Jesus. He experienced the weight of sin greater than yours while on the cross. He did it so that many like you can be cleansed and restore to Him.

But those who have had abortions are not the only ones in need of forgiveness. Too many are uninformed or ignorant about what God thinks about abortion and share responsibility in allowing this great tragedy to continue in our land.

We are in great need of repentance this morning. We need to repent if we are guilty of being silent when it comes to abortion. Church, silence is not an option. Will they say of us what many of us think of the church generation of the slavery days? Were there any real Christians in the South to stand up for the helpless slaves? How could they claim to be Christians and not see the horror of slavery?

Well, I fear 100 years from now when the truth about abortion is even clearer, many will say of our generation, “Were there not any real Christians in America then? How could they be silent while 60 Million babies were murdered? Why didn’t they do all they could to stop it?” Is that what they will say about you? This church?

God don’t let it be. Church, lets not be silent anymore. Too much is at stake.

Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship—Part 3 of 3

(This is part 3 of Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship. Click here for part one. For part two click here.)

As a pastor Spurgeon would often reference the biblical role of family worship in the home. Preaching from Acts 16:14 on September 20, 1891, Spurgeon addressed “Lydia, the First European Convert,” by saying,

If the gospel does not influence our homes, it is little likely to make headway amongst the community. God has made family piety to be, as it were, a sort of trade-mark on religion in Europe; for the very first convert brings with her all her family…You shall notice in Europe, though I do not mean to say that it is not the same anywhere else, that true godliness has always flourished in proportion as family religion has been observed.[1]

He believed that godliness advanced in a community, whether it is a church or nation, in proportion to the godliness practiced in the homes. Worship practiced, or religion as the term was used in his day, had as much if not more credibility in the home than in the church. The practice of family worship was an expectation on a godly family.

Later in his sermon on Acts 16:14, Spurgeon went on to say,

‘But there is no priest.’ Then there ought to be. Every man should be a priest in his own household; and, in the absence of a godly father, the mother should lead the devotions. Every house should be the house of God, and there should be a church in every house; and when this is the case, it will be the greatest barrier against priestcraft, and the idolatry of holy places. Family prayer and the pulpit are the bulwarks of Protestantism. Depend upon it, when family piety goes down, the life of godliness will become very low. In Europe, at any rate, seeing that the Christian faith began with a converted household, we ought to seek after the conversion of all our families, and to maintain within our houses the good and holy practice of family worship. [2]

This is a radical statement for the 21st Century. Protestantism was still very much a movement in the 19th Century, as it should be today. Spurgeon believed the two greatest positions that influence this movement were the pulpit and the home. According to him, Christianity and the entire continent of Europe depended on whether Christian fathers and mothers would lead their homes in family worship. If the idea of family worship lacking was crucial in Europe 150 years ago, imagine the state of our country today where the practice has been nearly extinct.

In The Kind of Revival We Need, Spurgeon wrote on what he called “Domestic Religion.” Here he called for a revival among the Christian families:

We deeply want a revival of domestic religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans, but in these evil times hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children?

Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves ‘holiness unto the Lord’; so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.[3]

There was such a neglect of the practice that Spurgeon calls these families “so-called” Christians. It is clear to see here his understanding of family worship was to teach the gospel. He did not have a mere formal routine or activity in mind. He had the daily instruction in the gospel of a Christian father and mother to the rest of the family. And this quality was missing.

Again Spurgeon reiterated his expectation of Christians to lead their families in worship by almost questioning the sincerity of the faith if they neglect this duty.

I trust there are none here present, who profess to be followers of Christ who do not also practice prayer in their families. We may have no positive commandment for it, but we believe that it is so much in accord with the genius and spirit of the gospel, and that it is so commended by the example of the saints, that the neglect thereof is a strange inconsistency.[4]

It is implied through Scripture, since worship was required regularly, and yet the weekly custom of corporate worship did not happen until after the Babylonian Exile, late into Old Testament history.

Spurgeon feared that if the home did not teach the gospel as required, families and the church would fail in evangelizing the children.

God’s requirements for child evangelism are clear: fathers are commanded to diligently teach their children and care for their souls day by day. The sad reality of father’s lives in modern churches is that they are satisfied with Sunday schools and evangelistic crusades (which are never mentioned or commanded in scripture), but they reject God’s direct and undeniable commands to personally teach their children daily. This is outright rebellion against the Lord.[5]

Father’s are charged to care for their souls day by day, as a pastor to his church. Spurgeon recognized that Sunday schools and evangelism crusades were not mentioned in Scripture, but the duty of Christian parents is in the Bible. To neglect this duty is “outright rebellion.”

The world needs revival in this day. The Church desperately needs revival today. Families must return to the duty of family worship, in its biblical and historical sense, if this generation shall ever see revival.

[1] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Lydia, The First European Convert. September 20, 1891. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2222.htm (accessed January 18, 2009).

[2] Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Lydia, The First European Convert.

[3] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. The Kind of Revival We Need. http://www.spurgeon.org/revival.htm (accessed January 18, 2009).

[4] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. “Restraining Prayer,”Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 54. London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1908; reprint, Pasedena, TX.: Pilgrim Publications, 1978, 362,362.

[5] Ibid.

Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship—Part 2 of 3

(This is part 2 of Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship. Click here for part one.)

Spurgeon understood the effects of the Law on a sinner, especially applied to a child from under steady training from his parents. The very essence of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:1-4 were lived out in Spurgeon’s home and he was greatly affected. This kind of training may be the reason Spurgeon struggled with his sin from an early age.

The weight of his guilt before God weighed heavy on him. He would wonder why he never injured himself from the agony of his awareness to sin. He wrote, “I used to say, ‘If God does not send me to hell, He ought to do it.’ I sat in judgment upon myself and pronounced the sentence that I felt would be just. I could not have gone to heaven with my sin unpardoned, even if I had the offer to do it, for I justified God in my own conscience, while I condemned myself.”[1] He intimately understood his need of mercy from God. This because of his intimate knowledge of God’s Law, taught to him daily from infancy.

He understood that the Law was at work in him. His biographer, W. Y. Fullerton even called this the “Law work.” Spurgeon would describe this way, “It was like sitting at the foot of Sinai.”[2] Spurgeon would write,

When I was in the hands of the Holy Spirit, under conviction of sin, I had a clear and sharp sense of the justice of God. Sin, whatever it might be to other people, became to me an intolerable burden. It was not so much that I feared hell as that I feared sin; and all the while I had upon my mind a deep concern for the honour of God’s name and the integrity of His moral government. I felt that it would not satisfy my conscience if I could be forgiven unjustly.[3]

God was about to honor His Word, and the obedience of his parents and grandparents. He knew the Gospel well from his upbringing, but God was about to use an instrument outside of the home to secure the young man’s salvation.

On Sunday, January 6, 1850, at the age of fifteen, Charles Spurgeon woke from an unusual dream.

He rose before the sun, to pray and to read one of his bedside books. But he found no rest. As he says himself, God was plowing his soul, ten black horses in His team—the Ten Commandments—and cross-plowing it with the message of the Gospel, for when he heard it, no comfort came to his soul.[4]

He left his home that very cold day and headed to his church to worship. As he was making his way to his usually place of worship, he met a snowstorm which caused him to enter a nearby Primitive Methodist Church to worship. There he met Jesus.

It was not the place of his choice, but it was the place that God had chosen; not the morning of his hope; but the morning of God’s deliverance; not the preacher appointed for the day, who was probably snowed up, but the messenger entrusted with the key that led into the light the lad who for five weary years had been groping in the shadows.[5]

The place had no more than 15 people in it that morning. The pastor preached from Isaiah 45:22, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” The preacher, with little credentials and poor pronunciation, simply called his hearers to look upon Christ. The young Spurgeon did and he was saved.

What more he said young Spurgeon never knew, for in a moment he saw the way of salvation, and was possessed by the thought of the freeness and simplicity of it. ‘I had been waiting to do fifty things,’ he said; ‘but when I heard the word ‘look,’ I could have almost looked my eyes away. I could have risen that instant and have sung with the most enthusiastic of them of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith that looks alone to Him. I thought I could dance all the way home. I could understand what John Bunyan meant when he declared he wanted to tell the crows on the plowed land all about his conversion. He was too full to hold. He must tell somebody.’[6]

For fifteen years Charles Spurgeon was taught and demonstrated the gospel before him by his parents and grandparents. And yet, “He thought at first that he had never heard the Gospel before, that the preachers he had listened to had not preached it.”[7] This statement is an amazing testimony to the radical nature of regeneration. He was blind (or deaf) to the gospel, and then he could see (or hear). Later “he came to see the difference between the effectual calling of God and the general proclamation of the Gospel. The word of the Lord came to him expressly that morning, as it did to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:3) and he was nevermore separated from his Saviour.”[8]

For part three of Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship click here.

[1] Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Spurgeon, Autobiography, Vol. I, chaps. 9, 10, and 11, as quoted in Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship—Part 1 of 3

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, in Essex, England, just ten days after the death of William Carey in India, the father of the modern mission movement. He was the oldest of seventeen children. Supposedly a study of Spurgeon’s ancestry will show that he followed a direct line of preachers dating back twelve generations.[1]

Spurgeon’s father and grandfather were Congregationalist ministers. Each one had a lasting impact on the young Spurgeon. Within a year after Charles was born, he was sent to live with his grandfather, James Spurgeon, the minister of Stambourne. While under his grandfather’s care, Spurgeon began to gain a lasting understanding of Scripture.[2]

Before returning to his parents care at age 6, it is said that Spurgeon “had learned to love John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress,” a popular resource for family worship even today.[3] He would claim that he read and reread Pilgrim’s Progress over one hundred times in his lifetime.[4] “Back with his parents, he grew up in a home with strong Puritan teachings and faithful, restrained lives to match.”[5]

Family worship is a term Spurgeon used often describing the practice of home-discipleship and worship he experienced under the care of his grandparents and parents. Spurgeon’s family took responsibility on his spiritual formation. This was not thought of as the responsibility of the church. Neither, at least for him, was his education forfeited to the care of someone outside the home.

It is easy to see, in retrospect, that those early Stambourne years gave colour and bent to his whole life. It was well that he had no formal schooling (save only such elementary instruction as he could glean from old Mrs. Burleigh of the village) until he had looked out on life from the comparative solitude of Stambourne. The simplicity of his early surroundings remained with him to the end.[6]

This means that his education, like his spiritual formation, was first the priority of the home, with a view that any outside assistance only assisted what is done in the home.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon was much the product of a home that took the responsibility of home-discipleship and worship seriously. The Spurgeon home contained 8 children, 9 others did not live through infancy.[7] His mother’s prayers and devotions, while Charles’s father was away during the week, made a great impact on the boy. “Her prayers, no less than her exhortations, aroused him to concern of soul.”[8] This is a testimony to the many mothers who are home with children with an absence of a Christian husband.

Sunday evenings, especially, Mrs. Spurgeon would sit with her children around their table and read Scripture, explaining it verse by verse. She would then pray prayers, that would be etched in the mind of young Charles for the rest of his life “Once she said, ‘Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance they perish, and my soul must bear swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” That was not at all in the modern vein, but it was the arrow that reached the boy’s soul.”[9]

The training received at home from his grandfather, and then his mother and father helped the young Spurgeon mature rapidly as a young man. The impact of his mother’s faithfulness to family worship was very noticeable as Spurgeon grew up. He would often reflect while preaching on the diligence and concern of his parents for his salvation.

In the first sermon he published in London, he said, “There was a boy once—a very sinful child—who hearkened not to the counsel of his parents. But his mother prayed for him, and now he stands to preach to this congregation every Sabbath. And when his mother thinks of her firstborn preaching the Gospel, she reaps a glorious harvest that makes her a glad woman”.[10]

It is noted that his father’s training made quite an impact on him too. His father and grandfathers use of the Ten Commandments in his childhood raising was productive. Spurgeon acknowledges that he most likely was kept from many sins, “But all of a sudden I met Moses,” referring to the moral Law contained in the Ten Commandments.[11]

Then there came to my startled conscience the remembrance of the universality of law. I thought of what was said of the old Roman Empire, under the rule of Caesar: if a man once broke the law of Rome, the whole world was one vast prison to him, for he could never get out of the reach of the imperial power. So did it come to be in my aroused conscience.[12]

Spurgeon once said in a sermon on Romans 5:20 called “Law and Grace” on August 26, 1855, “The law causes the offence to abound by discovering sin to the soul. When once God the Holy Ghost applies the Law to the conscience, secret sins are dragged to light, little sins are magnified to their true size, and things apparently harmless become exceedingly sinful.”[13]

For part two of Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship click here.

[1] Fullerton, W. Y. Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography. 2001. http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/bio1.htm (accessed January 14, 2009).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon Spurgeon Gold: Pure. Refined. Edited by Ray Comfort. Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2005, 179.

[4] Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography.

[5] Spurgeon, Spurgeon Gold: Pure. Refined.

[6] Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography.

[7] Ibid..

[8] Ibid.

[9] Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit: Law and Grace. August 26, 1855. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0037.htm (accessed January 18, 2009).