“YOU ARE SPECIAL”
A Sermon presented at Main Street Baptist Church, Doylestown, PA
By Rev. Jerry Schmoyer
January 25, 2004
A Pro-Life Sermon © 2004
Did you know that for every two babies born in the country another dies in abortion? A baby is aborted every 20 seconds. That means 270 babies die in the time we have our worship service this morning. That averages out to 4,000 babies a day and 1 ½ million a year. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, 40 million babies have died in the United States.
During the Civil War ½ million died, 400,000 during World War II and 56,000 during Vietnam. In the last year 500 have died in Iraq. That means that those who have died by legal abortions in this country in the last 31 years is six times as high as the number of casualties in all the wars our country has fought in. That’s ten times the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. And that’s just in this country.
For every one baby aborted in this country, 35 are aborted around the world. That is 105 each minute, 10,000 during our worship service this morning, and 55 million a year!
And you know every one of them is special to God! Mr. Rogers popularized the phrase, “You Are Special,” at least at our house. I want to use it this morning to describe how God feels about all life. He clearly states this in Psalm 139.
I. WE WHO ARE BORN ARE SPECIAL TO GOD
In Psalm 139 David writes about finding comfort and security in the fact that God knows all about him, inside and out. Job found comfort in the same fact.
The psalm is composed of 4 poetic paragraphs of 6 verses each.
In the first six verses we see God knows David perfectly, better than David knows himself. God knows every detail of David’s life because He has investigated him thoroughly.
“1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in — behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. “
In the second stanza, verses 7-12, David realizes he cannot escape this God Who knows everything about him, for God is everywhere and nothing about David escapes God’s awareness.
“7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
Then in the third stanza, verses 13-18, David picks up on the idea that he cannot escape from God, even in the darkness, David applies that to the darkness of his mother’s womb, for He created him there. God’s total control over David is now shown by the fact that He created David and planned his life with great care before he was even born.
“13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. “
David then concludes in verses 19-24 by applying the fact that God knows all about him to his present situation. God knows all about the enemies that plague David and He knows that David is totally faithful and loyal to Him. This brings David comfort. He concludes as he started, affirming that God knows all about him and therefore knows the completeness of his devotion to God.
“19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The psalm starts with David stating that God has thoroughly checked him out and knows his faithfulness, and he ends up by repeating this and asking God to come search him even more.
It’s obvious that David finds comfort and security in the fact that God knows all about him, inside and out. We, too, can find comfort and security in the fact that God knows all about us, as well.
We, too, are special because God knows us perfectly, better than we know ourselves. God knows every detail of our life because He has investigated us thoroughly (verses 1-6).
We are special because God understands us totally. We cannot escape God Who knows everything about us, for He is everywhere. Nothing about us escapes His awareness (7-12).
We are special because God knows us perfectly, because He understands us totally and because He planned us eternally (13-18). God knew all about us even when we were in the darkness of our mother’s womb, for He created us there. He planned our life with great care before we were even born.
We also see that we are special because God cares about us completely (19-24). He knows what we are going through right now, and He knows our level of commitment to Him. This should bring us comfort, as it did David.
So we see from Psalm 139 that David is special to God, and by application that we are as well. But the application goes beyond us, for this passage is very relevant in the whole area of abortion. It assures us that the unborn are special to God as well.
II. THOSE NOT YET BORN ARE SPECIAL
Before we see how Psalm 139 applies to abortion lets look at some of the background of abortion in the United States today.
For the first 150 years of our country, abortion was illegal. In the 1820’s the ovum in a female was first discovered and laws were made to protect life from the moment of conception. But in the 1960’s liberalism and evolution, with its emphasis on human beings being just the result of chance, became widespread. By 1970 18 states had laws approving abortion in exceptional circumstances. The Supreme Court made their famous ruling in Roe vs. Wade on January 22, 1973. They said they can’t decide when life starts so it’s OK for each state to make their own laws, and that opened the door for the abortion laws as we have them today.
There are basically four types of abortions being performed in the United States today. There is the suction type where the unborn child is vacuumed from the womb. There is another type where the baby is cut from the womb. A third way is for an operation similar to a Caesarean section where the baby is surgically removed from the mother and set aside to suffocate because their lungs aren’t developed yet. The fourth method uses salt brine which is injected into the baby and in a few days it is still born. There is also the current debate about partial-birth abortions where the baby is partially delivered and its brains are removed from its skull.
Those who support pro-choice say a woman has the right to control her own body, but what about the baby’s right to control its own body? No one has absolute right over his own body – no one can get drunk and drive or take drugs. God has the final say and authority over us, not man himself.
Another support for abortion is the argument that the fetus is mere tissue and not a person, but we now know that the embryo is genetically distinct from the sperm and egg that created it.
Why do so many women have abortions? The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is the research arm of Planned Parenthood, states that 75% said the child would interfere with their lives. Sixty-six percent said they could not afford a child, 50% said they didn’t want to be a single parent or they had problems in their current relationships, 4% had doctors who said a pregnancy might be hard on their health, 1% were the victims of rape and 1% had fetal abnormalities. The former Surgeon General C. Everett Keep says in his 35 years in medicine he has “never seen one case where abortion was necessary to save a mother’s life.”
Yet to God these babies are human life, someone very special to Him! Let’s go back to Psalm 139, the third stanza, verses 13-16, and see just what God thinks of the unborn.
Those not yet born are special to God because God produces them (Psalm 139:13-16). “13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. “
First we see here that God creates the unborn. “For YOU (emphasized) created my inmost being” David says.
The word “created” is used of God as creator several times in Genesis (14:19, 22). A different Hebrew word, but the same idea, is stated in Genesis 1:27 “so God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”
Human life is a level above all other live because it is made in God’s image. That’s one reason Satan hates us so much – we’re created in God’s image. Abortion is one of Satan’s ways of destroying God’s image before it even has a chance to be born.
When David says God created his “inmost being” he is referring to the center of his emotions and consciousness. It’s similar to the way we use the word ‘heart’ (Jeremiah 11:20; Psalm 7:9; Job 19:27). God doesn’t just create some tissue in a womb, He creates the total person.
God not only creates the unborn, He also forms them. “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” The Hebrew word translated ‘knit’ is ‘sakak’ which literally means ‘to fence in.’ The picture is of God putting parts together, as one who weaves a cloth or makes a basket. My mother did a lot of knitting. She could skillfully wrap the threads together to make a work of beauty. That’s what God does when He makes us. Job 10:11 uses this isame word to say the same thing. God is behind the process whereby a baby grows and develops in a womb.
The awesomeness of this thought so impresses David that he praises God, “I praise You.” His reason for this is “because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are made in an awesome way, a way too beautiful, too complex, and too supernatural to be anything but awesome!
I remember the first time Nancy and I ever saw one of our children in an ultrasound. The only word to describe the way God was working in her womb was to say it was awesome!
The study of human anatomy and physiology can produce the same wonder and awe. Let me show you some pictures of a fetus at various stages of development. It’ll make you understand how David felt.
At 18 days a fetus has a recognizable heartbeat. By 40 days there are brainwaves. Either of these are evidences of ‘life’ to a medical doctor today. A fetus has these long before the majority are aborted.
After 3 weeks, 21 days, a backbone, spinal cord and nervous system are formed. At 4 weeks arms and legs, along with a head with rudimentary eyes, ears, mouth and brain, are present. The digestive system has begun. The baby is only ¼ of an inch long. Blood in the baby’s veins is different than that of the mother.
By 6 weeks brain waves can be measured.
At 8 weeks he is a little more than an inch long. He has a fully formed stomach, liver, kidneys and fingerprints. He reacts to stimuli such as tickling and will try to grasp an instrument with its hands.
A week later he can feel pain, kick its legs, turn its feet, curl and fan its toes, make a fist, move his thumb, bend his wrist, turn his head, squint, frown, open its mouth and swallow. Fingernails are forming.
At 12 weeks the baby now sleeps, awakens and exercises its muscles energetically, turns its head, curls its toes, and opens and closes its mouth.
By the time it is 4 months old, the baby is 8 to 10 inches long. The ears are functioning and it can hear.
At 20 weeks the baby can survive outside the womb. That time will be earlier as technology improves.
A picture that really impresses me is this one called “the hand of hope.” It is a picture of a 21-week old unborn baby named Samuel Armas, who is being operated on by Dr. Joseph Bruner. The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother’s womb. Dr. Bruner works at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. As the doctor was completing the surgery the baby reached his hand through the incision and firmly grasped the doctor’s finger. Dr. Bruner said that was the most emotional moment of his life, and for an instant he was frozen, unable to move. Samuel’s mother wept for days when she saw the picture. He was born in perfect health.
“13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” “Your works are wonderful” – they are made to excite wonder and admiration.
“I know that full well.” I am fully convinced of it. I am deeply impressed by it.
So we see that the unborn are special because God creates them, makes them, forms them and develops them, “15 my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,”
“My frame was not hidden from you,” referring to his skeleton, which God could see before anyone else could. “When I was made in the secret place” – the womb.
“When I was woven together.” This picturesque Hebrew word, ‘raaqam,’ means to make something colorful, like weaving a piece of cloth or a carpet out of various colors. This refers to our tissues, tendons, nerves, veins, and arteries, muscles, all intricately worked together by a skillful artist to make the human body.
The human body is unbelievably intricate. Each chromosome has enough information to fill 4,000 500-page books. We produce 200 million red blood cells each day. Our brain has 100 billion nerve cells. Seventy-two different muscles work together so we can talk. There are about 100,000 hairs on your head. There are 45 miles of nerves on the surface of your skin. Each square inch of skin has 20 feet of blood vessels. Blood travels 60,000 miles each day. To say this all happened by chance evolution takes this glory from God.
“When I was woven together in the depths of the earth” refers again to being in the womb, as far from the human eye as if he were miles underground.
“16 your eyes saw my unformed body.” “Unformed” comes from a root word which refers to something being rolled or folded and applies to anything undeveloped, like an embryo or fetus, where the arms and legs are wrapped around the body.
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Before David was even born, God had planned every day of his life.
Thus it’s obvious to see from Psalm 139:13-16 that the unborn are special to God because He produced them – He creates them in the womb. They are also special to God because He planned them even before they started in the womb. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us this.
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah starts his book with an account of his call. God clearly told Jeremiah that He was sovereign, He planned and created Jeremiah, and so He could call him to be a prophet. Jeremiah couldn’t argue with that.
“Before I formed you in the womb.” The Hebrew word here for formed, ‘yatsar,’ is a word that is used for when potters mold and shape their clay into a particular shape. It is used in Genesis 2:7 when “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground.” Creating Adam from dust or a baby in the womb is the same purposeful act of God. It means to squeeze something into a predetermined shape.
Three times this word is used of God forming Isaiah in the womb (44:2, 24; 49:5) and the writer of Psalm 119 also says this same thing (119:73).
But notice, the verse says “before I formed you…” Before God began to create Jeremiah He knew all about him! He doesn’t say WHILE I formed you in the womb, but BEFORE I formed you. In the mind of God, before Jeremiah was even conceived, God considered him a person. How could he be less than a person after conception?
If God plans for each pregnancy before it happens, there is no such thing as an ‘unplanned pregnancy.’ The Bible says that God opened Leah’s and Ruth’s womb, and closed Hannah’s womb.
Let me show you a very moving video clip showing that there is no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy. (SHOW VIDEO CLIP)
There are some very good lines in there: “Abortion is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” and “The baby shouldn’t have to pay the death penalty for the birth father’s sin.”
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” When the Old Testament uses this word, know, it refers to far more than mere intellectual knowledge. It refers to an intimate experience. It is often used for the sexual union between a man and woman. “Adam knew Eve” and Cain was born. Thus God knows each of us intimately, and that started before conception! Before Jeremiah was even conceived, God planned for him to be a prophet.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” This second phrase repeats the same basic truth as the first part of the verse. God knew all about Jeremiah so He could call him into His service.
The same thing was said to Isaiah: “Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name” (49:1). John the Baptizer was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in Elizabeth’s womb. Esau and Jacob, in Rebecca’s womb, were considered two separate nations. Even Jesus had to go through all stages of human development, including the womb. Was Jesus not a person when He was in the womb? If life does not begin at conception, did Jesus cease to exist as a person for the time He was a developing fetus.
This is important because the first thing any society does if it is going to mistreat a particular class of people is to dehumanize them. That happened to the African Americans in this country during slavery. It also happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany.
Luke the physician used the same word to describe John in Elizabeth’s womb as he used to describe baby Jesus lying in a manger – life in the womb is nothing less than life outside the womb!
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” God had a plan for Jeremiah to be a prophet even before he was conceived. He has a plan for each unborn, even before they are conceived. We are all special to God!
Psalm 129:13-16 tells us that the unborn are special to God because He produced them in the womb. They are also special because God planned them before they even started in the womb – Jeremiah 1:5. We also see the specialness of the unborn in that God protects them – Exodus 21:22-25.
“If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” (Exodus 21:22-25).
In His law God says that if a woman was injured while pregnant and the baby died, the one who caused her injury was to be put to death. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day took it this way as well. So did Josephus. The Romans didn’t consider a child ‘human’ until they walked and talked, but the early Christians opposed this.
Ironically, if a woman in our country is harmed and loses her baby prematurely, the man can be sent to prison for manslaughter. If someone murders a woman who is pregnant he is guilty of two murders, as with Scott Peterson in California who is accused of murdering his wife Laci and unborn son. But if a woman kills her own unborn baby it is OK!
The eggs and unborn of endangered species are protected by law. Killing one before birth brings the same penalty as after birth. Why should it be any different with human beings?
So if the unborn are special to God because He produces them, plans them and protects them, then they should be special to us as well.
III. EVERYONE IS SPECIAL TO GOD
So if everyone, even the unborn, is special to God, what can we as Christians do about this whole problem of killing the unborn? What difference can one person or even one church make?
For one thing, we must treat the unborn as special. All are special, even the unborn. What can we do to protect them? What should Christians have done in Nazi Germany to protect the Jews? What should Christians have done to remove slavery in the USA?
First and foremost, we can and should pray for them, in this country and around the world. We should use our voices to speak out and speak up for those who cannot defend themselves. As God gives us opportunities, we must do all we can. Some God will call to get involved in large ways, but all must do what we can.
We must place in leadership in this country those who will work to abolish abortion. We must remember the unborn when we vote. To me, abortion is THE issue I look at in those running for office. Nothing is going to bring us under God’s judgment as quickly as killing 40 million babies and another 270 since we started our service this morning.
It’s good to see that some of the attitudes toward abortion are improving in this country, especially among the younger people.
Yes, we must treat the unborn as special, but we must also treat the born as special, too. Since Roe vs. Wade, child abuse here has increased 1,112%. That’s just one symptom of the diminishing value of life.
Pray for those who support abortion. Show them love and forgiveness. Did you know that Norma McCorvey, known as Jane Roe in Roe vs. Wade, the one who wanted to liberalize our abortion laws, has become a Christian? Pro-life advocates showed her a lot of love and acceptance as they worked against her and her pro-choice friends. August 8, 1995, she went to a church in Dallas and put her life in God’s hands. She was baptized and now works for the pro-life cause. She was won by the love of those who disagreed with her.
But what about those who have had an abortion? How are we to treat them? The reality is that 1 out of 4 women have had an abortion. It’s the same proportion among those who regularly attend church. Those who have had abortions are victims as well, for they bear emotional and psychological scars and long-time coping and relational problems. They don’t go through a grieving process. They feel much guilt.
Studies show that over 70% of women who have an abortion believe that it is wrong, but that they have no choice. The go against their conscience. They aren’t able to share their feelings with others. They start to hate themselves.
We need to reach out to them in love.
We must make the church a safe place for those who are hurting. We need to share God’s love with them. Ask God to bring such a woman into your life so you can love her with Jesus’ love.
We can also be ambassadors of forgiveness. We must let them know that God thinks they are special, too. The truth is that Jesus died for all sins, every sin imaginable to man. I Peter 3:18 tells us that Christ died for sins, once for all with a goal to bring us into a relationship with God. Everyone is special to God – even those who support or have had an abortion.
One of the best ways we can help now is to befriend and support those who are considering an abortion. Let them know they aren’t trapped, that there is hope, there is an alternative. Be there for them. Love them. Treat them as someone special. If you don’t know anyone in that situation, again ask God to bring someone into your life. Then start looking for unloved people around you and let God pour out His live through you onto them.
Remember life is special – unborn as well as born. You are special. I am special. Those who support abortion or have had abortions are special. Those considering apportions are special. Everyone is special to God.
This message is also on video-tape, which includes a moving testimony about a woman who rejected abortion after being raped, gave her baby up for adoption, and was later reunited with her. They now work together in ministry.
Also this message is available on cassette or CD.
“YOU ARE SPECIAL!”
I. WE WHO ARE BORN ARE SPECIAL TO GOD
A. DAVID IS SPECIAL – interpretation of Psalm 139
1. Because God knows him perfectly 1-6
2. Because God understands him totally 7-12
3. Because God planned him eternally 13-18
4. Because God cares about him completely 19-24
B. WE ARE SPECIAL – application of Psalm 139
1. Because God knows us perfectly 1-6
2. Because God understands us totally 7-12
3. Because God planned us eternally 13-18
4. Because God cares about us completely 19-24
II. THOSE NOT YET BORN ARE SPECIAL TO GOD
BACKGROUND: Abortion in USA
1. History of Abortion in USA
2. Types of Abortions in USA
3. Support for Abortion in USA
4. Reasons for Abortion in USA
A. BECAUSE GOD PRODUCES THEM – Psalm 139:13-16
1. God Creates Them 13a
2. God Forms Them 13b
3. God Makes Them 14
4. God Develops Them 15-16a
5. God Predestines Them 16b
B. BECAUSE GOD PLANS THEM – Jeremiah 1:5
1. God Pre-plans (“before”)
2. God Personally Knows (“knew”)
3. God Previously Chose (“set apart,” “appoint”)
C. BECAUSE GOD PROTECTS THEM – Exodus 21:22 -25
III. EVERYONE IS SPECIAL TO GOD
A. WE MUST TREAT THE UNBORN AS SPECIAL
B. WE MUST TREAT THE BORN AS SPECIAL
1. Those who support abortion
2. Those who have had an abortion
3. Those who are considering an abortion