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Do we value life as God does?

Biblical truths about the creation, protection, dignity, and redemption of human life


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Do we value life as God does?

As we approach the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision, Pastor William H. Smith served his congregation at Covenant Reformed Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Va.—and now all of us—by succinctly presenting the basics. His sermon from Jan. 1 culminates in this great declaration and call:

“God values human life because in Christ He redeems and restores it. God values human life for He made us in His image. Do we value life as God does? Then we will say no to abortion on demand, no to devaluing the lives of those who have birth defects or have suffered devastating illness or accidents, those who have lived to old age with its physical and mental decline. We will say no to those things that degrade other human beings such as racism and sexual bondage. We will not write off the lives of prisoners or those who are suffering the effects of sinful patterns life they have chosen.”

Amen—and to see how Rev. Smith arrived at this stirring conclusion, read on. Marvin Olasky

God and the goodness of life

Last Wednesday was Holy Innocents Day, which commemorates the horrendous event that took place in connection with the visit of the Magi to worship Jesus (Matthew 2:1-18). King Herod hoped the Magi would find the baby and lead him to Him so he could kill Him. When Herod realized the Magi weren’t coming back, he ordered all the male children in the Bethlehem region, 2 years old and younger, killed. Herod’s cruelty caused inconsolable sorrow.

Our bishop asked that our parishes transfer the observance of Holy Innocents to today. He also asked our ministers to use this occasion to take notice of the practice of abortion in our country. He asked that we not so much preach negatively about abortion but positively about life.

This I am happy to do by directing our attention to four Biblical truths about God and the goodness of human life.

1. God and the creation of human life

What is a human being? How, if in any way, is human life different from other forms of life? Atheists do not believe there is anything distinctive about human life. Human beings are the most highly developed animals—a step or two ahead of chimpanzees, gorillas, and apes.

Most human beings sense that there is something unique about human life that sets us apart from even the highest forms of animal life. The first chapter of the Bible teaches us that God is the creator of all things and testifies in several ways that human life is different from other animal life.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. …’

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ … And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:26-31).

First, God consulted with Himself before He made humans. Up to the creation of humans, God just spoke His will: “Let there be” and what God willed came into existence. But when God created humans He said to Himself, “Let us make man.”

We do some things automatically—turn on the coffee pot, put the key in the ignition, turn on the faucet. But the more important a thing we are going to do the more likely we are to talk about it—whether to someone else or to ourselves. Before God makes humans He takes counsel with Himself—or, we can say, “He talked over with Himself the creation of human beings.”

Second God determined to “make man in our image, after our likeness. … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Man is not God, not even a little god, but of all the things God created, nothing is more like Him than man. We should not make the mistake of thinking that the image of God applies only to our souls or spirits. The whole person—body and soul—reflects the image of God. While there are some God-ordained differences, such as God’s giving leadership in home and church to man, men and women are equally in the image of God. We are like God in ways that nothing else in creation can be. We are capable of a conscious relationship with God—of fellowship with Him. We reflect the nature of God—we can think, reason, love, will, act. We know right from wrong; we can reflect God’s holiness in nature and righteousness in action. In our whole being we reflect that glory of God who made us.

Third, it was only after God created humans that He saw that His creation was very good. As God looked at various aspects of the creation He made, God saw it was good. It was what God wanted it to be; it was pleasing to Him. You have probably had experiences like that with something you made. You’re pleased with what you did. Six times God saw what He made, and it was good. But only after God created human beings did God say His creation was very good. When God made man, the crown of His creation, God said, “My creation is very good—it is everything I want it to be. I am entirely pleased with it.”

Human life is good because God created it in His own image. Genesis Chapter 3 tells us about how humans rebelled against God. But sin did not destroy the image of God. If we think of the image of God as a beautiful portrait, we can say that sin defaced or marred the image, but it did not destroy it. The image of God in us is not what it was meant to be, but we are still creatures made in the image of God.

2. God and the protection of human life

We see the goodness of human life also in the special protection God gave human life.

Once Adam and Eve sinned against God, the world changed rapidly and drastically. Their son Cain murdered his brother Abel. The world became an increasingly violent place. Eventually things became so bad that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11).

Eventually God sent the flood as judgment. But the flood did not change human nature. Left to themselves, people would continue to take innocent life and to respond with vigilante vengeance. Soon the world would again be filled with violence, and the survival of the human race would be in jeopardy.

So after the flood God gave human life special protection. God said:

“And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

“‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image’” (Genesis 9:5-6).

Despite the degradation of sin, human life has a special status because “God made man in his own image.” That’s why God put the fence of capital punishment around humans to protect it.

3. God and the dignity of human life

The image of God in humans has been sadly marred. But does human life still have dignity?

We read Psalm 8 this morning. The psalmist exalts the Lord: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” The Lord’s majesty is so great the psalmist wonders how God can even take notice of man:

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”

Even if there were no sin, God is so great and man so small that it is profoundly amazing God values human life. But He does!

“Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet. …”

There is nothing in creation greater than human life. Humans are just a little lower than the heavenly beings. Despite human sin, God still crowns man with glory and honor. Just as God gave man dominion over all the rest of creation at the beginning, so man still rules over creation for God.

Human life is good because God still gives dignity to human life.

4. God and the redemption of human life

The ultimate evidence that God considers life good is that God chose to redeem human life.

God sent his Son to take to Himself our human nature. Jesus became like us in every way but sin, sharing in our weaknesses and mortality. The purpose of His sharing our human nature was so that He could redeem human life from bondage and restore it to what God intended. It is beyond belief that the eternal Son of God would so value human life that He would become one with us in our human weakness.

In his life, Jesus offered to God the perfect obedience Adam did not, because he chose to disobey God. Jesus obeyed at every point that Adam failed. He then offered up that perfect life on the cross to pay for our sins. This is how Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many—how He bought us out from bondage to Satan, to sin, to death and to judgment. Christ so valued human life that He gave His life in the place of ours so that we would be forgiven, counted righteous, and restored to fellowship with God.

God’s plan is not just to redeem us from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but to restore us to what He intended us to be when He created us. Already He is making us like Jesus in His risen and perfected humanity. He is renewing us from within so that we can love God and do His will. But ultimately He will conform us to His perfect humanity. At death our souls will be freed from sin and sin will have no power over us any longer. At the resurrection our bodies will be raised, our bodies and souls reunited, and we will exist fully in the image of God forever—beyond the touch of sin and death forever. We will be sinless and immortal beings. We will be like Christ in His resurrection glory.

God values human life because in Christ He redeems and restores it.

God values human life for He made us in His image.

Do we value life as God does? Then we will say no to abortion on demand, no to devaluing the lives of those who have birth defects or have suffered devastating illness or accidents, those who have lived to old age with its physical and mental decline. We will say no to those things that degrade other human beings such as racism and sexual bondage. We will not write off the lives of prisoners or those who are suffering the effects of sinful patterns life they have chosen.

We come to the Lord’s table for Holy Communion, knowing that God values us—He made us in His image and, when we had fallen into sin, He sent his Son to redeem and restore us. When the bread is put in your hands and the cup put to you lips, take them as God’s affirmation that He has redeemed you in Christ and will not be done till He has restored you to His image.


William H. Smith William is a former WORLD correspondent.

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