Christian Life, Sermons — June 26, 2022 at 12:39 pm

Cherishing Human Life

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Human life and only human life is created in the image of God

Human Life

Text: 1 Peter, Exodus 22:21, Galatians 3:28, Genesis 1:26-27, Jeremiah 1:5, Leviticus 19:33, Malachi 3:5, Philippians 2:3-4, Philippians 3:20, Philippians 3:30, Psalms 139, Psalms 139:13, Revelation 7:9

This is us: Cherishing Human Life.

1. Human life and only human life is created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27

God recognizes the personhood of the preborn. Jeremiah 1:5; Ps. 139

God has a special place in His heart for the immigrant. Exodus 22:21Leviticus 19:33Malachi 3:5; Ruth,

Philippians 3:201 Peter 2:11Philippians 3:30

Special provision:

Special care:

Special identity:

Racism & prejudice of any kind and in any amount is counter to the gospel.

Galatians 3:28Philippians 2:3-4Revelation 7:9

We are a troubled world, aren’t we? Genocide in Syria. Homelessness in America. Neo Nazi and white supremicists. Black Lives matter. 1 million preborn babies aborted every year legally. It’s a mess. So, what is the biblical view, the Christian view of these matters? Many people claim these are complicated issues. They are not; at least for the person who takes the Bible and the God of the Bible seriously. From the 1st chapters of the Old Testament to the last chapters of Revelation, the value of human life is extolled throughout.

My message has one, and one only point:

1. Human life and only human life is created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.”

What’s interesting is that the rest of creation Genesis says that God bara, created it; that is, He is the one who brought it to pass. But in v.26 it says the text uses the word asah, not bara, which means to fashion or shape. While God spoke the rest of creation into existence, ex nihlo, from nothing, when He came to creating humans, the picture gets personal, down and dirty, as if God got down on his knees in the dirt and with His own hands fashioned and shaped Adam.

What does it mean that He fashioned and shaped us in His own image? The imago dei, the image of God?

Generally, ‘image’ means at least 3 realities: (build)

That we bear the essence of God in terms of rationality and cognitive capacity.

That we bear the essence of God in terms of emotions and capacity for relationships.

That we bear the essence of God in terms of reigning and ruling.

Now remember, just because we bear God’s likeness does not make us God, right? The mountains (pic) are majestic, and God is majestic, but that doesn’t mean the mountains are God. The sun (pic) of our solar system is radiant, but that doesn’t mean that the sun is God. You bear the image of God in that you have cognitive capacity and rationality; you bear the image of God in that you have emotions and the capacity for relationships, you bear the image of God in that you are equipped to reign and rule over the rest of creation—but you’re not God. Say to the person next to you, “You’re not God!”

This goes for EVERY human being: black, brown, red, yellow, gay, straight, liberal, conservative, republican, democrat, citizen, immigrant, employed, homeless, Christian, non-Christian, Muslim terrorist or NFL referee. Each and every human being is created in the image of God.

Our secular society, many of those in government and education and science, will try to convince you that what I’ve just said is a bunch of hooey. PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sees little, if any, difference between a dog and a human.

Right at the beginning of holy writ is this fundamental, immovable truth: Human life and only human life is created in the image of God.

So if you really believe that, and I pray you do, then what are the implications and applications of that fundamental, immovable truth?

• God recognizes the personhood of the preborn. Jeremiah 1:5; Ps. 139

God speaking to Jeremiah the prophet: “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 “For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in your book and planned

before a single one of them began.” Psalms 139:13, 16

Science continues to move the dial back toward conception for what it considers viability and personhood….pain threshold, brainwaves, heartbeat, etc.

Pain receptors are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body by no later than 16 weeks after fertilization, and nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks. For unborn children, says Dr. Paul Ranalli, a neurologist at the University of Toronto, 20 weeks is a “uniquely vulnerable time, since the pain system is fully established, yet the higher level pain-modifying system has barely begun to develop.” As a result, unborn babies at this age probably feel pain more intensely than adults.” Doctors on Fetal Pain.

We here at Rush Creek have for 25 years had an unwavering commitment to the rights of the unborn. Why? Each baby in the womb (pic attached) is created in the image of God.

Baby bottles….

But what about those mothers who choose not to abort, what help do they get with their baby? Fortunately, there are a growing number of Christian ministries that come alongside the mother to provide emotional and financial support.
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We have quite of few people here who have been a part of abortion. Let me just say that the gospel Is such good news, right? In Christ, all our sins have been taken to the cross and paid for by His blood. We should live, not in the mire of our past sins, but in the grace of God who promises a bright future.

When you do a survey of the immigrant in scripture, 3 realities emerge:

Special provision: God directs us to provide for the immigrant. As a matter of fact, the book of Ruth shows that directive in action. Naomi, a Jewess, and Ruth her Gentile daughter in law migrate to Israel and Boaz, the hero of the story, follows God’s direction and provides for the immigrants to glean around the fringes of his fields.

Special care: Over and over again we see God taking care of the immigrant. Moses immigrating to Canaan, Jacob migrating to Haran, Joseph in captivity in Egypt, the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness and migrating ultimately back to Israel. The minor prophets are particularly incensed at the lack of care by the privileged class for the migrants in their land. And then of course there was our Lord Jesus who was an immigrant when his parents fled the wrath of Herod. I could go on and on.

Special identity: A number of N.T. passages identify believers in Jesus as immigrants. 1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles.” Philippians 3:20 reminds us that we are foreigners, immigrants in this world when Paul says, “our citizenship is in heaven.”

Pastor Russ—are you saying that we need to open up our borders to any and all who come? That is NOT what I’m saying. I’m saying that when I hear many believers talk about immigrants, it comes across insensitive, discompassionate, and even racist.

**Invite Juan Gomez to stage: Juan, you love Jesus? Me too. That means we have more in common than anything that is different about us. Q: There is a lot of chatter about the immigration issue. As a Hispanic believer, what is your perspective, not on the wall, but on the chatter, you hear and the attitudes you pick up?

• Racism & prejudice of any kind and in any amount is counter to the gospel.

Galatians 3:28 “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

In the series This Is Us, my favorite character, Randall is one of 3 (pic attached) children in a white family. They all share the same birthdate; Randall being adopted when abandoned by his mother. I’m watching the series to see what I can learn about the dynamic of a black child being raised in a white family.

As I’ve mentioned before, we adopted Moses 3 years ago from Uganda. (pic attached). There are a number of us in this room who have adopted children of color; Chinese, Africans, Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics. What a beautiful picture of the gospel: that God adopted us and gave us this amazing birthright!

I LOVE my grandson, Moses! In every picture (pic attached) we take, I make sure he’s standing next to Pops cause long after I’m gone, I want him to know that as an older white male, I didn’t love him any less than my biological grandchildren.

I am aware that some people, black and white, resent white families for adopting black children. But honestly, I don’t care.

As an old, white guy, raised in segregated America, I have to admit I am awakening to the assumptions and attitudes in my own life that some call white privilege. When I use that term I only mean that I haven’t been sensitive enough to the differences and different perspectives of other ethnicities. As a matter of fact, my observation is that the idea of privilege is common to all cultures and ethnicities, not just white America. But my main concern is my own life and the lives of those who attend Rush Creek. God is working in my life to see people as He sees them. He’s been working in my heart to not see people of different colors and ethnicities as less—in any way. Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”

**Invite ?? to stage: ?, you love Jesus? Me too! That means we have more in common than anything that is different about us. Q:As a black Christ-follower, what are some of the words, actions, attitudes that you observe from non-black Christians that are unsettling to you?

I’m grateful to the Spirit of God in me to keep working on me to see people as He sees them: created in the image of God; objects of God’s love; recipients of the promises of God if they’re in Christ. I’m so gratified that we are becoming more like heaven will be. Revelation 7:9 “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: (build)

Salvation belongs to our God,

who is seated on the throne,

and to the Lamb!”

Author

  • Russ served as the Lead Pastor of Rush Creek in Arlington, Texas for 25 years. During his tenure, Russ experienced significant growth barriers, transitioned the church four times, survived three near-death experiences in leadership, and led the church to expand to a multi-campus, multi-layered staff. By God's grace, Russ is uniquely equipped to serve as a pastor to pastors and is using this next season in life to serve the next generation of leaders.

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