Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Taking of a Human Life and the Worth of a Soul


A human life is a creation of God. Yes, God created the life that He knew would be unproductive, and that He knew would be named Adolf Hitler, and that He knew would study to become a doctor who performs abortions. God knew all that and yet still He created that life. I do not believe that God created the universe including man and then sat down to watch as an uninvolved spectator. Nor do I believe that God orchestrates everything like moving a chess piece. I believe it is a great mystery, but it is evident that God both intervenes as well as allows man to find his own way. Anyone who tells you he has it all figured out is enamored with his own intellectual prowess and is to prayed for rather than listened to. Anyone who can present an ironclad doctrine about such things by removing any mystery is playing an eternal game with earthly rules.

But a human life is much more than arms and legs. Each life, regardless if it travels down the fallopian tubes for several days and fails to attach to the uterine wall and is discharged, is still a human soul. Yes, without arms and legs and eyes and ears, and a full five to six weeks before the heart begins to beat, a living soul has been created. And this soul, even though only existing within a few cells during the first few moments, was known by God before the first atom was created. But to the temporal and carnal mind the concept of a soul has been all but ignored except for a few minor doctrinal tenants.

Through death and war and miscarriage and contraception, and perhaps the most vicious killing of all called abortion, the world has been desensitized to the taking of a human life, and we have also been completely inoculated from coming to grips with a human soul. We see murder constantly on television and the movies, and when I was young we played cowboys and Indians and when shot we would fall and be dead. Those were the rules. We can watch a car crash during a race where the driver is killed and we are startled and horrified, but how often do we consider the fact that in that steel wreckage a human soul was released from its human body and is has now in the hands of its Creator?

I have presided over many funerals and I can tell you that the earthly loss almost always outweighs the spiritual state of the dead person. Only if the person had been a faithful follower of Christ is there any mitigating factors. In fact, when a saint dies there is some sadness mingled with great joy. But usually that is when a person dies of old age or even a disease. I have officiated at funerals where a man has been murdered or someone has died suddenly in a car wreck. I once was the minister at a funeral where an ex-husband had kidnapped his ex-wife, a faithful member of the church where I pastored, and he murdered her and then killed himself. Surprisingly, the family had both caskets there at once for a dual funeral. Not your run of the mill funeral to say the least.

So when a human like is taken by the hands of another human being it is a most serious event. And if that person was young people will say, “He had his whole life ahead of him”. And while that may be true in an earthly sense, it is most untrue when you consider that person’s soul. Regardless of when anyone dies and at what age, that soul will exist forever in eternity. I realize the evangelical church no longer really believes that aside from some half hearted doctrinal assertions, however it is true nonetheless. The taking of a human life has eternal consequences and that alone must make it an act of war against God.

So let us come to grips with the reality of days gone by and the narrative contained within the Old Testament. God clearly has taken human lives in the past, and even used people to do it. Let us be transparent here and admit that many things that are recorded in the Old Testament are mysteries and do not seem to comply with the teachings of Jesus. That is why it is impossible to place the Old Testament Law of Moses in a bucket, add the New Testament grace of Jesus in that same bucket, and stir them into a spiritual meal which contains a little of this and a little of that. No, we live completely and exclusively within the church age where Jesus is Lord and His teachings and His life are our guides being empowered by His Spirit. When the Spirit of God came He was to speak of Jesus, not Moses. The amalgam of the law and grace presented by some is erroneous and has spread self righteous error in some corners of the church. You do not get to pull out parts of the law. If you desire the law to be your guide then you must embrace all of it; every single part of it from picking up sticks on the Sabbath to stoning a rebellious child. You cannot present your condensed version of the law and teach that your version must be followed.

Now having addressed that, the New Testament provides a far reaching template for believers that overrides any and all former teachings. Only God can sort out the “why’s”, but we are called to follow Jesus and His teachings. And in that context a human soul must be held in the highest of all concerns. Now if your main concern is preserving your way of life, or if your primary concern is to protect and defend a nation, than you already have made a human soul irrelevant. Although you may claim to believe the Bible, you do not. But if you do believe the teachings of Jesus, then you cannot teach that some souls are worth less than others.

During the last century or so, the church in America has been systematically taught a religion of moral patriotism and has been led away from the faith once delivered to the saints. Now I do not just mean the liberals and the Rick Warrens and the Joel Osteens. Even some of most orthodox among us who may loudly rebuke those men and others has succumbed to a spiritual format that has been severely compromised by the patriotic culture. In effect, when believer lends his love and allegiance to any earthly system it begins to poison all areas of his spiritual life. It clouds his thinking, makes him double minded in all his ways, and renders his doctrinal statement as compromised even when those words seem orthodox and in alignment with some ancient creeds.

And the practical implications of such a compromise are many and varied. From unwholesome speech, to hatred for certain people, and to self serving prayers, the infection of a patriotic spirit contaminates any disciple who wishes to remain pure and broken before His Lord. It puts the spiritual foundation of truth at variance with the entire revelation of the New Testament. And although there are many manifestations of such a compromise, the one most notable is the devaluing of a human soul and considering it subservient to the interests or worldly affairs.

Matt.16: 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

It is impossible to understand the enormous worth of a human soul. We are so prone to see and assess the worth of everything in the temporal and not the eternal. But Jesus said that if you gain the entire world it is not worth one human soul. That means if you could kill all your enemies, and if you alone owned everything in this world, and if you were the ruler over all the inhabitants of the world, that could not compare in value with the soul a little eight year old HIV infected African girl. And Charles Manson’s soul would be worth more than that as well. You see, it all depends upon what prism you use to see and understand truth. And even though you may understand truth in the doctrinal abstract, if we do not preserve that truth as we make practical applications then our doctrine is hollow and just a show piece.

If we consider the weight of the cross as it pertains to redemption and the implications about how God feels about human souls, then we must be driven to a more expansive view of the value of the human soul. And given this more spiritual perspective it will lead us into uncomfortable areas that we have considered as “settled law” in the practical realm. What I mean is that we have for so long lived within an ecclesiastical structure that accepted and embraced compromise that to reexamine some of these issues would not only be inconvenient and discomforting, but it could well lead to major changes in the way we think and act. And no one likes that kind of change. And I can personally testify to the spiritual and even emotional pain caused when I have had to face a Biblical reality, repent of my thinking and ways, and set out to bring my being into conformity with the teachings and truth of Jesus that I had previously abrogated.

The Lordship of Jesus brings everything, and I mean everything, into question. If we truly desire to follow Jesus as Lord, then it cannot be with a tepid understanding about that Lordship which is more prominent in worship songs than it is in our lives. Many things we do without a real spiritual searching as to the will of the Spirit revealed in the Word of God. In fact most professing believers have never done any searching even close to that, nor do they have any desire to do so. And that is not only sad and unfortunate; it contaminates the church and over the years changes everything within the evangelical community. Given enough decades without any deep spiritual vigilance or laying what we believe and practice comprehensively before the Lord in prayer and fasting, the church will slowly but surely comply to the dictates of its surrounding culture.

And when the church becomes attached to this world in thought, word, and deed, then the souls of men are not held as valuable as is taught in Scripture. That means men and women can die without the church shedding a tear unless it affects us. That means that many thousands can die if they threaten our western lifestyle and the church rejoices in victory. That means that the church can provide a written creed which says that Jesus died for ever person but then the church goes about feeling and treating differently. That means that the driving force within the church is not the gospel and the redemption of lost souls, but it becomes a matter of earthly issues and influences.

And when the church lives in such a compromised and spiritually treacherous position then the taking of human life becomes much easier to digest because the worth of human souls are no longer seen in the light of eternity and with a divine creative element. This is no small issue. In fact it literally rips out the core of the gospel and of Christianity itself. We can now travel to and from church every week without a shred of observable compassion for the plight of the lost. And only an horrific event that claims the lives of children or has a certain amount of deaths to it can elicit even momentary “tsk-tsk” kind of disapproval. But every day and every week and every month souls are killed and souls die to face a Christless eternity and yet the church service is always designed to lift our spirits and avoid any real spiritual evaluation. It’s the gays and the liberals that need to change, not us.

The world has created more efficient and convenient ways to kill people it deems as enemies. The drone technology increases every day, and soon they will flood the skies. You can kill people while sipping a latte. It is probably inevitable that some nation will use a nuclear weapon. Bombs are now guided to their targets by satellites circling the earth. And companies are making huge profits from these killing technologies. Yes, man seeks to increase his expertise at killing other human beings. The reasons are varied, you can take your pick. But we as followers of Jesus are called to His teachings and not the reasoning of fallen man. Yes, the world has created more efficient and convenient ways to kill people.

We should be thankful Jesus came for a purpose completely at odds with killing enemies.
We see arms and legs and mouths.
Jesus saw souls.


michael said...

Not only does Jesus see souls, He also can communicate in exacting detail what He has done to the soul, in the case of the Apostle Paul, blinded him, He can also give another the address where you are and sovereignly direct another there to administer Grace in His Name!

And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 9:11-17 ESV)

Anonymous said...

Following Jesus is supposed to change our hearts. If we love Jesus, we love others, it's that simple. If we would rather amass guns, and depend on a Constitution or a document to protect our rights, then we are destroying our testimony. Our trust is in things, and not in Jesus. In this world we came naked, and when we'll leave this world with nothing.

I agree with everything here. There is some subtle little lie that Satan has slipped into the minds of evangelicals, that God is the wrathful God of the OT. And they accept this because they like it. They want it so. It feels good to know that they can watch a wrathful God strike lightning at anyone who opposes them. And while it's true that the Lord has all attributes and at times did act wrathful, I agree with Bro. Rick, it is yet a mystery and I can't question God on why He acted vengefully upon mankind in the OT.

But through Jesus, we have no right to demand God exercise His wrath on souls. Jesus would not do that. Therefore, we can't do that, because we're supposed to live in Him. He sacrified, therefore we must sacrifice; He gave His life, and we must give and yield and submit to Him the way He submitted. Under the Son, we live in peace towards all men. We don't demand an exclusive club of men that are favored and spoiled and we, like Christ, aren't here to change the world and the culture and Hollywood. And Jesus taught murder begins in the heart. Matt 5:21 - ?You have heard that it was said to those of old, "you shall not murder," and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment." But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the counciut whoever says, 'you fool!" shall be in danger of hell fire." The pride of gun ownership after so many murderous tragedies and by CHRISTIANS, is out-and-out rebellion of all that Jesus was and is.

I remember a pastor preaching about how we need to lay every rebellious thing of ourselves at the altar. Every pre-conceived notion that makes us exalted in others' eyes or any self-righteous area of our lives. Until and unless it is laid down and handed to the Lord, we have absolutely no 'rights' or 'entitlements' to tell the world, and the culture and Hollywood how to live.

Living through Jesus is a hard walk. And that is why some christians refuse to acknowledge the lamb and would rather live under the covenant where their God would strike every naysayer and protect them from their enemies and fight their battles and lift them up to the world as victorious. It all comes down to one thing. Pride.

Jesus is humility. But they want pride.

Anonymous said...

Something that is grievous is how pro-life crusaders turn this important issue into a business. As a christian, it would be more fitting to always be instant in season and reach out to pregnant teens one-on-one, as an individual, turning them toward the Savior. Or going to women's shelters, or teen pregnancy shelters, alone, and just visiting a young confused girl. I am certain that loving christian women are doing this very thing. But they don't receive recognition because they do it without pay.

The pro-life "movement" is just that. A movement that requires people's money and donations to advertise and promote themselves as anti-abortion. They pay staff and turn their organizations into well-fed tax-exempt businesses (non-profit) that use donations to send messages via media. Yet, even being a non-profit still profits speakers and celebrities that attach themselves to these issues.

Sending messages and using shocking photos of fetuses being torn away from the womb may disturb some into rethinking their choices, but what these organizations lack is true love for both unborn baby AND mother. They love the unborn, but are too busy with their day jobs to be readily available for the Lord to send a hurting pregnant teen in their path.

There is something very hypocritical about church leaders who need to 'talk' and 'talk' about the sanctity of life, yet are well-paid spokesmen doing the speaking circuit or are highly-paid talk show radio/tv personalities, or senators, congressmen/women who use the topic to gain votes. They could save one life per day, and steer a young mother's life to Jesus, if they stayed home and used their legs to reach out to their community.

There is something amiss about the way christians think things need to be done these days. Everything requires massive amounts of money, yet minds and hearts still aren't changing. There is a lie by Satan that is perpetuated; he makes some christians believe it is a lucrative career choice to spout 'righteousness' in people's ears. They speak, leave the podium, take the cheque, and never look back.

The lie is that everyone can be a great leader and profit and prosper from that. Everyone wants to be on the stage, in the news, in the halls of Kings and lawmakers. Everyone wants to be the reincarnation of a Jabez or a Solomon, or King David, or a Queen Esther. No one wants the jobs that Jesus offers.

Rick Frueh said...

A very good word. I feel the same way. Instead of shouting at the darkness let us be a light. How many of us could have adopted but did not. That's me.