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I'LL HOLD YOU IN HEAVEN
By Jack Hayford
RegalCopyright © 2003 Jack W. Hayford
All right reserved.
The Gift of Lives
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of
the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being.
The foundation of hope for any human dilemma or, in fact, for any human disobedience will always be drawn from God's Word-not from human reasoning or happy-talk philosophizing. The answer to your deepest pain or most grievous heart cry lies in Scripture. What then, should be your first question?
Perhaps the best place to begin is with the simple query: Was my unborn child, in the fullest sense of the meaning, actually a human being? That question must be settled with confidence and personal certainty. God's answer gives rise to an amazing basis for hope-an expectancy never before anticipated as possible. So let's discover what the Creator Himself has to say on the subject.
Our first objective is to establish a biblical basis for the prenatal existence of the human soul. Is a person a person before he or she is born?
Here is the crux of the matter, for if we are only dealing with chemistry or tissue in examining the nature of the fetus or the stillborn, there is little at stake. But in most of us, an inner monitor signals that there is something more involved here than mere chemical combinations or complex structures of tissues. Could it be that God has given a conclusive and confirming witness in His Word that the life of an embryo is eternal?
Without surrendering to either mystery or superstition, we can say yes! The life of the child in the womb is eternal. But please understand: This is a statement based on far more than religious opinion, occult dogma or human imagination.
The religionist may trumpet the reality of and, therefore, the sanctity of life in the womb. But so often these assertions lead to the leveling of accusations. Too easily the focus falls solely on the sin of life's sanctity having been violated, and the hearer rebels. Even if the call to protect life is worthy, it is a false victory to suppose that proclamation is more important than the good news of God's grace, love and healing forgiveness. Life is sacred, to be sure. But many need to see sacred truth that extends beyond that fact-truth that offers other facts after human blindness may have overlooked the first fact of life's sanctity.
On another front, the reincarnationist proposes that all human life is merely the recycling of personalities in new bodies, with the hope of continually improving one's lot in life with each recycling experience. But whatever the wish, hope or pretended logic of such a proposition, honesty requires that we immediately dispense with those notions. God's Word abolishes the phantom philosophies of reincarnation. According to the final revelation of the Bible, life is a one-time proposition for each of us as far as this world is concerned. Life is an appointment that (1) has God's divine purpose, and (2) requires our accountability: It is appointed unto man to live and die but once-after this comes his evaluation before God.
Contrary to the confused ideas of a few sincere souls, Jesus' words "You must be born again" do not have anything whatsoever to do with another birth beyond this lifetime. Being born again is clearly explained by Jesus Himself. He clarified new birth as an internal renewal, and He specified our need to experience it in this lifetime by welcoming Him into our life as Savior and Lord.
Another realm of error distills from the poetic notion that while a baby is not a recycled personality having lived life before, each baby had existence prior to the womb. This scenario somehow envisions God as a heavenly Father doling out angel spirits across the earth, installing them in baby bodies either before or at birth. This unscriptural and insensitive idea is at the root of the frequently parroted statement, so sincerely spoken at the funerals of young children, that God somehow knew better and that He took back the life He had earlier given from heaven.
However well intended the thought, God didn't and doesn't take babies because He needs them in heaven. The pain and problem of death exist on this planet because humanity has broken its trust with the treasure of life. And the Bible doesn't say anything at all about God making independent decisions about the placement of each life into each body. Let's see what the Bible does say.
When God Breathes
Genesis 2 elaborates what chapter 1 introduces: God, having created man, told him to be fruitful and multiply. The Word of God then relates how man's possibilities and capabilities for this multiplying were given by his Creator. They are summarized in these words:
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Literally, the Hebrew text reads that God, in creating the father and mother of the race, placed in them the capacity to beget life: He breathed into them the breath of chayeem-that is, "lives." Notice closely the use of the plural of the word for "life." God gave mankind the gift of lives. The concept transcends the obvious Creator-gift of life for each one to experience and reaches further to the gift of lives placed within each one's capacity to beget.
First, this ability has been placed at man's discretion. Each time the conception of a child occurs, God does not have to take separate action to infuse the fertilized ovum with life. Life is simply inherently present-instantly, spontaneously, always there-because God delegated "lives" to man for propagation. The awesome ability to reproduce eternal souls as well as physical bodies has been given to mankind.
Second, until that union of sperm and egg occurs, we as individual men and women are the stewards of the life-begetting potential. No given number of offspring is mandated by God to any of us. God never indicates a requirement as to quantity but only that there be a will to say yes-that we will have children, in obedience to His command "Be fruitful ... multiply."
Contrary to the thinking of some sincere people, the Bible does not say birth control is wrong. God has given each of us-mankind-the responsibility of governing the multiplication of life. While He has commanded us to beget children, He has not mandated an interminable abandonment to chance or required a given number of offspring or assigned us to innumerable ones!
What the Bible does say, however, is that children are a blessing and should be sought:
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward.
The Word of God employs the loveliest terminology in describing the joy of childbirth, the meaningfulness of parenthood and the desirability of a family. But the Bible further implies that since life begins at conception, the willful extinguishing of that life is not an acceptable method of birth control. According to God's Word, the frequency of conception can be controlled, but life once conceived cannot be taken at human will. In short, (1) man is not to avoid begetting children; (2) man is not to abort those who have been conceived.
So we see from the very establishing of the creative order:
1. God has placed life immediately within man's capacity to reproduce;
2. He has called him to exercise that life-begetting capacity;
3. He clearly expects that once life is conceived, its preciousness will be honored.
We do not need to go to the laboratory to see if life begins at conception, nor are we at the mercy of volatile emotions on the subject. Rather, the cool, crisp words of God's timeless truth show us created man, who from his beginning has possessed the God-given ability to beget another being created like himself. This kind of life is in the loins of both the man and the woman since each contributes his or her share toward the multiplication process. In the instant those cells conjoin, another life begins.
God obviously anticipated our inquiry
centuries ahead of time.
Not only does the Bible establish the fact of the prenatal existence of your child as a human being, it further teaches the worth, importance and spiritual viability of every preborn life. David declares this when praising God for how He creates and protects the fetus:
For You [Lord] formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.
This text makes direct reference to the deepest part of our being-the "inward parts." The Hebrew term kilyaw is the figurative expression used to represent the "foundation of being." Just as we refer to the heart as the seat of our being, or inner person, the Hebrew tongue referred to the kidneys (kilyaw). The use in the Scriptures of this expression, referring to a child in the womb, unquestionably establishes biblical support for the idea that a spiritual being, not only a physical one, does exist in the womb.
And notice how God's personal attentiveness toward each fetus is so beautifully declared: "You covered me," David announces; that is, "You came to my help." A close scrutiny of the verb chosen by Jewish translators of this passage reveals that the literal statement of the text is that God is beside the child-to help it and to keep it from its earliest beginning.
One can't help but wonder to what David might have been referring. As a child, had his mother told him stories of her being especially protected-sustained by God's intervening grace-during her pregnancy? Might David be saying that he was spared by some providence, or is he simply making a general statement about God's care for the child in the womb? In any case, the inescapable truth is that His personal attention is declared; Jesus strongly affirmed God's personal concern for each individual, noting His very real Creator-care for a mere sparrow and then saying God's care was multiplied for each child, each person, each human being. Psalm 139 gives us mighty insights: (1) God views life in the womb as real and eternal; and (2) God shows us life in the womb is desirable and worth protecting.
When in the Womb
Does Life Begin?
This question has captured the interest of philosophers and scientists over the centuries, as man has sought to define exactly when life actually begins. More recently, debate has centered on the question as to which trimester-that is, which three-month segment of the nine months of pregnancy-life may in fact become "human."
It seems that God anticipated this specific question ages ago, for in the Bible we have a case in which the most precise evidence is given, showing us that viable, significant life in the womb specifically exists during all of the first three months; that is, from conception, fully meaningful life is present.
Of course, the biologist has shown the poignant physiological evidence of life in the first three months. In the third week, the lobes of the brain are distinguishable; in the fourth week, the head and face are recognizable and the heart starts to beat; during weeks five and six, the eyes are identifiable, and legs are putting on flesh and muscle; in the eighth week, the embryo moves to the fetal stage, and during the following weeks, sex can be identified and the baby can begin to turn its head, squint, frown, make a fist and even get the hiccups: all of this is before the end of the first three months in the womb.
As touching as these biological signs of humanity are in the physical formation of the child, look with me at the pointed evidence the Bible gives of the personal, spiritual viability of that child. An unmistakable statement is present here, as God has placed at the heart of His Word a story which reveals the fact of a baby's real, personal meaning-filled existence during the first three months following conception. It's the story that is among the best known in the world. Although given to tell us of the gift of our Redeemer, hidden within this story is a precious fact concerning the Creator's basic gift of life itself.
Mary, the young woman of Nazareth, has received an angelic visitation announcing her role as the mother of the Messiah. We pick up the story in Luke, chapter 1:
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?"
The words of Mary's cousin Elizabeth are astonishingly relevant to the philosophical inquiry of this twentieth century. The precision of the text seems crafted by the Holy Spirit twenty centuries in advance. Within the span of 20 verses in Luke's Gospel (1:26-56), we are explicitly told that
• a child has been conceived in Mary's womb;
• the child is present, alive, and "the Lord" at the moment-no less a person for being a fetus; and
• the exact chronology of the events.
In verse 36, the angel told Mary at the same time as her conception, that Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy. In verse 56, we are told Mary stayed with her until the birth of Elizabeth's baby: "And Mary remained with her about three months." In other words, when Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied upon Mary's arrival-the child in your womb is the
Excerpted from I'LL HOLD YOU IN HEAVEN by Jack Hayford Copyright © 2003 by Jack W. Hayford
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.