Imagine surviving a shipwreck in a remote region of the South Pacific. You come ashore on a tiny island and discover that you are the only survivor. A suitcase washes up on the beach, and inside you find a Bible. What do you think: Could you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) in isolation from other Christians, or for that matter, in isolation from other human beings?
Alone on an island, you could learn a lot about God through His written Word, and your love for Him could flourish. But there are things about yourself in relation to God that you might not learn very well.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the works of the flesh include “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, . . . and things like these” (Gal. 5:20–21). In contrast, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (vv. 22–23). If there’s no one else around, there will be no jealousy, enmity, rivalries, dissensions, or envy. There will also be no one to try your patience and no one to draw out kindness or gentleness.
Information does not self-originate. In this brief clip, John MacArthur explains that design and function come only from intelligence.
Back in the nineteen forties there was a scientist by the name of VonNeumann. He is famous for what is known as the VonNeumann machine. And the Von Neumann machine was the ultimate machine - the ultimate machine that could never be built. VonNeumann said that the machine would be self-generating. That is, it would have within itself the ability to sustain its own existence. It would be secondly, self-repairing. It would be able to fix itself within itself. Thirdly it would be self-reproducing. That is, it would produce more machines just like it. The complexity VonNeumann pointed out is so extreme by the time you get to the third level, that it is impossible to build it, self-sustaining, self-repairing, self-reproducing. If you were to think of it as a car, you can't imagine a car that you really never had to put anything into, it just sustained its own life. It just drew on its environment and sustained its own life, and it was perpetual. Nor, can you imagine a car, that when something went wrong had within itself the ability to fix itself. And a car that when you went out into the garage one day, there were two other little cars sitting beside that car, no doubt Mini coopers.
And you would say to yourself "this is a very complex machine." It's too complex to build and yet that is precisely what every single living cell in the universe does. VonNeumann said "every living cell is supremely complex capable of reproduction, growth, survival, self-diagnosing, self-repairing with a complex cellular communication of information, and storage and retrieval capability. Evolutionists are quick to say, you know, that given enough time codes and machines grown out of nothing. We now know that that is completely absurd. Computer simulations have been done so they can test the affect of time by high speed simulation, to see if evolution builds ordered complex structures. And the bottom line is, just I guess the simplest way that I have read that scientists have concluded, it has about one chance in ten to the one thousandth power. No chance. Information does not self-originate. Nor self-assemble. Design and function come only from intelligence. No natural process ever produced a program code. If you add energy disorder increases.
What is the substance of the pro-choice position? If a woman says that she personally would not have an abortion but does not want to deny someone else's right to do it, on what grounds would this woman hesitate to get an abortion? Perhaps she simply wants to have as many babies as possible and doesn't anticipate ever facing an unwanted pregnancy. Maybe this person thinks a fetus is a living human being or is not sure about the fetus' status. Perhaps she believes that the fetus is a living human being but does not want to impose this view on others. Here we reach the crux of the pro-choice position. Is the right to choose an absolute right? Do we have the moral right to choose what is morally wrong? To ask such a question is to answer it.
Again, every law enacted limits or restricts someone's choices. That is the very nature of law. If we do not wish to restrict other people's choices through legislation, we must stop legislating and cease voting. I think that most people will grant that freedom of choice is not an absolute freedom. No human being is an absolute law unto himself. Unless we are prepared to buy into an ethical system of pure relativism by which law and society become impossible, we must flee as the wind from the proposition that the individual is autonomous. To move from the abstract into the concrete, I wonder whether pro-choice activists object to laws protecting their personal property rights? Does the thief breaking into a home to steal someone's television have the inalienable right to make that choice? Does a man have the right to choose to rape a woman? These extreme examples make it obvious that freedom of choice cannot be considered an absolute right.
At what line must freedom of choice end? I believe it ends where my freedom of choice steps on another person's inalienable rights of life and liberty. No unborn baby has ever had the right to choose or deny its own destruction. Indeed, as others have said, the most dangerous place in the United States for a human being is inside the womb of a woman. For millions of unborn babies, the womb has become a cell on death row. The inmate is summarily executed without benefit of a trial or a word of defense. This execution literally involves being torn limb from limb. Is this description too graphic? Is it too emotionally provocative? No. It would be only if the description were untrue.
The right to choose, as sacred as it may be, does not carry with it the arbitrary right to destroy a human life. This is as much a miscarriage of justice as it is a miscarriage of a human baby.
What is it about the freedom to choose that makes it so precious? What provoked Patrick Henry to cry, "Give me liberty or give me death"? Certainly we desire some self-determination, and the idea of living under external coercion is abhorrent. We are thinking creatures, and we value our freedom to make choices. Most of us would hate being imprisoned, but even in a maximum-security penitentiary, a person's right to choose is not totally stripped away.
It is this principle of self-determination—having a say in my own condition and future—that is brutally denied to every unborn, aborted child. I had no say in my mother's decision whether to have an abortion or to carry me to term. My entire life was in her hands. Had she chosen abortion, my life would have been snuffed out before I was born. You and I are real human beings. We were once helpless to exercise our own precious right to choose. We were once totally dependent on somebody else's choice for our very existence.
A second crucial dimension of the right to choose is the question of when to make the moral choice concerning the baby's life. (Because this involves sexual morality, it is a very unpopular subject in the discussion.) The time to choose whether or not to have a baby is not after the baby has been conceived and begun its development. Except in cases of rape, sexual intercourse with or without means of contraception is still a matter of choice. Choices we make, whether of a sexual or nonsexual nature, always have consequences. It is an axiom of ethics and of law that we are responsible for the consequences of our choices.
When we have sexual intercourse, we may not intend or desire to produce another human life. We are aware, however, that intercourse begins the reproduction process and can produce such offspring. To kill the offspring is hardly a responsible or moral method of handling this decision.
You and I share in a high calling—to become holy.
That’s one of the most important life lessons I learned from Dr. R.C. Sproul. Perhaps you remember how often he talked about this call when he taught on finding the will of God for our lives. Nearly every time he touched on the subject, he took us to 1 Thessalonians 4:3, where Paul says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.”
We all have different secondary callings, don’t we? What I mean is that we are not all given the same vocation, the same family, the same place to live, or the same sphere of service in God’s kingdom. These things are all determined by God’s sovereignty, the gifts He gives to you and me, and the opportunities He providentially orders.
But R.C. emphasized that we all have the same primary calling, and that is to grow in our sanctification—to become more and more like Christ as we pursue personal holiness.
Ligonier Ministries has always been about the business of helping people grow in holiness. Your regular giving undergirds Ligonier’s mission of equipping believers to know God and fulfill His primary calling to live holy lives. A gift this month as we begin the new year will give people around the world more resources to help them grow in their understanding of God’s Word and in His will for their lives.
Turning the calendar to the new year with fresh personal resolutions doesn’t bring immediate holiness, does it? Weighed down by our own sin, the pull of the world, and the warfare of the evil one, it seems every day the pressure only grows more intense to conform to the spirit of the age rather than to be transformed. Living by fear, not by faith, is the temptation.
R.C. taught us that the only way to persevere and to grow in such times is through a full commitment to the lordship of Christ. This comes to expression not only in what we think but also in what we do. We will mature in faith and become more Christlike only as we put into practice what God has revealed in His Word.
There’s a place for what we might call the “ivory tower” theologian, the scholar who trains other scholars and pastors. But as you know if you’ve followed Ligonier for some time, R.C. was a “battlefield theologian,” one who like the great Reformers took the deep truths of God’s Word to Christians who are on the frontlines of spiritual warfare (2 Cor. 10:4–6). That’s where we must proclaim Christ’s lordship: in our homes, workplaces, schools, and communities. So, Ligonier is committed to producing other battlefield theologians who can take God’s truth and thoughtfully put it into practice wherever they are even as they train others to do the same.
Sound theology is practical theology, informing every step of the Christian walk. That’s why Ligonier continues to help believers not only think right thoughts about God but also to do what He commands and to press on to Christian maturity. The Lord has called us this year, with your help, not only to help people understand what they believe, but also how to live out what they believe.
You are needed in 2020 to carry on this mission of equipping Christians to grow in holiness. I am not aware of another ministry that does what Ligonier does in the way that we do it.
When you give a gift of any amount, receive with our thanks this month a new resource by R.C. that we believe will help you put God’s Word into practice and grow in Christ. We will send you Growing in Holiness, a new book based on R.C.’s recorded lessons about Christian growth and sanctification, when you support us with your donation.
Just as the hymn says, “all other ground is sinking sand,” and Ligonier stands firm on Jesus Christ and the sure Word of God. Your gospel partnership furthers our mission to help as many people as possible in every age and stage of the Christian life. By supporting Ligonier, you help ensure that this work continues to serve the church. Ministry friends like you who stand with us this month help Christians around the world.
Thank you for prayerfully supporting Ligonier financially.
U.S. only. Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Offer ends March 31, 2020. Thank you for your support.
We all want our lives to have meaning. We want to know that we are pursuing a course in life that is in accordance with God’s will—and we can even be afraid that bad things will happen to us if we are out of the will of God. It is not wrong to desire to be in God’s will; after all, Jesus Himself prayed, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). The real difficulty is when we try to discern what God’s will is for our lives. It would be so simple if the Lord wrote a message in the sky or gave each believer some supernatural sign. There would be no doubt if I woke up one morning and the clouds formed “Be an engineer!” (or even better, “Be an electrical engineer for the XYZ Company”). But the Lord has determined in His infinite wisdom not to reveal His particular will for every believer in such a way. If He were to do that, I am afraid I would still miss His will. There is an old story about the man who saw “G.P.C.” in the sky and concluded it was God telling him, “Go preach Christ!” The difficulty, however, was that the man had virtually no ability to communicate and very little Bible knowledge. When he went to a friend and told him his plans, the friend answered, “Perhaps the message was ‘Go plant corn!’”
The official blog of Ligonier Ministries, founded by theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul in 1971 to help Christians know what they believe, why the believe it, how to live it, and how to share it.