More than You Can Imagine - A Life Sunday Sermon

By James Lamb

Date: January 18, 2004

Category: Abortion, Abortion and the Church, Family Living

Text: Ephesians 3:20-21

A hurricane has a lot of power. It can produce winds of 150 miles per hour that can apply 11 tons of pressure against anything it hits. A tornado has a lot of power. It can produce winds of 300 miles per hour destroying almost anything in its path. Most of you have undoubtedly witnessed, either first hand or on TV, a hurricane or tornado. Just imagine the power! But even if you can imagine that kind of power, you would not come close to what is said to be the most powerful thing in our solar system, a solar flare. A solar flare is a temporary release of energy on the sun. Each flare is equivalent to 40 billion Hiroshima type atomic bombs! Try to imagine that power!

If you could somehow imagine that kind of power, you still would not be close to imagining the power of God! What God is able to do, Paul says in our text, is “immeasurably more” than we could ever imagine. This phrase, “immeasurably more,” is a superlative in English. It is a super superlative in our text! The King James tries to capture it by translating it to read “exceedingly abundantly above all.” The power of God, what God is capable of doing, is more than you and I could possibly even come close to imagining. And here’s the exciting “kicker.” That power is at work in you!

The first point we need to discuss is like the power of hurricanes and atomic bombs. It is not a pleasant power. The power of God’s wrath is more than you can imagine. Earlier in his letter, Paul tells the Ephesians that they were “dead” in their sins and “followed the ways of the world.” They followed Satan himself (2:1-2). But Paul does not just point his finger at the Ephesians. He includes himself. “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (2:3). Our sinful nature and the sins that nature produces in our lives places us all under the wrath of God. We all deserve His just punishment for our sins.

Let’s get more specific. Someone once asked Mark Twain as he was coming out of church what the preacher talked about. “Sin,” Twain replied. “Well, what did he say about it?” pressed the inquisitor. Twain responded, “He was agin’ it!” It is easy to talk about sin in general. It’s easy to listen to such talk. It gets a little more uncomfortable when we start talking about specific sins. But Scripture does not shy away from talking of specific sins. Neither should we.

The specific sin that we want to talk about today makes us even more uncomfortable than most. It is the sin of abortion. For some of you it is uncomfortable because you feel we just shouldn’t be talking about such politically charged things in church. For some of you it is uncomfortable because abortion has touched your life in one way or another. As one Lutheran woman with an abortion in her past put it, “Life Sunday was like a knife in my heart.” That is the wrath of God at work. It doesn’t just make us uncomfortable. It pierces our hearts and crushes our spirits. Now before continuing, let me make something very clear. It is my prayer that, before we are finished here today, anyone of you who has been directly involved in the sin of abortion will not feel a “knife” in your heart but will have your heart uplifted with hope and healing. 

But before we get there, let me make something equally as clear to the rest of us, to those who have not had an abortion, to those who abhor the thought of this destruction of little lives. That which leads to the sin of abortion lurks within us all. Dr. David Reardon has studied extensively the effects of a past abortion on women and men. He writes, “In times of great stress, people do even those things which they most abhor.” (1) Think of some of those great Biblical people. David, a man after God’s own heart, was capable of murder. Solid as a rock Peter, cursed and swore that he didn’t know the man Jesus. The great Apostle Paul’s sinful nature was such that he was forced to say, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19). If these people did what they abhorred, who are we to say that under the right circumstances we would do any better? 

People who have abortions are no different than you and me. We all fail to trust in the immeasurable power of God in Christ, and that leads us to sin. We treat God as if His power is measurable, as if it has limits. We limit God’s power when we say, “God can’t help me in this crisis pregnancy. Abortion is the only answer.” But we also limit God’s power when we say, “God can’t get me out of this financial mess, so I’ll just cheat a little on this tax form.” We limit God’s power when we say, “God can’t get me out of this trouble, so I’ll just lie a little.” We limit God’s power when we say, “God can’t help this marriage. Adultery is justifiable.” A whole host of sins result from somehow thinking God’s power is limited. Every sin is an insult to our powerful God, and we all deserve to be under the power of His wrath. Paul’s finger is pointing at each one of us when he says, “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

Now you can all hear those words. You can say, “Yeah, yeah, we know. We are good Lutherans. We know we are “poor miserable sinners.” But if you want to know what it feels like under the power of God’s wrath, talk with someone who has had an abortion. Listen to what this young woman is feeling. “You see, I didn’t just kill my child that day. I was a victim too. I killed something inside of me, something that is now replaced with the knowledge that I, too, can do a very wicked evil.” (2) Feeling the power of God’s wrath is pretty easy for those who come to understand the reality of the sin of abortion. We can all learn from them. We should all feel that wrath because of our sins. It is not a pleasant place to be, but it is a necessary place to be. When we understand that we deserve the power of God’s wrath, then we are ready to be uplifted by our next point. The power of God’s love is more than you can imagine.

We mentioned earlier the destructive power of wind in tornados and hurricanes. We compared solar power to atomic bombs. But we also know that wind and solar energy provide power in a positive sense. Wind turbines and solar panels generate vast amounts of power in this country every day. God’s power is not just seen in His wrath. It is also seen in His love, and it is “immeasurably more,” “exceedingly abundantly above all” you can imagine! How can we possibly imagine “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (vs. 18)? Paul says it “surpasses knowledge” (vs. 19). Yet Paul prays that we might have the power to know this love! We can get some idea of the power of God’s wrath in nature. We can feel it at work in our sinful hearts. But the only way to grasp the power of God’s love is by the power of God! God has revealed the power of His love in Jesus. God has given us the power of faith to know that love through His Holy Spirit. 

We know how wide God’s love is. It is worldwide. “God so loved the world that He gave …” (John 3:16). We know how long God’s love is. It is never ending. “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). We know how high God’s love is. It reaches to the Heavens, and He is going to take us there. “I am going to prepare a place for you … that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). We know how deep God’s love is. It reaches to the very depths of Hell. Jesus suffered the Hell we deserved because of our sin and He cried out “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46) so we would never have to.

Now let’s get specific with the power of God’s love just as we did with the power of His wrath. It is sometimes even harder for those who have committed the sin of abortion to imagine God’s love. But remember, His love is more than you can imagine! If His love is “world-wide,” then He loves you regardless of your sin. If His love is as long as “everlasting,” then there is no sin that can ever separate you from His love. If His love is as “high as the Heavens,” then you can be assured He is preparing a place there for you. If his love is as “deep as Hell” and Jesus suffered the punishment for all sins, then He suffered the punishment for the sin of abortion. Yes, the power of God’s love is so immeasurably greater than we could ever imagine that He forgives each and every sin that we commit because we limit His power in our lives. 

That brings us to our final point, that “kicker” we talked about. This immeasurable power of God is “at work within us” as God’s people, and it is more than we can imagine! Never minimize the presence and power of God in your life. He is so much more than a friend who is there if you need Him. He is there all the time! He is there at work within us, and as our text says, He “is able.” What comforting words! He is able! We have been applying this text today to the sin of abortion. Abortion, like every sin, makes us deserving of the power of God’s wrath. But the power of God’s wrath over abortion and every sin was taken care of through the power of God’s love in Christ. Now this power is at work within us. God is able! Let’s apply this to the sin of abortion as well.

“God is able” means we do not have to turn to abortion to solve the problem of a crisis pregnancy. “But she’s only 15 years old. This will ruin her life.” God’s power at work within us is more than we can imagine. He is able. He is able to provide help and hope. People in pregnancy centers are ready and willing to be used by God for this purpose. [Here you may want to mention a local pregnancy center or help available in your congregation.] God is able to bring about what is best for both mother and child. And just imagine what this child might be!

“But this pregnancy is the result of rape.” God’s power at work within us is more than we can imagine. He is able. He is able to help women deal with the feelings of shame and to focus their anger on the perpetrator not the baby. It is not true, by the way, that most women who become pregnant through rape choose abortion. The vast majority do not.(3) God is able to get women through this. And just imagine what this baby might be! As one woman who was conceived in rape put it, “It doesn’t matter how I began. What matters is who I will become.” (4)

“But this child is going to be severely handicapped.” God’s power at work within us is more than we can imagine. He is able! He is able to give us the strength to persevere. He is able to help us see that the value of a life is more than the ability to do this or that. Our value and purpose come from Him. And just imagine what this child might be! Some of the greatest witnesses of faith have come from such children and those whom God has privileged to entrust them to. 

Yes, we as God’s people have a wonderful message to share when there is a crisis pregnancy or any crisis. Instead of imagining the worst, remember that God is able to do more than we can imagine. Imagine instead what this child will be! Amen.

(1) David C. Reardon, The Jericho Plan – Breaking Down the Walls Which Prevent Post-Abortion Healing (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 1996), 21.

(2) From a letter received at the National Life Center of Lutherans For Life, Nevada, Iowa.

(3) David C. Reardon, Julie Makimaa, Amy Sobie Eds. Victims and Victors (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2000), 14.

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