Sermon: Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

Date: January 24, 2021
Text: Psalm 139:14-16


Illustration: Slavery

American History is littered with sin and tragedy. By far the greatest tragedy and mark on our history is few hundred years of slavery that our country legalized. I’m an American History nerd and I know well the numerous variables that went into slavery endured for so long in our young republic. Two central things kept it going for so long.  #1 The perpetuation of the idea that those from Africa were less than human. That was the justification for allowing such barbaric practices on other people. If they’re less than human, then anything is justifiable, we can buy, sell, trade, kill, abuse (By the way that was also the justification for the nazis in WW2).  #2 Many people in the country who were uncomfortable with slavery simply assumed that it was settled law. That’s just how things were and they didn’t want a person to stir the pot. Don’t you wish you could back in history and wake people up, to shake em and say, Every human is a human worthy of dignity and respect and life.”

Those Two Principles

Today the topic our text addresses is going to be surrounding the question of life in the womb. Two particular topics I want to focus on today is Abortion and Adoption. Abortion is a divisive topic. Over the last few years we have seen State after state make news with their abortion laws. We look to our new majority conservative Federal Supreme Court and many are wondering how they might speak into the conversation in the coming years. While I want to be careful not to draw a direct line between the conversation happening today around abortion and slavery, I do want to draw a line to those two principles that kept the injustice of slavery in tact for so long. #1 the idea that some people are less than human. #2 The idea that it’s uncomfortable to talk about so it’s best to just stay quiet. Those two principles are often the cause of so much evil in our world.

Personal: And Such Were Some of You

Before I go any further I want to recognize that I know our Church very well. Here in these walls over the seven years of serving as your pastor, I have had the privilege of pastoring through many hardships. I have pastored with many couples going through the often unspoken of pain of infertility. Talking about children and pregnancy is difficult for you, and I want you to know I hear you, I see you. This is your Church family. Lean in!  I have had conversations with a number of women who have had abortions in their life. And I know that many listening may be wondering what this pastor is about to say. And so I want you to hear my lead foot. My lead foot today is grace upon grace for sinners like us. Yes, we are going to talk about the reality of how abortion is sin. And that’s important. But what is also important is that  all who come to the Church recognize the message of the gospel is primarily grace and love poured out at the cross for sinners like us. I do fear that some may be hear today who have had an abortion and are fearing a message solely of condemnation. And so before we dig in I want to remind you that Jesus shed his blood so that you would not have to carry the weight of your sin and brokenness. At the cross there is full forgiveness, a total pardon, for sinners like us, free undeserved, unmerited. While the consequences of abortion are real, the consequences of the cross of Jesus Christ are even more powerful. Lead foot: Grace upon Grace. Before I go any further, hear that. Oh may I drip with grace today!

I Have to Teach the Whole Counsel of God

My aim today is to equip each of us to navigate this conversation meaningfully and biblically and grace saturated.  This conversation is actually not complicated at all for the Christian, but it is complicated in the sense of how do we navigate our complicated times. Will you give me permission today

Move 1: What does the Bible Teach

So first, what does the bible teach? The primary passage today is going to be Psalm 139:13-16

Psalm 139:13–16 (ESV) — 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

V13 Inward Part

In Hebrew poetry like this, the inward parts are typically the seat of the emotions and the affections, the hidden part of a person where grief may be experienced, where the conscience exists, and where deep spiritual distress can be felt. He saying, “you formed me,” and notice how the whole context is in the womb. My conscience and my soul and my human experience in the womb.

v. 13 Knit in Mother’s Womb 

The first thing we see is that God is intimately involved in development of a fetus in the womb of a mother. It is God and God alone who upholds a pregnancy. Every child in womb and out of womb is being molded by God, is being formed by God. We are not just evolutionary accidents. Nor are we random chaotic movements of mass and energy as the materialist argues. Each person is precious because each person is molded and made by God.

V. 14 & 15 Fearful and Wonderful

The writer uses the words “fearfully and wonderfully made” when referring to the processing of being “knit together in the mother’s womb.” Fearfully because there is a holiness to an unborn child. There is a marveling that takes place over the child in the womb. A “Wow, look at what God has done.” This author cannot approach a pregnancy in a non reverential way. Every time it is a miracle, every time, those fingers… out of a speak and egg. It’s altogether to wonderful for me to think of. He’s lost in the holiness of it all. God forbid we lose the holy factor in this conversation.

V. 16 The days of the embryo

Verse 16 says you saw my “unformed parts.” The Hebrew term for “unformed substance” is “golem.” It means “embryo.” It’s referring to a child that is between 0 and 8 weeks old, when it is still an embryo and doesn’t quite have the final form of a human being with all the limbs. What verse 16 is saying is that before conception, “when as yet there were none of them” God had already written all the days of his life, including the days of the embryo. The author is glorying in the God that knew Him intimately as a person even in the embryonic stage of life.

The Basis of the Biblical Teaching

Here in Psalm 139 we have some foundational verses for understanding the Biblical worldview, that each and every life is created by God not at the point of birth, but in the womb. It is there in the womb where personhood is granted, and where God knows us personally. Sanctity of life.

Move 2: Other Passages

Where else is this idea supporting in the scriptures. That’s only one verse, are there other verses to support this? There are many I cannot cover today, but allow me to give you a quick smattering to give you a sense.

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV) 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

This verse implies that God knows the unborn in the same way he knows a child or an adult. This text says that God both called to ministry and knew intimately this man before the moment of his birth 

Exodus 21:22-23 “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out… if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life…

Here is an Old Testament law of God that gives the punishment for a crime. The Old Testament law is very consistent on this. Life for life, burn for burn. In this particular case law, if a man hits a woman, and the child in utero is killed as a result, the punishment in the Old Testament was the exact same as if the child was out of womb. Life for life.

Psalm 51:5 “surely i was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” 

One more from the Old Testament in Psalm 51:5 we see again qualities that are only true of human beings being true of a conceived child. The Psalmist acknowledges his rebellion to God even at conception. This is what humans are, we are sinners.

NT #1 John the Baptist

We’ve seen from the Old Testament, but how about the New Testament. From the New Testament we read of the episode where Mary at only a few weeks pregnant visits Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. And at the moment when Mary approaches Elizabeth the bay inside of Elizabeth’s womb leaps

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. … For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. (Luke 1:41-44)

Illustration: The Atlantic

Notice the child inside the womb is not just moving around as a non-human. It’s experiencing joy, that’s an emotion.  This is one of the reality of science that not many people talk about. In 1973 when Roe v. Wade they had no idea what was happening in the womb like we do today. The science of the day did not allow us to peer into the womb and watch a child alive in the womb. The reality now is that science has allowed  us to do that. In article written by the Atlantic two years ago titled Science Is Giving the Pro-Life Movement a Boost we read: 

“The pro-life message has been, for the last 40-something years, that the fetus … is a life, and it is a human life worthy of all the rights the rest of us have,” she said. “That’s been more of an abstract concept until the last decade or so.” But, she added, “when you’re seeing a baby sucking its thumb at 18 weeks, smiling, clapping,” it becomes “harder to square the idea that that 20-week-old, that unborn baby or fetus, is discardable… New science is “instilling a sense of awe that we never really had before at any point in human history,” McGuire said. “We didn’t know any of this.”

The Atlantic

Illustration: Charlotte Lazier

In a separate article in written by the Charlotte Lazier Institute:

The conclusion that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion is uncontested, objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other and on ample scientific evidence (thousands of independent, peer-reviewed publications). Moreover, it is entirely independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos.”

Charlotte Lazier

But Church, we already knew all of this was true because that’s what exactly what happened to John the Baptist in the womb. Once again the scientific community is playing catch-up to what we already know from God’s revealed Word.

NT #2 Jesus Incarnated Himself as an Embryo

But most importantly and the centerpiece of Christianity is the incarnation.  The journey of Jesus, the second person of the Trinity to incarnate himself among us did not begin at birth, it began as a fetus. Consider that for a moment. God incarnated himself into Mary’s womb. He took on flesh. He was formed. This is part of what it meant for Jesus to take on flesh. The reason this is so important is because the theology of Jesus being fully God and fully human is used to help us understand that Jesus can relate to us in all of our humanness, including the pain and the scars that happen inside the womb. Jesus took on flesh, born of a woman. We cannot remove humanness from the embryo or the fetus because it denies Jesus the majesty and the mystery of the journey he went through into humanity. He did the whole thing from womb to tomb.

Summary of Scriptures

As followers of Christ we have to regularly ask ourselves, is my worldview being shaped by the scriptures or is it being shaped by the loudest voices I hear in society. The overwhelmingly clear teaching of scripture is that the child in the womb, from conception is a living human being that God knows intimately. Throughout the history of the church, there is not one person who takes the Bible authoritatively who would teach otherwise. 

A Response to Pritzker

Since Roe v Wade more than 61 million precious lives have been taken legally in this country. The Bible is clear that Gods store wrath against nations who institute injustice like this.

Last year on June 12th I went downtown to the Chicago Cultural Center with a friend of mine on the day that JB Pritzker, our Governor, was going to sign into law his new abortion law that established abortion as a “fundamental right” for women in Illinois.  I was there for two reasons. I was there to pray first and foremost that in the room, that God would radically change Pritzer’s heart and that somehow that bill would not be signed. Because what was at stake was the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings. We were there secondly to be a present testimony, a prophetic witness, that God’s people will not give up that easily.  While we were there, we were treated rudely, we were commanded to leave, we were jeered at and sneered at. We had a door slammed in our face. But oh did we pray!

Pritzker’s Quote

The bill that was signed into law that day made Illinois the most progressive, and therefore the most deadly state in America to be a child in a womb. After the signing there were cheers that erupted in the room and JB Pritzker handed out pens to people present as mementos for the occasion. Pritzker said,

“In a time when too many states across the nation are taking a step backward, Illinois is taking a giant step forward for women’s health… I promised that Illinois would become a national leader in protecting reproductive rights,” 

JB Pritzker

To be clear, this bill repealed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.  I have two responses to this quote from Pritzker. #1 Abortion is not Women’s Rights. That is a code word to distract us from what it is. Abortion is premeditatively taking a human life that was formed in the image of God. #2, as I have already shown, JB Pritzker has chosen to represent an unscientific worldview. Nobody is confused on what is happening in the womb, yet he and many others continue to turn a blind eye.  #3 JB Pritzker is quite literally harming the very ones God has authorized him to protect as Governor. Romans 13 says that all authority for state leadership comes from God alone.

And so Mr. Pritzker, I plead with you. As the Governor of this state, please correct the tremendous wrong you have done. Taking the life of a child is not a right. It is never safe. I am inviting you Mr. Pritzker to repent and trust in Jesus Christ and help set right an injustice you have created. There are thousands of men and women across this state who will work with you if you are willing to take a bold step of Godly leadership.

What Can We Do

Now, the powerful thing about the Church, is that we don’t just tell the world what we are against, but we also are a people defined by self sacrificial love and powerfully demonstrate to the world what we are for. 

Illustration: Infant Exposure

In the days of Jesus, particularly in and Rome there was a practice of ancient abortion known as Infant Exposure. It was common practice in that day to discard of newborn infants that were unwanted (for whatever reason, wrong gender, wrong look, bad mood) and to leave them in the gutter alive on the side of the road.  This practice of Infant Exposure came to end for one reason and one reason alone. Christianity. Christians had this command from their scriptures to care for the orphan among them. And so what Christian families would do is whenever they would see an abandoned child they would pick them up, take them home, and adopt them as their own child. It frustrated the Romans because they wanted to hate the Christians. But they couldn’t speak against their love. They’re on the record as being so angry at the Christians and yet saying, “They even love our own better than we love them.”


Adoption has always been a part of the Christian witness to the world. And I believe it will be a massive witness to the world once again of Christ’s Kingdom. I read an article from the Sun Times just last week that was reporting on Foster Care needs in Chicago.

“there has been a 33% increase in the number of Chicago area children who need foster care, as the pandemic creates an enormous strain on families and on group homes and makes it harder to find foster parents.”

Now the need for orphan care globally is remarkable. There are quite literally well over 100,000,00 orphans worldwide. Let that sink it. Let me read you some statistics just about Foster Care here in our own state of Illinois.

  • In the city of Chicago there are 3,500 children in Foster Care
  • In Illinois as a whole 21,000 children are in foster care
  • If 1 family in every 3 churches in the US adopted a waiting child, every waiting child in the US would have a forever family.

Park’s Adoption Fund

At Park there is something special going on that you all need to know about. As some of you might know, I am a Dad to three little girls. Ruthie our oldest is our biological daughter, and Joy and Mira, our twins five year olds, we adopted out of Chicago’s Foster Care System. Why did we adopt out of the Foster Care System? Sara and I were looking at our life, and our circumstance was that we recognized that we had more than enough. We had room in our house, room in cars, and most importantly a lot of room in our hearts. And we were praying if this was something God might ask of us. We read in James 1:27:

James 1:27 (ESV) 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

And we started looking around our city and we recognized, there is a need right under our noses for parents to adopt. And though we were terrified, we took that first step. We signed up for the classes and eventually became certified. Sure enough, as we were wrapping up the classes we got a phone call from another adoptive mom in our Church that her adopted son’s twin sisters would need a home in the coming weeks. I remember Sara and I looking at each other and saying, “twins!”  But isn’t that how God often works.

Adoption Is Hard

Let me share some things with you. I think the statistics 30% of practicing Christian couples in America will talk about adopting. Only 5% of those who talk about will actually do it. Adoption is very difficult. My wife and I love all three of our daughters. But we will be the first to tell you that there is nothing easy about adoption. This is not a ‘Grow your family quick plan.’ Children that come through the foster system or that are adopted go through significant challenges. The system seems at times to be set up backwards. Foster Care and Adoption involves many nights of tears and hard conversations, and counselors, and leaning in on your Church family, and praying, and watching God do the extraordinary, and asking God on other days where He is.  

Adoption And the Gospel

But in the difficult of adoption we are pointed towards the gospel in full display. Adoption is central to the Gospel and has always been a mark of the real Church. Why? Well we know from Romans 8, that if your faith is in Jesus Christ then you yourself were adopted. Our heavenly father, looked at us, and had mercy on us who didn’t deserve it. When we were far from God, he sent his son to pay the ultimate price. Jesus gave his life that you could have your sins forgiven and be adopted into God’s family. You see, adoption is quite literally at the center of the gospel. So when we adopt or step into orphan care you are quite literally saying, “Look at the gospel on display in my life.” And I need to tell you, not only do you step into a massive need, but the Lord does an incredible work on you in the process.

And so Church. What will you do? People often speak negatively of the Church when we speak into abortion saying, “All you do is point the finger at others.” And the Church has an unbelievable opportunity to say, “No – that’s not all we do. We rightly and biblically critique sinful laws and sinful actions. But we also step in with the heart of the gospel, and provide the solution.”

Action Steps

Let me give you a few actions steps and next steps.

Learn More: Here at this Church we have many families who have already stepped into Adoption, or Foster Care, or being Safe Family (which is a Christian organization that allows parents to essentially provide very short term foster care for children who need it). Last year Sara and I got to sit in on three separate adoptions. The Dresden Family, Dawna Harrison, Jeff & Kisha Farley Family. That is not to mention other families who are deeply embedded in this world: Zach and Katie Byington, David & Hannah Hopper, April Clark, Laura Capp, Shalane Walker, and many more. Your Church is on the move. But the work is not done. If you want to talk and learn more, reach out.

Adoption Fund: Secondly, we do have an adoption Fund. We took $100,000 a year ago and set it aside to offset the cost of adoption for adoptive parents. If you adopt through the Foster Care system, your adoption is fully covered by the state. If you adopt, through an adoption agency, your adoption can cost up $60,000. Through the Adoption Fund, your Church has pooled their money and will cover up to $20,000 of your expenses. We don’t want finances to be a hurdle for you in this journey. Your Church is all in!

Abortion: When it comes to abortion. Church – do not be silent. There is far too much at stake for faithful Christians to remain silent in the face of such a drastic injustice. Speak, Write. Run for office. We must pray that God would stir up a movement and a culture to end legalized abortion. We are up. We must do all we can.


Park – the world around us hungry to see the Church step into the place it has always held. We lead in truth and we lead in compassion. What is your role in this?


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