ASK Commentary
February 1, 2005 

Abortions and Miracles

Commentary for February 1, 2005 — February Newsletter & Article

The “February 2005 Newsletter” is now online on the ASK Website. It introduces the two articles for February, “Abortion and the Bible” and “The History and Prophecy of Miracles (and their Failure),” both by Dr. Ernest L. Martin. Both these articles may be controversial and offend people. However, it is necessary to address even controversial subjects with a straightforward statement of biblical understanding. This Dr. Martin has done. I have added my comments also.

Abortion

Abortion was not practiced much in ancient times, although there were herbal techniques available, to be sure. Mostly, however, unwanted children were simply abandoned to exposure to the elements. In the book by C.K. Barrett, New Testament Background: Selected Documents (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), p. 38, there is presented a letter written by a Roman noble to his wife in the 1st century C.E.

“Hilarion to his sister Alis [the mistress of the household] very many greetings, likewise to my lady Berous [his wife] ... I beg and entreat you, take care of the little one, and as soon as we receive our pay I will send it up to you. If by chance you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it be, if it is a girl, cast it out. You have said to Aphrodisias ‘Do not forget me.’ How can I forget you? I beg you then not to be anxious. The 20th year of Caesar, Pauni 23.”

This affectionate letter from a man overseas sent to his wife reflects the coldness toward children, especially girls. C.K. Barrett comments in a footnote:
Cast it out. The exposure of children was apparently not uncommon; the author of the Epistle to Diognetus thinks it worth while to point out that though Christians marry and beget as do other men they do not cast out their children (5.6).”

The “Epistle to Diognetus” was a late 2nd century C.E. (around the 180s or 190s C.E.) Christian apology that defends how Christians differed from pagans in the conduct of their lives. In the Didache (a late 1st or early 2nd century C.E. church document otherwise known as the “Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles”) there is a discussion about the commandments:
“{Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery,} thou shalt not corrupt boys, thou shalt not commit fornication, {thou shalt not steal,} thou shalt not deal in magic, thou shalt do no sorcery, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born, {thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods, thou shalt not perjure thyself, thou shalt not bear false witness,} thou shalt not speak evil, thou shalt not cherish a grudge, thou shalt not be double-minded nor double-tongued.”

Didache 2.2, brackets in translation

Note that both abortion and infanticide were termed “murder.” The historical ekklesia has been consistent that in its expression that both abortion as well as infanticide were murder. However, what truly matters is what the Bible really says. Read Dr. Martin’s article and consider the biblical understanding.

Miracles

The aspect of miracles in our personal lives is not a distant problem. Believe it or not miracles can be divisive. They can divide groups of people and they can divide individuals from one another. Seeking after miracles was one of the problems that caused division in the Corinthian church. (See Dr. Martin’s article “The Corinthian Experience.” It is similar to signs and wonders that Dr. Martin discusses in his article “How to Interpret Biblical Signs.”

Recently acquaintances told me of occurrences that have happened to them or someone they knew that they considered to be miraculous. Because the people experiencing these occurrences were good Christians (in their opinion and I have no reason to doubt it), the event must have had significance, been from God, or been a sign from God.

My response was that I take the Bible at face value, and that I rejoice in the good thing that happened, but I am also wary of such things. Indeed, I have had (and most Christians have had) what I would call minor miracles or strange occurrences happen in my life. They occurred mostly when I was a new Christian. They occurred mostly when I was ignorant.

One time in particular I and a group of new Christians were saved from serious injury or death by something that happened completely contrary to my intention and outside of my control. I thanked God and moved on. Frankly, I have not dwelt on it much since then.

I did not spend weeks and months wondering why we were spared, what the occurrence signified, or whether that event meant I had a special mission or calling that God wanted me to do.

We were spared because God chose to do so at that moment. I never thought I was special because this good thing happened. (Nor should anyone think they are necessarily cursed when bad things happen to them — consider Job.) God does as He wills (Romans 8:28). You have a purpose just like Jacob and Esau, that will fulfill God’s purpose:

“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calls.”

Romans 9:11

Since that time I have learned that my knowledge of God’s love for me comes from His Word — from the actions of the Living Word, my Savior (and yours) Jesus Christ, as set forth and told to me in the written word of God, the Bible. My feeling of being “special” comes from my understanding of the love that God gives to me and the world (John 3:16–17) through the gift of His Holy Spirit. This gives me confidence — I know — that God loves me by what His Son Jesus Christ did for me, for you and everyone. To understand better the greatest miracle, see the article “A Major Proof of the Bible.”

Let me give a bit of advice to you: accept the grace of God that you have been given which places you legally at the side of God the Father, because you are “in Christ” (Acts 15:10; Romans 3:24, 5:15; Ephesians 2:5, 7; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 3:18 and Jude 1:4) For other good things that happen to you, be thankful, have a proper fear of God, awe and wonder a little bit — then move on with your life.

Surprisingly, miracles rarely change anyone’s direction in life or make them a better person. Read the last halves of Romans, 1st & 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians if you want to know how to live once you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Christ’s resurrection is the only miracle that really counts. Anything else is extra and may divert you from the Bible. Heed the words of the apostle Peter:

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

2 Peter 3:18

David Sielaff
david@askelm.com

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