By Alex Ogden
Many good articles have appeared in publications such as this on the subject of abortion. Abortion has become a national tragedy, killing more than 18 million babies since January 22, 1973, when abortions were first made legal by the Supreme Court in the Roe vs. Wade decision. Several million are killed each year by abortion around the world.
In this article I will consider a form of abortion we hear little about but is much more tragic than the abortion legalized by the Supreme Court. I have reference to what I call spiritual abortion, or the destruction of those yet spiritually unborn. Whether we realize it or not, each of us who claims to be the child of God may have at one time or another performed a spiritual abortion by saying or doing something which closed the minds of the lost to the message of the gospel. We destroy whatever desire they may have for spiritual life and, therefore, contribute to their eternal death.
Just as the abortionist in the clinic makes use of various methods to destroy the unborn, as Christians we abort the spiritually unborn in different ways. Here are some of them:
An ungodly example. Peter tells us we are to live so that the world will be caused to glorify God (1 Pet. 2:11-12). If we live in any other way God will not be glorified but rather reproached. We may be a poor example in our language, hobbies, entertainment, attendance at church services or our involvement in spiritual matters in general. If we set an improper example, the lost will not glorify God and our efforts to convert them to Christ will be hindered if not destroyed.
Failing to see and heed opportunities to teach the gospel. Children of God should seek opportunities to teach the gospel but, because we so often set our attention on things of this life, those opportunities which come to us are never seen. This reminds me of trips to Florida as a kid playing “Bingo.” We would look for Volkswagon Bugs along the way and the first to say “Bingo” could count it. The first to spell bingo won. If we started talking about something else, however, a Bug could pass and no one notice. If you are looking for something, you must keep your mind on what you are looking for. We must not allow opportunities to teach the gospel to go unnoticed or unheeded. Let us seek opportunities to teach the truth, being ready to teach when the opportunity is found (1 Pet. 3:15).
Several methods that abort the spiritually unborn deal with our teaching.
Teaching false doctrine. If the lost are being taught things which do not conform to the word of God, they will not be brought to the new birth. Paul told the Colossian brethren the result of false teaching. He said, “Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (2:8). Error will not produce life but will make spoil of the one receiving it. In another place Paul stated that from false teaching “cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth” (1 Tim. 6:3-5). If truth is not taught, the lost will remain in bondage to sin since it is the truth which sets us free (Jn. 8:31-34). Let us be careful to teach only what we know to be truth.
Bad attitudes. Occasionally our efforts to convert the lost will be destroyed by our attitudes. In working with the lost some seem to have the attitude they really do not care whether the lost obey the gospel or not and, therefore, do not really care about their lost souls. Our prospects should understand from the way we study with them that we are truly concerned for them and where they will spend eternity. If they sense we are there out of duty or some motive other than an interest in their soul, they are less likely to listen.
Another attitude we sometimes express is that we know everything and our prospect knows nothing. Granted, you likely know more about the truth than they, but if we reflect the attitude that we have all of the answers and our prospect can only come to an understanding of the truth through us, we have erred. We should enter such a study with the attitude that the Bible has all the answers and through a mutual study of the Bible we can both increase our understanding of God’s will for us.
Proper attitudes can only promote the process underway to convert your prospect. Bad attitudes can only hinder the process.
Trying to teach something you really do not know yourself. The effort to teach a lost friend or neighbor can be greatly damaged if we attempt to teach something we do not understand ourselves. This problem may be most common among new converts. They seem to be the most enthusiastic about teaching the gospel but they are the least prepared. Peter’s exhortation to “be ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15) involves, first, studying the word of God. You cannot be ready to give an answer if you haven’t spent time in study and preparation. If we are prepared, the prospect can only learn. If we are not ready, our prospect will not be convinced that what we are trying to say is true.
Trying to teach too much too fast. Some, in their eagerness to convert their prospect, have made the mistake of trying to push them to accept or do more than they were ready for. In the Parable of the Sower (Lk. 8:4-15) the good ground was that which had been cultivated or prepared to receive the seed. But who cultivated it? Did it cultivate itself?. Of course not. Did the seed cultivate it? All four types of ground described in the parable received the seed, but only the good ground brought forth fruit. Why? Because it had been prepared prior to the planting of the seed. The sower, or someone for the sower, prepared the ground for the reception of the seed. So from this parable we should learn the importance of first preparing our prospect before planting the seed of God’s word within them. If the proper preparations have first been made, their heart will be more receptive to the truth.
As the farmer patiently works days or even weeks just to prepare the ground to receive the seed, we also must be patient as we cultivate the heart of our prospect (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
Very little fruit comes from uncultivated ground. Let us be certain we do not try to harvest the fruit before the ground is even ready for the seed.
We could note other methods of this form of abortion but the point has been made: often we destroy the spiritually unborn by the things we say or do. Let us be keenly aware of our responsibility to bring the lost to Christ, but let us also be careful of what we say or do among the lost lest we become spiritual abortionists.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 19, pp. 594-595
October 1, 1987