By John Hanson
Few events in life bring a man or woman more joy and excitement than the birth of a wanted, healthy baby. The news of pregnancy is exhilarating. Parents-to-be squirm with excitement as they feel the child grow and kick within the womb. Nothing compares to the thrill of knowing that the miracle of life has taken place and that a human being has been conceived and awaits a day of delivery.
During pregnancy there are many visits with the doctor and possibly overanxious trips to the hospital in an overreaction to false labor. Anticipation builds as the day that matters most approaches. When that day does arrive, labor racks the mother’s body with pain and the nervous father commences pacing. Everyone from the parents to the grandparents, friends, nurses, and the doctor anticipates the moment when the amniotic sac breaks and the baby begins his or her journey through the birth canal.
Imagine just such a moment in which you are an observer in the delivery room. The mother’s screams of pain have turned to screams of delight, as she sees the baby now in the hands of her doctor. Then suddenly the room grows quiet as the doctor listens for a cry.
Suppose the doctor then shakes his head and lays the baby aside without attempting to clear its air passages or prompt the newborn to breathe. Can you imagine the horror of the mother and nurses? Wouldn’t you be motivated to intervene? Someone would undoubtedly grab the child, turn it on its stomach, and somehow coax the baby to take its first breath.
Ecstasy fills the delivery room when the child is finally carefully encouraged out into the real world, but the shouts of joy and relief are reserved until the birth attendant clears the baby’s air passages, gives the child a pat on the back, and coaxes from the baby that first cry. That cry indicates the birth of the baby and is the official cue to celebrate a new life.
Unfortunately not all babies make that final leg of this journey. I was reminded of that awful truth recently while traveling in Texas between Houston and Austin. My eye was arrested by a multitude of white crosses that graced the yard in front of a church. At first I assumed that a military cemetery was located near the church, but then I read the sign that said over 4,000 babies are killed. in America every day. The scene had its intended impact on my mind and heart. What a tragedy that America and the world has allowed the celebration of birth to be intercepted by legalized abortion. Nationwide Americans abort 1,600,000 babies per year; three per minute. Worldwide there are 55,000,000 abortions each year; 150,685 each day; 6,278 per hour; 105 per minute.
There is in the religious world another horror to which our attention should be called. It could be termed “spiritual abortion,” for it entails the death of a believer who has not yet been born again. Too many churches allow the believers in their womb to die by not guiding them through the complete process of spiritual birth. This doctrinal departure from New Testament salvation is just as horrific and prevalent as physical abortion.
Only a church that has dismissed the idea of modern-day Christianity being just as real and vibrant as Christianity in the Book of Acts could allow a believer to stop short of a wonderful experience like the 3,120 believers experienced on the birthday of the church. Theirs was not simply a reserved mental assent of faith that made them feel good, but an experience of prayer and praise that culminated when they spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. They got drunk on God’s Spirit. Spiritually, they breathed deeply the breath of eternal life.
It was Jesus who likened spiritual birth to natural birth when He explained to Nicodemus the need to be born again of water and Spirit (John 3:3-5). If we follow Jesus’ line of reasoning, there is life in the womb of the church that must be brought to maturity and birthed. The seed of faith and God’s Word have been planted in people’s hearts who still need to experience the rest of the birth process. All they need is a healthy mother (church) and a birthday.
It is exciting when someone begins to believe. We are all thrilled to see growth and development. But, in spite of this initial step, the miracle of the new birth is not complete until, through travail, the church pushes the child through to repentance, baptism, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost. It is when God’s breath fills their lungs and we hear them cry out in other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance that we can rejoice in their birth.
Whenever a soul is taught to stop short of this complete birth the church experiences a miscarriage, abortion, or possibly stillbirth. When ministers reassure people that a handshake, church membership, or verbal profession is the new birth, they leave them unborn and in danger of spiritual death. The church that tells its members that water baptism is unnecessary is practicing spiritual abortion. When believers are not encouraged to receive their own baptism of the Holy Ghost, they may be stillborn. Satan is not concerned about the number of babies that are conceived if he can kill them in the womb of the church or prevent them from breathing the life of the Spirit.
Paul asked the believers in Ephesus, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” (Acts 19:2). He wanted to make sure their birth process was complete. In Acts 8 Peter and John traveled to Samaria to pray that believers there would receive the Holy Ghost. When Peter took the gospel to the Gentiles they believed, and the Jews were reassured that Gentiles were also filled with the Holy Ghost, “for they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:46). Many in organized Christianity have dubbed the Holy Ghost and tongues as “an added blessing” and consider it unnecessary for the new-birth process. But to refrain from encouraging a believer to pray until he speaks in other tongues is tantamount to delivering a baby and then setting the baby aside before encouraging that first cry.
Spiritual abortion, like physical abortion, is often carried out for convenience’s sake. It is practiced by an apathetic church that refuses to travail. Paul on four occasions referred to the work of the ministry as travail. (See Galatians 4:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 5:3; II Thessalonians 3:8.) It is the job of the church to travail, coax, and encourage each believer until the birth process is complete, and then to nourish that child to maturity. When souls are in the altar seeking the experience of the Holy Ghost, we must fight for their spiritual life; we must push and travail until we hear the cry of life-the breath of spiritual life, the Holy Spirit with tongues.
We would do well to heed the warning of Proverbs 24:11-12: “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?” (NKJV)
If you are a believer that has never experienced the infilling of the Holy Ghost, there is another experience in the birth process that will fill your life with the fresh air of the Holy Spirit. Your past experiences are not to be discounted or minimized; they are legitimate and part of the birth process. But receiving the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues as God gives the utterance is the one event in life that brings a man or woman as much joy and excitement as the birth of a baby, because it is the evidence that a baby has been born again!
Brother Hanson is associate pastor of Calvary Apostolic Church in Round Rock, Texas.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE PENTECOSTAL HERALD, DECEMBER, 1995, PAGES 8, 9. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.