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Dear Young Believers,

We were asked by a member of the Beacon Lights staff to write an article giving advice to young believers who are in their 16 to 22 year old time of life.  My wife and I have chosen to do this in the light of the knowledge we have gained and the experiences we have had as we have traveled life’s pathway as children of God.   It is advice that we believe would have been profitable for us when we were young adults and we desire that the advice will be profitable for you today as young people in your Christian walk.

Young people are busy people.  They are involved with church, catechism, school, young people’s society, sports, part-time jobs, family obligations, and their friends.  They are also faced with many decisions and choices.   And along with that comes a lot of stress in their lives.  As part of the advice we would give to them, it is extremely important for young believers to realize that they must have a solid foundation in their youth and continue to strengthen that foundation throughout all of their lives.  God instructs us concerning that foundation in Matthew 7:24–27.  In that passage Christ instructs the hearers to build their house upon a rock.   That rock is a spiritual rock and is Christ Jesus.    When the storms of life such as all manner of sin, sickness, hardship, disappointments, and death assail the children of God they will be able to stand spiritually strong because of that foundation.  Those who do not have that solid foundation will not be able to endure those storms which they face in life and instead will be greatly fearful, troubled, or even overwhelmed by them.  It is of utmost importance that young people have Christ as their spiritual foundation in life.  In Psalm 62:6 we read,He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.”

Furthermore, we must remember that we have totally depraved natures and that we live in a world that abounds with sin.   We need guidance and direction in our lives if we are to avoid being swept along by those forces of sin which surround us.  That guidance and direction can come only from God.  It comes to us as children of God from his word and by the Holy Spirit opening our hearts and minds to that word.  That instruction from the word of God is sound instruction which we must heed not only as young believers, but throughout all of our lives until we are taken to glory.  We must diligently follow the words of Proverbs 3:5–6 where we are instructed to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Also, the temptations which we face daily can be great and many because the world is filled with wickedness and continues to develop in that wickedness.   As you well know, temptations are found even in our homes by way of television and computers and even in our hands through the use of smart phones.  We are to use these instruments with great discretion because the devil uses these devices to tempt us by presenting images that appeal to the lusts of the flesh and cause us to waste a great amount of time.  We are called upon by God to stand against these temptations.  In addition, peer pressure can be especially powerful to give in to these temptations and we may not have the spiritual strength to stand against that pressure when it is exerted on us.   It is essential to remember that it is far more important for us in life to please God than to please those who would seek to lead us astray.  God’s blessing is upon those who strive to do his will.  We must strengthen ourselves against the sins that so easily beset us.  How can we strengthen ourselves?  One very important way is to be diligent in reading God’s word and spending time in prayer.  This is one area in which most of us, both young and old alike, fall short.   In addition, one must also be faithful in church attendance and in attendance at Bible study society.  These are ways in which God strengthens our faith and enables us to resist the many temptations that young and old alike face day by day.  “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”(Ps. 119:11).

As teenagers and young adults we must remember that sin has its consequences.   If we think that we can go about our own willful way without suffering the consequences of our sins, we are sadly mistaken.  The results of sinful behavior in one’s youth can trouble a child of God for many years or even for the rest of one’s life.   Regrets and guilty feelings associated with sinful behavior in one’s life may linger for years even though for the child of God that behavior is forgiven through the blood of Christ.  “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).

We also urge you to choose your friends wisely.  If among your friends there are those who tempt you to engage in activities which you know are sinful, you should sever your friendship with them.  Those who tempt you to sin are

really not your friends.  True friends are those who have strong spiritual values and who do not try to lead you astray.  True friends want what is best for you.  Remember the words of Proverbs 17:17a: “A friend loveth at all times.”

Also in regards to the matter of friends, it is extremely important that we date only those who are of like mind and faith.  The best advice for us to give concerning dating is that if we know that one is not a believer we should not even consider dating that person.  Whom should one date? The answer to that is that as members of the Protestant Reformed Churches one should date only those who are members of the Protestant Reformed Churches or who are members of churches who hold to the same beliefs and doctrinal standards to which the Protestant Reformed Churches hold.  This is the best way to be sure that a potential spouse is of the same mind and faith.  Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

Last, we urge you to heed the advice of godly men and women such as parents, grandparents, ministers, elders, teachers, and others who seek to give you instruction based on the word of God.  Such men and women have gained experience as they have traveled life’s pathway and have accumulated knowledge based on God’s word that can be of great benefit and guidance to you as young believers.  Psalm 78:4– 6 speaks to us regarding such instruction, “We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.  For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children.”

In conclusion, we urge you by the grace of God to stand strong, dear young believers.  Search the scriptures!  Spend time in prayer!

 

Our prayers are with you,

Dr. and Mrs. Roderick Kreuzer

 

*Dr. & Mrs. Kreuzer are members of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church

Our present-day American society possesses a great awareness of and concern for our natural environment. Various organizations such as the Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society energetically promote the cause of the preservation and improvement of the earthly environment. Americans recycle various items such as paper, glass, cans, and plastic as a way to conserve our natural resources. Many manufacturers on the packaging of their products indicate their concern for the environment. The packaging, I noticed, on one product had a statement entitled “Our Environmental Commitment.” Some supermarkets indicate their concern by statements regarding the environment on the bags they use. Various individuals show their concern for conservation and the physical environment by displaying bumper stickers on their cars. One such sticker reads “Think globally, act locally.” On a national scale each year April 22 is promoted as Earth Day. The founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson, former governor of Wisconsin and United States Senator, in calling attention to the preservation of the en­vironment speaks of mankind’s “war against the planet.” The United States government safeguards the environment in various ways, one of them being by means of the Environmental Protection Agency. Thus it goes. One could continue citing one example after another of ways in which our society is environmentally-minded.

Specifically, what are some of the concerns which are receiving attention in the great environmental movement of today? Among the main concerns is the fact that the ozone layer is being destroyed by man’s use of various chemicals. Another major concern is that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing year by year. Then also there is the concern over the depletion of our natural resources with which is associated the push for energy conservation. The problems of mercury pollution in lakes and streams, contamination of ground water by various chemicals, acid rain, lead poisoning, and littering are all receiving much attention by environmentalists.

Certainly there are many environmental problems that our present-day society faces. What is the root cause of all of these problems? What should our position toward the physical creation be? Also, how should we as Christians view all of this concern for the environment and current environmental movements and efforts to preserve it? Obviously the answer to these questions must be based on the Scriptures.

Whose world is this? Genesis 1:1 states “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Psalm 24:1 teaches us “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein.” In addition, in Colossians 1:16 we read with reference to Christ: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” As Christians then we know and confess, based on the instruction of God’s Word, that this is our Father’s world.

Furthermore, with respect to God’s creative work, Genesis 1:31 instructs us “And God saw ev­erything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…” This world then as made by God was per­fect. All was beautiful and harmonious. Obviously the physical environment was without blemish or problems and was perfectly suitable for all living creatures.

In addition to this world being created by God and being good, it is important that we remember that it was created for a purpose. That purpose is stated in Revelation 4:11 where we read “Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” The physical world then being created by God belongs to Him and exists for His pleasure.

Man then is living in God’s world not his own. God has created man and placed him on earth to have dominion over it and its creatures and to subdue it. Of this we read in Genesis 1:26 and 28. Thus man is God’s servant placed in the earthly creation to be God’s steward and caretaker over that creation all with a view to the honor and glory of the Creator.

Man, however, did not remain in his original state of righteousness. He fell into sin and because he did so the world is under the curse. (See Genesis 3:17-19.) This then explains all of the environ­mental problems which we find in the world today. The root cause is sin. Man is now totally depraved by nature. Being totally depraved he is not motivated to use and preserve this creation out of a concern that it belongs to God. Instead man seeks himself. If in one way or another it is to his advantage to pollute or destroy the earth, he will do so. Man, walking in his ways of sin, misuses and abuses God’s world and in doing so brings numerous environmental problems upon himself. Man in his greed has wantonly cut over the forests and mined the earth destroying the beauty of the earth and bringing about problems of erosion. In his unconcern for the health of human beings and in his carelessness he has polluted the atmosphere and contaminated lakes and streams. Thoughtlessly and carelessly and in his laziness he litters the streets and highways with old tires, bags filled with trash, McDonald’s bags and cups, cans, gum and candy wrappers, cigarette butts, only to name a few items.

As Christians we must ever be mindful of the truth that this is our Father’s world. We have the calling that was cited previously in Genesis 1:26 and 28. We are to exercise ourselves day by day as stewards over God’s creation. Being stewards over that which is not ours, we may not squander, abuse, litter, or destroy our physical environment. This means we must not be wasteful with or destructive of our natural resources. We must use wisdom and care in the use of chemicals and in the disposing of them so as not to contaminate groundwater, lakes, and streams with them. We may not litter our city streets and the countryside with our trash and debris.

In addition to acting as wise stewards of God’s creation, the Christian must take seriously his calling to be a responsible citizen of his country. We must obey the laws and regulations which have been enacted regarding pollution and littering. Suppose our neighbor decides to dump his trash on our property or to ruin that which belongs to us. Don’t we become irritated or angry? We ask what right has he to do this to our property. Furthermore since there are laws prohibiting this type of behavior, we may contact the authorities regarding such matters. What right have we then to litter, waste, or destroy that which belongs to the King of all heaven and earth, the Creator and true Owner of all things?

How should we as Christians then view all of this concern for the environment and current en­vironmental movements and efforts designed to preserve the earth which are being put forth by unregenerated men? The problem with all of this concern and with these efforts is that the underlying motivation is wrong. Do you hear them speak of the physical creation as belonging to God? Do they speak of being wise stewards of God’s creation? The answer emphatically is “NO.” The unbelieving world does NOT recognize God as the Creator of all things. Therefore it does NOT recognize the earth as belonging to Him and of our being stewards in God’s world. Unbelievers rather are concerned about matters pertaining to the environment for man-centered reasons. They want the physical environment preserved so that man’s earthly existence may continue and that it may be as enjoyable an existence as possible. They want an existence upon this earth as free as possible from environmental woes and problems for themselves and for their children after them. They give no thought to their responsibility to use this world and its resources to the honor and glory of God.

It should also be pointed out that in addition to having the wrong motivation, there are those who use unlawful means in their efforts to promote the cause of the environment. Protestors forming blockades in front of nuclear power facilities is one example. The breaking of the law can never be condoned as a means of achieving the goal of preserving the environment.

May we as Christians live day by day in the realization that our world belongs to our heavenly Father. We must take our responsibility seriously as God’s children that we are His servants in a position of stewardship in His creation. May He give us grace and wisdom to care properly for that which rightfully belongs to Him. The next time you are tempted to litter by dumping McDonald’s bags or cups, by tossing a pop can out of a car window, by throwing gum or candy wrappers on the ground, or to waste paper or any of our natural resources in any way, remember…..THIS IS OUR FATHER’S WORLD.

 

Dr. Kreuzer is a teacher at Heritage Christian School. He is a member of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Grandville, Michigan.

Motherhood has, in certain circles, become a nasty state. Ten or so years ago the ideal American mother was one with two, three or several more children who enjoyed her family role. Today there is a paranoid element evident according to which the “Mother of the Year” is a woman who has been voluntarily sterilized and has adopted two children. Pregnant women with two or more children are made to feel unpatriotic if not as criminals about to perpetrate a horrible crime against society and nature. Who are these zealots responsible for this phenomenon? They are the population doomsdayers, many of whom have banded together in organized groups at various levels to promote what they rather fondly call “Z P G” — “Zero Population Growth.” These wild sociologists and self-styled ecol­ogists would lay most if not all the blame for society’s many ills-crime, pollution, disease, child abuse, racial hatred, etc. at the feet of overpopulation. Under the guise of “humanitarianism” they distribute literature and use the pages of prominent magazines to attack motherhood and the family unit. Pregnant mothers have been stopped on the streets by college students — many typically long-haired, slovenly dressed and sporting beads and the so-called peace symbol — and have been told they should join the ZPG movement. After all, babies are something evil now and ought to be stamped out, ripped out of the womb if need be, to prevent further population growth. How are we ever going to improve the “quality” of life if mothers keep having babies? Get with it! This is the age of women’s liberation. Liberate yourself from the drudgery of the age-old female role of child-bearing and child-rearing — and from the guilt which you ought to feel for overpopulating this world and thus pro­moting its many revolting aspects.

Various figures and statistics are adduced to impress one with the scope of the population problem. On a world-wide scale, there were approximately three and one-half billion people living on this earth in 1966. While a figure like that does not mean much in itself, the accelerating rate of population growth is more readily appre­hended. It required from the beginning of recorded history to 1830 for the world to get its first billion inhabitants. The second billion required only one hundred years, from 1830 to 1930. The three billion level was reached after only thirty more years, i.e.. by I960. And in six short years an­other half billion was added. By the turn of the century there are supposed to be 7 1/2 billion inhabitants on this earth — over twice the population of 1966. By the year 2050 there is supposed to be only a foot of land available for each person. And by 3050 or thereabouts the earth wall no longer be able to support the weight of its human population! Are we concerned about this prospect, young people? As a child of God you certainly ought not be! You see, do you not, what a chaotic world with all manner of frightening possibilities this earth becomes when the Creator and Sustainer is left out of consideration? The fruits of Godless evolutionistic thought are horrible indeed.

On a more local level, overpopulation is often cited as the root of various social ills. Included in these are high perinatal and infant rates, illegitimacy, crime, vene­real disease and dependency on welfare, to name a few. Also mentioned are the high incidents of bearing “unwanted” children and the “battered child syndrome.” Now it is clearly true that a lower socioeconomic status is associated with a higher perinatal and infant death rate. This is attributed largely to nutritional and environmental factors. But it must also be recognized that often poor nutrition and unhealthy environmental factors, especially in our wel­fare society, are by choice. Funds for adequate nutrition and housing are squan­dered on alcohol, drugs and riotous living. There is also blatant exploitation of the poor and ignorant by unscrupulous entre­preneurs and landlords. Illegitimacy is and always has been a problem of all strata of society, yes, even in the church. Venereal disease is a social disease climbing to astronomical proportions. It has been re­cently reported that nationally one out of every five high school students will con­tract a venereal disease before he graduates. It is interesting that this is true even though (I am certain because of the fact that) fertility is so readily controlled in our time. Again, this is found in all strata of society. The unwanted child and the bat­tered child are tragically simply children “in the way’” of selfish, self-centered, dia­bolically sinful parents. Any contention that limiting fertility and population expansion will alleviate these social problems must be vehemently challenged! Again, the Christian perspective provides us with the true in­sight into this morass. No amount of pop­ulation restriction will remove the totally corrupt nature of fallen man. This the reprobate will never understand.

Mention has been made of the emphasis some place on improving the “finality” of life. It is clear that what in most instances is meant by this is accumulation of worldly goods and freedom to come and go as one pleases without the restriction of parental responsibilities, including the freedom to enjoy’ “mind-expanding” drugs, alcohol and sex without limitation. After all, these are our bodies and we should have the right to gratify all our desires and lusts with all the abundance this earth has to offer — or would have to offer if there were not too many people. Obviously then, unless we use all means available to achieve ZPG, we are going to be cheated out of life’s “quality”. Is that the “quality” you en­vision, young Christian friend? God forbid.

What must we say then about ZPG? First of all, we must recognize it as a hideously Godless movement, although, undoubtedly, there are many associated with it who would loudly attest that they are “just as Chris­tian as you are.” Many of you have heard that argument from the unregenerate hu­manitarian before. The Christian knows that the Bible is the verbally inspired Word of God, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22. We know that our omnipotent, om­niscient and omnipresent God created the earth and the heavens and all that they contain in six days and rested the seventh day. He did this not simply by providing a motivating force behind natural processes and then standing back to watch things evolve, perhaps over millions if not billions of years. No, God spoke and it was so, even as He planned it from eternity down to the minutest detail. Moreover, God not only created the earth and the universe and all that they contain but He directs and sustains them by His creative Word in every minute detail and moment by moment, ac­cording to His eternal counsel. Are we not told that even the sparrow is not forgotten in the sight of God and that the very hairs of our head are numbered? (Luke 12:6, 7). Read Lord’s Day IX-X, Q&A 26-28, along with the reference texts, concerning Crea­tion and the providence of God. We surely are not living in a world where events happen by chance or accident and where the course of history is ultimately deter­mined by the decisions of man.

Scripture, however, tells us more than about God’s Creation and providence. It tells us of Adam’s disobedience and man’s consequent fall. We have already stated that the totally corrupt nature of fallen men is the underlying cause of all of society’s ugly problems. But there is still more, is there not? God provided His only-begotten Son to redeem His elect children from all ages. What has this got to do with ZPG? Everything! The assumption of the rep­robate mind is that this world will continue endlessly, or at least as long as its destruc­tion by the crush of humanity can be prevented. We, however, know better. God has revealed to us that at one point in time that last elect saint shall have come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). When His church is complete, and only then, our risen and ascended Lord shall return upon the clouds of heaven to claim His own (I Thess. 4:16-18; Matt. 25:34). All this cor­rupt world will be destroyed and all made new (Rev. 6:12-16; 11:15-19; 16:17-21; 18; 19:11-21; 20-22). Does not all this clamor about a population problem seem foolish in this light? Again, we see what an awful darkness enshrouds those who live in rebel­lion against God.

Secondly, we might for information’s sake ask whether there is indeed an over­population problem today. Have we out­stripped our food supply or are we soon about to do so? The answer is no. Yes, there have been and will be famines in localized areas (occurring, you understand, in God’s providence). At such times many do die of starvation, particularly in areas of high-density population. India is a country that comes to mind readily, where malnutrition and starvation have been serious problems. Is this not proof of the ZPG contentions? No. Again, the root of the problem lies in man’s corrupt nature. Man has refused to be God’s steward. Land has not been used wisely. This is especially evident in our own country, where agricul­tural production could be boosted many times over what it now is if farmers were not paid to not use their land. Also, valu­able land is foolishly squandered on hous­ing and industrial construction for the sake of convenience. In India, application of modem agricultural technology has to date already largely alleviated the food shortage problem. Failure to utilize an available meat supply remains for the obvious reason of pagan beliefs.

Finally, we should give some considera­tion to the means proposed to limit popula­tion. These are primarily periodic and temporary suspension of fertility, chiefly by ­means of oral contraceptive hormones or “birth control pills,” permanent sterilization (male or female), and abortion. Abortion has been quite thoroughly discussed in several issues of The Standard Bearer dur­ing the past two years and I urge you, if you have not already done so, to carefully read these excellent articles. Except in that case where the mother’s life is without question endangered by the continuation of a pregnancy (a very rare situation, indeed), abortion is murder, and is to be vehemently condemned by the Christian. With regard to fertility control, however, I believe we approach a matter that belongs in the realm of Christian liberty. Oh yes, motherhood (or parenthood) is a gift of God. Many couples there are from whom this gift is withheld. It is a rich blessing and privilege for covenant parents to bring forth covenant seed. We read that “children are a heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them . . .” (Ps. 127:3-5). It is apparent, however, that not all parents are capable physically and, particularly, emo­tionally of coping with large families. Par­ental instruction and guidance of covenant offspring, yes, even provision of love, fall far short of what they should be. In this situation there is room, I believe for the exercise of responsible parenthood through the utilization of methods of conception prevention. This must be undertaken with much prayer and thought and only if one is honestly led to believe this is the proper course for a Christian to take. It may be,

and has been, argued that fertility control is an attempt by man to frustrate the will of Cod in our lives. I do not believe this argument is any more valid than one which would deny use of medication to treat a physical health problem, such as use of antibiotics to treat infection. There are limits to human physical and emotional en­durance, even for the faithful, and I do not believe we are called upon to surpass these limits if means are available to prevent this. I bring this topic up mainly to emphasize a danger involved here. That danger is that the Christian falls prey to the reasoning of the sinner (which we all are) and argues that without limiting our family size we will not be able to provide adequately for our children’s material needs. This argument is one of economics and follows closely that of those who express concern for the “qual­ity” of life. I earlier stated what this all too often implies. We and our children do not need an abundance of this world’s goods — fancy homes and cars, campers, swimming pools, trail bikes, snowmobiles, the latest in TV’s and radios, the latest styles of clothing etc. We do not even need steaks. No, these things are not evils in themselves. They are, however, often associated with a life­style that is dangerous for the Christian. Consider how difficult it is for us to realize our complete dependence on God when we are so abundantly materially blessed. Per­haps you, too, have heard our ministers state that what the church needs to im­prove her spiritual health is an economic depression. This is no idle statement. Re­sponsible parenthood for the Christian re­quires a thorough comprehension of Chris­tian contentment. The recent “Meditation” by Rev. Schipper on the topic of Christian contentment fits in perfectly here (The Standard Bearer, Vol. XLVIII, pp. 485-487). Read this timely article thoroughly and digest it. May God grant us all, young people and parents, the grace of content­ment.

Although to the best of my knowledge the first human whole organ transplant was performed over thirty years ago, it is only in the last decade, in particular in the last half decade, that tremendous advances have been made in this field of medical endeavor. We have been reading about kidney transplants for so long that it has become, in a sense, “old hat.” When the first human heart transplant was performed a few years ago, however, this rather bold maneuver caused no little commotion in the medical community and in the general public alike. I suppose this results from the well-engrained notion that the heart is truly a central and vital organ. When the heart ceases totally to function, the whole body dies within minutes unless circulation is artificially maintained. Although the initial fervor for heart transplantation has abated somewhat for the time being, largely because of the rejection problem, intense research continues. In the coming years organ transplantation will become more and more common and will include more and more organs. Therefore the topic of the attitude of the Christian toward organ transplantation and, on the surface seemingly unrelated but nevertheless involving the same basic principles, toward the willing of our bodies for scientific research is a timely one.
When we consider organ transplantation we must do so both from the viewpoint of a recipient and from that of a donor. We must ask, “Could I, a Christian, accept an organ from another individual, living or dead?” We must also ask, “May I will that, after I die, various organs be removed from my body to be transplanted into another individual?” Regarding the willing of our bodies for scientific research and, I might add, for medical education, for this is the use to which many cadavers are put, we must ask whether we as Christians are permitted before God to do this. I believe you can sense that there is a basic principle involved both in willing that organs from our bodies be made available for transplantation and in willing our bodies for scientific research and medical education. In both cases we are willing that our bodies or, more specifically, our corpses be used in such a way that living individuals physically benefit from either directly or indirectly.
In all fairness I believe that physicians involved in organ transplantation will have to admit that here is still a large element of research and experimentation involved in their work. Yes, the surgical techniques have been worked out quite precisely. The techniques for each organ were well developed in work on animals before they were performed on humans. Thus the mechanics of transplantation present little problem. The problem is one of rejection of transplanted organs and tissues. Tissues from one individual when incorporated surgically into the body of another are recognized by the immune mechanisms of the body of the recipient as being “foreign” just as are invasions of the body by bacteria or viruses. The natural response of the body to such invasion is to form antibodies against the foreign material which then attack that material to destroy it. There are currently two methods being utilized to prevent or at least minimize rejection. The first is to attempt to match the tissues of donor and recipient as closely as possible. Techniques for “tissue typing” are being developed, but thus far research in this area has been quite disappointing. The second method is to suppress medically the immune mechanisms of the recipient’s body. The problem here is that immunosuppression is not selective. That is, in suppressing the immune mechanisms to foreign tissues the immune protective response to invasion by disease-causing microorganisms is also inhibited. Thus it is that many organ transplant recipients die not from rejection of that organ but form severe infection, primarily bacterial and fungal. The rejection phenomenon points up the unique genetic constitution of the individual.
In answer to the above posed questions, I would deal first of all with willing that our bodies be used for medical purposes after we die. As is true of so many situations we face in our daily living, Scripture gives us no specific dictums in this matter. Let us consider, however, our physical earthly bodies and what God has told us about them in His Word. We read in Genesis 2:7 that “God formed man of the dust of the ground.” We read further that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” The human body then has its origin through the creative work of God in the “dust of the ground.” Man did not become “a living soul” until God breathed into his nostrils “the breath of life.” This tells me that the body is the dwelling place of man, his “earthly abode” as it has been called. The essence of man is his soul. Without the soul there is no life. What happens at death is that “the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it” (eccl. 12:7). It is common knowledge, is it not, that after death our bodies decay and ultimately crumble into dust. Oh, yes, we embalm them and place them in caskets in burial vaults, but the end result is the same. But the Christian knows that the grave is not the ultimate end of man. We know that in the Day of our Lord we shall be bodily resurrected (Ezekiel 37; Job 19). In our flesh we shall see God. It is primarily because of this knowledge, I assume, that we carefully bury our dead. Not that we believe our bodies must necessarily be kept protected and preserved until the Day of Judgment. All dead will be raised wherever their remains lie (Rev. 20), no matter how far scattered component parts may be. We do nevertheless believe our bodies should be treated with respect.
What can we conclude from the above discussion? First of all I would say that we must not fell that our bodies must necessarily be buried intact and all in one place. If this were so, a Christian might never consent to an autopsy on a loved one, since in this procedure certain organs and tissues are removed for microscopic study and sometimes for preservation for educational purposes. I believe we may consent to the performance of autopsies when there is good reason for their being done. Autopsy findings have contributed much to medical knowledge, which knowledge has benefited Christian and non-Christian alike. Granting then that giving authorization for a physician to perform an autopsy on a Christian deceased loved one is permissible, why would it not also be permissible to, before death, will our bodies for medical uses – organ and tissue removal for transplantation, medical education (this involves primarily cadaver dissection in anatomy courses) and research? I believe it is – if for some reason one should feel so inclined. As a matter for practical consideration, I believe you should know that as a rule, medical centers have no difficulty filling their requirements for cadavers – in fact, there is often a surplus. I would also add that you may be assured that human cadavers are treated with proper respect by medical personnel.
I would also add a note of admonition concerning organ transplantation. We should never will our own organs of the organs of a deceased loved one for transplantation with the notion that in so doing a small part of us or our loved one “lives on.” This may sound absurd, as indeed it is. Nevertheless, this is the ridiculous plea that certain transplant surgeons use when they seek to convince individuals of the merit of granting authorization for organ removal for transplantation. I am certain no intelligent Christian would fall for such a line. On the positive ledger, however, it is conceivable that a transplant recipient might, in the period that is added to his life by a successful organ transplant, come to a saving knowledge of Christ. If this should occur, it would certainly not be because the singer was thereby given a “second chance” to “accept Christ,” but solely because it was the will of God from all eternity to save that elect sinner at that point in time. God does work in wondrous ways. This would, for me at least, be one valid consideration in reaching a decision regarding organ donation.
As far as the first question we posed is concerned, namely, whether it is permissible for the Christian to accept an organ from another individual, living or dead, I would say the following. First, about the only organ being transplanted from living donors today is the kidney. The reason for this is that each normal individual has two functioning kidneys and is not adversely affected if one of them is removed. Not so with the heart and liver and, for technical reasons, the lung. All of these organs are, on the other hand, being transplanted from deceased individuals. As I see it, the overwhelming consideration for the Christian contemplating the above proposition is whether a reasonable possibility exists that in receiving the transplanted organ a prolongation of his earthly pilgrimage will be gained in which he can function well enough to render profitable service to his Creator and Redeemer. Currently that possibility varies with the organ involved. It is subject to considerable further variation as research continues.
There may be those who will argue that medical science is seeking through organ transplantation to usurp the power of God to determine the time of death of an individual. This is, of course, impossible. Moreover, the same argument could be applied to the use of medications which are literally life-saving or life-sustaining. How true it is that “for everything there is a season…a time to be born, and a time to die” (Eccl. 3:1, 2) – and “whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it…” (Eccl. 3:14). Our sovereign God is on the throne. Comforting thought. Praise His Holy Name.

Originally Published in:
Vol. 30 No. 3 May 1970

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