Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Child-Like Faith

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 18:13
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” ~Mark 10:13-15

This passage of Scripture has been the subject of numerous pieces of artwork. There are few scenes which depict the approach-ability  care, tenderness, and love of Jesus more. It is without a doubt our Lord loved children, so for parents there are a number of implications in this text as we consider introducing our children to the Savior and teaching them about Him.

There is however, a far more important truth being taught here than just the evangelism of children. This truth is far reaching and is applicable to all ages. This truth is about whom, in all of humanity, will be saved. This passage describes the difference between those enter into the Kingdom of God and those who do not.

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” ~Mark 10:15

This past Sunday, Pastor shared with us from this passage three possible meanings by this statement. They were as follows, Jesus meant you must be:
  • Innocent like a child or...
  • Simple, receptive, trusting and teachable like a child or...
  • Helplessly dependant like a child
Jesus tried to explain to the disciples that no one would be able to enter God's kingdom unless they entered in as a little child. As an adult we become used to being the one making the decisions. We decide what's right and what's wrong, we choose what is on the dinner table, we say when it's bedtime, and a multitude of other things. We get used to having things our way and it becomes all too easy to forget God is God and He decides the way the things are to be. If we are to enter His kingdom then we must submit ourselves to Him as helplessly dependant. Salvation comes to those who are looking to Jesus for salvation and Jesus alone.

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. ~Psalm 32:1

What is your understanding of God's forgiveness? For the most part, people today treat God's forgiveness of sin as an option to be exercised or an escape clause in a contract which can be forcibly invoked at the recital of some prayer. What is implied here in Psalm 32, and clearly taught in the New Testament, is forgiveness of sin is a blessing, because we cannot obtain it for ourselves... forgiveness of sin is a gift; it must be received.

You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. ~Psalm 85:2,3

The psalmist has a clear understanding of God's forgiveness of sin. As he contemplates what forgiveness is, he notes God is the One who has taken the active role, God is the One who forgives iniquity, covers sin, takes away His wrath, and turns from His anger. There is no active role we play in the course of this transaction. Forgiveness of sin is a gift; some call it grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~Ephesians 2:8,9

A solid understanding of our sin being forgiven begins with grace. God does not owe us an opportunity for eternal life; in fact the only thing we have earned on our own is judgment and condemnation. People would do well to understand the facts before they begin demanding or expecting God to “make good” on what they think He owes them. If God were to do that, forgiveness of sin would not be a part of it.

For the wages of sin is death, ~Romans 6:23a

The idea of God extending forgiveness of sin, as a gift, is an amazing thing indeed, and it is best appreciated against the backdrop of realizing we do not deserve it. When we can clearly see our inability to earn salvation, the word “grace” becomes a most precious thing. So many today have made such a light thing of God's forgiveness; take some time today and think about it. I believe a good question to consider is, “What is my understanding of forgiveness?”

but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 6:23b

For a gift to be a true gift it must be received; which brings us back to Pastor's point about helpless dependence. Using a child as an object lesson for those present, Jesus made the unmistakable point that God's kingdom is to be received as a gift and helplessly depending on the goodness, grace, and mercy of the giver.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~John 1:12,13

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