Bringing Children to Jesus (Mark Sermon 49)
April 16, 2023 | Andy Davis
Marriage and Parenting
A sermon to encourage parents of little children in their important responsibility to evangelize and disciple them from the first moment.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Turn in your Bibles to Mark 10, as we continue our study in the Gospel of Mark. The central work of the Bible is to bring readers to saving faith in Jesus Christ. It does this by presenting the infinite glories of Christ on the one hand and the infinite neediness of us sinners on the other.
This morning we're studying a passage of scripture which presents Jesus's zeal for little children. He's eager for little children to come to Him, and He's angry at anyone who would hinder them from coming. Beyond that He wants to help all prideful sinners to become, in some sense, like little children themselves so they can find salvation in Christ. Concerning the infinite glories of Christ, this passage fits into a theme that I've delighted in many times before, which is the amazing combination of Jesus as infinitely majestic, awesome, powerful, lofty, and glorious on the one hand, and also, infinitely lowly, meek, humble, accessible, and gentle on the other.
This fits in with last week's Easter sermon, which I preached on Jesus' stunning, amazing, majestic ascension to heaven. Lifted up from the surface of the earth, higher and higher through the atmosphere until at last the cloud hid Him from the unblinking gaze of the apostles, who were craning their neck to see Him. Then as the Book of Hebrews and the Book of Ephesians reveal, the journey continues as Jesus passed through the Heavenly realms, presented once for all His blood in the Heavenly temple. He then took His seat, the seat of majestic glory at the right hand of God, far above all creatures to rule over all things. That was last week.
This week I think we can picture Jesus using our imaginations on the ground, smiling, laughing with little kids, crawling all over Him, hugging Him, kissing His face, and Him touching their little Heads. Him speaking tender words to them, and they're drinking it up. They're attracted to Him like a magnet. They can't stay away. This is Jesus at His meekest, His gentlest, His lowliest, with time enough for any little child.
This theme of Jesus's infinite majesty on the one hand combined with His infinite lowliness of heart on the other, has long captivated me. When I was a teen in a public school in Massachusetts, I was in a Roman Catholic Church. I wasn't converted yet. But someone had given me a picture of Jesus holding a little lamb in His arms, and I had it in my high school locker. I saw it every day as I opened my locker and looked at it. I was always attracted to the person of Jesus, though I wasn't yet converted.
It wasn't until later in my life I found the Bible verse that that best pictured. It was Isaiah 40:11, “He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those that have young.” It's a picture of Jesus in His infinite condescension, His gentleness with little children. But the very next verse in Isaiah 40, verse 12, says this, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand or with the breath of His hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales or the hills in a balance?”
This is the infinite greatness of Almighty God, the creator, who created the universe and rules it with awesome power meticulously. Before whom the nations are like a drop from the bucket and like dust on the scales. Side by side, Isaiah 40:11 and 12, consecutive verses. Jesus in His incarnation pictures both aspects, both aspects. Just the same as the Apostle John found Jesus infinitely accessible, tenderhearted, when He pillowed His Head on Jesus's chest at the Last Supper, but then later, on the island of Patmos, saw Jesus in His resurrection glory and fell at His feet as one dead.
Jonathan Edward zeroed in on this concept in the greatest sermon I ever read that He preached, for me anyway. Based on Revelation 5, that passage, as you know, where Jesus takes the scroll out of the right hand of almighty God. Jonathan Edwards zeroes in on Jesus, who's portrayed in that passage as the lion of the tribe of Judah who has triumphed. Edwards talks about the attributes of a lion. It's majestic roar, it's power, it's domination, but then John sees a lamb looking as if it had been slain. Edward zeroes in on a lamb, in general, just weak and lowly and meek. This is particularly so because it's a lamb looking as if it had been slain.
This what Edwards wrote in that sermon,
"Christ, as He is God, is infinitely great and high above all. He is higher than the kings of the earth; for He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is higher than the heavens, higher than the highest angels of heavens. So great is He, that all men, all kings and princes, are as worms of the dust before Him; all nations are as the drop of the bucket, and as the light dust in the scales; yeah, and angels themselves are as nothing before Him. He is so high, that He is infinitely above any need of ours; infinitely above our reach, that we cannot be profitable to Him at all; and above our conceptions that we cannot comprehend Him. Christ is the creator, the great possessor of Heaven and earth. He is sovereign Lord of all. He rules over the whole universe and does whatever pleases Him. His knowledge is without boundary. His wisdom is perfect and none can circumvent it. His power is infinite and none can resist Him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely awe-inspiring. And yet He is one of infinite condescension. There's not a single person who is so low or inferior, but Christ's condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them. He condescends not only to the angels, humbling Himself to behold the things that are done in the heavens, but He also condescends to such poor creatures as are men; and that not only so as to take notice of princes and great men, but of those who are of the lowest rank and degree the poorest of the world. Even the lowest most humble person on the face of the earth, Christ does not despise. He welcomes little children to sit on His lap. He extends His hands to horribly disfigured lepers and notorious outcast sinners. He speaks to a rejected Samaritan woman and a hated Jewish tax collector. And He does more than just speak to such people. He desires to join Himself with them forever in a perfect spiritual marriage so that He is perfectly one with them."
Now, I could keep going with the Edwards sermon, it would be a great sermon, but it wouldn't be my sermon. But do you not see the infinite majesty of Christ as a lion and the infinite condescension of Him as lamb looking as if it had been slain?
This morning as we come to this sermon, Mark 10:13-16, we see that side of Jesus. He's inviting little children, and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of Mark the author, He's inviting little children in every generation, in every nation on earth that reads this account to come to Him, and He will tenderly receive them. In so doing, He also encourages all caregivers of children, especially parents, to bring their children to Jesus while they're young. To not despise them but to take full advantage of their tender hearts to pour the gospel into them. He invites all older hardened sinners, that's the rest of us, older veteran sinners, to become like little children constantly, so that they can find salvation through faith in Christ. That's what's in front of us with this text.
"[Jesus] encourages all caregivers of children, especially parents, to bring their children to Jesus while they're young. To not despise them but to take full advantage of their tender hearts to pour the gospel into them."
Listen again to the words, “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God, like a little child, will never enter it.’ And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.”
I. The Actors in this Drama: Parents, Children, Disciples, Jesus
Let's look at the actors in this drama. You got the parents, you got the children, you got the disciples, and you've got Jesus. Let's walk through them. First the parents, now the text just says, "They," they were bringing children, so probably not all of them were necessarily parents of the children, caregivers of some sort. It could be grandparents, it could be aunt or uncles, it could be friends, but I would say the norm would be parents. The parents are bringing children, for the most part. They cherish their children and they desire them to be blessed. They want to do them good. Mark and Luke use the Greek imperfect tense, implying this was a continual process. They were bringing their children again and again. This was regular. This wasn't just a one-off, this was happening all the time. Having heard about Christ's ministry, still short of understanding who He really is, still they want Him to bless them.
In the Talmud, which is Jewish instruction based on the law of Moses, it teaches Jewish parents to bring their children to prominent rabbis for this kind of ritual, a hands-on blessing. The more prominent the rabbi, the conception would be the greater the blessing. Jesus, obviously well-known, has done miracles. Ordinarily, a Jewish father would bring His children to the rabbi at the synagogue, and they would put their hands on them and bless them. But with Jesus being so prominent, there was an attraction there. Parents were bringing children from all around to Jesus for Him to do this, to touch them, bless them, and pray for them. Matthew adds the prayer aspect [Matthew 19:13]. So that's the parents.
Let's talk about the children. The Greek word is “paideía,” it implies very young children like toddlers. Luke actually expands it in Luke 18:15, people were bringing babies, infants to Him. Even the most tiny human being at the very, very beginning of life, barely able to open his or her eyes is precious to Jesus. He would not despise that moment, but would take that infant in His arms to bless them.
We need to understand Jesus does not have some sentimental view of children. "Oh, they're little angels sent from heaven." Sounds like someone who never had one of those angels sent from heaven. They don't always act like little angels sent from heaven. Jesus has no such sentimental conceptions of children. He knows that they’re children of Adam. He knows that they come into the world fanatically committed to self-interest. He knows that as soon as they understand the law, they will sin, because of that inbred sin nature. But He also understands that children have a unique inbred desire to know God, and a yieldedness to obeying Him, though they cannot see Him. So that's the children.
Let's understand the disciples. Verse 13, the disciples rebuked the people that were bringing the children. How many times do you read the gospel and say, "What were the disciples thinking?” But aren't we thankful that we have true accounts of the things they actually did? Why did they rebuke the parents? We don't know, but we could imagine that they're frustrated by the interruption. Children can feel wrongly to us, feel like an interruption. You had plans, children come, and now you're interrupted. It shows how selfish we can be. But perhaps they felt the children were an interruption. Perhaps the children were crying or making noises. In any case, I think their attitude is the teacher's time is too important for children, too important a waste on little children.
Oftentimes, you'll see some great figure in society, a political leader, CEO of a company, an athlete, a musician, a movie star with a coterie, a kind of a band around him or her and you can't get close to that person. Their bodyguards are putting the hands up. You're not going to get close. Especially those important people, great men, great women have no time for anyone who cannot further their agenda. They don't have time to waste. They're people of focus, people of achievement. They're going places. They don't have time for anybody that's not going to further their agenda. This the kind of mentality.
Little children, they often think, sadly, are a complete waste of time. They don't want children themselves. They take steps that they won't have children. If they do, they frequently don't spend much time with them. Sadly, I was reading about royal families in Europe in the 19th century and how little time those children spent with their king and queen parents. Very tragic, very sad stories, like for example, King George and Queen Mary in England spent less than 30 minutes a day with their growing children, 30 minutes a day. They were completely cared for by nannies. When the children would come in the presence of their parents, they were terrified of them and shrank back and wanted to be with the nannies. It's very sad. Many people look on children as an unwelcome intrusion from the vastly important business of their lives. Perhaps, the disciples felt the same way when they rebuked the parents for bringing the little ones. "Our master's too busy, saving the world to hug your children" kind of thing.
Now, if Jesus doesn't check this attitude on their part, it's going to lead to significant problems in the future of the church, because of God's plans. God intended to make up His church mostly of people who are not wise, influential, of noble birth, the lowliest of the low are for the most part going to make up the church. We read about it in First Corinthians 1. If they're going to have this attitude toward children, they're probably going to extend it to anybody who can't further their own powerful agenda. You know how the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over others, and they're tempted in the same ways. "God chose the lowly things and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are," Paul tells us, First Corinthians 1:30. Jesus has to deal with this or they're going to have an arrogant, lofty attitude toward anyone that they despise that they don't think is worth their time, beginning when children. He has to address this attitude.
Let's look at Jesus. Jesus's reaction here is amazing. He's mildly angry with them. This is one of the emotional times of Jesus. Jesus had a rich, full emotional life, and this is one of the times He got righteously angry. Look at verse 14, “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.” Some of the translations say indignant, the Greek could go over to vex, annoyed, irritated like a rock in the shoe kind of thing. "You're rubbing me the wrong way." You get that feeling with Jesus, "This is really annoying me," talking about the apostles.
One of the most incredible things about Jesus to me, practically, is a combination of how important His mission was and how brief a time He had to do it, perhaps three years, and yet, how unbelievably interruptable He was. How in the world do you harmonize those things, to be amazingly effective, efficient, and also constantly interruptable? But again and again, not just children, but people with various needs, He just stops for them all the time. It's incredible. He was never rushed. He lingered over people, listened to them fully, dealt with them individually. This includes the children here. He cherished them, He was not annoyed with them. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
II. The Rich Invitation: “Let the Little children Come to Me”
Let's walk through what He says. Let's begin with the rich invitation. "Let the little children come to me." As I mentioned, mysteriously, the God-given bent of a little child is God-ward more than at any other time in their lives. One commentator put it with great tenderness talking about this passage, "As the flower in the garden stretches toward the light of the sun, so there is in the child, a mysterious inclination toward the eternal light.”
Have you ever noticed this mysterious thing that when you tell the smallest child about God, s(he) never asks with strangeness and wonder, what is God? who is God?, I've never seen Him? But listens with shining face to the words as though they were soft loving sounds from the land of home. Or when you teach a child to fold its little hands in prayer, it does this as though or a matter of course, as though there were opening for it, that world of which they'd been dreaming with longing in anticipation. Or tell them, these little ones, the stories of the Savior, show them the pictures with scenes and personages of the Bible and see how their pure eyes shine, how their little hearts beat." It's beautiful.
So what does “Come to me” mean? "Let the little children come to me," what does that mean? I think it means to come to Him for salvation. Jesus said, as we sang earlier this morning, Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." I mean it's clearest in John 6:35 where you have a Hebrew parallelism, where Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." There it is. To come to Jesus equals to believe in Him. It's what it means to come to Jesus, to believe in Him. Or as He says in John 7:37, on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let Him come to me and drink." You're coming to Jesus to feed spiritually, to drink spiritually. You're coming to Him to receive mercy and to receive forgiveness of sins. That's what it means to come to Jesus. So let the little children come to me for all that. Let them come.
What does that mean? Encourage their God-ward bent. Encourage their God-given desire to be near Christ. Feed their spiritual appetites. Let them do what their little heart wants to do, before the world, the flesh, and the devil hardens them. You could imagine some soft yielded wet clay left out on a hot rock, and after a while it's just dried up and hard. That's what happens to all of us, the world, the flesh, and the devil harden us. But they haven't had that yet. There's a softness, a yieldedness to their hearts.
Let them come near to Christ for eternal life to know Him and to love Him. Feed their spiritual appetites, and while they're doing it, feed your own. Little child yearns to come to Christ. Let them do so. They have an inbred longing for spiritual things. We have to feed that appetite. We can't feed it too much. Parents are constantly worried about too much with their kids, and they should be. Parenting's hard.
I'm not going to be able to cover every aspect of parenting. I guarantee some of you parents will wonder at the end of this sermon, "Why didn't He talk about X?" So come and ask me that question. "Why didn't you talk about X?",and I will ask you, "How long do you want this sermon to be?" I'm focusing on salvation, bringing your children to Christ for salvation. But there's a concern for too much: too much sleep, too much food, too much sugar, too much screen time, too much, too much. There is no such thing as too much Jesus. There's no such thing as too much God. It's impossible. Therefore, as parents of young children, we ought to be, number one, eagerly pursuing Christ ourselves, because there's no such thing as too much Christ for us either. Putting our love for Jesus on clear display in front of our children. Secondly, we ought to be fanning their own love for Christ into a flame more and more. There is no danger of too much Christ.
"As parents of young children, we ought to be, number one, eagerly pursuing Christ ourselves, … Secondly, we ought to be fanning their own love for Christ into a flame more and more. There is no danger of too much Christ."
III. The Strong Warning: “Do Not Hinder Them”
Then it says, "Do not hinder them," a strong warning, a prohibition. He's talking to His disciples initially right there in context. He's telling His misguided disciples, "Stop doing that. Stop hindering those people. Stop stopping the parents or rebuking them. Don't do that anymore." The Greek word can mean forbid, but it can also mean hinder, making it difficult, putting stumbling blocks before the children. "Don't do that. Don't hinder them."
How do we do that? How do we hinder children from coming to Christ? First and foremost, nothing's more significant than this, we hinder them from coming to Christ by not preaching the gospel to them, by not telling them about Jesus. No one is born in the world knowing anything about Jesus. Faith comes by hearing the word through the word of Christ [Romans 10:17]. So the biggest way a Christian parent can hinder a child from coming to Christ is by not taking full advantage of the access you have to that little human being, the constant daily access, and pouring the gospel into their hearts. They'll sit for hours to listen to you during that early phase of their lives. You'll get tired of talking to them about Bible stories before they get tired of asking you to do so, at that early age.
Also, at that early age, they are very able to memorize scripture. My brain is old and tired and it's getting older and tireder with every passing year. You guys know what I'm talking about, some of you older people. Kids, they drink it up. They can memorize, don't waste it. Have them memorize key scriptures, so that they're key truths that are imprinted in their minds.
Parents can hinder their children by stifling their emotion for Christ. You should be fanning their affections into a flame. You should make much of the pictures they draw during worship or when they're studying the Bible, just celebrate them. We hinder them by quenching the spirit. The spirit might be moving. They're asking questions, things that seem out from left field to you, but that's exactly where the child is at that moment. You hinder by not taking that moment seriously and addressing what the spirit's doing in their hearts.
We hinder by exasperating them in discipline. It says in Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children or provoke them to wrath, instead, bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” That's what we're told to do as parents. So harsh or unfair or erratic discipline can hinder a child from coming to Christ.
We hinder it by being skeptical or negative toward their budding spirituality, by doubting that anything's really happening with them spiritually. We hinder by curtly cutting off their childish questions or worship or enthusiasm which can crush a little child's heart. So do not hinder them.
IV. The Nature of the Kingdom: “Of Such is the Kingdom of God”
Then He says, "For of such is the kingdom of God." This is the nature of the kingdom. The kingdom of God is the focal point of the Gospel of Mark, the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God. That's the good news. Then a few verses later, as Jesus begins as public preaching ministry, Mark 1:15, He says, "The time is at hand, the kingdom of God is near Repent and believe the good news." People must enter the kingdom of God by repentance and faith. Jesus says, "Of such is the kingdom of God." This means the kingdom of God is made up of those who are infants or little children in God's sight. He sees them that way.
First, the infants themselves. Let's talk about that. John MacArthur said this, "It's not that small children are regenerative and then later lose their salvation if they don't receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. No, it's rather that His atoning death is applied on their behalf if they die before they're able to choose on their own. It may be that infant mortality rate is so high in many countries where the gospel has not yet penetrated, because the Lord is taking those little ones to Himself before they can grow up in a culture and in a religion where it's so difficult to encounter the gospel and believe."
For myself, I don't believe in infant damnation, rather infant salvation. I think there are a lot of reasons why. However, there are no proof texts on it. I think the Lord is basically telling us, "Trust me on this. Trust me on this." There aren't any verses I can show you. But I do point you to Judgment Day. The depictions of Judgment Day are always, the court is seated, the book is open, and the judge. People are judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. It's a public vindication of the justice of God. Therefore, I think that's the one silver lining in infant mortality around the world.
So the infants themselves, but beyond that, older people, including younger children and moving up, who are like children in God's sight, who make themselves like little children in order to be saved. John Calvin says, "The passage broadens to give kingdom citizenship to both children and those who are like them." So he means a childlike faith, a childlike yieldedness to Christ. Humble, lowly, faith-filled people enter the kingdom of God, arrogant people do not. Jesus taught that repentance and faith was becoming like a little child. Matthew 18:3, "I tell you the truth, unless you are converted and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Years ago I met the president, at that time, of Child Evangelism Fellowship, CEF, his name was Reese Kauffman. He said this interesting thing which stuck with me. He said, "We spend so much of our efforts in evangelism of adults trying to get them to a humble, childlike state necessary for them to find salvation in Jesus.The children are already there. Use it. With adults, we have to cut through years of hardness and pride and sin habits to get them to see their need for a savior.”
V. Jesus Touches Them, and Blesses Them, and Prays for Them
Then Jesus touches them, blesses them, and prays for them. Verse 16, “He took the children in their arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.” As I said, Matthew 19:13, He prayed for them. Here we have that beautiful picture, the power of the incarnation. Jesus frequently touched people to heal them. He loved to touch people, to heal them. He reaches out here and touches these little babies. That was part of His desire to bless them. In an ancient Jewish ritual, patriarchs would touch their children. Do you remember the touching scene of Jacob with Manasseh and Ephraim, where He put His hands on their head and blessed them and spoke prophetic blessings over them? It's that kind of idea of a touching and a patriarchal blessing. But how much more Jesus, the Son of God... How many of you parents would love to have Jesus physically touch your children and pray for them and bless them?
I've read stories about orphanages in other countries where the babies are never held. It’s tragic. I mean, they're fed physically, but they're never picked up. They're never held. The Ukraine, sub-Saharan Africa, some of the AIDS clinics, China, I mean there's tragic stories about these orphanages. They're just underfunded, they don't have enough people, and the babies are just never held. Children need to be physically touched, and that touch can be a form of pre-evangelism. I want to commend a verse for you that I had studied and it's fascinating, Psalm 22:9, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" But in the middle of it David says this, "Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother's breast." What's interesting is the Hebrew doesn't have the “in you.” It is true that David is speaking to God, "You made me trust," but it just says, "You made me trust at my mother's breast." The baby wasn't trusting in God. The baby didn't know the word trust, just feeling his or her needs being met. Feeling warm, love and protection without knowing the word love, protection, it’s just an experience, but that was a form of pre-evangelism that then later gets transferred over to Almighty God, who loves you better than your mother did. See? That physical touch and care is a form of shaping their world and preparing them later to come to Christ.
What applications can we take from this? How do we put this command into practice? First I want to just say a word to all you older veteran sinners, that's all of us. Become like a little child and come to Jesus. Humble yourself. See your need for a savior. See your need for forgiveness. Don't be haughty. Don't be arrogant. Become like a child and Jesus will save you. Unless you're converted and become like a little child, you'll never enter the kingdom of God. You have to be converted into a childlike state to be saved. But then even if that's happened for you years ago, you have to keep doing that. You have to keep humbling yourself like a little child. This is an ongoing part of our Christian faith. The Holy Spirit inside you cries out, "Abba Father," which means daddy. There are times that we're so physically hurting, like through a disease, or crushed by some circumstance that you need your daddy, your spiritual Father to care for you.
Charles Spurgeon was beset with gout, and it was like an electric shock. He was crawling on the ground in agony, weeping for the pain. He cried out, "Abba Father, if I had a child," he said in his prayer, "who was hurting like I am right now and I could take away the pain. I would do it. Daddy, would you heal me?" That's how bad the pain was. He basically couldn't be articulate. That's how much He was hurting. There are going to be times in your life when you're going to be like that. You cry out, "Abba Father."
Look at Jesus's interaction. Remember the woman with the bleeding problem? She'd been bleeding for 12 years. She touched the hem of His garment, her bleeding stop, she was healed. Then Jesus said, "Who touched me?" At the end of that whole encounter, do you remember what He said to her? "Take heart, daughter, your faith has saved you." He called her daughter. She'd been bleeding for 12 years. Jesus was in His early 30s. They're probably peers, age-wise, but they're not peers, were they? Because Jesus is the ancient of days. He called her daughter.
The paralyzed man that was lowered down, "Take heart son, your sins are forgiven." There is that sense in which we are going to be like little children before Him. One famous theologian was asked to sum up his theology. He was nearing the end of his life. He said, "I'll sum it all up in this. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong." When you're on your deathbed, you're going to be like that. So become like a little child, and He will save you. That's all of us.
Now to caregivers of children, especially parents, but also others. FBC, I don't know if you've noticed, but we’ve been blessed with lots of children. Like on Sunday mornings, have you noticed? Some of you have noticed. It's a lavish blessing. Thank God for it. Thank God that we have lots of little kids to raise in the gospel.
How many of the baptisms have we had begin with this testimony, "I was raised in a good Christian home."? I would say probably 80% of them, maybe more. We all would like more of the other type. Those are good. I wasn't raised in a good evangelical home, although I did know about Jesus from an early age, I didn't know the gospel. But my kids all, and I baptized all five of them, they all said, "I was raised in a good Christian home." Thank you. Yes, yes, you were.
That's the number one way around the world. I would say probably three quarters of the people who are genuinely born again walking the face of the earth had at least one Christian parent pouring the gospel into them from an early age. That's anecdotal, I don't know, but I think that's probably right. So let's let the little children come -and let's not hinder them for the kingdom of God. We should be continually bringing our children. How do we do this? Let me speak this quickly to your parents. First of all, receive your children thankfully. Thank God for your children. Be thankful for them constantly.
Realize that your children are infinitely more His than they are yours. Don't idolize them. You have a stewardship role toward them. There’s nothing wrong with saying, "My son," "My daughter," but don't think wrongly, they're more God’s than they are yours. Don't think God ever did you wrong by taking them away if He should. God has that right. Don't be idolatrous and charge Him with wrongdoing for taking back to Himself what was His all along.
Be thankful. Be thankful to God for your children. Love them deeply. Let your heart frequently melt for your children. Be willing to make sacrifices for them cheerfully. Deeply, yearn the best for them, especially in eternity through the gospel. Understand them positively and negatively. Positively, they're in the image of God. They have immense potential and they have those soft yielded hearts. A window of opportunity, positively. But then negatively, they are sinners. They're fanatically committed to self-interest. They have the seeds of rebellion in their own hearts. Don't romanticize them. They're childish. “When I was a child, I thought like a child,” they're going to say childish things. Understand them. Then teach your children constantly. Deuteronomy 6, "These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Saturate their minds in the word of God. Saturate them, especially with the gospel, God, man, Christ response. God, the creator, the lawgiver, the judge, the sustainer. We, created His image. We, human beings, made to have a relationship with Him. But we're sinners. We violate God's laws. Christ came. Who is Jesus? He was born and lived a sinless life. The miracle stories. Tell them these stories. Pour the gospel into them, and then say they need to repent and believe.
Be Christ-centered daily. Make Christ the center of your talk, as a father or mother. Talk about Jesus. Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks. Talk about Him.
Discipline your children. The rod of reproof, Proverbs talks about it. Whatever that means, literal, physical, just you need to deal with their sin nature. The hardest part for me about Christian parenting is the mixture of old covenant and new covenant principles you got to do all the time. There's got to be blessings and curses, blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience. You've got to have laws and rules in your home, and they have to follow them. But then you've got to tell them the gospel, that the law's not going to save them, and that they need to find mercy and grace through faith in Christ. Just wisely mix those together. Pray for your children daily.
Charles Spurgeon said this, "How can we bring children to Jesus Christ to be blessed? We can't do it in a physical sense. For Jesus is not here, He's risen. But we can bring our children in a true, real spiritual sense. We take them up in the arms of prayer. We daily cry, ‘Oh, that he or she might live before thee, Lord.’" We cry out and pray.
Model Christ for your children. Involve them in church early. You're bringing your children here, keep doing that. You can't calculate the value of just 18 years of weekly preaching and singing and Christian fellowship. Bring them to church and encourage them along the way.
"Model Christ for your children. Involve them in church early. … You can't calculate the value of just 18 years of weekly preaching and singing and Christian fellowship."
I just want to say, finally, a word to workers here, children workers at our church. Thank you for your service. Thank you for what you do. Many hands makes light work, so ask if the Lord would have you involved in children ministry. It's a vital ministry. Thank you for what you do.
Close with me in prayer. Father, thank you for the time that we've had in the word of God today. Thank you for the truth that Jesus gave us here so plainly, that we have to be converted to become little children and the kingdom of Heaven and the kingdom of God is made of such as these. Thank you for the great privilege of Christian parenting. And thank you for the truth of the word of God. We thank you that Jesus shed His blood so that we who are little children, can find forgiveness and find acceptance in His arms. In Jesus' name. Amen.