Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN” Part 3

Matthew 19.14

 

Turn in your Bible to Matthew 19.13. When you find that verse in God’s Word, please stand to read along silently as I read aloud:

 

13     Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

14     But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

15     And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

 

Now, please, turn to Mark 10.13 to read along with me:

13     And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14     But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15     Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16     And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

 

Finally, turn to Luke 18.15 to read along with me:

15     And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

16     But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

17     Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

 

I trust that you have gathered, after the series of sermons leading up to this one, that I am working to instill into our church a Biblical theology of child evangelism. I seek to do this because of serious problems I see in both our culture and in churches in America today when it comes to our next generation.

On one hand, we live in a culture that denigrates the value of children, by murdering so many before they are born, or by preventing their conception by means of various birth control devices. Those involved to one degree or another are actually playing God when they employ methods to control the outcome of their behavior and shield themselves against God-ordained consequences of sexual activity, even those who are married. On the other hand, we plainly see those who do love children, who place a great value on their souls, and who want to see youngsters converted to Christ. But it seems quite obvious to me that contemporary Christianity has been so much influenced by Horace Bushnell, who we dealt with in my last sermon before our missions conference, that those who do love children and highly value their souls are still doing them a disservice by not seeing them realistically in the light of the truth of scripture.

My friends, it is possible to take both a high view of God’s Word and at the same time greatly value the little ones God has loaned us to raise. There is no disservice done to any child by recognizing that child’s true nature as it is revealed in the Bible, and seeking the child’s conversion to Christ by means that are set forth in God’s holy Word. The Bible way is always the best way to bring a child to Christ.

This morning we will focus our attention on the Lord Jesus Christ’s willingness to save sinners. The reason for this is because there are so many who are not fully persuaded the Savior wants to save sinners, particularly very young sinners.

If behavior is any indication, there are too many parents who profess to be Christians who do not act like Jesus is willing to save their children. As well, most sinners do not think Jesus is willing to save them. I would be delighted to change those misconceptions this morning.

 

THE WILLINGNESS OF JESUS TO SAVE SINNERS, EVEN CHILDREN

 

The Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune godhead, the eternal Son of the living God, is willing to save you. In Second Peter 3.9, we are told that “The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The context of that verse shows the Lord Jesus Christ to be the one Peter was referring to when he was inspired to write those words.

So, the Lord Jesus Christ is willing to save sinners, is willing to save children from their sins. Let me show in from God’s Word the various ways in which His willingness to save is demonstrated:

First, there is His eternal decree. Let me cite Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology:

 

The term decree of God appears first in the singular, since God has but one all-inclusive plan. He sees all things at a glance. For convenience, the separate features of this plan may be called the decrees of God; but there should be no implication in this that the infinite understanding of God advances by steps or in a train. And there is no possibility that the one plan will be altered by omissions or additions. Nor is it true that God sustains a distinct and unrelated purpose concerning each aspect of His one intention. With God there is one immutable decree embracing in itself every detail, even the falling of a sparrow. It is the divine cognition from all eternity. “Known unto God are all his works from the be ginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

It should be observed that God formed His decree in eternity, though its execution is in time. The decree being eternal, all its parts are, in the mind of God, but one intuition, though in its realization there is succession. Christ’s earthly mission was seen in one conception, yet an interval of thirty-three years fell between His birth and His death. He was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times” (1 Pet. 1:20). Augustine states: “God willeth not one thing now, and another anon; but once, and at once, and always, he willeth all things that he willeth; not again and again, nor now this, now that; nor willeth afterwards, what before he willed not, nor willeth not, what before he willed; because such a will is mutable; and no mutable thing is eternal” (Confess., XII, xv, cited by Shedd, Theology, I, 395). The power to conceive of a thing as a whole before it is executed in the order which its intention requires, is not altogether outside the range of finite minds. There is every reason to believe that Solomon foresaw and designed every detail of the temple before any work was begun. That vision accorded him was as comprehensive concerning those features that were to be wrought out at the end of the process as concerning those which were first in the order of procedure. The capstone is no less evident in the architect’s mind than is the foundation. It is true that human foresight is subject to development and change, which mutability is never true of the divine archetypal vision.[1]

 

Chafer’s comments deal broadly with the divine godhead without distinguishing the three persons of the trinity. But the point that he illustrates, which is so clearly born out in God’s Word, is that nothing happens which is not in accordance with God’s eternal decree. Thus, God decided before creation what He, and this includes the Lord Jesus Christ, would and would not do.

I assert to you to at this time, but do not take the time to prove from God’s Word at this time, that in the eternal council chamber of the godhead it was decided, which is to say Jesus decided, that He would save not only sinners, but that He would save sinners who were children. He do I know this? If He does it it is only because He decreed it. Before I am done this morning you will see that He does it. Ergo, He decreed it.

Next, there is His incarnation. Incarnation refers to that miracle by which the Second Person of the godhead became a man, which occurred when the Holy Spirit overshadowed a virgin named Mary. From that supernatural conception in the womb of Mary, the Lord Jesus Christ developed and then was born normally. From His birth, as He experienced the process of maturing physically, He was a member of Adam’s race, though never experiencing sin.

It is in Hebrews chapter 4 that the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ is discussed, showing His priesthood to be superior to the priesthood of Aaron and his descendants. What I would like you to turn to and see is Hebrews 4.15: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” The argument in this verse is that the Lord Jesus Christ, though He was sinless, was both “touched with the feelings of our infirmities,” and “was in all points tempted like as we are.” In other words, as He lived out the thirty-three years of His life here on earth, He experienced everything you and I have experienced, but without experiencing any of our sins. He is holy.

Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ actually knows better what it is like to be a baby, an infant, and a child, than you or I do. He has a perfect memory of childhood and we do not. As well, He lived through those experiences with a complete awareness of who He is and what His mission was, while our own childhood awareness is horribly warped by sin.

The point that I seek to make is that the Lord Jesus Christ saves sinners by being their substitute. When the Lord Jesus Christ passed through those phases of life that you and I have passed through, or that you and I are passing through, He did so for the express purpose of qualifying Himself as our Divine Substitute that He might save such as that from their sins. Were the Lord Jesus Christ not willing to save children He would never have passed through childhood. Therefore, the fact that He was born into our race is proof positive of His intentions to save members of our race, including children.

Third, there is His crucifixion. The crucifixion, of course, refers to that awful morning when Roman soldiers nailed the Lord Jesus Christ to a cruel cross, where He died for men’s sins. But why did the Lord Jesus Christ suffer the cross? Did He not suffer crucifixion because it was decreed in the council chambers of the godhead from eternity past? Yes. Revelation 13.8 identifies the Lord Jesus Christ, that One worthy of all men’s worship, as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” But He also suffered crucifixion because He wanted to. Hebrews 12.2 gives us insight: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What is meant here by the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews, is that the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of the joy He experienced in heaven with His Father, chose to endure the cross. In doing so, He despised the shame of such ignominious suffering, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Why did He do that? Why did He suffer the wrath of God on behalf of sinners? Why did He, in so doing, establish the ground on which forgiveness is granted, both to adult sinners, but also to young sinners, sinners who are children? Because He wanted to. In John 10.18, referring to His future crucifixion, Jesus said, “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” Thus, it was His choice. It was His decision, a decision He made in eternity past, but a decision that He executed on a bare hill outside Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

After everything was done, all the prophesies completed to the letter, Jesus “said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”[2] Commenting on Jesus’ words, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “What a grand utterance! Now are we safe, for salvation is complete.”[3]

Complete for whom? Complete for you and me? Yes. Complete for sinners? Yes. Complete, also, for children. The price has been paid. The saving work has been done.

Fourth, there is His resurrection. Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in a glorified body. He did not rise from the dead as a spirit, absent a body. Oh, no. The tomb was empty, you see. Nothing was left behind but the material His body had been wrapped in. Why, then was Jesus raised from the dead? There are several reasons, including the fact that as the Lord of life it was not possible for death to hold on to Him, Acts 2.24. But the reason I want to draw your attention to is the reason mentioned by Paul in Romans 4.25, where he writes about the Lord Jesus Christ as the One “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

But what does it mean to be “raised again for our justification”? Most scholars indicate that Jesus was raised up as a testimony to show that the Father approved of His sacrifice and that it was acceptable and accepted by God. However, I think more is meant. I am persuaded that the resurrection of Christ was necessary to complete the offering of the blood sacrifice, so Jesus our great high priest could offer His Own blood by sprinkling it on the mercy seat on high.

Some would say, but Jesus is the mercy seat on high. To that I would reply, “Absolutely true. What else explains His appearance at the time of His second coming?” What does the apostle John observe, in Revelation 19.13” “And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.”

Thus, one of the reasons Jesus rose from the dead was for the purpose of fulfilling His duty as our great high priest, offering the blood of the atonement on the mercy seat to wash away sins. But unlike the types found in the Old Testament, Jesus was both Lamb of God and high priest. Thus, He not only shed His Own blood for the remission of our sins, He also offered up His Own blood as the high priest. But being the mercy seat, He sprinkled His blood on His Own garments. That explains His appearance at His second coming, since the blood on His garments cannot be anyone else’s blood but His Own.

But again, His resurrection is an integral part of the provision for our salvation, and now ours only, but also the salvation of children.

Fifth, there is His ascension. After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to His Father’s right hand on high. Dozens of passages in God’s Word show this to be true. But why did Jesus ascend to His Father’s right hand? Turn to Hebrews 10.12, and read along silently with me:

 

12   But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

13   From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14   For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

15   Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

16   This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

17   And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18   Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

 

The passage obviously refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself once for sins, and then sat down at God’s right hand, expecting His enemies to be made His footstool. This last phrase obviously refers to submission to the victor and bowing humbly before Him. But it does not refer only to those who are finally lost, but also to those who obey the gospel and are saved, as verse 17 clearly shows: “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

So you see, Christ’s ascension to the Father’s right hand has very much to do with sinners being saved from their sins, as well as the impending doom of those who remain lost. Thus, the entire program of God, from Christ’s incarnation, to His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension, are for the purpose of glorifying God, in part, by saving sinners from their sins.

Sixth, there is His present session. That was then, 2,000 years ago, and this is now. What about the Lord Jesus Christ’s intentions and willingness to save children now? Keep in mind that the Lord Jesus Christ’s present session, what He is presently doing at the Father’s right hand in heaven, He has been doing since His ascension. What does history show the Lord Jesus Christ has been doing in His present session? History shows He has been saving sinners. Whether it be on the Day of Pentecost and through the times of the apostles, to the revivals that swept through Europe during the Protestant Reformation, to the revivals in England and the New World in the 18th and 19th centuries, to the Welsh and Korean Revival in 1905, to the revival on the Isle of Lewis in the mid-twentieth century, to the conversions of individual sinners under the preaching of the gospel, what Jesus has been doing in His present session is saving sinners.

Keep in mind that justification by faith in Christ, Romans 5.1, is an outside-of-you work. That is, Jesus does not have to be physically present for a sinner to be justified, since justification is entirely a pronouncement by God of a sinner’s righteous standing in His sight, on the basis of Christ’s substitutionary work on Calvary’s cross. Thus, there is nothing that impedes the conversion of the lost during Christ’s present session, insofar as the Lord Jesus Christ is concerned. The Word of God is still honored, the Spirit of God still convicts sinners, and Jesus still saves.

The question that needs to be asked is if Jesus is still willing to save children. The answer found in the Bible is one I will address momentarily. But the answer from church history and in relation to Christ’s present session is yes. We know from the brief biographies given to us by James Janeway and Cotton Mather that children, even quite young children, have been saved by Jesus. Thus, we have abundant evidence of Jesus Christ’s willingness to save children in His present session in heaven.

Finally, there is His conversation. So far, I have presented theological and historical reasons that indicate the Lord Jesus Christ’s willingness to save children, as well as His willingness to save any other sinner who will come to Him by simple faith. But it is now time for us to listen to the Lord Jesus Christ’s Own words, as He expressed Himself concerning His willingness to receive children to Himself.

Let me read again to you what we read together a few minutes ago, from Matthew 19.13-15:

 

13   Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.

14   But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

15   And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

 

Now, from Mark 10.13-16:

13   And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

14   But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

15   Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

16   And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

 

Finally, from Luke 18.15-17:

15   And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

16   But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

17   Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

 

Those verses clearly show that not only was the Lord Jesus Christ willing to receive children unto Himself. And when you understand that the word “infants” in that verse does not refer to toddlers and younger, but to children from approximately age five and older, He was not granting parents permission to bring their children to Him, but was granting to those children themselves permission to come to Him in a saving way.

 

Thus, the Lord Jesus Christ’s willingness to save children from their sins is undeniable. That children can be saved from their sins when they are quite young, and that children have been save from their sins when they are quite young, is also undeniable.

The challenge that faces us as a church, and the challenge that faces you as parents, is not the Lord Jesus Christ’s willingness to save children. The real challenge may be your own convictions of your children’s need to be saved, or your personal commitment to do what is necessary to get them saved.

If you think your child needs to be saved from his sins, and if you think the Lord Jesus Christ is willing to save your child from his sins, then it only makes sense, does it not, to make use of the means that are available to see your child saved from his sins. Does it not?



[1]             Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. I, (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1976), pages 228-229.

[2]             John 19.30

[3]             Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon Devotional Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org