1998, posted, July 26, 1998

VBS, July 26,

Lessons from a Small Child

Matthew 18:1-6 (Mk. 9:33-37, 10:14)

The disciples had been arguing over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. They believed Christ was the Messiah. They believed that he was here on the earth to establish the Kingdom of God. They had heard about and preached about the Messiah's kingdom. They were still controlled by the Jewish idea of a literal, exalted, glorified kingdom centered in Jerusalem and ruling the whole earth. They would be controlled by that ideal until after the crucifixion and resurrection. It was not until Acts 1 that the disciples grasp the truth of the Kingdom of God.

Christ had spoken many times of his suffering and resurrection. However, only one time had he spoke of his glory. Rather than the disciples asking about the suffering, they asked about the glory. They fully expected Christ to establish a literal kingdom like David's and Solomon's. Their agreement was over which one would be the Lord's right-hand man. Each man was "staking" out his place of authority in that kingdom they hoped to be part of.

They were arguing over who would reign with him, not over who would suffer with him.

MANY love to hear of and speak of the privileges and glory and blessings of Christianity, but very few are willing to speak of the work and trouble and cost involved in being a follower of Christ.

Do you want to see folks flee? Then speak on Christian responsibilities:

faithfulness in personal communion with the Lord

witnessing for Christ

keeping up the buildings

keeping a Christian testimony in the home

giving faithfully

social involvement for the cause of Christ

obedience to the Ten Commandments

forgiveness and love one for another

faithful to the public assembly

Make an issue of these things, and many folks will find another place to worship. People come to "worship" to have a good feeling about themselves and about the sins they are involved in. People look forward so much to the crown they do not want to hear about the yoke and the cross. The disciples argued over the crown, not over the cross. The disciples here were in an imagery world. Many Christians live in an imagery world, a world with no Christian responsibility other than a responsibility to what they want to do and believe what they want to believe.

However, Christ made it clear that the greatest in his kingdom are those who willingly accept the cross and yoke.

The disciples had left all to follow Christ. They all wanted to be the Prime Minister of Christ's kingdom. Their call, however, was a call to patience and tribulation for Christ.

In answer to their question of who would be the Prime Minister in Christ's kingdom, Christ gives them a lesson on humility.

Christ set the child in the midst of the ones who had been arguing over their place of authority in the Kingdom. He took a little child, took the child in his arms, and taught a lesson on what it means to be converted. There is no hint of the age of this child, but I would imagine the child was a preteen.

What are some things taught here by the Lord:

CONVERSION

Matthew 18:3, conversion is required if one expects to be in Christ's kingdom. Conversion is just what it says. The press over in the other building is three phase and the electrical feed is single phase. So we must have a phase converter. That converter changes the character of the electricity coming into the building.

Christian conversion changes the character of the one converted, or there is no conversion. Conversion involves:

Change of mind concerning priorities

Change of temper

Change of thoughts about ourselves and about others

Conversion reforms pride, ambitions and affections. Conversion means that we now love to please our Heavenly Father more than we love to please ourselves or to please others.

A) Converting Grace brings about willing repentance for departing from the ways of the Lord.

Luke 22:24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
B) Converting Grace makes us as little children, not as foolish children; it makes us unoffensive and void of malice
1 Cor 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
C) Converting Grace establishes us in the word of God
Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive...
D) Converting Grace makes us serious about the Master's business. We are more interested in the well being of his Kingdom than we are in our own enjoyment.
Matthew 11:16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows...
E) Converting Grace makes us desire the word of God.
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
F) Converting Grace makes us careful for nothing ; Converting Grace enables us to leave the cares of this life in the Heavenly Father's hands.
Matthew 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
G) Converting Grace makes us easily governed by the word and Spirit of God.
Galatians 4:2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
H) Converting Grace makes us look past one's social standing --- a child of a rich man will play with no malice with a child of a beggar.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

I) Converting Grace makes us satisfied with our station in life. A little child does not envy the rich things and high places of this world. A little child's goal is not to raise himself above those around him.

Psalms 131:1 LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. 2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
Moreover, a young child is willing and eager to learn; a young child is very anxious to please their parents, especially his or her father; a young child is quite humble. Christ made it clear to his disciples that being great in the eyes of others around them amounted to nothing when it came to his Kingdom.

Christ was very dogmatic:

Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
There was just no way around it. Pride must go, and a person must be born again. We must put on the new man; we must be like the holy child, Jesus, as he was called even after his ascension, Acts 4:27.

The greatest in the Kingdom are those who are as little children.

On the positive side, the Heavenly Father takes special notice of and special care of his children.

Notice:

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
This last week, we received Christ, for we received the children in Christ's name.
Matthew 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.