Thursday, May 19, 2016

NCFIC: A New Family Integrated Church Denomination? By Shawn Mathis

Last September Shawn Mathis posted an article entitled NCFIC: A New Family Integrated Church Denomination? In this article he sets forth the evidence that the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC) is continuing to look more and more like a new denomination, despite their assurances to the contrary. With Shawn's permission, I have quoted the article here in its entirety:
Is the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) morphing into a quasi-denomination? Maybe something akin to a Presbyterian way of running things? As a group they unite together over children in worship (that is good) but denounce children in Sunday school (that’s bad).

Late last year, Scott Brown announced the formation of “regional facilitators.” These men coordinate area-wide events and leadership meetings to better cement inter-church relationships.

But Scott hastily assures his readers that this is not the formation of a denomination but an “organic way that brothers and sisters in churches are designed to love one another.”

Since when does an organic way have such a regional structure with regional leaders? Or when does an organic way include a publicly signed confession? Or when does an organic way involve a national church roll–all of which is coordinated by a central organization with one small board and one main leader?

This organic way seems a little more structured than many will admit.

But someone will quickly point out that Scott is not disciplining the churches like a bishop. Yes and no.

Consider the simple fact of signing the NCFIC declaration: to whom is the promise given that the church signing it agrees with the Nicene Creed and is in “substantial” agreement with the document itself?  To the NCFIC. Or rather, to the board, I think (the details of the NCFIC are not clear). Thus there is an implicit moral (and now structural) authority to accept or reject the church’s signing. They hold the keys to membership.

It is true that the NCFIC has a stated hands-off policy toward member churches. But churches have been removed from the list.

Consider further, that a church can list any exceptions it has with the NFIC declaration. But who decides what exceptions are allowable? The NCFIC. They hold the keys to membership and to doctrinal purity.

But there is more. The goals of the NCFIC are eerily denomination-like:

1. To facilitate the creation of new churches: “Facilitate church planting…Wherefore [the undersigned NCFIC churches and individuals], in Light of This Our Faith, We Do Hereby Resolve to…Consult with biblically sound churches that will likewise plant [FIC] churches, which perpetuate faithfulness to the Word of God in matters of church and family life.” (Welcome Pastors, NCFIC declaration)

2. To maintain structural cohesion of said churches: “How important is the establishment of biblically-ordered local churches? It is very important, since the church is ‘the body of Christ,’ (Eph. 1:22-23) and ‘the pillar and ground of the truth,’ (1 Tim. 3:15). This is why the NCFIC maintains an online church network called the, ‘FIC Network.’ (Scott Brown, posting)

3. To preserve and spread the Gospel: “We have seven objectives at the NCFIC. The first and foremost is to preserve the spread of the true Gospel from one generation to the next, through biblically-ordered, Gospel-preaching, Christ-exalting churches and families” (Scott Brown, posting)

I rejoice that Scott Brown is moving toward something beyond Independency. It seems the NCFIC is becoming something akin to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) with some regionalism of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) thrown in for good measure.

Both groups affirm the autonomy of the local body, while the CREC has regional presbyteries. And the CREC is a collection of Baptists and Presbyterians.

But there is more: “it seems to me that God would have many of these [FIC] churches be connected with one another for mutual help.”  What does that help look like? Scott believes this help is found in the “pattern of the churches in the New Testament” and approvingly quotes the following:

“They shared love and greetings; They shared preachers and missionaries; They supported one another financially with joy and thanksgiving; They imitated one another in how to live the Christian life…They were cautioned about whom to receive as teachers; They were exhorted to pray for other churches and Christians.”

If these become implemented, there will be no doubt that the NCFIC has become a denomination. Part of this list is already being implemented:

“Kevin Swanson and I are going to be hosting a church leader’s luncheon for the church leaders in Englewood, CO…We greatly desire to see like-minded pastors and congregations within a small geographical area begin to (1) know each other, (2) actively encourage each other, and (3) join together in Great Commission labors.”

Functionally, the NCFIC is in a unique position to be a denomination-that-is-not-a-denomination, working across existing denominational boundaries.  Will regional Presbyteries have to contend with a presbytery-within-a-presbytery if some of their churches join the NCFIC?

The question remains: is the National Center for Family Integrated Churches morphing into a quasi-denomination? Only time will tell.
I appreciate the work that Shawn has done over the years helping to correct the FICM and helping to warn the body of Christ about the dangers of some of their views. I have found in him an ally in supporting the truth and strengthening the churches against some of the aforementioned dangers involved with the FICM, and I hope the blog's readers will consider his writings on the subject in addition to my own. He has written a very helpful book on the subject entitled Uniting Church and Family: Observations About the Current Family Crisis.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2016 "What is a Reformed Baptist?" Poll Update

Four months ago we began a poll on the blog. If you identify yourself as a Reformed Baptist and you haven't already taken part in the poll, please check out the "What is a Reformed Baptist?" Poll on the right sidebar on this page (the red box with white type). The intention is to run the poll for one year with an interest in how the Reformed Baptist community might answer this question. I have given four options for answers that I think basically sum up the various groups or individuals that I have found to be using the term. Here are the four possible answers:
To regard oneself as a Reformed Baptist, one must ...

1) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology.

2) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology.

3) adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (e.g. modify regarding Impassibility).

4) adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689.
For those interested, here are the results thus far:
13% say that one must adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

28% say that one must adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

40% say that one must adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (e.g. modify regarding Impassibility) in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

19% say that one must adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689 in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.
Again, if you haven't yet taken part in the poll, please do so. You may read more about the poll here in order to understand better why it is phrased as it is.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Problem With Preaching Other Men's Sermons

Most of us know that pulpit plagiarism is becoming an increasingly rampant problem these days. I think this is probably due to a number of factors, including such things as the easy availability of large numbers of sermons and sermon outlines online, the increasing pressure on pastors to sound like the celebrity preachers so many of the people in their congregations like to listen to or watch online, and the lack of solid training in exegesis and expository Bible teaching among so many pastors these days. But perhaps one of the most glaring problems is the lack of understanding among so many pastors regarding what their calling really entails.

D.A. Carson touched on this issue back in 2010, in an article at The Gospel Coalition website which asked the question When Has a Preacher Crossed the Line into Plagiarism in His Sermon? Answers were published from five Coalition members, one of whom was Carson, who writes:
First: Taking over another sermon and preaching it as if it were yours is always and unequivocally wrong, and if you do it you should resign or be fired immediately. The wickedness is along at least three axes: (1) You are stealing. (2) You are deceiving the people to whom you are preaching. (3) Perhaps worst, you are not devoting yourself to the study of the Bible to the end that God's truth captures you, molds you, makes you a man of God and equips you to speak for him.
This is a very good answer, in my opinion, but I am struck by the fact that there are many pastors these days who would claim that the first two points do not really apply to them, despite the fact that they regularly repeat other men's sermons. For example, many would say that they are not stealing if they have obtained permission to use the sermons, even without citing their original author. And they would argue that, so long as the members of their congregation know that they are preaching other men's sermons, then they are not deceiving them. But I don't think that there can be an answer to Carson's third point, which is that they are failing to devote themselves personally to the study of God's Word "to the end that God's truth captures you, molds you, makes you a man of God and equips you to speak for him." The simple fact is that, as pastors, we are called to preach the Word, not simply to repeat what someone else says about it (2 Tim. 4:2). In the process we are to make sure to teach "the whole counsel of God," an important aim of pastoral teaching for which the Apostle Paul held himself up as our example (Acts 2:27). To this end Paul admonishes a pastor to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15 NASB). How does simply repeating the work of other men even come close to heeding this command?! How does one demonstrate his own ability to accurately handle the Word of God if he doesn't even bother to do the work himself?! We simply cannot fulfill our calling as pastors if we are not doing the hard work of understanding and accurately handling the Word of God for ourselves.

I would also argue that fulfilling this calling is a necessary part of heeding the Apostle Peter's command to pastors to "Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away" (1 Pet. 5:2-4 NKJ). How can a man serve as an example of how we must learn to hear God speak to us in the Word for our sanctification if he isn't even bothering to delve deeply into the Word himself? How can one serve as a proper example of how to accurately handle the Word of God if he doesn't even know how to do it himself? In my view, one of the most important things I do as I teach the Word week in and week out is to model for the flock how they should rightly handle the Word of God for themselves. In this way I serve as an example to help them be like the Berean Christians, who were "were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11 NASB). How does simply repeating the work of other men serve as an example to the body of Christ of how they ought to properly study the Bible for themselves? We simply cannot be the example we are called to be without demonstrating how the flock under our charge can properly study and interpret the Bible for themselves.

In my opinion, there are far too many pastors across America who are either incapable of doing the hard work of exegesis and sermon preparation, or they are unwilling to be diligent to present themselves approved to God as a workmen who do not need to be ashamed. Instead, they would rather simply repeat the sermons of other men, and for this they ought to be thoroughly ashamed of themselves! My fellow pastors, let us not be among them!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Jesus Is Lord: The Mediatorial Reign of Christ

Jeff Johnson announced earlier today that a new book will soon be available from Free Grace Press. The book is entitled Jesus Is Lord: The Mediatorial Reign of Christ, by Ron Crisp & Daniel Chamberlin. Here is Jeff's announcement:
A great book on the mediatorial reign of Christ by Ron Crisp and Daniel Chamberlin, published by Free Grace Press, is coming May 23. If you want to know more about how a man, from our own ranks, has been given sovereign power over all things, then you will want to read this book. Short, full of Scriptures, and full of glory and hope. You can preorder by emailing freegracepress@gmail.com for $5.00 per copy.
If you want to preorder, now is the time! I would recommend checking out the growing number of other titles at Free Grace Press as well. You can purchase any of Jeff's books there at a good price, and you can keep up new titles coming in the future here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Danger of "The Soft Prosperity Gospel"

Erik Raymond has written a thought-provoking and needed article entitled The Soft Prosperity Gospel, and I hope all of you will read it. Here is the introduction to the article:
What do you think of when you read the words prosperity gospel? Odds are that your stomach turns a bit as you think about the preachers on television who speak to very large crowds and appeal to even more people in their books. Queasiness is the reaction one should have to the brand of Christianity trumpeted by prosperity preachers. This is because the prosperity gospel is not a gospel at all but rather a damnable perversion of the true gospel. Its preachers herald a message of self-improvement that runs painfully contrary to several key biblical realities. They minimize the purpose of suffering, discourage self-denial, and make the Christian life about the accumulation of stuff. To do this they turn Jesus from the self-giving, sin-atoning, wrath-satisfying, guilt-removing Savior into an eager butler who fetches all of our desires and gives us our best life now.
The prosperity gospel shrinks the gospel down to an unfiltered pursuit of our desires. It shifts the message from the spiritual to the materialistic. Let’s be clear about this: the prosperity gospel is about us rather than God.
Eric further states that:
We would be naive to think that prosperity thinking is limited to those who cruise around in their expensive private jets or overtly speak in self-help platitudes fit for fortune cookies. No, prosperity thinking has gone viral today. Being more nuanced and subtle than you may think, prosperity thinking is very active in the church. And because it undermines our understanding and application of the gospel, its effect is cataclysmic. Like a computer virus, it drains the vitality and productivity of the covenant community. And you know the worst part? We may not even recognize where we’ve been affected by it.
Let’s call this the “soft” prosperity gospel. It is not so loud and ostentatious. It is more mainstream, polished, and even American. Here are a few ways that you can tell that you may be nibbling at the hook of a soft-prosperity gospel without, perhaps, even knowing it.
Eric then gets into several areas in which we may have been infected with the virus of the false prosperity gospel without even realizing it. I highly recommend reading what he has to say here. As always, your feedback is welcome.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

evangelicalbible.com – The Place to Buy Quality Bibles

The best place I have found to buy quality Bibles is evangelicalbible.com, which carries Bibles from Cambridge University Press, Crossway Bibles, the Trinitarian Bible Society, and the Lockman Foundation. It is also the exclusive distributor of Schuyler Bible Publishers and the official U.S. distributor of R.L. Allan Bibles, which many regard to be the best leather-bound Bibles available. I have personally been very impressed with Schuyler, however, having owned both a Schuyler Single Column Paragraph NKJV Bible (in brown goatskin) and a Schuyler Quentel NKJV (a red letter edition in black goatskin). Both are outstanding, high quality Bibles, and I would highly recommend them. Schuyler also offers the KJV, ESV, NASB, and NLT versions. As the webpage at evangelicalbible.com states, "Schuyler Bibles are printed and bound in the Netherlands in one of the finest book binderies in Europe, Jongbloed. All Schuyler Bibles use only the finest materials in crafting its Bibles. From paper to natural grain Goatskin – the Schuyler label has determined to carve out a niche which will establish it as a unique label among Bible publishers." For those of you who may not yet heard of Schuyler Bible Publishers, here is the information from their website:
SCHUYLER (pronounced Sky-ler) is the family name of the founder of Schuyler Bibles. Schuyler has its origin in the Dutch  “schuilen” which means “shelter.” “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1) Schuyler Bible Publishers have been at the center of the high end Bible market for the past 12 years. Schuyler has quickly established its name as among the preeminent Bible publishers. Schuyler has published the English Standard Version, (ESV), the New King James Version (NKJV), the King James Version (KJV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the New Living Translation (NLT).
Schuyler Bibles has had one simple mission – to produce Bibles whose quality extends to  both Printing and Binding.  Often customers are forced to choose between the two. We decided to produce Bibles with the best of both worlds. Paper quality, legibility and  binding come together to produce the best crafted Bibles available.Schuyler Bibles all have the following characteristics: 
A.  All are printed in the Netherlands. 
B.  All have natural grain Goatskin. 
C.  All have Smyth sewn bindings.  
D.  All have perimeter stitching.
If you are looking to buy a high quality Bible for yourself or for a loved one, I highly recommend evangelicalbible.com, and I hope you will give Schuyler Bible Publishers a good look as well. The product is outstanding, and so is the customer service.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Biblical Reflections Before Brain Surgery by Brian Borgman

Below is a sermon entitled "Biblical Reflections Before Brain Surgery." It is a message preached by Brain Borgman, a pastor at Grace Community Church in Minden, Nevada, as he anticipates undergoing brain surgery this week on Wednesday.

I highly recommend listening to the message. It contains Scriptural encouragement from a man who has walked with our Lord Jesus for a long time and who wants us to benefit from how our Lord has been shepherding him through this difficult trial. If you have been going through trials of your own, as I have been, you will find it especially helpful. I also ask the readers to pray for our brother Brian, for his family, and for his church.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

To Eat or Not to Eat?

I didn’t ever think I would read a book on the theology of food; but after reading “To Eat or Not to Eat?” by Curtis Knapp, I not only can say that I have, but I can say that I really enjoyed it. What I like best about the book is that the author is thoroughly Scriptural and balanced. If you are wanting to know more about this subject, or if you know someone who is easily swayed by those who wants to make whole foods the 13th spiritual discipline of the Christian faith, then I warmly recommend this book to you.   

Here is the book's description, and here is where you can order it. 

In a day in which concerns about health and nutrition abound, various experts have emerged to offer us dietary prescriptions. Some use the Bible to reinforce their dietary “commandments,” but have they rightly interpreted God’s Word? The postion of this book is that they have not, and that their teaching – which the author calls “Nutritianity” – are dangerous.

Nutritianity is a “religion” of dietary laws that subtly encourages us to worship our bodies and promises purity, long life and “salvation” from disease through proper nutrition. Christianity, on the other hand, is a religion commanding us to worship the one true God and showing us how to have salvation and abundant life in Jesus Christ. The two religions are diametrically opposed, but both claim the Bible as a textbook.

What does the Bible really say about food? Are there certain foods God does not want me to eat? The author addresses these questions and more in the hopes of helping Christians enjoy the liberty God has given them.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

2016 "What is a Reformed Baptist?" Poll Update

Three months ago we began a poll on the blog. If you identify yourself as a Reformed Baptist and you haven't already taken part in the poll, please check out the "What is a Reformed Baptist?" Poll on the right sidebar on this page (the red box with white type). The intention is to run the poll for one year with an interest in how the Reformed Baptist community might answer this question. I have given four options for answers that I think basically sum up the various groups or individuals that I have found to be using the term. Here are the four possible answers:
To regard oneself as a Reformed Baptist, one must ...

1) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology.

2) adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology.

3) adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (e.g. modify regarding Impassibility).

4) adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689.
Thus far surprisingly few of the blog's readers have taken part in the poll. I am not sure why there have not yet been more who have answered, but I have communicated with some who have held off due to a desire to think about it more carefully before answering. I think this is a good thing. Here are the results thus far:
14% say that one must adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

30% say that one must adhere at a minimum to a Calvinistic soteriology and to Covenant Theology in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

41% say that one must adhere substantially to the Baptist Confession of 1689 (e.g. modify regarding Impassibility) in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.

15% say that one must adhere strictly to the Baptist Confession of 1689 in order to be regarded a Reformed Baptist.
Again, if you haven't yet taken part in the poll, please do so. You may read more about the poll here in order to understand better why it is phrased as it is.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Mark 10:13-16 – The Children of the Kingdom (Teaching Outline)

Introduction: Kent Hughes refers to a letter dated June 17, 1 BC, that is written from a man named Hilaron to his wife, Alis, concerning the birth of a child. The letter says, “If it was a male child, let it live; if it was a female, cast it out” (Mark, Vol. 2, p. 55). This refers to the practice of leaving infants to die of exposure if unwanted for any reason, a practice that was not outlawed in Roman law until A.D. 375 (Ibid., p. 55).

David Garland says of the perspective on children in the ancient world that, “The ancient world did not have a romantic notion of children. Children added nothing to the family's economy or honor and did not count. In the Greco-Roman world one could literally throw children away by exposing unwanted infants at birth. The unscrupulous would collect exposed children and raise them to be gladiators or prostitutes and even disfigure them to enhance their value as beggars” (NIV Application Commentary on Mark, p. 385).

In our own culture, we can see an atmosphere developing that is becoming more like the ancient Greco-Roman world all the time. Although the exposure of infants is not very often practiced, the equally repugnant practice of abortion is rampant. The exploitation of children is becoming more and more common as well. And this doesn't even take into account the way that children – if desired in the first place – are being harmed by the break up of about half of the marriages in this country.

In today's passage, however, we will see that Jesus had a very different view of children than so many people had either in the first century world or in our own twenty-first century world. Not only did He accept children with love, but He also heightened their status by using them as an example for all to follow if they wish to enter into the Kingdom of God. As we examine His treatment of children in this passage, we will see that: 1) We should accept children the way Jesus does, and 2) We should accept Jesus the way children do.

I. We Should Accept Children the Way Jesus Does

We will pick up this theme beginning in verse 13.
NKJ  Mark 10:13 Then they brought little children [παιδίον, paidíon] to Him, that He might touch [ἅπτω] them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
The Greek word translated “little children” in the New King James Version is paidíon, a word that may refer not only to a small child but also occasionally to an infant (Friberg #20312, BibleWorks). In this instance we know that many of these small children being brought to Jesus were indeed infants, because Luke indicates this in his parallel account:
NKJ  Luke 18:15a Then they also brought infants [βρέφος, bréphos] to Him that He might touch [ἅπτω] them ….
We are told in both accounts that the children were brought to Jesus so that He might “touch” them. This expression refers to the practice among the Jews of the blessing of children accompanied by the laying on of hands, a tradition that dated all the way back to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 27:18-29; 48:14). That this is what is being sought from our Lord Jesus is brought out even more clearly in Matthew's parallel account, which says that, “little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray …. ” (Matt. 19:13a). It is also made explicit later in Mark's account, when we see that Jesus does, in fact, respond to the parents' bringing their children to Him by placing His hands on them and blessing them (vs. 16).

We are not told why the disciples rebuked those who were bringing their children to Jesus. Perhaps they were just trying to give Him a chance to rest. Whatever their motivations may have been, however, Jesus' response to them will show that they were definitely not concerned for the children as they should have been. For they obviously didn't feel that they were important enough to trouble Jesus with them. We see Jesus' reaction in first part of the next verse.
NKJ  Mark 10:14a But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased [ἀγανακτέω, aganaktéō] and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.”
The Greek word translated “greatly displeased” in the New King James Version means to “be indignant against what is assumed to be wrong, [to] be aroused, indignant, [or] angry” (BAGD3). Thus, Jesus' response is righteous anger toward what He sees as a grievous wrong done to these children, who are being kept from the blessing their parents desire for them and that He Himself obviously desires for them as well. Jesus' strong reaction is also evidenced by His emphatic statement (without the connective and in the Greek text): “Let the children come to me; do not forbid them!”

It is interesting that Jesus describes the children who are being “brought” (vs. 13) as coming to Him. This is no doubt due to the children's simple acceptance of Jesus, especially as examples of the proper approach to Christ. This will be the focus of our attention later. For now we will direct our attention to Jesus' acceptance of the children. As I have already pointed out, this acceptance may be further seen in verse 16, so let's jump down to that verse for a moment.
NKJ  Mark 10:16 And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed [Impf. Act. Ind. > κατευλογέω, kateulogéō; Byz = Impf. Act. Ind. > εὐλογέω, eulogéō] them.
Jesus shows His love for children not only through words and the granting of a blessing to them through the laying on of His hands, but by tenderly and affectionately taking them up in His own arms. What a strong a contrast to the disciples' attitude!

The Greek text translated “blessed” here is quite informative in two respects.

First, the usual word meaning to bless is eulogéō, but the word used by Mark here is kateulogéō, which adds the preposition katá to the verb eulogéō with an intensifying effect. Thus the Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament says that Jesus “blessed them fervently, in no perfunctory way, but with emphasis” (p. 116).

Second, the tense of the verb (imperfect) indicates in this context that Jesus was taking each child into His arms and blessing them one by one. William Hendriksen suggests that the verse would best be translated, “And having taken them in his arms He tenderly blessed them one by one, laying His hands upon them” (BNTC, e-Sword). In other words, Jesus didn't just quickly touch each child as they were carried by Him. Rather He made time to spend with each of these children in order show His grace and love toward them individually. 

Application: In a culture that is becoming increasingly apathetic in its attitude toward children, it is especially important for us to learn from the example Jesus set for His disciples in this passage. Perhaps we should ask ourselves some questions like: Do I find myself becoming grieved or filled with righteous anger when I see children abused or ignored? If so, is it a genuine fruit of the Holy Spirit that leads to action? Do I try to make time for the children God puts in my path, in order to demonstrate the grace of God toward them and to be a blessing to them? Do I take time to listen to children when they try to speak to me, or do I have the attitude of so many that “children are to be seen and not heard”? Do I seek ways to show genuine affection to my own children and to the children of others?

David Garland also has some helpful insights for the application of this text to our lives when he writes:
Jesus commends children to his disciples. They are to extend loving care for them and not to block them off as insignificant. Our attitude toward the value of children surfaces in how we care for the facilities for children in the church, in how much of the budget is designated for their care and training, in how we integrate them into our worship. Do they appear in worship only as cute performers who sing their song and then are shuttled off out of sight and earshot so that they cannot disturb what we regard as more important – our own quiet worship? (NIV Application Commentary on Mark, p. 392)
I am proud of Immanuel Baptist Church in this area, since we welcome our children into our time of worship. I am also glad that there is the yearly trip taken by some in our church to witness to poor and under-privileged children in rural Mississippi. I am also especially glad that God has given us so many children to help through our Children Desiring God and youth ministries. Jesus' example makes me want to pray more for them and to renew my resolve and determination that our church shall continue such ministry, ministry which can be demanding and stressful at times. I want to encourage you all to join with me today in such a renewal of purpose, whether God has led you to be directly involved in these ministries or not. For even if you are not one of the workers, you can still make it a point to pray more consistently for these children and for our ministry to them. You can also join me in praying that the children who are with us in our worship services will grow thereby in their knowledge of God and their faith in Him. Whatever role God has given each of us with the children He brings into our lives, let us not forget Jesus' example recorded for us in this passage. And with that, having thus seen how we should accept children the way Jesus did, let's turn our attention to our next major point.

II. We Should Accept Jesus the Way Children Do

We will pick up this theme in the last part of verse 14.
NKJ  Mark 10:14b Let the little children [παιδίον, paidíon] come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
When our Lord says, “of such is the kingdom of God,” He teaches that children exemplify qualities that are inherent in those who are a part of the Kingdom of God. It should not surprise us, then, when we find that children are often more receptive to the Gospel message than are adults. As Charles Spurgeon put it:
I will say broadly that I have more confidence in the spiritual life of the children that I have received into this church than I have in the spiritual condition of the adults thus received. I will go even further than that, and say that I have usually found a clearer knowledge of the Gospel and a warmer love to Christ in the child-converts than in the man-converts. I will even astonish you still more by saying that I have sometimes met with a deeper spiritual experience in children of ten or twelve than I have in certain persons of fifty or sixty. (As cited by Kent Hughes, Mark, Vol. 2, p. 58)
I don't think Jesus would have been at all surprised to hear such things, especially in light of what He went on to say.
NKJ  Mark 10:15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means [οὐ μὴ] enter it.
We have seen in verse 14 that Jesus taught that little children exemplify the kind of persons who make up the Kingdom of God, and now in verse 15 we find His very strong statement that unless one is in some way “as a little child,” he will “by no means” enter the Kingdom. But what does He mean by this? In what way(s) must we be like little children in order to enter the kingdom? I would suggest that there are a couple of things that stand out in the context.

First, we have read in verse 13 about children who were brought to Jesus. They were thus dependent upon those who brought them. This is especially true of the smaller children and infants who were completely helpless without their parents. These children serve as examples of those who cannot do anything in their own effort to receive a blessing from Jesus. It isn't through anything that they have done that they are blessed. This means that we, too, must recognize our dependence upon Jesus for His gracious blessing. We must see that we are powerless to help ourselves and simply rely on Jesus as the one who can bless us with salvation through His loving work on our behalf.

Second, in verse 15 Jesus has specifically asserted that we are to be like little children in the way that we receive the Kingdom. Isn't it true that little children are usually much more open to the reception of a gift than adults are? William Hendriksen offers the following illustration of this point:
The gold pieces were piled up on the outside windowsill. 'Take one,' said the sign. All day long people passed by thinking, 'this fellow can't fool me.' Evening fell, and the owner was about to remove the pile. But just before he did, a child came by, read the sign, and calmly, without the least hesitancy, took one! (BNTC, e-Sword)
Application: We all always need to be like little children as we approach God, coming to Him as those who are helpless without Him and who are completely open to the reception of the gift of salvation and His continued grace in our lives.

Conclusion: I would like to conclude with a final word first for those who have trusted in Christ and then for those who haven't.

For those of us who already know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, let us repent today of any of the ways in which we have failed to accept and love children as Jesus did. And let us pray also for a renewal of childlike faith in our own hearts.

For those who have not yet bowed the knee to Jesus as Lord and Savior, I encourage you to acknowledge your spiritual helplessness before God and to simply receive the free gift of eternal life that He offers you through His Son Jesus Christ. For unless you receive His Kingdom – His sovereign rule – as a little child, there is no way you will ever enter the Kingdom!

Let us never forget that Jesus is able to save persons of any age, and His incarnation and growth as one who is fully human, while maintaining His divine nature, demonstrates this clearly as well. In fact, Irenaeus, in his second century work entitled Against Heresies, taught well on this subject and is deserving of lengthy quotation:
Being thirty years old when He came to be baptized, and then possessing the full age of a Master, He came to Jerusalem, so that He might be properly acknowledged by all as a Master. For He did not seem one thing while He was another, as those affirm who describe Him as being a man only in appearance; but what He was, that He also appeared to be. Being a Master, therefore, He also possessed the age of a Master, not despising or evading any condition of humanity, nor setting aside in Himself that law which He had appointed for the human race, but sanctifying every age, by that period corresponding to it which belonged to Himself. For He came to save all through means of Himself – all, I say, who through Him are born again to God – infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord …. ” (II, XXII, 4)
I implore you today, no matter what age you are, to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as a little child. Will you trust that He died on the cross for your sins and rose from the dead so that you might have the free gift of forgiveness and everlasting life?