This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
From the Archives - A Series; Part VI
The following message was preached by me on December 22nd, 1991 at my home church, New Life Tabernacle Foursquare Church in Midland City, AL (Everett Rowe, then pastor). It was one of two messages I gave at my own church that year, and with this one it was given just before I left BBI in Graceville, FL, for a short adventure in San Dimas, CA, where I was going to attend LIFE Bible College out there. However, it didn't work, so I eventually headed back east.
Childlike vs. Childish
Did you ever wonder about what it means to "enter heaven as a child?" I, like many other Christians, have gotten misconceptions of this because of human ignorance. However, how do we become little children in Christ? The best explanation for this comes from the Holy Spirit himself: so, let Him minister it to you as you study this subject.
On this particular day as Mark 10:13-16 recounts, Jesus was going about ministering unto people. Mothers, especially, were present because of the way their little ones were attracted to Him. It was comparable to sitting on Santa's lap at Christmas only much better because this was God incarnate. He would take each child upon His lap and cuddle them a little, perhaps even teaching them little songs and prayers before He let them go. However, the job of ministering, albeit rewarding, was strenuous, and the Apostles were starting to feel the effects of the long day in their cranky dispositions. After all, their feet ached and their tummies were empty. As a result, they began to let the crowd know that the party was over. However, even though they were ready to call it a day, Jesus was not quite ready to close shop yet. He was grieved in spirit with their attitudes, and told them in the vernacular of His day to "chill out." It would not have been so hard on those boys had not Jesus drove His point to them in the way He did; He called a little child to Him, and told them that they would have to be as obedient and as trusting as this little child in order to make it into the Kingdom. Oh, what pride that broke in them! Leaving them to chew on this a while He went on doing as before.
II What Does It Mean To Be Childlike?
If any of you receiving this lesson have children, consider the traits of your earthly child. What are they? First of all, a child is noted for his trust. Children will accept without a doubt what their parents tell them, and likewise this is the type of trust our heavenly Father wants us to have with him. If the Lord shows us something, we must accept it as true, for he is a God of truth, and He only will advise us on what is good for us. Children can sometimes get into trouble by accepting too much, however, and like an earthly child must accept the guidance of their parents, so also must we do likewise of our heavenly Father. If we obey his voice and let him guide us, we will be able to steer clear of spiritual trouble. However, like earthly children, how well do we pay attention? We as Christians crawl into some impossible messes, and a lot of times only our God can get us out of them. Unfortunately, unlike the earthly child who learns the first time, we sometimes get ourselves into the same old mess again. We humans are an unruly bunch, are we not?
III. What Does It Mean To Be Childish?
Children in the flesh are a challenge sometimes, so you can about imagine what God's spiritual children can be like! Yes, we are disobedient quite often, and below are some common fixes we get ourselves into.
A. Getting Ahead of God
Sometimes we do things before our Father wants us to, and as a result we tie his hands. Barbara, my fiancee (now wife) had an experience like this with her mother when she invited all her friends home for a birthday party several months before her actual birthday. When we did this to God at several points in our own lives, we end up disappointed because we did it in our own strength, and the wrong way to boot. Let us be ever cautious of doing this.
B. Thinking You Can Get Away With Anything Because You Are Saved
The children that are often "pets" of their parents usually hone the skill of wearing them down to get what they want to an art form. The do exactly the opposite of what they are told because they feel they can get away with it. That same concept is true in the spiritual realm as well, and especially among those who belie the heresy of "once saved always saved" or its twin, the gnostic-based "health and wealth gospel." These are the people that you usually find coming in on Sunday morning with a hangover, or who cave in when real tests encounter them. They are also the same people who say that because smoking is not mentioned in the Bible, they can "smoke unto the Lord," as our friend Dr. Gene Scott out in Los Angeles likes to teach. The theological term for such warped thinking is Antinomianism. God will let you get a way with it, go figure, but in the end you will also pay for it. Therefore do not be deceived: you are destroying yourself in the name of Christ, and He wants no part of such work contrary to His character. It will also destroy your witness for Him. Therefore, if you have fallen prey to either of these heresies, please repent, lest you be eternally secure someplace else.
C. Thinking That God Owes You Something
Did you know that you are being spiritually disobedient when you buy into this "name it and claim it" doctrine? Yes, indeed! The reason is because you treat God as some big "sugar daddy" who owes you sizeable reward because you supposedly serve Him better than anyone else. For those of you that espouse this damnable doctrine, I have a couple of questions. First, have any of you ever read Romans 3:23? Second, do you not realize that Jesus already has given you the greatest thing He had, being His life, for we who do not deserve it? You and I are nothing but sinners worthy of hell, but are saved by His grace. Therefore, we really need to watch throwing around these ridiculous claims, thinking of God as some kind of genie. Who are we to demand of God anything?
Using the Biblical mode described in Mark 10:13-17, I hope I have clarified to you the true meaning of this text, and it is my prayer that the Holy Spirit minister to your needs with it. We are children of the King, and therefore must be obedient as such. Unfortunately, too many in our ranks are spoiled brats that need a good slap upside the noggin in order to get the picture here, and instead of being childlike, they are childish. The rest of us need to be careful so that this does not happen to us.
With the rise of child exploitation in America today, perhaps it must be understood that there is a spiritual parallel. Satan is sending out an army of spiritual child molesters in order to ensnare the children of God. He does this through false heresy in the Church, as well as through worldly values - Rush Limbaugh to name one - that are being sown in the church. It is time that the saints of God stand up against this in a united voice, and may we be led back into the safe fold of God's Word, and follow its principles instead. Like the children of the passage in Mark 10, Jesus wants us to sit upon His lap and receive His blessings. Therefore, I invite you to draw near to Him today - you will be glad you did in the long run. Amen.