SBTS chapel live blog: Mark Dever

Communications Staff — April 20, 2010

Preacher: Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.

Text/title: Mark 10:13-16 – Children

You see the future first in children. Every parent can see traits of their own begin to sprout in their children. You see this also in the culture. You had 10-year-olds using iPods before 40-year-olds.

Some countries limit the number of children each family can have. Males are preferred. Men are strong and continue the family line. Women do not. One follower of another religion has said, “Raising girls is like watering your neighbor’s lawn.”

How we treat children says something about us.

1. Love children

Children can be seen as unimportant. They can even be seen as a hindrance to the real purpose of life. Career and education compete with children. Our society is tempted to value people only for what they can do, only for what they produce. God values every person, for they are all made in His image.

Christianity is for all people. Our loving children as Jesus did here is clearly countercultural. If God gives you a spouse, if He gives you children, what a good gift is that? How kind is the Lord being to you? To leave you a reminder of the kind of love He has for us. What a privilege to express something of that love.

This is not how our culture understands children.

Sometimes people think staying home with young children is a hindrance to doing evangelism. What they fail to see is that raising young children is the most important evangelism and discipleship that takes place.

What a wonderful reflection of Jesus’s love it is to work with children in your local church. If you haven’t been doing that in your local church, consider doing that because Jesus loves children.

2. Evangelize children

People brought children to Jesus to touch and to be prayed for. While we can no longer bring children to Jesus to be touched by Him physically, we can bring them to Jesus by sharing the Gospel with them.

We should not discourage children from coming to Jesus. How often do we do that? We do that through hypocrisy. Mom and dad might be very active in church, but when they come home they are different people. They do not act Christianly. What does that say to your children about what it means to be a Christian?

Dever presented the Gospel here, noting that all people are created to know God. We all, however, live like orphans, going our own way. God in His love sent His Son Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life, died and rose again so that all who believe in Him might be saved, might be reconciled to God. Repent and believe, Dever said.

Parents are the primary disciplers of their children. Deuteronomy 6:7 was given before there was ever Sunday School. I am not saying that to attack children’s Sunday School: I am saying that to draw attention to parents as the primary disciplers of their children.

Jesus came to save sinners, children are sinners and Jesus wants sinners to believe in Him.

How do we evangelize children? We speak the Gospel to them. We pray for them. And this takes place primarily in the home.

My two exhortations thus far have been devotional, but they have not exposed the main point of the text.

The main point of the text is what we, adults, are to be like.

3. Be childlike yourself

This passage is about everyone who would enter the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not something that you or I bring about. That is not in the Bible. The Kingdom of God is something that we receive. We receive it as it is brought to us. The dominating question of this passage is how we receive the Kingdom of God.

We enter the Kingdom of God as a child. That is how we enter. What does it mean to be like a child? Does it mean that we should always be willing to learn? That we should be pure and innocent?

The Bible is clear that children are not presented in the romanticized way that we often think of them. Children can be a symbol of instability, insecurity, obstinance or unfaithfulness in the Bible. But the image of children in the Bible can also be positive. It is positive when it depicts children as God’s people, people dependent on Him. Jesus urges us to pray to our heavenly Father.

What does it mean to be like a child? It means we have a willingness to obey, a willingness to trust, a willingness to believe. We must depend upon God completely. We must depend upon God for righteousness, for salvation. When it comes to salvation, we are like children. We are too weak to do anything. We must be picked up. Only the sick need a doctor. Do we realize that we are without power, completely dependent on God?

What a kindness of God to give us children to see constantly a living, moving picture of the way that we must relate to God. Do you see how helpless that little child is, apart from the care of his parents? That is how we are before God.

We don’t earn salvation: it is a gift. We see that salvation is a gift unearned by us. We must either see that or we will never enter God’s Kingdom. Entering God’s Kingdom means giving up our claims to it. We must give up our claims to righteousness; give up our claims to having earned anything from God.

Can you think of a time when God has shown Himself to not really be worthy of being trusted in? The answer is, of course, no. Pray that God will make you and your church people who regularly revel in the greatness of God’s salvation. Revel in God’s goodness. Revel in God’s Gospel.

We are not a school of the self-righteous. Christian churches are only for sinners and inside that only for repenting sinners. Our forgiveness, our favor with God, must be earned by another. Our salvation is earned, but not by us. It is earned by another: Jesus, God’s own Son. Jesus was steeling himself, in this account, of the childlike trust He would need in the Garden of Gethsemane. Is there a greater example of childlike faith than in the words, “Not what I will, but thy will be done?”

If we are to enter the Kingdom of God, we must have a childlike trust in Christ.

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