AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH -
January 4, 2015
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith,
continuing in accord with the thrust of the Constitution of 1901
of the Presbyterian Church of Australia
THE WONDER OF THE GROWTH AVAILABLE TO
THE CHRISTIAN CHILD
THE STATE OF THE CASE: THE CHILD AND THE LORD
It is not that God decided to be loving. He IS loving. He creates; man desecrates. He organises, man re-organises as much as he may, like a sick child battering his head against the wall and blaming the wall and/or the builder. Man says, Where is the love ? God in reply provides much as He declared to the remnant of Judah after the fearful devastations from a battering Babylon. This imperial power ruined the work of centuries in much of Judah, including the Temple, carrying out the command of God (though the invading nation did not know it - as in Jeremiah 42-44).
The sheer magnificence of the facility and brilliance of what God has made, quite apart from the abuses through sin and the abrasions through judgment,
the decisiveness of the purposes and precepts, principles and
the demonstration of His love unmangled
the sheer candour of His dealings,
the kindness of His promises and
the simplicity of trust, all make the Christian Gospel
meaningfully applicable to
They may become children of God as early as at three years. Indeed, while Christ has answer to the most contorted questions, (6) the wise simplicity of the realities without twisting, has that sure ring of truth, so readily recognised even by the young, as the Lord works. Thus indeed, even when the stern disciples sought to drive away the children who might impede Christ's works, they may have thought, yet Christ asked them to let the little ones come to Him, for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Mark 10:14).
THE CHILD AND THE WORLD
1) the majesty of God and the thoughts of a child can readily match in this, that each has a willing transmission, the one to send, the other to receive, the one of evoke, the other to be perceptive, the one to disclose, the other to savour. How quickly children may relate to charm, or fickleness, to cruelty or self-preoccupation on the part of adults, to trustworthiness or to deceit! When then they meet the Lord, not in quarters of pretence or pretension, but in a milieu where consistency is the consequence of believing faith, with kindness of contrite hearts, and tenderness of regenerated spirits, then the more readily may they relate.
2) Sound foundations make for solid superstructures. Hence when the bricks, if you will, are tossed about in the yard of the child's life, now in Christ, instead of their impacting negatively on him or her in confusion, they may be tidily set apart to be incorporated, fitting just as the structures of thought out buildings may, when these are being built with nicely matched plans and products.
3) With mixed foundations, such as come when for example a Christian Bible is mixed with unbelief in this or that at will, and a new Jesus, a new Spirit, a new Gospel is prepared (as in II Corinthians 10-11), then there is something close to torment. It is then like introducing a spoon to the mouth, sometimes with good hot food; but substituting a keen blade in a specially made similar unit, so that the mouth is cut. In this way, natural response becomes mixed with unnatural confusion. Small wonder then that Christ indicated that offending one of these little ones who believed in Him was like taking a millstone and drowning with its weight (Matthew 18:6).
4) In particular, the provision of allegedly Christian Schools, as in the case of some of those belonging to large and unfaithful denominations, of which there are not a few, become a specialised case of this kind. Here the offence is not merely in some episode, but systematic. The blithe disregard or distortion of Gospel realities by a this-world-fascinated-minister or teacher, who yet deals with religious topics, becomes like a case of many captives in a way; for their guilt is before them, and their sentences await, except they repent. Captivated mentors are faced by their misleading deeds.
5) Where however, the sense of direct dependence, assured confidence and certain leaning on the Lord occurs, then the child can learn not only spiritual poise, but find peace, for what is to be feared both purifies and delights, if God is actually known! The child can learn, as one a trade from his father, to rest in the Lord, take counsel from Him, even when in difficult circumstances. Those tested are often better placed than those apparently not so, since a wayward heart may develop just through ease, leading to self-satisfaction, that great bandage for the eyes.
THE CHILD AND THE KINGDOM
OF SUCH, said Christ, is the kingdom of heaven.
We have considered qualities in children which relate in kind to those of entry to the kingdom of heaven, though of course the will may at any time wrestle and win, causing catastrophe with wilfulness or self-assertion.
What however are the qualities which naturally develop in the saved soul of the young ?
Being young does not exclude wisdom, but it does where Christ rules, tend to make learning more obvious, need more acutely felt, channels better appreciated, except where the sheer glory of the Lord overwhelms the adult mind, and re-adjusting its vision, gives to it also a vast new impetus.
Thus the young Christian, say first youth or earlier, may relish as a practical thing (almost like learning to serve in tennis), the instructions in II Peter 1:4-8.
What do you do ? You note the management guarantee, for we have promise for this team, indeed there are actually promises to enable us to serve the Lord with the constraints of the divine nature working in us! Think of that ...it is a divine power, and you use it and move forward (cf. Philippians 3).
Now this is a class for the keen, the diligent - good ? That makes it the more interesting to the flame of youth. Start with the base, you have saving faith in Christ Jesus the Lord. God did not leave you an orphan. This is a 'school' going for thousands of years. Right, so you add to this faith by which you speak to, act with and look in trust towards your Father by Jesus Christ. What do you add ?
Well first you add virtue. If you are a male, that means gaining in manliness, if a female, gaining in womanliness: both are beautiful and they have a large amount in common but as in I Peter 3, there are shades of difference, as between a serve and a volley, both good shots, both needed in the one active framework. It is a type of goodness, a reliable, honest, hard-working and practical grasp for the best, to know it and to do it, as responsible.
That in progress, you then add knowledge. As in mathematics, there are constant new features which show new sub-realms of function for you to use, so in spiritual and godly things, there are things to learn, know, understand, relish. You go for these and grow into them and through them.
Then a new feature comes into the program: self-control. This means that you do not say, 'This is my character,' or 'I am like that,' or similar excuse; you realise that having one weakness can kill someone through your fault. You WILL not just let your soul pounce and bounce, but seek to keep strict control of it, how you treat enemies or friends, crises or confrontations, and how to be loving, when the heart is ready but the mind is still unpractised.
Next come perseverance and godliness: you do not pull up and throw away your training, but keep at it. Where weak you seek to learn to be strong, where fitful and impatient, you do not say, 'This is my nature,' but 'I must mature out of that!' Then the sweet nectar of godliness is delivered, where the very peace of the Lord continues in you as you live and act, like a constant petrol supply for a vehicle. Indeed, brotherly kindness and love become more and more focussed, natural because of the supernatural Father who works in you.
Then you delight in the "mark of the high calling" in Christ, actively seeking what and how you may best do to serve the Lord in your particular case, individually and with others, and voyages of discovery await you (cf. Philippians 3:14-15). It is like climbing a mountain with excellent equipment: the more you go, the more you know, and the better you seek, the more the light and wonder of it inspires you.
Now lastly consider, those of us who are not of tender years, that the Lord is of a tender heart, and as for those who wait upon Him in faith, He renews their youth like the eagle, and does not forget in old age (Psalm 71), even, to bear us up upon the wings of His majesty and the irrepressible joy of His presence (Isaiah 40:28-31), as we still learn the ways of flight in the Lord, not far FROM faith but IN it and with it!.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.