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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom’

First of all, I just want to say again how grateful I am for all who came out to work and support our VBS this year. It is encouraging to me to see how many of you came.

It is also a blessing to me to see you working in ministry and using your gifts to work for the kingdom. That’s what its all about, right? I don’t want to mention names, but we have some really gifted, creative, dedicated, hard working people here. And it is a blessing to see you in action.

It is true that we had a lot of kids this year. Wow! Perhaps you too are experiencing a bit of ‘post-traumatic VBS stress disorder.’ At times it seemed pretty chaotic and I wondered if the kids were going to take over and we would have to run for cover. And perhaps we will have to address what our capacity is.

But whether we have more or less, what I would like to say today is: When we see the kids running all over, and you’re trying to keep track of them, and keep them quiet and focused to teach them – you can wonder – “Are they getting it?” And closely behind this question you might ask, “Is it worth the work – all the labor and the stress?”

So I want to encourage you this morning by affirming to you that – Yes, it is worth it!

Lets look at Mark 4:26-29, the parable of the growing seed.

Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

This parable teaches us some lessons about the kingdom of God and I want us to apply them to what we have just done in VBS, although they apply to all kinds of ministry.

1. Our role is to scatter seed – v. 26. That is, we are to share with others the good news of Jesus; to spread the message of salvation and new life through him.

  • We did this by teaching and singing Christian songs, telling Bible stories, learning Scripture verses.
  • We hopefully also did this by how we treated the kids – welcoming them, caring for them, loving them – so that they could see the love of Jesus in us.

We want them to come to know and trust in Jesus, as a foundation for a life of following Jesus.

This is what we are called to do – scatter seed. And this is what we did. So we can feel good about that.

2. We don’t know how to make the seed grow – vs. 27-28. As the parable says, the sower “sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself . . ..”  With agriculture, especially in that day, you don’t know how a seed comes to life and grows, you just know that if you pant it, it does.

In the same way, we plant seeds for the kingdom. But the growth of the seed is something that is beyond us. Especially in the realm of the things of the Spirit, it is beyond our understanding or power to force those seeds of the kingdom to grow.

It is like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:6, perhaps reflecting on our parable in Mark 4. He planted seeds, but “God gave the growth.” God is the one who works to  make the seeds of the kingdom come to life.

  • In one way this can be frustrating because we want people to get it; to make the seed grow; to make them receive it.
  • But it is also liberating to realize that it is in God’s hands. We don’t have to take on the weight of the world.

We are successful when we are faithful to plant seeds for the kingdom. The growth, the numbers – what the world would focus on as “success” – is in God’s hands.

We fulfill our role and then we leave it to God as he works in the person to receive the message and act on it.

3. We have to remember that there is a process involved in terms of the seed growing – vs. 28-29.  I’m not sure that this is the point of the parable, but there is a lot of emphasis on this. Jesus talks about:

  • first the blade
  • then the ear
  • then the full grain
  • then the ripe grain and the harvest

Paul certainly picks up this idea, once again, in I Corinthians 3:6. He says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” There is a process, with different stages. We can take two things from this:

  • First, we shouldn’t expect someone to get it all at once. We are a part – perhaps small or big – in what God is trying to do in each one of these kids’ lives.
  • And second, from I Corinthians, God uses different people at different stages to further the growth. There is a team work part to this in the broader body of Christ.

We have done some work here this past week, and later we or others will come along to do more work in their lives, watering, tending, pulling weeds – to stretch the metaphor.

4. There will be a time of harvest – v. 29. As this verse says, “But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

Now, in this parable the same man both plants and harvests. But often in kingdom work one will plant, others will work with the growth, and still others will harvest. There are lots of people involved.

So often we plant seeds in faith not knowing what will come of it. We have to trust God to use our efforts; to bring about the growth. And we will see the full results of our labors on the final day.

We just never know the real effect of what we are doing when we sow seeds for the kingdom.

It might seem to us, from the point of view of what our eyes can see, that nothing is happening. But from the point of view of the eyes of the Spirit, God is doing and will do an amazing thing with our labors.

What I am saying is that our efforts in planting seeds have an eternal significance, in these kids lives – those who come to church all the time and those from the neighborhood.

Even the one who is misbehaving badly, who appears to be not listening, who is acting out in rebellion or disrespectful. We are planting seeds for the kingdom in their lives.

I have heard a number of adults from the neighborhood talk about how they attended our VBS, some many years ago. One woman, maybe 60 years old, came in this week and asked to use the phone. When she found out that Cedar Street was having VBS she wanted to call her daughter to have the grandkids come. Why? She had come here when she was a kid. She remembered it. And she wanted her grandkids to receive as well.

Another woman, who is now a local pastor, told me that she came to Cedar Street’s VBS. Here she is, now a pastor – bearing fruit for the kingdom in lots of ways. Now, of course, many people sowed into her life, and she had her own home church. But we had, at least, some small part in that; the privilege of sowing kingdom seeds.

Which ones of the kids that you worked with will be touched, will have their lives transformed, might become a pastor or in some other way do great things for the kingdom?

And you know, it isn’t just the quiet one who is well behaved that God reaches. It is often exactly that one that is hard to deal with whom God will use in amazing ways in the future.

So as we think of the kids we have just interacted with – those from our congregation, those from the neighborhood – know this: we have planted seeds for the kingdom. Be encouraged! We are a part, whether small or big – in what God is doing in their lives; in making a difference in their lives.

May God work in each of them to bring about the growth. And may God use us and others in the process still to come.

And I encourage you to keep praying for them in the weeks and months to come.

William Higgins

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We’re continuing on in our series on the second coming today. Last time, two weeks ago, we went through the second half of the Olivet discourse. We looked at what I called “Jesus’ Roadmap to the End” – with its three major points:

1) The destruction of Herod’s Temple and the events associated with this, which happened within a generation of Jesus’ words, just as he said they would.

2) The times of the Gentiles – a time when God is working with the nations of the world for both salvation and judgment, as people respond to the gospel. This is the time we live in, and we don’t know how long it will continue.

3) The return of Jesus and the resurrection of the righteous.

We also saw how once the Temple was destroyed, Jesus could come at any time. Nothing else has to take place in the scheme of things.

And finally we saw how no one knows the time, not even Jesus. The Father will make the call for when the times of the Gentiles are over and Jesus will return.

Today we begin to focus on what Jesus talks about the most with regard to his coming – that We must be ready! Next week we will look at “How to be ready for the great gathering.” In other words, how to be ready for Jesus’ return and the resurrection of the righteous. Today its “Why we need to be ready for the great gathering.”  We begin by looking in more detail at . . .

The resurrection of the righteous

1. It will happen after Jesus returns and the nations experience great tribulation. Matthew 24:30 talks about the second coming and this time of suffering when “all the tribes of the earth will mourn.” And then Matthew 24:31 (the next verse) talks about the resurrection of the righteous. There is a sequence here.

2. The resurrection is called a “gathering” (as in our title today). Mark 13:27 tells us that after Jesus returns, “he will . . . gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” 

This gathering language is used in other places:

  • In Matthew 13:30 (the parable of the weeds) speaking of the resurrection, Jesus says, “. . . at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” – a reference to resurrection.
  • In 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Paul says, “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him . . .” – again, speaking of the resurrection of the righteous.

Also, the word “taken” is used for the resurrection. Jesus said in Luke 17:34, “one will be taken, and another left.” The one taken is resurrected. The phrase “caught up” is also used in –  I Thessalonians 4:17.

Whatever the language, the point is that we will be brought to Jesus, from all the ends of the earth and gathered around him.

3. Angels will be involved in this gathering. They are not always mentioned, but they are involved.

Matthew 24:31 tells us that Jesus “will send out his angels . . . and they will gather his elect . . ..” And as Jesus said in Matthew 13:39 (the parable of the weeds) speaking of the resurrection, “the reapers are angels” who will gather us to himself.

4. The resurrection will be signaled by a trumpet blast.

  • Matthew 24:31 speaks of “a loud trumpet call.”
  • I Corinthians 15:52 says that at this time “the last trumpet . . . will sound.”
  • In 1 Thessalonians  4:16 the resurrection is accompanied by “the sound of the trumpet of God.”  

5. The faithful who die before Jesus’ return will be first. At death they go to be with the Lord (as Paul talks about in several places) and they will come with Jesus as he returns in the clouds.

  • They will receive their resurrection bodies first. Their souls and their new bodies will be joined.
  • And then the faithful who are alive will be resurrected. Our current lowly bodies will be made imperishable.   

Paul teaches on this in I Thessalonians 4:13-17 and I Corinthians 15:52.

Finally, and the point we are heading to – 6. Those who are gathered will be sorted. For the dead in Christ, this happened at death. But for those who are alive when Jesus returns – as the angels gather us – there will be a process of separating those who are faithful and those who are not.

The angels will gather in all who profess Jesus as Lord; who look to him as the Messiah (Matthew 7:21; 25:11; Luke 13:25). But not everyone who is gathered, or seeks to be gathered will make it into the eternal Kingdom.

This will be when, in Jesus’ words, “those who are considered worthy to attain . . . to the resurrection from the dead” (Luke 20:35) will be blessed. They will be given resurrection bodies and will receive the rewards of the faithful. And as we will see, those who are not worthy will be cast away from Jesus.

This is why we need to be ready!

This is the moment of our greatest hope, for resurrection life and blessed reward. But it is also the moment of our greatest testing. Have we been faithful to our Lord and King? Or have we squandered his grace and mercy? And the truth is that not all will make it in.

Jesus speaks of this on a number of occasions. Here are some of them:

Matthew 7:21-23. This is Jesus speaking about the final day.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

As Jesus teaches here rather straightforwardly, “many” who confess him as Lord and even do works of the Spirit will not make it in. Rather, Jesus says to them, “’I never knew you; depart from me” – v. 23.  They are sorted out.

The parable of the bridesmaids: Matthew 25:1-13. In this parable about the second coming, there are ten bridesmaids waiting for the groom, Jesus. As we know, five made it because they were ready, and five did not make it in because they were not ready.

When these last five came back later to try to get into the wedding banquet they said, “’Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he (Jesus) answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” – vs. 11-12.

The parable of the talents: Matthew 25:14-30. This is a familiar story. The master gave his three servants tasks to do while he was gone.

When the master returned, the second coming, two servants had worked hard and they entered in. But one did not work, and he was excluded.

Jesus said about this last one, “Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – v. 30.

The parable of the weeds: Matthew 13:24-30; 37-43. We have already looked at this in part. At the end of the age, as v. 41 says, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,” that is, all the weeds. And then the wheat, the faithful ones, will be gathered. 

Those who are a part of Jesus’ kingdom, who are not faithful are separated from those who are faithful.

Jesus said about the weeds, “Throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” v. 42.

The parable of the fishnet: Matthew 13:47-50. The net of the gospel has collected fish of every kind. Some Christians who are faithful, and some who have responded to the gospel, but are not faithful.

As v. 49 says, “The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous.” It concludes by saying of the former, “throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – v. 50.

As we see in all these examples (and there are more) there is a sorting process. Some who are gathered, or seek to be gathered, will not make it into the kingdom. This is why . . .

Jesus calls us to be ready

He calls us to be alert. At the end of the Olivet discourse he says, “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” – Mark 13:33. He also says, “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” – Mark 13:37. We will look at how to be ready and alert next week.
 
William Higgins

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We are continuing on in our series on the second coming of Jesus. Last week we began to look at Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Mark 13, Jesus’ primary teaching on his return.

Here’s a recap: Jesus predicted that Herod’s temple would be destroyed. The disciples, who saw this as something that must be connected to the end of all things, asked Jesus – “When’s it gonna happen?”

This is a picture of a model of Herod’s Temple:

second temple

But instead of answering their question right away, in vs. 5-13 Jesus talked more generally about how we are to expect  false teachers and persecution as we wait for the end and his return.

Today, we look at Jesus’ answer to the disciple’s specific question of – “When will Herod’s temple be destroyed?” This is where Jesus presents, what I am calling his roadmap to the end.

Stage 1: The destruction of the temple

Jesus talks about four things here:

1. The abomination of desolation.

Mark 13:14a – “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be (let the reader understand) . . ..”

Jesus is using prophetic – apocalyptic code language – “abomination of desolation.” This is emphasized when Mark invites the reader to understand what is being said. Its like saying – “Do you get it?”

Jesus is drawing on the book of Daniel here. Daniel portrays a pagan king who defiles the temple, most often associated with Antiochus Epiphanes and what he did in 168 BC.

By using this phrase, Jesus is saying that this will happen again (or perhaps he is even saying that this will be the true fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy).

In Luke 21:20 (Luke’s account of the Olivet discourse) we are given the decoded version of what Jesus means: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.”

This helps us to see that Jesus is talking about events that occurred not long after his death. In 66-70 AD the Roman armies came against Israel.

  • They laid siege to the city and eventually destroyed Jerusalem and the temple under General Titus, who later became emperor.
  • Then they offered up sacrifices to their idolatrous banners on the temple site

In these ways the pagan Roman empire, its armies and emperor, showed itself to be truly an “abomination of desolation.”

In answer to the question – “When will Herod’s temple be destroyed?” Jesus indicates that, it will happen sometime after you see the Roman armies coming ready to attack.

2. Flight to the mountains.

Mark 13:14b-18 – “. . .  then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not happen in winter.”

The recognition of the Roman armies coming against the city is the cue for the Jewish Christians in Judea to flee. Usually you would flee into a walled city in time of war. But not this time. This time God’s judgment is coming on Jerusalem and the temple. 

Jesus emphasizes the seriousness of the situation. Leave your possessions and extra clothes behind and run! Jesus also speaks to the practical difficulties of fleeing:

  • It will be very hard on women who are pregnant or with small children.
  • He also tells them to pray that it not be in winter, when the rivers are flooded and hard to cross and the mountains have snow.

According to one report the Christians in Jerusalem did in fact flee the city, sometime at the beginning of the war.

3. A great tribulation.

Mark 13:17-20 – “For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days.” 

Luke’s version here shows us that this time of tribulation is still speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. “For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles . . .”  – 21:23b-24.

This was a horrific time of suffering for the Jewish people:

  • They were subjected to the realities of seige warfare being stuck in Jerusalem. Some resorted to cannibalism when the food ran out.
  • Over a million were killed throughout Israel (which was a huge percentage of the population in that day). So many were crucified that it was said that there were few trees left in the region.
  • Almost a hundred thousand were taken away into slavery
  • Their temple was defiled and destroyed, the city of Jerusalem was burned, and their national-political identity was taken away

As Jesus said, if God did not cut short the days for the sake of his chosen ones, followers of Jesus – none would have survived.

Now, when Jesus speaks of suffering beyond what has ever occurred or will occur again:

  • He may be speaking figuratively, as the prophet Joel does in Joel 2:2. This would, then, simply be a prophetic way of describing suffering beyond imagination.
  • With regard to Jerusalem, he could be speaking literally. For it is true that it had never suffered this much before. And, if this is what he meant, then it will never suffer this much again.

4. A time of deception.

Mark 13:21-23 – “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. False christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”

Jesus already warned of this, as we saw last week. Here he gives a specific warning. During this time of chaos and distress, don’t listen to false messiahs and false prophets. For they will seek to lead followers of Jesus astray through the use of signs and omens.

And this kind of activity – false prophets and talk of omens – did take place during and after the war that destroyed the temple.

This leads us to . . .

Stage 2: An undefined time of geo-political turmoil

Mark 13:24-25 – “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” 

This is a new section, for he says, “after that tribulation.” We are past the destruction of the temple and that awful time.

But what does all this cosmic language of sun, moon and stars mean? Is it literal? Well, when we look at the rest of Scripture, we find out that this is prophetic speech that was used to describe geo-political change as one empire rises and another falls at the hand of God:

Isaiah 13:10 uses the same cosmic language that Jesus does to speak of God’s judgment of Babylon. “For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light, the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light.” As we know, it wasn’t literal here. It was a way of speaking of God’s judgment on this nation.

Isaiah 34:4 also uses some of the same language that Jesus does to speak of God’s judgment on Edom. “All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall . . ..”

The prophets Ezekiel, Joel & Amos  also use cosmic language to speak of judgment on nations.

Luke confirms this understanding. In Luke 21:24 the destruction of Jerusalem is followed by “the times of the Gentiles.” God will be dealing with the Gentile nations now.

Then in verses 25-26 comes the cosmic language with additional statements that help us see what is going on. Jesus speaks of “. . . distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the wave, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.” Why are the nations distressed? Because of “the roaring of the sea and the wave.” And as we saw in our study of baptism this has to do with chaos, turmoil and judgment in the world (see Revelation 17:15).

Jesus here speaks in the most general terms possible about a time when nations will rise and fall in the world at the hand of God.

This section recalls Mark 13:8. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” These are the birth pangs of the end expressed in cosmic language.

This brings us to the last stage . . .

Stage 3: The coming of the Son of Man

Mark 13:26 – “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”

After this undefined period of Gentile geo-political turmoil, “then” Jesus will return as ruler and king.

We learn from Matthew’s version that a part of this is that the peoples of the earth will be judged. Matthew 24:30 says “all the tribes of the earth will mourn.” Jesus’ return will bring great woe upon the people of the earth. The book of Revelation expounds on this in some detail.

More hopefully this also involves the resurrection of the righteous.

Mark 13:27 – “And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.”

Jesus will send out his angels to gather together his followers. Again, this is a common way of talking about the resurrection of the righteous.

Next we see the connection between . . .

The temple destruction and Jesus’ return

Mark 13:28-31 – “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Now notice, the phrase, “these things” in this passage cannot refer to the coming of the Son of Man, for “when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” The two are differentiated by Jesus. “These things” must take place first, then we know that “he is near.”

The phrase, “these things” connects back to the original question of 13:4 – “When will these things be and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” In other words, the phrase “these things” refers to the temple destruction and the beginning of the times of the Gentiles.

Jesus gives us more information about “when” in this section:

1. “These things” will happen within the span of a generation. That is, the destruction of the temple through to the ushering in of the times of the Gentiles will occur in the lifetime of Jesus’ hearers. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” – v. 30.

And Jesus stakes his prophetic authority on this prediction. He said, “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” – v. 31. And, in fact, “all these things” did happen by 70 AD, within a generation of Jesus’ words!

2. Once the temple is destroyed, Jesus’ return is imminent. That is, no other event must happen before he returns. Which means he could come at any time!

But, lets be clear as we end . . .

No one knows when Jesus will return

Mark 13:32-33 – “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.”

Although the other events will be fulfilled in the generation of Jesus’ listeners, no one knows when the Son will come in glory and power.

He could not emphasize this point more. Not even Jesus himself knows when! Only the Father knows.

So if anyone tells you that they know, ask them if they know more than Jesus! Then tell them what Jesus said, “you do not know when the time will come.”

We currently live somewhere in stage two – the times of the Gentiles. And Jesus could come at any time.

Since we don’t know when, as Jesus said, we should “be on guard” and “keep awake.” We should be ready at all times!

William Higgins

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We are talking about serving God and working to advance God’s kingdom this morning. Let me begin by saying that . .

Jesus was a man with a mission

He worked hard to promote the kingdom, to make it a reality on earth. As Matthew 9:35 says, “Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”

Jesus gave himself to this completely and constantly. Serving God was his life focus and orientation. As he said in Luke 4:43 – “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”

The Gospels tell us that Jesus

  • taught God’s way
  • healed the wounded
  • loved the loveless
  • served the needy

He served God in all these ways in order to spread God’s kingdom message and to build up God’s kingdom community.

Jesus also calls other people to be a part of his mission

During his earthly ministry we are familiar with how he frequently said to people, “Follow me.” Now this phrase included in it an invitation to repentance and faith in Jesus – but most especially it was a call to “Come and work with me to advance God’s kingdom.”  

Let’s look at one example of this in Mark 1:16-20:  

“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.”

Jesus called many people when he walked this earth. And now that his earthly ministry is over,  Jesus calls us to work hard to spread the kingdom and finish the mission he began.

Drawing on the familiar parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), as well as other passages where Jesus talks about God’s mission, lets look at some 

Lessons we learn from Jesus about working for the kingdom

These are things we can take away from these scriptures that will help us, encourage us and equip us for the task.

1. Each of us are given tasks to advance God’s kingdom. Just as the servants in the parable of the talents were to take what was given them from their master and increase it, so we are each given kingdom responsibilities and we are to advance the kingdom in those areas. 

We all have responsibilities, according to our ability. Some have heavier duties, some lighter.

Please note: You are not released of your responsibilities because you have a pastor here now, a full time pastor, or a pastor supported financially by the church, however you want to say it. So please don’t think, “The pastor will take care of it all.” That’s a good way to send me over the edge, but more importantly and the focus here, is that it is an abdicating of your God given responsibilities.

A healthy church needs to have all of its parts working together to accomplish God’s mission. No one person can do it all, or even most of it.

Also note: You are not released of your responsibilities because you are retired. Indeed there is no retirement age in kingdom work. We work for a God who didn’t even begin to fully use Moses until he was eighty years old! Age is no barrier. No, as long as we have health and ability, we are to serve God in one way or another.

So don’t say, “We did our work and now its time for others to do the work.” It is good to make room for others to come along and work as well, but that doesn’t mean that you quit.

As long as the Lord gives you breath and you are able, that is how long you are to carry out your responsibilities to serve God and work for the kingdom.

So, each of us have been given tasks by God and we must work at them to promote the Kingdom.

2. These tasks can be anything that further God’s kingdom. Just as with Jesus’ example, we can

  • teach God’s way
  • heal the wounded
  • love the loveless
  • serve the needy

Whatever God assigns to us to spread his kingdom message and to build up his kingdom community.

So, find out what your gifts are and use them. Find out what God wants you to do, and what God has gifted you to do; what brings joy to you – and get busy at it!

But also, help out with whatever needs to be done, even if you don’t feel tremendously gifted, or called in that area. In any Christian community there are things that just need to be done for the community to work. And you don’t need a heavenly vision or a warm and fuzzy feeling to do it – just a servant’s heart. Give of yourself in these areas as well.

3. The focus of all our work is bearing witness to Jesus. It is about testifying to the coming of the kingdom with Jesus; it is about sharing who he is and the salvation he gives.

Jesus said, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” – Acts 1:8.

  • We do this as individuals, sharing as we have opportunity about what Jesus has done in our lives; inviting people to church.
  • And we do this as a community. Jesus calls us “a city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14) As a community, we live by a different standard than the world around us, and this is a witness to Jesus.

Let’s remember that Jesus tells us don’t put your lamp under a basket, but let your witness shine before others – Matthew 5:14. We don’t need to be fearful. And he tells us don’t be ashamed of him before the world – Mark 8:38. We are to share our faith in Jesus boldly with others.

4. The goal of our work is to make disciples of Jesus. In the words of Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” We are to bear witness to Jesus so that people will make the commitment to be a disciple themselves; to be a part of the kingdom of God. 

5. Jesus calls some to give their whole lives to working for the kingdom. They may have to leave family behind, and their career plans to help finish the work Jesus has begun.

As we saw in Mark 1:16-20, the first disciples did this. And in Mark 10:29 Jesus speaks of those who leave family and homes behind “for my sake and for the gospel.”

And might we not hope and pray that God would raise up from among us missionaries and pastors and others who will give their whole lives over to kingdom work? Are you open to hear what God has for you?

6. Jesus calls others to stay in their place in life and work for the kingdom. To the healed demoniac who wanted to be a traveling missionary with Jesus, he said in Luke 8:39 – “’Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”

It was God’s will for him not to go, but to stay home and serve and witness there.

7. We are to support those who give themselves fully to working for the kingdom. Jesus said, speaking of these, “the laborer deserves his wages.” – Luke 10:7. They can’t do what they are called to do without your support. And, by the way, we are still looking for more support for Gary and Denise for their work in The Gambia.

8. God’s Spirit gives us the power to work for his kingdom. Just as Jesus was empowered by the Spirit, so are we.

Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses . . ..”

We can’t do anything in our own strength. We need God working in and through us to accomplish something for the kingdom.

9. Be prepared to give an account. This brings us back to the parable of the talents. We have each been given tasks, and we will have to give an account for how we have done. The parable is meant to impress in our minds the exacting nature of our master.

It teaches us: Don’t be lazy, doing nothing to increase God’s kingdom; doing nothing to finish Jesus’ mission. For those who do nothing, will not enter the kingdom on that final day when Jesus returns. And the parable ends with this ringing in our ears in order make an impression on us.

Rather, find out what God wants you to do and work hard! Give your all for the work of God. Be a man or woman with a mission, just like Jesus.

And if you do, you will be blessed to have joy with Jesus for eternity. This is a reward that far surpasses anything we give up to work for him; anything we have to sacrifice to advance God’s kingdom

A final thought

We all go through times when we need to step back and take a rest, or move into another area. So this is not about making anyone feel guilty. We have to be aware of our limits, and I don’t want anyone to get burned out. All of our lives are so busy today. It is a part of our culture that we are always doing things. So we each need wisdom and there is no reason to judge the decisions of others.

But having said that, let me challenge you a bit: Are we really burning out because of doing too much work for the kingdom? Or is it because we over commit in other areas of our lives?

My plea is that you keep a “a final day perspective” – What will God really care about in terms of all you do when you stand before him on the final day?

What I am saying is, of all your many commitments, make serving God and working for the kingdom the top commitment. And schedule the rest of your lives around that.

William Higgins  (edited)

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Christians and Politics

Well, I’m talking about politics today. They say there are two things you should never discuss in polite company – religion and politics. They stir up too much controversy. And here I am doing both at one time!

My desire in this, of course, is not to cause conflict, but to help us get focused on who we are as Christians in the midst of this highly charged political environment, and to encourage us to think and act in ways that are in line with our Christian identity.

I had wanted to share with you before the political conventions, but decided to wait – although with everyone all fired up now, I hope that you will still be able to hear what I want to share with you this morning. (more…)

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This is a Sunday school lesson from last summer.
This parable is difficult to make sense of. I have spent quite a bit of time wrestling with it  over the years. We won’t have time to do it full justice either, that is, all the issues and possible interpretations. What I want to do is give you a point of view, and see if perhaps it makes sense to you as well. Here is the parable:

Matthew 20:1-16 – “[1] For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. [2] After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. [3] And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, [4] and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ [5] So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. [6] And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ [7] They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ [8] And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ [9] And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. [10] Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. [11] And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, [12] saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ [13] But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? [14] Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. [15] Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ [16] So the last will be first, and the first last.” 

Basic background

 These things are clear –

  • The vineyard owner hires day laborers in town 
  •  The workday at this time was 12 hours long. About 10 hours of actual work (then time for meals, prayers). The last worker only worked an hour.
  • A “denarius” equals a days wage (something like minimum wage today)
  • The workers get paid at the end of each day. For those who live hand to mouth, they must be paid so that they can feed their families (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).

There are also . . .

Some basics from the parable

 . . . that are fairly clear.

1. The point of the parable is clear. That’s because of a literary structure called an inclusion. This is when similar statements function like bookends. In this case we have similar statements just before and at the end of the parable, which reiterate the point of the parable.

  • 19:30 – “But many who are first will be last, and the last first”
  • 20:16 – “So the last will be first, and the first last” (this last phrase has “so,” or “thus” in front of it. In this way the last will be first. It offers an explanation for the saying of 19:30)

Also, the  language of last and first shows up throughout the parable itself  – vs. 8-9.  

Now, although in other places this phrase “the first will be last and the last will be first,” means reversal (Luke 13:30) . . .

2. Here “the first and the last” speaks of equalization. The last are treated like the first and the first are treated like the last – which is not about reversal.

The climax of the parable in verse 12 shows this. Those who worked the longest complained, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” The issue here is how all the workers were treated equally, even though some had done more work.

3. The basic identities of the first and the last

  • Verse 12 makes it clear that “the last” – refers to those hired last, who worked the least – the one hour workers.
  • Verse 10 makes it clear that “the first” are those who have worked all day – the 12 hour workers. They are the ones who complain about the last – the one hour workers.

This much is clear. But who, specifically, are the 12 hour workers and who are the one hour workers? What is the context of this? How should we apply it? What’s the point we are supposed to take away from this? As I said, there are many . . .

Different interpretations

  • The first = the Pharisees, and the last = tax collectors. And they are made equal.
  • Similarly, the first = Jewish Christians, and the last = Gentile Christians. Certainly this is possible, but these are not being discussed before or after this, and the idea doesn’t fit into the flow or context here, especially of  19:30.
  • Along similar lines, but more remote still – the first = long time Christians, and the last = those saved late in life
  • The parable is meant to teach – you shouldn’t serve Jesus for reward. Its about motivations. Its a rebuke to Peter, who in 19:27 asks “What then will we have?” But, as we will see, he is not boasting or serving for the wrong motives. He’s concerned about whether he will be saved or not.
  • The parable teaches that there are no levels of reward. We all get the same thing no matter whether we work much or little. But this goes against other teaching in Matthew, as we will see later, there are levels of reward in the kingdom.

The context of the parable is the key

That is, the preceding story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-30. Lets look at this:

1) The rich young ruler asked: “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?”- Matthew 19:16

2) After enumerating many of the commands, Jesus demanded that he sell his possessions and follow him. Then he will gain eternal life (19:16-22). Apparently Jesus saw that he had a problem with a desire for wealth and a desire to keep it for himself, which is not a loving of his neighbor. 

3) Jesus talks about how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom. It is, basically, impossible (19:23-24). (This is not talking about an actual camel’s gate in Jerusalem. This interpretation comes from the middle ages. It is a proverb that expresses something that is impossible.)

4) The disciples are astonished by all this. They ask, “Who then can be saved?”

5) Jesus replies that God can make it possible (19:25-26). God can help those who have more than they need to give up self-indulgence and to share with the needy.

6) Peter is concerned about whether they (the twelve) will make it into the kingdom, because they are not doing as much as was demanded of the rich man. Peter said, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?”  (Matthew 19:27). You told him to have life  he had to sell all. We have left all. Is that enough?

7)Jesus reassures them: Yes, they will enter the kingdom and will have 12 thrones and judge the people of God. Then he expands it beyond the 12 in Matthew 19:29. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

So we have a situation where:

  • Jesus is more demanding of the young man – sell all and follow me, and
  • Jesus is less demanding of the 12 & others – leave everything behind and follow me

 Yet both would receive eternal life!

So I want to interpret the parable in this context, but before I do – let me say briefly that . . .

Side note

Jesus is not saying that we earn our salvation. That salvation is a gift is always assumed by Jesus for both the Old and New Covenants. But for Jesus, to enter the kingdom or to inherit life (to take part in the resurrection) you do have to obey God. He says this over and over again, constantly, and in different ways –

  • Jesus says, “If you would enter life keep the commandments” – 19:17
  • He also said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” – 7:21

Our obedience is necessary, but it doesn’t earn the gift. As Jesus said in Luke 17:10 – “When you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” We have only done what we were obliged to do in the first place – obey God. There is no merit to that. We never have a claim on God.

Back to the meaning of the parable 

We learn from our context in Matthew 19 that God asks some to do more (by way of difficult obedience) and God asks some to do less to  enter the kingdom or inherit eternal life. This rightly raises the question – “Is this fair?”which is what the parable is all about. So lets interpret the parable in this context. 

  • The first are those whom Jesus demands much from – sacrifice and hard work (like the young man who has to sell all and work). They work 12 long hours in the heat of the day.
  • The midday workers are those whom Jesus demand something less from – (perhaps the 12 disciples who leave all – something less than what the first have to do)
  • The last are  those from whom Jesus demands relatively little (perhaps ordinary Christians who don’t even leave all. They stay at home and support those who do).

In a nutshell: We all have to obey (everyone in the parable worked some). But God requires of some more sacrificial obedience than others – yet all (who do what God calls them to do) will receive eternal life. The last is like the first and the first is like the last, in that they all enter the kingdom.

So the parable is a footnote to the conversation about the rich young ruler and wealth and the saying in 19:30 about the first and the last.  

The purpose of the parable

 #1 – It is a part of the reassurance of Jesus to the 12 (and others by extension – ordinary Christians) that even though they do less than others,  they too will enter the kingdom/have eternal life.

#2 – It is to warn those in the church who are called to greater sacrificial obedience, not to complain because of God’s generosity to others.

An example: Paul

Paul says in  1 Corinthians 9:16,  “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” For Paul preaching (a difficult ministry of preaching) is necessary to enter the kingdom – “Woe to me if I do not.” For others it is not. God has not laid that on them. It all has to do with God’s sovereign choice.

What about rewards?

 There are still differences in rewards based on what we do in the context of what God calls us to do. Jesus speaks of:

  • In Matthew 5:19; 11:11 he speaks of the least in the kingdom
  • In Matthew 5:19; 18:4; 23:11 some are great; or the greatest in the kingdom
  • In Matthew 19:28 he says some will  have thrones, and some are ruled by these
  • In Matthew 20:20-28 he says some are at the right and left hand of Jesus, and Jesus gives instructions for how to be great in the kingdom
  • In Luke 19 (a version of the parable of the talents) some are given rule over ten cities or five cities. 

So the question is, if, for instance you are called to preach – how well, or how hard did you do this? Or if you are called to support those who do full time ministry – how well, or how much did you do this?

William Higgins

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Jesus was very concerned that children be valued and ministered to by his people. I’m not sure there is anything more important than tending to the children among us – from our own families and from the community as well.

Yet among Christian groups there are different, even conflicting ways of approaching ministry to children. So we are called to discern how we will sort  through these issues; how we will minister to the children of this congregation.

As Elders we have been working on this, and we now invite you to enter into the process. That’s what this meeting is all about. I will give a presentation tonight on our understanding and our recommendations. It is our intention to move toward common understandings and practices on these issues – policies if you will.

We invite your feedback. Think of this as a Sunday School class. Stop me and ask questions or make comments. Some of this may be controversial or maybe not. I don’t know. What is important is that we let the Scriptures guide us in this.

The first thing I want us to look at, and what underlies much of what follows, is that Scripture teaches that

1. Children are a part of the kingdom of God

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” – Mark 10:14. This comes from the story of Jesus blessing the children. In the last part of this verse Jesus teaches that children “belong to the kingdom of God.” This teaches us that we do not need to worry about the destiny of children, at least in terms of their immediate status with God. They are a part of the kingdom of God; the realm of God’s blessing and salvation. Or to put it plainly they are saved; they are safe in God’s grace.

But what is the age of these children who are a part of the kingdom? The first clue comes from Luke’s version of this story. He specifically notes that “they were bringing even infants to him” – Luke 18:15. The second clue comes from the word that Jesus uses for “children” – “paidion.” Based on its use in the New Testament this word refers to children from birth (e.g. Luke 1:59 – 8 days old) to puberty (e.g. Mark 5:39-42 – 12 years old). So the reference here is roughly to any child 12 or below – preadolescent children.

This is cruical for what follows. Jesus teaches us here that we should not think of our children simply as small adults:

Unlike adults, who need conversion to enter the kingdom, and are thus baptized as a sign of their conversion, the kingdom already belongs to children.

2. Children are not mature

A child in Scripture means one who is not mature. Along these lines it is used figuratively to refer to adults who are not mature in some way (e.g. I Corinthians 3:1). Literal children are not mature in many ways, but the focus here is on their inability to discern and choose between right and wrong for themselves.

  • Deuteronomy 1:39 talks about “ . . . your little ones . . . and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil . . ..”
  • Isaiah 7:15 speaks of maturity in these terms: “when (the child) knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.”
  • Hebrews 5:13-14 defines maturity in this way – “those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

3. Children are born with “fleshly desires”

Not only are children not mature in terms of being able to make moral and religious choices, they have an inborn tendency to resist righteousness. As we know, they often do not do what is right. Like all humans, no matter what age, children must struggle with the desires of the flesh; our natural desires that lead us to do what we want instead of what God wants.

  • As Jesus said, with regard to doing God’s will – “the flesh is weak” – Mark 14:38.
  • Paul said, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law – Romans 8:7.

4. We are to train our children

Given the condition of children, the task of parents and the people of God is to train, shape and form them in the way of the Lord. Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:7 – “You shall teach my commandments diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Paul says in Ephesians 6:4, Christian parents are to raise their children in “the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

In practical terms this means teaching them:

  • what is right and wrong according to God
  • the contents of Scripture
  • about faith and helping them to learn to trust in God
  • about repentance and forgiveness when they do wrong
  • how to pray
  • how resist temptation

We are to teach them all this and more through both word and perhaps most importantly example – as they see us live out the Christian life.

The church also has a role in this training of children given its commission by Jesus to “make disciples” of all peoples (Matthew 28:19). We strive to do this through our various programming for children, especially Sunday school.

5. Childhood faith is good and should be honored

When we train our children in the way of the Lord they will most often come to have a childhood faith in God and Jesus. Even though the faith of children is different from adult faith (see below) it is loved by God and should be honored by the church.

  • Samuel served God as a child – 1 Samuel 3.
  • At age 12 Jesus knew God’s way better than the adults – Luke 2:42-50.
  • As Jesus said, God accepts and loves the praise of children – Matthew 21:15-16.

6. Adult faith is different and is the goal of our training

A child’s faith is dependent on what parents or others teach them. Since they are not fully able to discern and choose for themselves this is appropriate to their situation.

Adult faith, however, is different. It is a choice based on the person’s own discernment of what is right and wrong. And even though an adult’s faith will continue to grow and mature – the ability to discern for oneself and choose is what makes adult faith fundamentally different than the faith of a child.

So the goal of our training is that when our children are mature (past the age of childhood acceptance before God – see #1) they will be ready to begin to discern and choose to enter the kingdom of God for themselves. As Paul writes to Timothy– “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” – 2 Timothy 3:14-15. Our training is meant to equip our children so that when they are ready and able they will choose salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. For those with childhood faith this may well be a smooth and seamless transition.

7. Children and baptism

That baptism is for adults can be seen in several ways:

The symbolic meaning of baptism involves, among other things, the choice to leave the world and sin behind in order to walk in Jesus’ way. Or, to use the similar imagery of Romans 6  – baptism has to do with dying to your old life of sin and being raised to a new life of righteousness. But children are still a part of the kingdom of God, not the world. They have not yet even entered this adult world of choosing and discerning for themselves – along with culpably sinning before God. To apply this symbol to them is inappropriate in that it doesn’t properly reflect their status before God. They aren’t leaving the world and sin behind. They are already in the kingdom.

In Scripture, baptism is uniformly connected with adult kinds of responses: hearing the gospel, understanding it, and choosing faith and repentance in response to the message. But by definition children are not able to discern and choose to have faith in Jesus for themselves. The faith that they have is dependent on what parents and others have taught them.

Finally, Jesus connects baptism with discipleship, or “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” in Matthew 28:19-20. But children are not able to make the serious, adult kinds of choices that Jesus requires of all disciples. Jesus calls us to obey his hard teachings, to submit to church discipline and to sacrifice our lives for the kingdom.

Given this, baptism should not be applied to preadolescent children – even those who have a childhood faith in Jesus. Baptism is meant to be the marker of adult faith in Jesus. It is the way that Jesus chose for adults to publicly identify with him as a Christian and as a disciple. So baptism should be reserved for those who are able to have adult-faith; for those who are (roughly) 13 or older.

For those with childhood faith, baptism should be looked forward to as the symbol of transition from childhood faith to adult faith.

What we need, and are proposing, is a ritual for those who come to childhood faith, to affirm and support their faith, allowing us to reserve baptism for its proper role with reference to adults.

When our child matures to the point of making adult choices in relation to God – they may well be ready for baptism, or their childhood faith may continue on for a while, or they may discern and choose not to follow Jesus. We should be careful in this transition time not to pressure them into baptism. To be genuine, it must come from their own initiative, discernment and choice, although it is always appropriate to invite them to make this decision.

8. Children and the Lord’s supper

Symbolically the Lord’s supper represents much of what baptism represents.

The bread, coming from the Passover meal, speaks to leaving behind our old lives of bondage and despair in the world (just as Israel left Egypt behind). As was noted above under baptism, this is not an appropriate symbolic statement about where children are in their status before God. The bread also assumes an adult type choice to leave behind the world and sin in order to follow God. Each time we partake we remind ourselves of this commitment that we made to God at the time of our baptism.

The cup, coming from the covenant ceremony of Exodus 24 (where Israel agreed to obey all that God commanded), has a covenant context. It assumes that we have covenanted with God through baptism and it calls us to remember this adult type commitment – to do all that Jesus has commanded (Matthew 28:19).

So the Lord’s supper is a meal for those who have made the adult kind of commitment that is required to be a disciple of Jesus – baptism. Those with childhood faith should be taught to look forward to their baptism, when they too will be able to take part in this discipleship meal.

9. The blessing of children

Jesus is very clear that we are to “receive” children in his name. Jesus said in Mark 9:37 – “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Jesus is also very clear that we are to “let the children come” to him – Mark 10:14. We are not to be like the disciples who tried to hold back the children from Jesus; who made Jesus angry.

But if baptism and the Lord’s supper are not the way to do this as a church, what is? The Gospels answer this question by telling the story of Jesus blessing the children.

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.. . . And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” – Mark 10:13-16.

So, to “let the children come” to Jesus (Mark 10:14) is defined in this story in verse 16. And what it means to receive children in Mark 9:37 is explained here in Mark 10:16.

When Jesus ministered to children he did not baptize them or give them the Lord’s supper. He took them, prayed for them and blessed them. He took the time to receive them and care for them and to minister God’s blessing into their lives. This is also what we should do.

10. A summary of practical outcomes

1. We should have a continued focus on training our children: Sunday school, bible school and girls’ clubs. And we should seek to equip and support our parents as teachers of their children.
2. We should continue to have a service of blessing for our babies upon their presentation to the church and we should be ready to pray for God’s blessing for children, whenever they or their parents seek it out.
3. We should reserve baptism for adolescent young people and older.
4. We should provide a public ceremony to affirm and support the expression of childhood faith in our children.
5. We should reserve the Lord’s supper for those who are baptized.
6. We should provide a special time of blessing for children each time we celebrate the Lord’s supper so that they are included and are able to be ministered to by Jesus.
7. For the preadolescent children among us who are already baptized, we would like to walk with them, invite them to catechism classes, as needed when they are ready, and in general encourage them to own their faith as young adults as well.

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