Luke:How do I get to heaven? (Part 1) 04/07/19

 Message: ‘How do I get into heaven?’ pt.1          Text: Luke 18:15-30

Introduction: Ed Stetzer, is a Baptist preacher who planted numerous churches, has written 15 books on church health and church planting and is the executive director of Lifeway Research. And after years of research and study Stetzer has come to this conclusion:

  • Too many churches love their traditions more than their children.

And so the question, the challenge is:

  • PP: What do we love more than children at Calvary Baptist Church?

And while you’re thinking about your answer remember the words of Jesus who said

  • PP: Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. (adapted from Denn Guptill)

Children are important.

  • They’re important to God.
  • They’re important to the church.
  • And they should be important to you.

Because they’re important, God gives us very clear directions about our relationship with children. Not the least of which, we find in:

 PP: Deuteronomy 6:5-9 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children,

  • How do we teach the truths of God’s Word to our 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

To put it simply, Parents, your lives:

  • What you say, do, think. Where you go.
  • How you dress and spend money.
  • The people you hang out with. Even your home.

All of it, should reflect Jesus, to your children.

 PP: Listen… Christian parents, and those with the responsibility of raising children, have been given the responsibility by God Himself, to direct their little steps to love Jesus, to strive for intimacy with God and to desire eternal life.

And all of that, is part of the challenge Jesus gives us in our text this morning.

PP: Next Slide

Background: Our text is Luke 18:15-30. And in it we’ll find two stories, real events, that Jesus uses as teaching moments. His desire is to help the people in the crowd, and His disciples, then and now, to understand how someone enters the Kingdom of God, how they go to heaven.

Note that these two events in Luke 18:15-30 are found in both Matthew’s and Mark’s Gospel. So it’s meant to be significant!

  • Jesus is answering the question ‘Who are those who will go to heaven?’

Thin about that for a moment.

  • Can there be any more significant question and answer?

Today we’ll be looking at the first event, verses 15-17.

  • Jesus has been teaching that there is nothing you can do to earn a spot at God’s table in His kingdom, nothing you can do to earn or deserve a place in heaven.

So, a helpless baby becomes a perfect illustration of how someone enters heaven.

Why?

The religious elite of that day taught you had to earn entrance to the kingdom of God by how you lived, what you did and didn’t do. It was totally up to you to ‘work’ your way into God’s Kingdom.

  • By using children, Jesus will show that a baby can’t do anything to ‘work’ his way into heaven, yet, he still has a place there.

That will be Jesus’ main point in our text.

So, let’s take a look.

  1. Luke 18:15-17 How do I get into heaven? Pt.1

PP: A. Luke 18:15-16  Children belong to the KOG

Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him, saying, “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

ILL: Two young children were talking with each other about parent problems. One of them complained to the other, saying: “First they teach you to talk, then they teach you to walk, and as soon as you learn how, they tell you to ‘Sit down and shut up!’”

In our text this morning, it seems Jesus’ disciples were trying to get the children to ‘shut up’ by   preventing them from coming to see Jesus. (Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson)

Here’s the picture. The crowd that was following Jesus included families.

  • In these families there were young children. The words Jesus uses here indicates infants to pre-school age children.

The parents were bringing their young children to Jesus for Him to touch.  In Matthew and Mark’s Gospels we get a bit more descriptive information.

PP: Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray.

  • It was not something unusual as infants were brought to a rabbi on their first birthday for a blessing.

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Let me set the scene before we jump all over the disciples for what they did.

  • By this time, Jesus’ disciples were managing his affairs, not unlike a personal assistant.
  • As such, they probably thought it was a waste of time to interrupt Jesus’ teaching with what they would have considered nothing more than a children’s play time.

In other words, the disciples didn’t want the children bothering Jesus.

Again, before we jump all over the disciples, remember Jesus had been telling them that He  had to go to Jerusalem and that He would die there.

  • So telling the parents not to bring their children to Jesus might have been something like:
  • ‘Look, Daddy’s tired and worried tonight, don’t bother Him.’

But.. let’s step back for a moment. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem.. to die. He’s close. In chapter 19 we come to Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem… so we’re probably 10 days or so out from that.

  • So that makes this event, in my opinion, one of the tenderest, most compassionate action in all of the Gospels…

That Jesus made the time, to spend with children, when He was so near His death in Jerusalem.

Friends,

  • children were significant to Jesus,
  • they were important enough to Him,
  • to stop what He was doing and love on them.

Look, I have to say this here:

  • We have children’s ministries that are in desperate need of people to make the time to serve our children, to love on our children here at CBC.

It was important for Jesus to make the time to serve children… how about you?

Jesus want’s children to be brought to Him. He rebuked His disciples for keeping the children from Him. In fact, the way the Greek structures this, the rebuke was not just for that one time.

  • John MacArthur says when Jesus said do not hinder them.. it can be translated ‘Don’t ever forbid them’ (it’s in the present tense…now and forever)

So, that means Jesus is speaking to us today as well. ‘Do not ever hinder. Do not do anything that would keep children from coming to Me.

  • Something to think about, and prayerfully consider.

PP: B. Luke 18:17 Children teach us about 

            how to enter the KOG

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

 ILL: Pastor Jim Kane tells the following story:

A teacher once asked her students to list what they thought were the present Seven Wonders of the World. The students cast the most votes for:

 PP: 1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids

  1. Taj Mahal
  2. Grand Canyon
  3. Panama Canal
  4. Empire State Building
  5. St. Peter’s Basilica
  6. China’s Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher found that one student hadn’t turned in her paper. She asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The girl said, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there were so many.” The teacher said, “Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help.” The girl hesitated, then read, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:

 PP: 1. To see

  1. To hear
  2. To touch
  3. To taste
  4. To feel
  5. To laugh
  6. To love.

Children have this tremendous ability to make us stop and think. And we can even learn from our children. And I believe this was Jesus’ intent in verse 17.

  • We can learn the way into God’s kingdom by following the example of children.

So, how do we receive the kingdom of God like a child?  Here it is.. but don’t leave now that you have the answer.

  • By grace, completely by God’s grace.

PP: Look at the text whoever does not receive the kingdom of God. Receive is the operative word.

  • It’s something that’s given to you as a free gift.
  • It’s not something you deserve because you put in the work.

The American Dream is basically this:

  • If you work hard you will get what you deserve.

We’ve been indoctrinated by that for all of our lives and we mistakenly take it in to the realm of faith. PP: Will work for salvation

  • If we go to church.
  • If we give money to the church.
  • If we do stuff in the church.
  • If we get baptized.
  • If we help little old ladies across the street.
  • If the good things we do outweigh the bad.

Then God will let us in heaven when we die, because we’ve earned it.

  • We just can’t get past the ‘receive as a free gift’ part.

 PP: ILL: I think this is realistically illustrated in the TV show ‘The Big Bang Theory.’

  • The Sheldon character vehemently dislikes gift giving.
  • Because if someone gives him a gift, he feels obligated to reciprocate by giving them a gift of the exact same price.
  • It’s expected, and he’s obligated.
  • For Sheldon, there’s no such thing as a free gift.

And most people today would agree. Which is why they continue to try to earn their way, to deserve heaven, as a reward for their hard work.

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So first, Jesus tells them they need to receive the Kingdom of God as a free gift. Next, Jesus says: whoever does not receive the kingdom of God, like a child…

This is perhaps a bit more nebulous… How do we receive the kingdom of God… like a child?

This is where we need to examine children closely to see what qualities they have that will show us how to receive this free gift of God’s Kingdom.

 Now we might think it’s a child’s innocence that we should emulate. But we would be wrong.

  • Children are not innocent nor are they born innocent. They’re born into sin and are not without sin even in their early years.
  • Also, being innocent is not the qualification for entering the kingdom. If it were, none of us could get in.

So how do we to receive the kingdom of God like a child?

  • With total dependence upon God’s good favor… (His grace)

PP: ILL: When Kathy and I had the opportunity to care for our granddaughter Riley every Saturday till Becky and Dairin relocated to Kansas City, I was reminded of what it means that a child is totally dependent upon the good favor of someone else…for everything.

  • For food, drink, personal hygiene, dressing, washing, holding, protecting,
  • being her nurse because she couldn’t tell us what was wrong, wiping her nose, exercise, making sure nothing covered her mouth or nose while she slept… and so on.

We chose to do all of that for her because we loved her and because we knew that w/o help with everything, … she would die.

That’s the picture Jesus wanted to show with His encounter with the children. It’s that kind of total dependence that we can learn from children when it comes to how we get into heaven.

  • We wholly depend upon God to provide everything we need to enter His Kingdom.
  • And that’s called… Grace!

 PP: Conclusion: Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Children are important.

  • They’re important to God.
  • They’re important to the church.
  • And they should be important to you.

Folks, the application to our text is a great challenge to Christians today.

 PP: Here it is.

In other words, parents, if you’re not living out your Christian values and morals as the basis of your children’s lives, then you need to ask yourself, who is? (adapted from Denn Guptill)

Your chief aim in life, in raising your children, should be to lead them to a saving knowledge of and faith in Jesus. This was seen in Timothy’s life. The Apostle Paul writes:

 PP: I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

And parents, one of the most effective ways to teach your children about the wonders of life in Christ, is by your example here at CBC.

PP: Jesus said in John 14:6 I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

Look,

  • I know that the church isn’t the only thing in your family’s life.
  • I also know that church activities aren’t the only activities that are available to your kids.

But please listen carefully; Where your child spends eternity won’t be determined by

  • How fast they can throw a baseball.
  • By how far they can hit a golf ball.
  • By how fast they can run 100 meters.
  • By how many flips they can do in cheerleading.
  • By how well they can act or sing in a school play.

Where they spend eternity will only be determined by whether or not they know Jesus as their Savior.

ILL: D. L. Moody once returned from a meeting and reported two and a half conversions. “Two adults and a child, I suppose?” asked his host. “No,” said Moody, “two children and an adult. The children gave their whole lives. The adult had only half of his left to give.” (Kent Hughes)

Pastor Steve Coles writes: We all know that adults need to be brought to Jesus, but with children we tend to think, “They’re just kids. They’ve got plenty of time. (end quote)

Parents, we think…there’s always next Sunday. And as Sundays continue to pass, so do the opportunities for your children to come to faith in Christ.

  • Don’t hinder your children from coming to Jesus.

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And church, you’re not left out of this mandate:

  • CBC should be a place where children are welcomed, blessed, and loved.
  • CBC should be a place where children can meet Jesus and come to know Him.

If we are going to be serious about reaching the lost, there’s no better place to start, than with our children.

PP: Rick Chromey in his book, “Energizing Children’s Ministry in the Smaller Church”, writes:

  • I know one thing is certain: growing, dynamic churches recognize that kids matter to God.
  • The most obvious sign of a church in decline is how much it de-emphasizes and de-values the children in its own congregation.”
  • We need to ask ourselves…Do we want to be a growing, dynamic church, or do we want to be a church in decline?
  • Our answer is found in how we approach children’s ministry.
  • In the past, I admit we’ve seen children’s ministry as more of a “diaper changing business” than as a “life changing business”. That’s gotta change! (Chris Kelly)

And it will only change when we corporately and individually choose to love children and serve there mere at CBC.

PP: Next Slide

VBS is coming soon and Pioneer Girls will restart in September, but only if we have enough leaders.

  • Will you choose to serve the children
  • whom Jesus has blessed?

PP: Next Slide