“Receive the Kingdom…As a Little Child”

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I told you last week how we, as the church, can “do the impossible” (according to Paul)—1.) humble ourselves, 2.) pray, 3.) seek God’s face, and 4.) turn from our wicked ways. This is the Bible’s solution for how we can save the American Republic (2 Chronicles 7:14). Keep in mind this is spoken to just the church, not the whole nation. Those are things we ought to, need to, and should do anyway! 

But we don’t, and Paul tells us, in Romans 3:10-12, that we can’t, as we saw last week. Yes, God tells us to do something we have no chance of doing. The answer to this enigma is understanding, with the heart, both edges of the sword of the Word of God, and how God wields that sword in our lives. 

Understanding terms here is crucial. The first edge of God’s word, the law of God, is anything in the word of God (the sword) that instructs us to do or think anything—wherever that directive is found, in the Old Testament or the New. It is God’s standard for His creatures, His revealed will for us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is an example of the “law of God.”

The second edge of God’s word is the gospel of the unconditional grace of God, poured out on mankind at the cross. There God redeemed us, fully, unconditionally, and permanently, as Jesus voluntarily gave His life for the sins of the whole world: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). God’s justice has been fully “propitiated” (satisfied), as all sins ever committed have been paid for by Jesus’ death. God is no longer a God of punitive judgment for our sins; now only a God of loving, redemptive, and sometimes very firm discipline! 

The issue we have, and the one that will “heal our land” is experiencing that redemption we already possess. The Bible calls that “walking (living) on a daily basis by faith” To quote Hamlet, “Aye, there’s the rub!” How do I consistently experience what is already true of me?

Two seemingly innocuous, throw-away verses have the answer: “But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it’” (Luke 18:16, 17).

I believe “entering” God’s kingdom and being under its rule are two different things. Being a growing child in a family whose parents are born-again Christians, who “walk in the light” and confess their sins, and thus “walk by faith,” is being under the rule of the kingdom of God. That is far different from that son/daughter having their own experience with God and entering the kingdom themselves.. 

The same is true of working for a Christian employer, having a Christian teacher, a Christian coach, etc.—anyone who has authority in our lives in a certain area and is living by faith themselves. They have brought the kingdom into our sphere, and we are under its rule, but we have not “entered the kingdom” ourselves until we too have an experience with Jesus, become like a little child, and begin to live by faith.

How does a little child live “by faith?” Watching a little four year old child relate to a caring, loving, involved father who is a picture of God is a classic example, thus Jesus’ illustration in Matthew 18. A little child does not know what he will eat, what he will wear, where he will live or what he will do tomorrow, but he has not a worry in the world. He can’t support, protect or care for himself, or budget his money (of which he has none!), but he couldn’t care less! He lives like this for one reason and one reason only: “Daddy’s got it!” His father meets his every need, and this child knows in his heart his father is going nowhere!

This child, unknowingly and without any effort whatsoever, trusts his Daddy. This is what it means to “walk (live) by faith.”  Our “Heavenly Daddy (Abba)” has got it!

However, not everyone grows up with a daddy like this. To believe, in our hearts where we really live, that our Heavenly Father is like this, is a real stretch for those of us who never had a godly human model, as God intended. The very act of calling God “Daddy,” as the Bible does when it refers to Him as “Abba,” does not matter; the term is unusable to us. 

To relax the death-grip we have had on taking care of ourselves (we felt we had to as we were sure no one else would) and, in essence, being our own God in this area, is impossible without divine revelation. Here is the prayer of all those whose father was not a model of our divine Father: 

“Heavenly Father, I repent for holding on so desperately and fearfully to my unconscious, rebellious independence that allows me to take care of myself. Open my eyes to see your unconditional love for me that gives me the faith to believe that even in torture or death, I will attack those hurdles with love, joy, and peace. Do it, Lord!”

It is this childlike faith that releases the Holy Spirit within us to fulfill the 2 Chronicles 7:14 admonition to humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, turn from our wicked ways. As the church becomes filled with little children living by faith like this, the Lord will “hear from Heaven and heal our land.”.

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  1. Thomas L Staab says:

    well said Robert. I would like to add a few thoughts about the holy spirit working in our lives. he guides us. he teaches us. he fills us and he gives us the power to live the Christian life. we don’t have to do it in our own strength which you hinted at but it needs to be said flat out. Faithfulness to walk in the light 1st john 1:7. Confess 1:9, we are clean and perfect at least for a few seconds. please God I’d rather do it myself doesn’t work when we’re fighting against powers of the spiritual darkness.

  2. jerry buccola says:

    Good word Robert! This spoke to me this morning as I am commanded to trust my Father to provide for us, during a slow real estate market. Thank you!

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