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Jesus, Friend of Children - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2021 2:00 am

Jesus, Friend of Children - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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March 20, 2021 2:00 am

Today's subject is a tender one. The death of infants and children is the greatest fear of any parent. Does the Bible speak clearly about what happens when they die? It certainly does and it also gives great comfort to many who suffer the horrible loss of a little one. In this series on Eternity we must consider this subject since it affects so many and will also help us understand the fate of those who, like children, have diminished capacities.

This teaching is from the series From the Edge of Eternity.

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When a baby dies, it goes to heaven.

If that child hasn't reached that level of accountability, where he has to stand or fall on his own choices, two or four, four or against God, I believe that there's special mercy, not because a baby deserves it, but because God is merciful. After the death of their five-year-old daughter, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife had a chance to appear on Larry King Live and talk about their experience. Well, that interview left an impression on Larry King, as afterwards he said that he was most struck by how the faith of the Chapmans provided them so much comfort and certainty in the face of such a tragedy. It was a faith, Larry said, that he wished he could find. Well, today here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, Skip Heitzig talks about some of the reasons the Chapmans found so much comfort in their tragedy, and how we can all find that same comfort when we face times of devastation. Now, before we get started today, we want to let you in on this month's special offer at connectwithskip.com. The aftermath of 2020 has left so many of us wrestling with questions about the future and wondering, what's next?

Here's Skip Heitzig. That's a question, by the way, that people ask anytime there is a catastrophe. Any kind of catastrophic event causes people to ask the question, what's next? If there's a car accident that happens, well, what's next? Am I going to be able to walk after this? If a disease strikes someone, what's next? Am I going to be cured? If somebody we love dies, we ask, what's next? Am I going to be able to go on? We want to help you live with confidence, no matter what the future holds, by sending you a powerful collection of Easter weekend messages from Skip Heitzig on the hope of the resurrection.

Anything's possible. If the one who said he's going to die and rise again died and rose again, that means all of the promises Jesus ever made are possible and can come true. That's why it's called The Living Hope. The Morning That Changed Everything with Skip Heitzig is a DVD collection of six life-changing Easter messages. And it's our thanks for your gift of $35 or more today to help connect more people to the living hope of Jesus Christ.

To give online securely, visit connectwithskip.com slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Open your Bibles or Bible apps once again to Matthew chapter 19. And as you find your place, we'll join Skip Heitzig for the start of today's study. One thing you realize, if you read through the whole of scripture, you can't miss this. God has a tender spot in His heart toward children, a special spot, a special care for children. I think you see that all the way through the scripture. There's a great text in Ezekiel chapter 16, where God is likening Israel to a little child. This is what He says, I remember when you were born, God says, as a nation, nobody cut your navel cord, nobody washed you, nobody rubbed salt on you, as was the custom, nobody put you in swaddling cloths, but they cast you out and they abandoned you in a field.

And then I found you, and I said to you in your blood, live, and you lived, and you grew up, but as you grew up, you turned away from me, you rejected me. In fact, now you've become idolatrous in your practices. And then God says this in Ezekiel chapter 16, verses 20 and 21, listen to this, moreover, you took your sons and your daughters whom you bore to me, says God, stop there.

You had them, but you bore them to me. God's claiming them. And these you sacrificed to them to be devoured.

You know what they were doing? They were taking their little babies and placing them on an idol's arms called Molech, and they would wait until that molten steel idol became red hot and they would incinerate their babies as an offering to the god Molech. And so God says, you sacrificed them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter that you have slain my children and offered them up by causing them to pass through the fire?

Do you hear those words? God is laying claim to those children. And He's not laying claim to the children of believing Jews.

These were idolaters. He's not saying that they were His children because the parents were saved. God's saying they're my children because they exist as children. They were mine.

You bore them to me and they're mine. Special tender care. Now I believe that verse 14 of Matthew, the verse we're reading, it also reveals a child's special access to God. I think that nowhere, at no time, will you see the grace of God exhibited more in a child's life than at the time of death. For Jesus says, of such is the kingdom of heaven. Or as the NASB says, the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Ton toyuton.

Ton gar toyuton in the Greek. In other words, it belongs to those who are like children and it also includes children themselves. And until that child reaches the condition of the age of accountability where they can discern between right and wrong and make choices and are held responsible for those choices, they have that special care and access to God. I want you to see something. I want you to go back one chapter. Chapter 18 of Matthew.

Because you see where the thought begins. Chapter 18, verse 1. At that time, the disciples came to Jesus. These guys are really theologically inclined.

They ask a very heavy question. Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Maybe they thought Jesus would say, well Peter, you are.

Or John, I think it's you. Then Jesus called a little child to him and said, him in the midst of them. And said, assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. See, even an adult has to come to a place where they are willing like a child to be absolutely and totally dependent upon God's grace, not their own works.

You have to become like a little child. Well, children as referred to in chapter 19, verse 14. Children of that age, little children or infants, they're at an age where they're incapable of exercising saving faith. They're at an age where they are incapable of rebelling against God. And I think there are plenty of scriptures that indicate that if a child dies before that age, condition of accountability, they are in heaven. What that age is, I can't tell you. If you ask me afterwards, I'll say again. I don't know.

I think it varies from child to child. But I want to show you some scriptures. And you can just write these down.

I'll show them to you. Deuteronomy chapter 1, verse 39. There's one verse I want to pull out. God says to the children of Israel, moreover, your little ones, your children, whom you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. To them I will give it. That is, give the land.

I want to just lift out that phrase. They have no knowledge of good and evil. They have no clear, true understanding of what is right and what is wrong, what is evil and what is good. No sense of law at all. No conscious rebellion against the law of God. In fact, because they're little kids, they don't even know what the law of God is. They're not even conscious of it, let alone able to rebel against it. So they are therefore not responsible moral agents. There's no culpability.

Because they don't know what's right, they don't know what's wrong. Twice in Jeremiah, Jeremiah chapter 2, verse 34 and chapter 19, verse 4, God calls little children by this term, innocence. They are innocents. He says of their parents who are sacrificing their children, you have filled this place with the blood of the innocents.

Now you know what? If God calls somebody innocent, guess what? They're innocent.

He didn't toss that term around lightly. They're innocent. Does that mean the children are not sinful?

No. Does that mean your children are not fallen? No, and it's manifestly seen as the child grows up, right? I think every parent should be able to say amen to that. Everybody notices that bent toward evil, that you don't have to teach a child.

It comes naturally. It does mean that a child cannot discern God's law. And they can't be held guilty for premeditated sin because they don't have any premeditated volitional rebellion. Then there's Jonah chapter 4, verse 11. And before we put it up on the screen, you know the book of Jonah. God took Jonah to Nineveh, right? And he said, preach to this city. And then the city repented, and so God withheld his judgment. And what did Jonah do?

He got really bummed out. God, I was counting on you, destroying all these people. You know, he hated the Ninevites. So listen to what God says. Jonah chapter 4, verse 11. Should I not pity Nineveh, that great city in which are more than 120,000 persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left? Jonah, you want me to destroy a whole city that has 120,000 children in it?

Kids? What a description. It's the same description metaphorically, can't tell their right from their left, as Deuteronomy chapter 1.

They don't know right from wrong, good and evil. Then there was Job. Job lost everything, including his children. And Job got so low after losing his kids, losing his health, and losing everything he owned.

In chapter 3, here's his despair. After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day he was born. He said, may the day perish on which I was born, and the night in which it was said a male child is conceived. Then down in verse 11, Job says, why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?

Why did the knees receive me, or why did the breasts that I should not nurse? For now, I would have lain still and been quiet. That is, if he would have been born a stillborn, perinatal death. I would have been asleep.

I would have been at rest. Now before you say, well, all Job meant is that he'd be better off dead than alive and suffering. He just meant not exist, rest from existence. He didn't mean that. Job must have meant that to be at rest as a baby was to be in the presence of God.

And here's why. Because it was the same Job who says a few chapters later, I know that my Redeemer lives, and I know that I will resurrect, and in my flesh, I will see God, right? That's what he believed.

So here he is stating that a child, when he dies, goes to be at rest with the Lord. Then there's 1 Kings, chapter 14. And I'm just sort of summing up a few, but I want you to keep these. Write these down. Look them up.

Use them. 1 Kings, chapter 14. God pronounces judgment on the whole household of King Jeroboam, because he was so wicked.

God basically says, I'm going to make a clean sweep, and every male of your entire household is going to be destroyed. You can't even bury them. They're going to lie out on the streets, and the birds and the dogs are going to get them.

They won't even have a proper burial. He says in verse 10 of 1 Kings 14, I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel. I will take away the remnant from the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone.

That is, except for one little child. God says in chapter 12, verses 12 and 13, 1 Kings 14. When your feet enter the city, the child, it's the little child, little toddler or infant, shall die. And all Israel will mourn for him and bury him, watch this, for he is the one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. Now how could that be that something good was found inside that little child? He's not even old enough to discern, for all the same reasons I've just shared with you. Even though this child is the son of an idolatrous father and an idolatrous family, he never knowingly rebelled against God.

He is in the same category of not knowing good from evil, right hand from left hand, innocent as a child. One of the most famous passages is 2 Samuel chapter 12. David had sinned with Bathsheba.

You know the story. Bathsheba is pregnant. David kills her previous husband, marries her.

It's all a sinful episode. The child is born. The child gets sick. For one week, David fasts and he prays, oh God, save this child.

The child dies in a week. As soon as the child is dead, David washes himself and eats food. And his servants go, what's up with you, David?

This is strange behavior. David said, look, I can't do anything now. While he was alive, I could at least pray that God would spare his life, but now it's too late. And this is how David comforted himself. He said, I shall go to the child, but the child cannot return to me.

David certainly believed and wrote about heaven on a few different occasions. The way David comforted himself is, well, I guess I'm going to die and go to the grave. The way he comforted himself is, one day I will go to be with my child in God's presence.

He can never return here. So Jesus takes the little ones in his arms, lays his hands on them, prays for them, and says the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. When a baby dies, it goes to heaven. If that child hasn't reached that level of accountability where he has to stand or fall in his own choices, two or four, four or against God, I believe that there is special mercy. Not because a baby deserves it, but because God is merciful. The kingdom of heaven belongs to children because children belong to God.

He claims them. Now, that's where the whole idea of limbo erupted from. I was raised with the idea of limbo. You know where limbo was invented? In the 13th century.

That's how long it took to figure that out. It was concocted because the Roman Catholic church said we have a problem. We have a conundrum.

What do we do? What do we say about babies who die before we can baptize them? Because they believe in baptismal regeneration. They're not saved unless they're baptized. We can't say they go to hell. They didn't do anything wrong. We can't put them in purgatory because they were never bad enough. So let's create limbo. And they did. Until two years ago, then they sort of threw it out and said, well, it's possible that a baby could go to heaven.

It's not possible. It's absolutely certain that when a child dies, that child is in God's presence. Not only that, but look more carefully. The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these, including children, but also such as these. I think that includes the mentally handicapped. They're at a level, they haven't grown beyond infancy yet.

And that mental deficiency makes them incapable of faith or of rebellion. Now I just want you to think of this as we close. If you were to think of all of the miscarriages that we began with giving you the statistic, all of the prenatal, neonatal, perinatal death, if you were then to add to that the infant mortality rate that is very high in impoverished nations around the world — think of it this way — it's possible, many theologians believe, that heaven will be more populated with children who went there at death than adults. It's an interesting thought, isn't it?

It's a beautiful thought. John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, said, the number of infants in heaven so greatly exceeds the aggregate of adult believers that, comparatively speaking, the kingdom may be said to consist of little children. Then there's texts like Revelation chapter 7, which pictures people from every nation, every tribe, every people standing before the throne of God. Well, we know that there are some tribes and people where there are no believers.

How do you have believers from every conceivable corner? Answer, their children who die are graciously placed in God's presence. Well, we don't own our children, do we? We don't own them. They're entrusted to us. They're under your care and your training for 18 to 20 years.

These days, 35, 40 years they stay at home. Can't get rid of them. But they're just, you're stewards of them. And God may decide at any time since He gave them or entrusted them to say, I want them. And I'll take care of them. And I'll surround them with my special love and special mercy much more than you could ever provide. And even Job recognized after he lost all of his kids, the Lord gives and the Lord what? Takes away. And then he said, blessed be the name of the Lord.

Charles Spurgeon in 1861 preached a sermon to his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, England. And among his words were these that I close with. And he was speaking about likening the death of a child to a fine rose being taken. Suppose you're a gardener employed by another. It's not your garden, but you're called upon to tend it and you have your wages paid you. You have taken great care with a certain number of roses. You've trained them up and there they are blooming in their beauty.

You pride yourself upon them. But you come one morning into the garden and you find that the best rose has been taken away. You are angry and you go to your fellow servants and you charge them with having taken the rose.

They will declare that they had nothing at all to do with it. And then one says, I saw the master walking here this morning. I think he took it. Is the gardener angry then?

No. At once he says, I am happy that my rose should have been so fair as to attract the attention of the master. It is his own.

He hath taken it. Let him do what seems good to him. If God forbid that should ever happen to you, and I pray it won't. I pray that your children grow up healthy and happy and wonderful. That's what we long for.

That's what we anticipate. But if in God's sovereignty that doesn't happen, know that your child will be forever cared for until you go to him or her. And I would say, you can only go to him or her. If you go the same way, they went by God's grace, you have to go by God's grace. You have to receive Christ as your savior to get into the kingdom of heaven.

Belongs to such as these. That's the incredible promise. Let's have a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, you are so merciful that you have found a way, even though we have fallen short of your mark, fallen short of the glory of God, and we fell short of that the very moment we were conceived, David said. We were born in sin.

We have a fallen nature that must be dealt with. We're just so grateful and so thankful that by your mercy, you place children in that special category where you whisk them off and gather them into heaven and care for them eternally until we can rejoin them by coming the same way of your grace. Lord, I pray for moms and dads, some faces I see, I know they've lost a son or a daughter.

They're reliving that pain even in this message. Bring special comfort to these hearts. And then Lord, use us, use us as implements of your mercy, as tools who would spread your comfort because we run into people like this, or they're in our family and we could offer great comfort. In Jesus' name, Amen. You know, as tragic as the death of any child is, the even greater tragedy would be to miss the opportunity to be reunited with that child because you've never had the desire to walk with Jesus. There will be so many tender and heartwarming reunions in heaven, but without Christ, you'll miss them.

Don't let that happen to you. Find out more about a personal relationship with Jesus, and we can help at the website ConnectWithSkip.com when you click on the Know God tab. And if you'd like a CD copy of today's message entitled Jesus, Friend of Children, just give us a call at 1-800-922-1888.

We'd be happy to send you a copy on CD for just $6, plus shipping. Again, the number 1-800-922-1888, or just go to ConnectWithSkip.com. Well, next time, Skip Heitzig will provide a sneak peek at who will likely meet in heaven. That's next on Connect with Skip Weekend Edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast your burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. ... bringing you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-13 15:40:35 / 2023-12-13 15:49:30 / 9

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