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Jesus Loves the Little Children

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 13, 2023 4:00 am

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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October 13, 2023 4:00 am

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What happens if your baby dies? What happens if any baby dies? I believe the teaching of this passage is that that baby is cared for in the kingdom, goes into the presence of Christ.

Anyone who needs the Lord's gentleness. It's a mother or father who has lost a little one to disease or accident or premature birth. But if your baby has died, is there really any comfort to lessen the pain, any assurance that you will see your baby again?

Any way to know where your little one is and whether he or she is all right? The answer is yes, there is hope for you in God's Word. John MacArthur takes you there today as he continues a look at biblical truth you may never have considered. Passages that give encouraging answers to the question, what happens to babies who die?

That's the title of John's current study, so follow along as he begins today's lesson. Let's look together at Matthew chapter 19. And now we come to one of the most tender, sensitive, lovely portions of all the scripture. It's our Lord blessing the little children.

I want us to follow along in our Bibles. I'm going to read verses 13, 14, and 15 of Matthew 19. Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Permit little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

And he laid his hands on them and departed from there. The kingdom of heaven is the sphere of God's rule in Christ through grace. And he says these have a place. And I believe he is including all babies, all those who as the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, 12, he said, When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, now I become a man, I put away childish things. Paul told us there are two different times in life.

There's a time when you can't understand and you can't speak, and then there's a time when you do understand. And when you're in the time when you don't understand, like a little baby, that's the time God has placed you in special care under his sovereign rule as the king. He says nothing about the faith of their parents, nothing about any rite or ritual or baptism, nothing about them being elect or non-elect.

He just says those who are like these belong in my kingdom. And I believe grace is extended to them. That's why I believe with all my heart that if a baby dies, that baby goes into the presence of Jesus Christ because they are uniquely in the care of the king. Now I don't know how God dispenses that grace to them other than by a sovereign act on his own part. I do know that it is dispensable to them by virtue of the death of Jesus Christ for their sin.

It is applied to them by the sovereignty of God in their behalf because they cannot choose on their own. And I think that's the wonderful confidence that our Lord has here. I don't think that the Lord could have said what he said so comprehensively when he said, of such as the kingdom of heaven, if he had been dealing with some kind of elect or non-elect deal or some parental covenant thing or some rite or ritual deal. I think the only way he could say that they belong in the kingdom of heaven is in fact because that is true. Now just to be theological for a moment, I don't think that means necessarily that all little babies are saved. I just think they're under special protection and if they die, at that moment they're redeemed. If they were all saved, then when they got to be old enough, they'd lose their salvation and I'd have theological problems with that. So I just believe they're all under special protection and if in fact they die, the Lord gathers them to himself. It's a wonderful confidence. It's what was in the heart of David in 2 Samuel 12 23, I think, when his infant son died, he said, And surely David knew that he was talking about death, but I also think he was talking about the fact that in death he would see again that son he loved.

And I'm sure in David's heart he had the confidence that he would see God and so that son had to be in God's presence. Well, babies are sinners. No question about it. That's because they're produced by sinners and we have to understand that and yet God has a special place for them. That's a great confidence.

But you know something? It's a tremendous, tremendous responsibility. What a responsibility to make sure that little life given to you under the care of the king is returned to the king after your stewardship is completed. Mark tells us in chapter 10 in the parallel passage that after Jesus said that, verse 16, He took them up in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them. By the way, the word for blessed is a compound word. We think of eulogy, the word to bless.

This has kata added to the front of it. He blessed them intensely. He prayed fervently over these little ones. He prayed passionately over them. He prayed, I'm sure, that God would make them strong in the law, faithful in their marriage, abundant in good works, that God would return them to himself, that in the years to come their parents would fulfill their responsibility to lead them back to the one from whom they came. And he must have smiled on the littlest subjects of his sovereign lordship as he prayed.

But he isn't finished. Luke tells us he added one more note as he had those little children in his arms. He said this, verily I say unto you, Luke 18, 17, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God like a little child shall in no way enter it.

He couldn't resist that. I mean, it seemed like every time he got a baby in his arms he gave that little word. That it isn't just babies like this who are under the care of the kingdom, but anybody who ever comes into the kingdom in adult life comes when they come like a little baby. So the kingdom is populated, folks, by just two kinds of folks, those who are babies and those who come in like babies.

And what does he mean by that? He means the simplicity, the openness, the honesty, the lack of pretension, the lack of hypocrisy, the dependency, the weakness, the simplicity, the humility that casts oneself in utter humility and dependence on the strong arms of the Lord. This kingdom is filled with those who are babies and those who came as babies who knew in themselves they had no resource. And so the of such broadens, and I agree with John Calvin who said, the passage broadens to give kingdom citizenship to both children and those who are like them. So they brought their babies to Jesus, desiring that he would bless them and pray for them. And it tells us, doesn't it, in verse 15, he did it.

He laid his hands on them. Mark adds he prayed for them, blessed them, and then he departed from there. When I was in seminary, there was a man in our seminary came my last year by the name of Paul Pillay from India. Paul came from India to go to seminary. He was a Hindu all his life. His whole family were Hindus. He was saved.

He wanted to go to North India, and he wanted to reach North India, and he wanted to develop a strategy to do that. So he went back and basically started a Bible college by the name of Grace College. It's a four-year program, and if you want to be in the college, you have to give evidence that God has called you into the pastorate.

God has called you into the ministry. They take no students who aren't going right out into the ministry. And if you can demonstrate that and commit your life to that, they'll take you as a student for four years, free, no tuition, no room, no board, nothing.

Just folks, Christian friends here and over in India are supporting that school, and they're training these men. At the end of that four-year period, they take you and put you in a village, and you become the pastor in a dominantly Hindu village. And they help you get started by taking two tents into town.

They set up one tent to live in, the team that goes in, and they set up another tent to have meetings in, and they stay six months. And for six months, they evangelize the Hindus and Moslems of those cities. And by the time the six months is over, they've got a little group of Christians gathered together, and then they take a young man and put him in there, and he becomes the shepherd of the little flock, and they have planted 98 of those flocks, 98 little villages and cities with their men.

And it isn't easy. But that's how it is when you try to start a church in a Hindu village. And so this is his vision, and he's sending these men out, and he was sharing with me, as we talked about later, that there was a real problem because it's so hard to win the Hindus to Christ, and there's so many villages that need to be reached, how are you going to have enough pastors to send out? And it struck him that the way to do it was to get them when they're children, because children are so responsive. So they build a children's home, and you see, as they grow up in our school and in our home, you see they just go right into the Bible college and right out into the pastorate. It's a great strategy, folks.

It's a lot easier to get them then, isn't it? You see, children are brought to Jesus, and their hearts seem so open. We need to be busy bringing children to Christ. What about your children?

I want to draw our thinking to an end. I want to just give you five words, key words, in regard to how you bring your children to Jesus and sort of draw some spiritual conclusions from this passage. Five words that you can just kind of jot down somewhere, and I think they'll help you. The first one is remember.

Remember. In other words, in bringing your children to Jesus, you want to remember, first of all, that God created your child. God creates children.

Every child is a direct work of His creative hand. Psalm 139-13, thou hast possessed my inward parts, thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Marvelous are thy works. God made that child. Secondly, God gave that child to you as a gift. Psalm 127-3, children are an heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. God made that child, and God gave that child to you as a gift. And then that child is to be a blessing to you. Psalm 127-4, as arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of one's youth.

Happy or blessed is the man who hath his quiver full of them. Children are to be a blessing to you. God made them. God gave them to you to bless you.

Fourth point under remember is remember this. If God made them and God gave them and God gave them to be a blessing, then God wants them returned to Him for His use. That's why Ephesians 6-4 very clearly says, bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Because the task that you have is to give your children back to God. That's your stewardship.

So remember where they came from and to where they are to return. Secondly, teach. That's the second key word, teach. We are called, I believe, by God to teach.

Children have limited knowledge, they have limited reasoning power, they have limited discretion, and they need to be taught. You remember how it was said of Timothy, 2 Timothy 3.15, that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures that were taught to thee by thy mother and thy grandmother? You see, that's women. You talk about the role of a woman. My dear ladies, you have the role right there, Lois and Eunice, while Timothy's father and grandfather are out earning a living, they're in there feeding that little life with all the divine truth they could possibly pump in. That's the role of a woman in the godly home to feed that little life, the truth of God. And then the Father comes along as the Proverbs tell us and teaches His Son the wisdom of God as well. Go back to the Pentateuch.

I'm thinking of Deuteronomy 6 for a minute. Let me give you just a look at a pattern that you need to understand. If you're going to effectively teach children, we must remember whose they are, where they came from, and where they're to return, and we must teach them. We must teach them. And here is how. I believe God gave this to Moses in the very beginning with His people because it's so basic.

It hasn't changed. The principles are here. Verse 4, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. In other words, if you're going to teach your children, it all begins with you worshipping the right God in the right way.

No idols. You cannot teach them unless you commit yourself to the true religion. Secondly, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might. These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart.

What does that mean? That means internalize what you believe about God. Not only have the right theology, but the right heart. You've got to commit to your children not only truth, but truth in an uncompromising heart of conviction, truth in a pure heart, truth in a holy life, so that you see God in everything. You love Him with your heart, your mind, your soul, your power, everything. If you're going to teach your children, you've got to have the right God and the right faith, and it's got to come right out of your heart.

It has to be internal with you, not just external. And then in verse 7, I love this, Teach them diligently unto thy children, and shall talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. What does that say? That simply says that you have to teach from life situations. You have the right faith in God. You've internalized it. Your heart is filled with love. Your passion is toward God. You love Him with your heart, mind, and strength. And now out of every vicissitude, every trial, every struggle, every moment of life, you teach the truth of God.

When you stand up, sit down, walk in the way, lie down, every time you've got an opportunity. It isn't enough to sit down with your kids and read them a Bible story and then go on and live a worldly life the rest of the day. You've got to draw God into every analogy, into every aspect of life. They have to see the Lord in everything. All of life becomes a blackboard on which you teach the truth of God. And it's unending, unceasing, constant. Teach it diligently all the time.

Sitting down, walking, lying down, rising up so that it's the flow of life. It's much more. People say, well, you know, we have a time each day when we read our children a story. That's wonderful, and that's good, and that is important to teach them. But it's more important that you teach them in the flow of life responses. That you set up the right convictions for them, that you set up the right standards for them, that you set up the right objectives spiritually for them, and that everything in life speaks to those things. And there's another thing you need to do. Verse 8, you shall bind them for a sign on thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes, and thou shalt write them on the posts of thy house and on thy gates.

You know what that means? Give them a lot of reminders. Do you have Bible verses hanging around your house? Do you have little plaques that remind them of great scriptural truths hanging in their rooms? Do you have Bibles all around?

Do you read them stories? Do you sing songs with them that put truth in their mind, and as they remember the tune, they recycle the truth? These are just little reminders. In a children's life, a children's world ought to be just filled with these reminders of divine things. Don't you remember as a little kid the picture that you had in your room, maybe, that showed the Savior? Don't you remember a little plaque on your wall? All those little reminders are just ways of reinforcing.

And there are many ways to do that. Finally, not only make sure you have no idols and internalize your faith so that it's a heart faith, and teach from life, provide reminders, but finally, watch out for the world. Verse 10 says, When the Lord God has brought you into a land in which you swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the great and goodly cities which you build not, houses full of good things which you filled not, wells digged which you dig not, vineyards and olive trees which you planted not.

In other words, when the Lord unloads all the goodies on you and you've got it all and you didn't have to work for it, it all came to you graciously by God, then beware lest you forget the Lord. You warn your children that when they get out into the prosperity in the world that they not forget God. So you've got to warn them about the world. You've got to watch out for the world.

The world will encroach on all the good things you've taught them and little by little eat away at that. So you watch and you warn. There's a third word. That's the word model. That's the word model. You want to remember? You want to teach?

You want to model? And here's the key. You have to set the pattern. You have to set the example because a compromiser can't pass convictions on to anybody. You will never get your children to live the kind of life you're not willing to live except by the overruling, overpowering grace of God. You can't speak of the sins of your children with any power at all when there are sins in your own life that your children are very much aware of. You know, David sinned so grossly. David sinned so grossly and then just before he died he gave Solomon a big speech and he said, Oh, Solomon, you know, obey all the commandments of God. Oh, Solomon. He pleaded with Solomon to do that and Solomon went right out and was worse than David.

He multiplied wives, just an unbelievable number, wives and concubines, numbering in the hundreds. And he became a man of despair, devastating his life. And his son Rehoboam was a total disaster, not even a bright light anyway. The kingdom was shattered into two pieces and Rehoboam lost the kingdom because he had no fatherly example at all and the Bible says he listened to his own generation. And if they're not getting it from the parents, they're going to get it from the peers and that's disastrous.

You've got to set the model. Hezekiah the great king compromised by bringing the king of Babylon to see the royal jewels and in his compromise his son picked up the compromise, of course, and Manasseh, who was his son, totally abandoned God's law, created a whole world of wickedness and his son was even worse. Joshua, Joshua came to a crossroads and he said to the people, he said, You have a choice, choose you this day whom you will serve. He said, You can choose Jehovah or the gods of the Ammonites. And it says that when he gave them a choice, the next generation knew about the Lord and the next generation knew not the Lord. You don't even give them a choice.

You don't even give them a choice in that sense. You have to pass on a high standard of holiness. Tom Cohen in an article in Eternity magazine said this, I think it's very important, Parents must be aware of the personal value of truth for their own sakes and not just for the sakes of their children. We cannot simply make a child believe in a truth because it's good for them.

Their perceptive spirits will sense when we are doing something to engineer or manipulate a certain response. Instead, it is the authenticity of parental commitment to truth apart from the lives of the children that brings freedom to share or pass on that truth to them. In other words, a mature motive for passing on truth is that as a parent, I hold that truth to have value for my life independent of my children and their response to it. End quote. So remember, teach, model, fourthly, love.

I don't need to say much about that. Love your children. Love them. What does that mean? That means weep with them, laugh with them, hurt with them, rejoice with them, sacrifice for them, protect them. Don't provoke and exasperate them. Be unselfish. Serve them. Provide their needs. Give them gifts. Show them affection. Give them pleasure. Give them discipline.

Love them in all those ways. There's a final word. It's the word trust. When you've done all that, trust God. That if you bring up a child in the way he should go when he's old, he what? He won't depart. And you'll make a lot of mistakes.

We all do. But if you've done your best in the power of the Spirit of God, trust God that he which hath begun a good work will perform it till the day of Jesus Christ. And that trust translates into prayer.

It translates into prayer. Pray for your children. What happens if your baby dies? What happens if any baby dies? I believe the teaching of this passage is that that baby is cared for in the kingdom. Goes into the presence of Christ.

What if your child dies when they're old enough to make a decision? Then if they have chosen to believe in Jesus Christ, they go to be with him. If they have not, they don't.

They don't. Now that ought to be a severe enough reality to awaken us to the responsibility. Are you bringing your children up to know Jesus Christ? Thank you, Father, for this passage and this moment in the life of our Savior given to us by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Thank you that you have a special place in your kingdom for the babies, the little ones. O God, we want to give them back to you, not to lose them to the kingdom.

So teach us to remember, teach, model, love, trust. And may we spend ourselves as parents returning our children to you. And Lord, where they have strayed and we do not see them coming, give us a greater zeal in prayer, greater hope, a greater commitment to reach out to them that they may know you. And Father, help us to raise up a godly seed, a pure generation who can set right what is in our world so wrong. Bless every mom and dad and every child, every young person that we all may fulfill your will.

Thank you for your great grace and your forgiveness where we fail. That's a vital question from John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, Pastor of Grace Community Church in the Los Angeles area, and Bible teacher here on Grace to You. The message you heard today is from his series, What Happens to Babies Who Die? Now, John, while this series is certainly about the death of children and geared towards parents and families, these lessons at their core are all about the character of God.

So speak to that for a minute. That's absolutely right. God is a saving God by nature. He is a saving God by nature. The Apostle Paul says, God our Savior, God our Savior. He says it over and over again in the pastoral epistles, God our Savior. God is by nature a Savior.

God is the Savior, Paul says, of all men, especially of those who believe. The Old Testament says that God is merciful. God wants to give mercy.

God finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked. And again, back to what I started with, God is by nature a Savior. That shows up temporally in the fact that sinners live. Sinners live. You know, the wages of sin is death. The soul that sins, it shall die. And yet we go on sinning and sinning and sinning year after year after year. The world is full of people sinning, and God lets them live and lets them live and enjoy the richness of His creation and the beauty of His world and the things that life offers. And God is by that patience and forbearance trying to drive them to repentance so that they will come to Him because they've seen how merciful and compassionate and gracious He is. And then the gospel comes in and tells us He will forgive when we ask Him.

Yes, God is a merciful God. And while we see that among those who live, I believe we see it perhaps even more dramatically and certainly more universally in those who die. We have been looking at a series called What Happens to Babies Who Die? And the answer is, they go to heaven. They go into the presence of God, and God's treatment of infants and unborn children demonstrates dramatically that He is a kind and gracious Savior.

And He has saved billions this way of unborn babies, newborns, and young children who have died. If you've been affected by the death of a little one, I have a book that I've written on this subject called Safe in the Arms of God, and if you've been affected by a child's death, we'll send it to you free of charge. Just contact us today and ask for it. Thanks, John. And friend, if you're grieving for a lost child or helping someone whose little one has died, you're faced with some hard questions. For comforting biblical answers, request your free copy of Safe in the Arms of God when you contact us today. Email your request to letters at or call us at 800-55-GRACE for your copy of Safe in the Arms of God. Again, we'll send you this book by John free of charge if you've been affected by the death of a child.

Get in touch today. And if you'd like to purchase extra copies of Safe in the Arms of God, perhaps give us gifts, or it's a great addition to your church library. The book costs $16 and shipping is free. And in addition to requesting your book, be sure you download the Grace to You Sermons app, which gives you access to all of John's teaching on your mobile device. That's over 3,500 messages, and those sermons will be available on your device wherever you go. You can also watch the Grace to You television broadcast, read the Grace to You blog, and much more.

To download the app, just go to Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Be sure to watch Grace to You television Sundays on DirecTV channel 378 or watch anytime on And then be here Monday as John shows you how you can get the most out of your study of God's Word. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-20 22:17:52 / 2023-10-20 22:29:13 / 11

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