Luke 18:15-17 – The Gospel and Children

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by Ed Walsh, Mar 19, 2019.

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  1. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Question: Are you a child of God or an adult?

    Many Christians and some entire denominations think that the gospel is for adults. Maybe including teanagers, but certainly not for young children. Even the disciples of Jesus thought that way.

    But Jesus said in Luke 18:15-17
    15 Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.
    16 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.
    17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."​

    "Jesus shows his disciples how “of such is the kingdom of God,” for no one shall enter that kingdom unless he enters it as a little child. This statement is astonishing in every way. We should think as, alas, so many did and do think that a babe must receive the kingdom as an adult receives it, but absolutely the reverse is true. The child is the model, not the man. It is the unassuming humility and the unquestioning trustfulness of the child that makes it a pattern for all adults. This humility and this trustfulness, when they are directed to Christ, become the very essence of saving faith."

    Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (p. 910). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.
  2. B.L. McDonald

    B.L. McDonald Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello friend!

    I was perusing the Pilgrim's Progress section and found your post from earlier this morning. I was curious about your opening statement below, specifically your mentioning there are entire denominations that hinder children from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ. Is this hyperbole? Which Christian denominations do you have in mind?

    How do you like R.C.H. Lenski? I have never read anything by him. His Lutheran views aside, do you find his works edifying? I liked the end of the quote you attributed to him below. That was nice to reflect on this afternoon.

    Have a joyful rest of your day!
  3. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I didn't say all that you said. What I said was:
    I had in mind some Baptist views that have, let's say, a guilty till proven innocent mentality for children. I don't want to comment much beyond what I said above. I don't think many Christians would go as far as you did saying they would, "hinder children from hearing the good news of Jesus Christ." But–and I stick to the–many– have low to no expectations of a child's ability to discern the things of God.

    He is my favorite go-to expositor of the Gospels. I don't have time to go into any detail as I am working. But if you would like I would be more than happy to make a PDF of a Gospel portion of your choice and post it for you. Suggestions: Some of the parables, Jesus upper room time with His disciples in John. But the option is yours.

    Thanks for your questions.

    God bless,

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  4. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    It does not seem consistent with charity to implicate your Baptist brethren in so unkind a way without explaining what exactly you are talking about. The attitude toward children you describe would truly be most uncharacteristic of the Baptists I know.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  5. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I'm sorry that you see what I said: "does not seem consistent with charity." I thought the opposite. Christians of all Calvinistic flavors seem to coexist on the PB with uncharacteristic harmony. Oh, there have been many many discussions here between paedo and credo adherents. I do not feel qualified or consider it profitable to start a new one. Clearly, I think the Baptist view is wrong but perhaps not as wrong as endlessly debating it. I am confident that the Lord's prayer for oneness among Christians will be answered in time. Jesus' prayers are also prophesy. And this will be an observable oneness for Jesus states twice that this oneness will convince the (unbelieving) world of the truth of the Gospel (vs. 21 & 23) I am content to wait for that day. Who knows? Maybe the Baptist view will become universal. But I think otherwise.

    Oh, Where is dear Patrick (AMR) now that I need him again.

    A story from my past. (I get to tell stories now that I am getting older)
    Once upon a time the site hosted a discussion group with many active high-quality members like we have on the PB. Ministers, elders, seminary professors, including my friend Dr. Francis Nigel Lee. One time a serious thread was bravely and respectfully undertaken by both sides. Hundreds, many hundreds of messages went back and forth. It was one of a kind debate in my experience. Weeks later, when the dust cleared there were 23 Baptists that left their view behind for what they came to see as the more consistently Reformed view. It was one of the neatest things I ever experienced.
  6. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks for the story, brother. Was that debate archived? I would love to read through it.
  7. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    So simple we could miss it. A Savior sincerely trusted without qualm or question.
  8. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    So you would criticize the Baptist position and be unwilling to enter a discussion about the merits of the criticism. Makes perfect sense.
  9. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    This is such a beautiful passage of scripture. It should be a warning to all Christian parents. While I'm Presbyterian, I understand there are no shortage of various infant baptism types, Presbyterians included, who have children baptized and wait for it......that's it. Other than regularish church attendance, there is no catechism, no family worship, no modeling and so on.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  10. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    @Ed Walsh perhaps a story with the point that some Baptists converted to paedo is not going help keep this conversation productive. And it may not be terribly helpful disparaging the Baptist view without evidence.

    I am with @ZackF here, and Presbyterians can look to themselves here. Ed's "But–and I stick to the–many– have low to no expectations of a child's ability to discern the things of God" makes me think of a pet peeves of mine:children church. My church has one up till (they say) grade 3 to "meet them at their level". No thank you. I would rather them sit under a minister and maybe not be able to focus rather then be under some other parent who may-or-may-not throw their own thoughts out when covering a topic. How do they learn how to sit still for when they can understand? Is it maybe more for the parents so they can get "their break" and not have to deal with squirming kids? Do we not believe the preaching of the word by a minister is a regular means of grace and does children's church not deprive them of it? I could go on...
  11. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Sorry, you feel that way. But you must be aware that there are differences among groups of believers and between individual Christians on where children stand in relationship to the Gospel.

    When I read the verses and Lenski's quote, I was affected deeply for some reason. I cried and prayed to the Lord, "O, that I could have the heart of a little child. Abba Father, help me to be helpless in my own eyes so I can please you."

    I said what I said. Everyone knows its true. Even the disciples thought disparagingly of children. But now I need to spend time with my Great Father to whom I will hopefully always be granted this childlike faith.

    What would you have me say? That I made a mistake. That the Baptist view is identical to the traditional Reformed view when it comes to children? Everyone knows that that is not true. Otherwise, we would be together as one.
    Isn't it enough that I said I am not qualified to lead a debate like this?
  12. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think there's some need to step back and read our brother's posts again.

    Brother Ed had first left unclear whom he intended when he said "some denominations" in order to not distract from the main point. When pressed for clarity, he said "some Baptists," italics and all, meaning that not all Baptists fall into the category he was pointing out. To further enforce it, he said, "I stick to many" as to say this is not all-inclusive of Baptists. I don't believe he wanted the discussion to go down this trail and he intentionally avoided it in the first place.

    And if it helps anything, the "many who have low to no expectations of a child's ability to discern the things of God," I was surely one of those Baptists. If Brother Ed had posted this two years ago and I read it, the admonition would have found its proper target. But I will say nothing further than that, as I think we've already gone a great distance away from the point of the post.

    So, I request we take our brother at his word. The same as we would want done for ourselves.

    Ed, thank you for the Gospel reminder. I've had a few days where I've needed to be reminded of the simplicity of faith and the Gospel as I wrestle with many things too great and wonderful for me.
  13. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior


    You said what I wanted to, but much better than I was able too. As a little child I love to play with toys with black, white and yellow fellow Christian children; with Baptists, Presbyterians and most flavors of true Christians. But my Father warned me to stop short of adult Mormons and some others. I need to play with them with care.

    EDIT: I will try to get back to the several others that asked questions, but I am hammered with a work deadline today. That is the only reason for my absence.
  14. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Ezekiel 16:20-21

    “Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, 21 that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire?

    In the days when Israel was almost totally apostate, God referred to the children of the visible covenant people as his children. That does not mean necessarily elect but that in a real sense they belong to him, and are set apart by him as holy (1 Cor. 7:14), set apart to believe. Those children were different than the Pagan children of the surrounding nations - they always have been different, and they always will be different.

    Thus, the children are to be reared with the knowledge that they belong to God in a very special sense, that they are called to believe and called to embrace the covenant promise "I will be your God" by faith. Thus they MUST be taught the things of the Lord from a young age. How great of a neglect would it be for parents to treat God's children as pagans and not teach them, waiting for some special lightning bolt conversion as an older child or as an adolescent. This would be a great perversion of the Scripture's teaching regarding the children of believers.
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  15. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Not to add fuel or confusion, but I want to quickly touch on the pushback Ed received. I know different Baptists believe different things, but the other night one of my good Baptist friends straight up told me that he tells his children the things of worship are not for them, but that they are observers. Heartbreaking....

    I know not all Baptists would agree with this, but somewhere, somehow, some do.
  16. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Let's call this what it is - a terrible error. Are we supposed to conclude that children under the NC administration have a lower status than the children of the Israelites at a time when the covenant people were almost totally apostate? That's just utter lunacy.

    Jesus received the little children, and he blessed them (Mark 10). What do we think he was doing when he blessed them? Was Jesus saying "hey kids, you don't understand anything, so obviously you're not regenerate and thus you're actually the Devil's children right now.. but hopefully someday God will grant you faith and then you'll be mine!" Was Jesus saying "hey kids, hope you have a nice life"?

    No. He received them and he blessed them. God in the flesh blessed little sucklings and infants. And he said that the kingdom of heaven belonged to such as these. Covenant children are heirs of the promises of God. They can rightly say "this promise is to me". The promise that "I will be your God" is for me. "If I place my faith in Christ, I will be saved, that's a guarantee".
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  17. B.L. McDonald

    B.L. McDonald Puritan Board Freshman

    Hello brothers,

    My intention when I responded to Mr. Walsh was nothing more than to seek clarification on what he had said about entire denominations seeing the gospel as being for adults, maybe teenagers, but certainly not for young children. I did not foresee the thread veering off in the direction it has and had I known it would have provoked the responses that followed I would have avoided commenting altogether.

    Friends, we all are in need of being told about the good news of Jesus Christ. From the youngest to the oldest without exception. When I heard there are purportedly entire groups of Christians (i.e. denominations) that believe otherwise it naturally made me want to learn more.

    As a father I'm constantly trying to teach what the gospel is to my children by getting them to think about four primary questions and answers.

    1) Who made us and to whom are we accountable? (A: God)
    2) What is our problem? (A: Sin)
    3) What is God's solution to that problem? (A: Salvation through Jesus Christ)
    4) How can we be included in that solution? (A: Through faith and repentance)

    From the youngest to the oldest without exception. We all need to hear this. Over and over and over again. No exceptions. Every last one of us.

    Thank you for the response Brother Ed! I'll add Lenski to my list of authors to look into for future reading.

    Have a joyful rest of the week everyone!
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
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  18. Kinghezy

    Kinghezy Puritan Board Freshman

    Would you then narrow the focus of being child-like to be the trusting & humility aspect as you consider yourself in relation to God? Because you do have the verse along the lines of when I was a child, I thought like a child etc. So it seems like we have to be clear exactly how we are emulating children.
  19. C. M. Sheffield

    C. M. Sheffield Puritan Board Junior

    Just be thankful that as a Presbyterian you have been saved from the leaven of the Baptists. ;)

    But seriously, this garbage is ridiculous. Don't smearing your Baptist brethren with the errors of a small few. "I know not all Baptists would agree with this, BUT, BUT, BUT!!!" Your sentence should have ended before the word "but". How many errors could be used to tarnish the name of godly Presbyterians/Reformed folks with nothing more than, "I know not all Presbyterians would agree with this, but..." I suspect you would not appreciate it. And why should you? It isn't honest or kind. So I say we stop with all this "I know a Baptist who clubs baby seals" nonsense and just see to it that we are concerned with being found faithful to our Lord.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  20. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Isn't the person Ryan was referring to only taking baptist ecclesiology to its logical conclusions? If the children of believers do not have a special status in God's sight, then why would we encourage them to pray to Him or worship him? Is God pleased with the worship and prayers of Pagans? I would think not. In fact, until our children are confirmed as born-again believers and then baptized, we should be separating ourselves from them, should we not? is this not what is taught in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18? Why would we keep our little pagans in church with us? This would seem to be a gross violation of the Apostle's teaching to separate ourselves from unbelievers, would it not? Of course, that is what many churches do, they ship off the children to "sunday school" while the "real believers" get to hear the sermon.
  21. Harley

    Harley Puritan Board Sophomore


    Baptism is not the point of Ed's post. He tried to deflect this very discussion. Certainly he has some Baptists in mind which he reluctantly and cautiously admitted with qualification, but not those of Pr. Sheffield and others who strive to raise their kids to be godly Christians and parent in such a way that we ought to commend. I think we're in danger of missing a jewel of a truth our brother's post.
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  22. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Moderating: Stick to the OP everyone, or please refrain from commenting. People reading this in the future won’t find it edifying or attractive. Sometimes, believe it or not, it’s ok to not be quick to take offense, and just think charitably of your brothers.
  23. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Like children. Right?
    couldn't resist. :)
  24. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    It must exist somewhere as we had scores of participants. But I no longer have mine. I wish I did.

  25. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    You are right, brother. Thank you for clarifying.
  26. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    There was nothing unfair about what you said, Ryan.

    Besides, clubbing baby seals is a perfectly legitimate pastime.
  27. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Thread closed because apparently moderation warnings can't be followed on this one.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
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