|Volume 21 Number 3 March 2019||
Before Jesus ascended unto the Father, He gave instructions to His disciples. Why did He give these instructions? Our Lord gave these directives because He wanted us to know what our purpose is as the church. He didn’t want us to get sidetracked from that purpose. Jesus knew that we could get so busy doing good things that we would possibly neglect doing the really important things.
In Matthew 28:18-20, we see that disciples of Christ were charged to evangelize a lost world. That evangelization is to be carried out aggressively. We are to go into the world and not wait for the world to come to us. Evangelizing a lost world can be as simple as relating how God freed us from the clutches of Satan. If we share the Gospel, God will anoint our efforts, and we will see some of our fellow men come to know Christ as Savior. Then, we are commanded to baptize those who receive the good news and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and Savior. The new believer is to be baptized as an act of obedience to have his sins washed away by the blood of Christ. When the new believer is baptized, and he is added to the body of Christ, which is the church, by Jesus (Acts 2:47). Another command Jesus gave preceding His ascension was to teach “them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Notice that Jesus commanded us to observe all things which He has taught. There is no way we dare leave this command out of our lives in Christ.
Jesus also commanded us to love one another. “This is My commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). If we love one another, it will reveal itself in the way we treat one another. Loving one another will enable us to fulfill the rest of the “one another commands” in the Bible. If we love one another, we will bear one another’s burdens. We will confess our faults to one another and pray for one another. We will forgive one another. If we love one another, we will edify or build up one another. Paul said the entire law is summed up by loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus gave us this command because He knew that the world would know that we are of Him if we love one another.
Further, Jesus commanded us to be faithful. He wants us to be faithful in our devotion to Him. Our Lord rebuked the church at Ephesus because it had allowed its first love for Him to cool. The church at Laodicea was condemned for its half-hearted, lukewarm devotion to Christ. The world constantly demands that we turn from a love for Christ and turn to a love of the world. Satan will always put hardships in our path, which are designed to cause us to doubt God’s love for us. Yet, Jesus’ command is still to love Him with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength.
Jesus wants us to be faithful in the duties that He has assigned us. It is required that we be found faithful stewards, faithful to family duty and responsibilities, faithful in sharing our faith, faithful in our church responsibilities as elders, preachers, deacons, teachers and members. Jesus wants us to be diligent to obey what He has said in His Word.
How are we to carry out these commands? Paul gave the answer in 2 Timothy 2:2 when he penned, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there” (Matthew 19:13-15 NKJV). When we moved to Highland Home to begin working with the church there, almost ten years ago, Chris, our youngest, was 11-years-old. There were few little ones in the congregation at that time, especially no small children. Now, our Sunday and Wednesday night Bible classes have several children. Our classes are able to be divided by age. I know that doesn’t sound like much to some from larger congregations, but for our little group of around 50, that is exciting news. We have two babies on the way. We have several that range from 9-months to 4-years-old. There is a sizable number that are older than 4, up to about 10 or 11. It is exciting for us to see these little ones heading to and coming from our Bible classes.
Sometimes the little ones get a little loud. One Sunday, two of our little boys (both less than 18-months-old) were not in good moods, and they let everybody know it. One mother said, “I think our boys tried to out-preach you today!” Just this past Sunday, one of our little girls was given a quarter by her mother to put in the collection plate. She is a cute little girl with curly hair. I can’t remember how old she is, exactly, but she is a toddler. When the plate went by, she put the money in, but then she let out a loud complaint, and cried, “I want my money back!” I am glad we take up collection near the end of services, because every person in the auditorium was laughing so hard after they heard her. (I wonder how many adults actually feel the same way, but they just aren’t honest enough to admit it out loud, or they don’t give at all. That’s a thought for another day!) Sometimes someone asks me, “Does it bother you when these little ones make noise or do something funny?” My answer is that it does not bother me at all. Here are some of the reasons why.
1. I always say that if I can’t out-preach the babies that I might as well give up. I have never been a big believer in making a fuss because babies make some noise. I have heard the deafening silence when a congregation has no little ones.
2. When a little one is making noise in the assembly, it means he or she is in the assembly. I believe that the sounds of little ones in the assembly mean that there are parents who believe in the importance of assembling. Each squeak, squeal, laugh or cry tells me that someone realizes that the time to teach a little one about assembling together is from the day he or she is born! Those little noises will turn to language, and ultimately little ones will become adults who have been taught from birth that assembling to study God’s Word and to worship Him are important parts of life.
3. Once in a while a mother says, “I haven’t gotten to really listen to a sermon in months, and I worry that we are bothering others!” Now, I know that this is Dean, not Bible, but I believe that what you are gaining as you struggle with your little one, as that little one wiggles, whines and complains, as that little one thrashes about and demands your attention (all you young mothers know what I mean), what you are gaining is the respect of right-thinking people and the growth of a little one who will know what worship is as he or she grows. The way I look at it, a lost sermon or two along the way may help to prevent a lost soul later on down the road.
4. I ask for God’s blessings on young parents. I know that you are making decisions every day that affect your children’s future and even their eternities. Stay strong and ever put Christianity before their eyes. Please don’t ever let anyone discourage you from doing what will build up your children in serving God. You will never regret it if you bring them to worship. Hopefully, it will keep you from ever being in the situation where you cry out, in a serious lament, “I want my children back,” when it is too late. We pray for you, we love you, and we want to be an encouragement to you in every way as you do this especially important, very wonderful, yet difficult job.
5. Let me encourage each of us to reassure these young parents to have their children in the assembly, at Bible classes and involved in their parents’ Christian lives. Let each of us, like Jesus say, “Let the little children come to Me [Jesus], and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” What a blessing our little ones are, gifts from God Himself.