The Faith of A Child

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Rom 3:28-31 GW  We conclude that a person has God's approval by faith, not by his own efforts.  (29)  Is God only the God of the Jews? Isn't he also the God of people who are not Jewish? Certainly, he is,  (30)  since it is the same God who approves circumcised people by faith and uncircumcised people through this same faith.  (31)  Are we abolishing Moses' Teachings by this faith? That's unthinkable! Rather, we are supporting Moses' Teachings.

Note the phrase “a person” in v28. It sets up v29 and 30. A person. Not a Jew. Not a Gentile, but a person. It doesn’t matter. God is God of all persons. He is not just knitting American Christians in the womb and allowing someone else to create the Hindus. He is the Potter of all and  we are all the lumps of clay...all of us the work of His hands, whether we want to believe it or not.

And all must come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ.

Joh 14:6 GW  Jesus answered him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.

He approves circumcised people by faith and uncircumcised people by faith. What could be more just than that? Same rules for everyone! It’s important to note that circumcision alone would not save those of the OT and baptism alone will not save those of the New.  Faith must always be present in order to effect salvation.

Did this truth stop the Jews from circumcising their 8 day old infants? Did they think the circumcision was useless?  Of course not. Should it stop us from baptizing our infants? Is baptism useless? Of course not.

We know and believe that faith is a gift from God given at baptism, and we know that little children are capable of such faith.  There is an incident in the life of Jesus that illustrates this well.

Mat 18:2-6 GW  He called a little child and had him stand among them.  (3)  Then he said to them, "I can guarantee this truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  
(4)  Whoever becomes like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (5)  And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me.  (6)  "These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.

In the Greek, the little child spoken of here is an infant or a half-grown boy or girl. We’re not talking about a 10 year old here. We are talking about a toddler or above who is obviously old enough to stand next to Jesus but that’s about it.

What do we learn about this young child in v6?  “These little ones who believe in Me.” Who what? Believe in Me.” In other words, they have faith. Not only do they have faith....but they have great faith. So great a faith that we are to emulate it.

In fact if we don’t emulate their kind of faith, Jesus guaranteed that we will not enter into heaven.

How did they get that faith? God gave it to them at baptism.  Baptism works that faith in us as it “regenerates “us, and regeneration is the process of the impartation of living faith. It quickens the soul and causes us to be “born again.” or we might say “generated again.”

Tit 3:5 GW  he saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal.......and that washing is baptism.

Infants need this washing, this regeneration, this saving faith because they are sinners from conception on. The Lord has provided this means of grace and it produces faith and spiritual life as long as it is not willfully resisted. ........As long as it is not willfully resisted.

Now you should begin to see the beauty of infant baptism, now you should begin to grasp the simplicity of the faith of a child that is needed to enter heaven.

You see the child is not like you or I. The child does not resist God’s grace. He doesn’t challenge it, he doesn’t question it. He simply receives it. Remember the faith of your childhood? So simple, so uncomplicated, so beautiful.

What happened? Your child like faith was eventually attacked by the devil, the world, and your flesh, and many eventually give up and succumb to the ways of the world and lose their faith. The devil, the world, and the flesh teaches them well and lures them into neglecting and resisting God’s grace and His Word and they fall away.  

But the villain in this situation is not your baptism. Baptism did its job! It is our own depravity and willful, stubborn, resistance to God’s grace that comes with indifference to and neglect of God’s Word that does you in.

And the only way back to the childlike faith given to you at baptism, is to become like a child again in your faith. Completely surrendering and trusting in Jesus for your forgiveness, your salvation and your guidance for living.

Does this child-like faith make the Law of God useless? Not at all. As a matter of fact it makes it useful. The Law is useful in training a child-like faith  in righteousness, that is in right living. Faith in Jesus moves the Law from a place of indifference in our lives to a place of esteem. Faith in Jesus causes us to accept the Law (Gods Word) and recognize its goodness.

When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, when we stop resisting God’s gracious offer of salvation and restored fellowship with Him, the Law is no longer the external thunderings of God on Mt. Sinai, or the dim and dulled memory of something written on our hearts. It comes alive again and lives in us through the Holy Spirit.

Ask any born-again believer how they feel about the Law of God, the Word of God,  and they will tell you that they don’t fear it, they are not indifferent to it, but they treasure it! It is a wonderful thing to have the child-like faith that shouts with the Apostle Paul, concerning God’s Word.

2Ti 3:16 GW  Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God's approval.

For the child of God, the Law or God’s Word, is no longer an enemy to be feared, but a friend to be trusted. The more we trust God’s faithful  sayings and put them into practice, the more we are blessed.

Before Paul was converted, that is, before he surrendered to Christ and stopped resisting His grace, he was zealous for the law. Martin Luther was also zealous for God’s Law, but he and the apostle Paul were both miserable tormented men. But once they experienced God’s grace, and believed that they were saved by faith in Christ, they were both set free and God’s Law no longer was an enemy..but a friend.
Faith does not diminish God’s Law, rather it illuminates it and it elevates it! Friend, seek the faith of little children....complete trust in the love of Jesus!

Can I just tell you something about Paul’s conversion? The Bible says we are saved by grace. In the Greek the word means “divine influence on the heart.” When Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus He asked him, ‘Paul, why do you kick against the pricks?” In the Greek the word “pricks”means divine impulses.

Do you see the connection.... divine impulses ...divine influence. Jesus was saying Paul, why do you kick against my grace.  Why do you resist my grace? Every time you say no to Christ’s invitation to surrender to Him in child-like faith you are kicking against His grace.

Let’s move on now to chapter 4.
Rom 4:1-3 GW  What can we say that we have discovered about our ancestor Abraham?  (2)  If Abraham had God's approval because of something he did, he would have had a reason to brag. But he could not brag to God about it.  (3)  What does Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded by God to be his approval of Abraham."

Paul’s whole point in this chapter is that the righteousness by faith alone principle is nothing new. He begins by reminding us that Abraham was not justified by his works, but by his faith!

Ah yes, father Abraham. He was the patriarch of the Jews, the twelve tribes of the OT, and the spiritual patriarch or spiritual father of the NT church as well. He is the father of all who by faith believed in the coming Messiah or the Messiah who has come. What can we discover about him as it relates to faith?

Let’s turn back to the book of Genesis chapter 15 and look at his faith, for it was written in this book for our example.

Gen 15:5-6 GW  He took Abram outside and said, "Now look up at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them." He also said to him, "That's how many descendants you will have!"  (6)  Then Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD regarded that faith to be his approval of Abram.

Some say this is the most important portion of the OT. This night of star-gazing occurred to establish oince and for all that we are saved by faith! It occurred BEFORE Abraham was circumcised, and it was over 400 years before the Law was even given on Mt Sinai.

You see, salvation by faith apart from works has been around a long time! That in itself should tell us about its pre-eminence over the Law and circumcision, or the NT equivalent of circumcision.........baptism.

Mar 16:16 GW  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Do you see how faith is elevated over baptism here? Faith is elevated above baptism in that without faith you will be condemned, baptized or not!

But, what is this “faith of Abraham?” Well, in Gen.15:5 we see God speaking to the childless Abraham outside. He tells him to look at the stars. He told him to count the stars, (good luck with that!) Then God tells this 75 to 85 year old man that he would have descendants as plentiful as the stars.

And Abraham believed God! The Hebrew word here is AMAN which is where we get Amen from. Yea  yea God, You said it so shall it be!  Abraham believed God! So you see saving faith isn’t just a matter of believing in the existence of God, (“The devils believe and tremble.”) it’s believing what God has said that really matters!

That’s the faith you and I need to have. That’s the faith of a child that sings with the boldest confidence. Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so! I love observing children singing that song, because in their simple faith they proclaim, Jesus loves me because the Bible says He does. Case closed, end of discussion.

There’s more going on here though than believing that Abraham will produce physical offspring. For God was speaking to Abraham of “spiritual offspring” future believers. Abraham knew and believed that God was speaking about the Christ who would come from his loins and bless the people of the world with salvation by grace through faith.

Those blessed, those “believers” would be as numerous as the stars. When I see a starry night I like to look up and think of the promise to Abraham and I realize that by God’s grace,  He broke through my adult thinking and gave me the child-like faith of Abraham necessary for my salvation. And I realize that I represent one of those stars. And I thank God!  

Jesus reminded us of Abrahams faith concerning the coming Messiah when He spoke to the Pharisees in John 8:56:

Joh 8:56 GW  Your father Abraham was pleased to see that my day was coming. He saw it and was happy."

God equates this kind of faith, faith in Christ, with righteousness. OT faith looking forward to His coming and NT faith looking back.  With both Old and New looking forward to His final return when paradise will be restored.

The Bible says that God regarded or accounted this faith of Abraham’s as righteousness. The word “regard or accounting here is an accounting term. And here’s how it works.
With Abraham’s faith in the promise of God in the coming Messiah, God transferred Abraham’s debts or sins to the right hand side of the accounting ledger book.

He was made right with God, simply because he believed in the coming Messiah. Do you want to be right with God? Then believe in the Messiah who came. Believe the Word of God that has been miraculously preserved in the Bible. It is this Word that speaks consistently of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus.

You perhaps have heard the saying, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!” I can almost picture it as a bumper sticker on Abraham’s camels. But that’s what faith must be! Simple, child-like, trusting.  John 3:16 says:

Joh 3:16 GW  God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.

“Everyone who believes in Him...Jew, Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised will have eternal life. Their sins all removed from the left side of the ledger and covered with the blood of Jesus, never to be counted against them again!

Abraham looked to the stars and found eternity, you need to look no farther than the cross at Calvary. God’s Word promises that one day His crucified and risen Son will return and judge the world.
Those who believe in Him with the child-like faith of Abraham will not perish but have everlasting life, those who don’t believe in Him with child-like faith are guaranteed by Jesus to  spend eternity in Hell.

All God asks of you and I is faith. A faith that He promises to give us through grace.  How long have you been resisting His grace? How long will you continue to kick against the pricks? Are you trying to get to heaven with your “adult” faith?  You know what “adult” faith is? It’s the idea that God somehow needs your help in order for you to be saved.

An adult faith doesn’t believe that God alone can regenerate a person, that’s why so many reject infant baptism.  An adult faith believes that we must help God in the creation of spiritual life within us. We must obey the ten commandments, we must go to church, we must be confirmed, we just have to live a good life, we must reason our way in to heaven.

But a child-like faith merely receives. A child-like faith stops resisting and says, “I believe what God says and I’m going to trust Him. He alone can rekindle this baptismal faith in my heart.”

Based on what He says in His Word, do you believe God can do that?  If you don’t may I suggest that some clear night you go outside and begin to count the stars!

See if you can come up with the exact number of Abraham’s spiritual descendants.  Obviously you will not be able to do it. You will have to admit failure and give up. And that’s a good idea, because that’s the essence of child-like faith. That’s what Jesus wants you to do. He wants you to give up.

He wants you to admit that your adult faith is a failure and He wants you to surrender to Him as a child. Believe His every Word. Trust His every promise. Abraham did and God accounted it to him as righteousness. He will do the same for you.

This week an elderly woman called the church office looking for a handout. Following my usual procedure I told her that she needed to come to church and state her case to the deacons. She said she was calling from Hilbert and it would be difficult to get here.  So I asked her if her church was doing anything to help her.

She said she didn’t go to church because she kept the 10 commandments and that’s all she need to get to heaven. Wrong thing to say to Pastor Matz. I immediately commended her for zealousness in keeping the ten commandments, but I wondered how she was doing with #3? (remembering the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy.)

She admitted that that was one that she had broken. Well I used that confession to launch into a presentation of the gospel, and I was just getting to the part about salvation by grace through faith when she abruptly interrupted me and said “I gotta go now, something is boiling over on my stove.”

What’s boiling over on your stove? What’s distracting you? What’s causing you to continue to resist the grace of hang onto your adult faith?

This incident confirms once again that I don’t have the gift of evangelism, but it also illustrates that people want to hold on to their adult ideas about faith. Keeping the “ten commandments” to gain salvation is not a God idea it is an adult idea. “I have to do something!”

How foolish we are. We don’t want to let go of our adult faith, even though it damns us. We don’t want to run the risk of letting go and trusting God completely as a child. It’s too frightening, it’s too “restrictive”, it seems to joyless, yet....look at a child with faith. Where’s the fear? Where’s the shackles? Where’s the lack of joy?

It’s gone, because, the child knows:  “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong they are weak but He is strong. Yes Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

 No altar call today, just sing along with me from the bottom of your heart....