Matthew 18:1-4

Let’s turn our Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew Chapter 18, the gospel of Matthew chapter 18.  We are going to look at the first four verses this morning. And while you turn there, let me remind you why we saw that video.  We saw that video because we do take an Easter Offering every year. This is something that people give to in addition to their normal tithes and offerings; and it goes to help support reaching people in North America and so you saw a church planter that went to Indianapolis and I don’t know if this triggered in your mind when you saw that,  I didn’t know what video was going to come up, didn’t even know what was coming up, I wasn’t sure about that but it popped up there and if I am not mistaken, last year, one of the church planters was in Indianapolis and his home god broken into and his wife got killed.  Don’t know if any of you remember that, and she was expecting a baby.

 

But that person was willing to go into a rough neighbourhood, and be in a tough place like this couple was in order to try to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And so that’s what your money is going to support: missionaries that will go into very tough areas and try to take the gospel to reach people that nobody else is reaching, that’s what your money goes to. So thank you for giving and for considering giving. We take two special offerings every year, one is at Christmas time. The Lotti Moon Christmas Offering that goes to missionaries around the world outside of North America, but this is the time when we need to take care of people at home, within our own nation. Because I’ll tell you what, America is a mission field, we are a nation of lostness, a nation without Jesus and the world is coming to America, so this is an opportunity for us to, in our day to reach the world through reaching people who have come to America, hopefully to reach then and send them back to their native land with the gospel in many cases. So that’s what that was all about. And I hope you will consider giving towards that.

 

And I do want to quickly before we begin giving update on what took place last week.  We had a concert that was sponsored to building Christian school. To the best of my knowledge, we had about 300 people maybe more than that, that showed up to be a part of that event. Mostly young people some parents were with them. Some older people like me and I know reference is being made to me being older tomorrow. That’s news to me but anyway we will believe it when it happens if we make it that long.  We think we saw about three to five people who give their life to the Lord that night.  I said three to five because I know I had someone that prayed with me.  I had a young man that came up to me and said that about three years ago he prayed a prayer.  He said; “because I just didn’t want to go to hell,” and he said “but I really didn’t want Jesus but tonight I want Jesus.”  Now there is a difference in not wanting to go to hell and wanting Jesus, because nobody on this planet wants to go to hell but not everybody wants Jesus.  And so I know that I had one, Jane Walters prayed with a young lady, Connie Anderson prayed with a lady to be saved that nigh and I had another card that was turned in that you can’t tell what happened to that person there, the person filled it out it, looked like one or two people might of got saved. So I will just stick to three to five people saved. Had about thirty or more that we counselled with that night; great turn out, great event, a Christ honouring event so thank you for being a sponsored church and a support of that.

 

So, anyway let’s turn to Matthew chapter 18 and get started on this text, I’ll fill you in on a few things, hope to see you at the brotherhood tomorrow night and I think that will be a great night and we’ll enjoy our time together there. This morning we’re going to talk about one characteristic that the saved people have in common.  Everybody that’s saved has this same thing in common.  Must say, what I mean is you’ve been born into the family of God, you have come to a saving knowledge of the lord Jesus Christ, your life has been changed. Now, I say that that’s our topic for today because if you can imagine, there is a group of people, they are called the disciples, and they’re around Jesus, they are following him, learning from him, they are sitting at Jesus feet gaining wisdom, they’re trying to grow in his teaching and Jesus has just dropped some big theological bombs on them.

For instance, at the end of chapter 17 he tells them very plainly that “I am going to die and three days later am going to rise again”. He didn’t even mince words about nothing. He was just as clear as he could be.  And so you would think that with all that kind of stuff that he has been saying to them, that there would be a humble mind set, of a very thoughtful mind set but instead, they get all the boys together, gather them up in a group and said “hey Jesus, come here, won’t you tell us something.  Who is the greatest?”  Wow, really? That’s what’s going through your mind right now? It says at that hour, so not long after some things had taken place; they were asking Jesus this question.  Now, they may be asking just a general questions. In the kingdom of heaven; in the kingdom of God, who is the greatest overall?  But I think probably what they mean is, “hey me and the guy standing here, we’re just wondering, which one of us is the greatest? Now let me tell you the response Jesus gave, it is going to blow you away.  Because if you were standing there and Jesus said this to you, your jaw would probably drop and chills go up your spine and your hair would stand up on the back of your neck if you hear the way Jesus said after this, because his answer was basically this. “You’re wondering who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God, in my kingdom. You’re wondering who is the greatest, because none of you aren’t even in it.” And that was his answer. They’re worried about being the greatest and Jesus’ response to them is, “you got to get in before you can be great in it.  You understand what that means, right? If you are not in the kingdom of heaven, if you are not part of the kingdom of God, if you’re not part of Christ kingdom, you are lost, you are going to hell. You are going to spend eternity apart from God; there is no hope for your soul unless something changes before you die.

 

And so Jesus began to expound upon this characteristics that’s found in every person that’s ever been born again. You got to find it in your life and in my life, it has got to be there or the truth is, what we’ve got isn’t real. So these people were actually called disciples in this text, they sat at Jesus’ feet and learned from Him and He said you are not even in it. We need to be careful. So I’m going to give you three thoughts about the text today.  I want to give you the first one which is: don’t assume that you are in, the second one is- only humble people get in and the final one is going to be this – If you are in you can possess greatness. So here is what it says, let’s read the text and we’ll go through these three points and we’ll talk about this characteristics of humility that’s found in all people that are saved.  The bible says, “At that time the disciples or at that hour” your bible might say and that’s literally what it says. “At that hour, at that time the disciples came to Jesus and they said who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  So he called a little child to himself, sat him before him,” so everybody is looking at this little kid and here is what Jesus said, “truly I say to you, unless you are converted,” so they are not converted, are they? “Unless you become converted, unless you are converted and become like children you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

So Jesus is teaching a powerful, powerful lesson that everyone needs to know, because if you are, if what Jesus says is true…is not true in your life, then that means that you cannot be part of the kingdom of heaven.  And if you believe that you are part of the kingdom of heaven then you’ve got to say “this has been true in my life.” So what is it?  Well, the first thing that we want to look at though, is the issue of humility, and that’s what he’s talking about, and so when we look at verse 3, here is the first lesson I think Jesus wants us to take away from this. Which is: don’t assume that you are in; because, he says, “truly I say to you, unless you are converted, and become like children, you’ll not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

 

They assumed that they were in.  They felt like they had to be part of this kingdom.  And amazingly they weren’t.  Disciples, followers, sitting, learning growing but yet not converted.  This was very reminiscent of what we heard Jesus say already back in Matthew chapter 7, He said this; “Many are going to say unto me that day Lord, Lord and he is going to say, what?, I never knew you, depart from me.” and he is referring to judgement day when people stand before him and they want to get into heaven and they think that Jesus is going to cast a verdict on their behalf and say “you’re welcome, come on in.” But no, they’re cast out and they are crying out “Lord!” and he said “No, I am not your Lord, I don’t even know you.”  It’s not that he doesn’t have knowledge of them but, there’s no knowledge in an intimate personal way in a relationship with God. He says “I don’t know you, you have to get out.”

 

Don’t assume that you are in.  What are some of the reasons that people might assume.  Well in their day a lot of things were true that are still true in our day.  For instance, in their day they thought that their race – they were Jewish, that would get them in, that would be a stamp of approval on God’s behalf that you are part of God’s kingdom, because well, if you are born Jewish you are born of the Holy race, you’re one of God’s chosen people, and therefore by your birth you feel like you are in and by extension, if you are Jewish, you are part of the nation of Israel, and so they might say not only their race but their nationality guarantees them a place in heaven.  Now, today there are a lot of people in our nation that would say “I am an American” and what that means is I’m Christian, that I’m born not to a pagan race that’s far overseas that worship a false god but America is and has been known for over two hundred plus years as a Christian nation.  That was what was known in history and even though we are getting away from it now, there is still a remnant of that thought here. Well, if you are an American what does that mean? Well it means that I am a Christian but that doesn’t guarantee that you are going to be in.

 

Another thought that they had back in that day was that, if well, I’m successful, if I am financially well off, if I am a leader in my community, if I am a person of means then what they thought is that God had blessed their life and they assume that the financial blessing that came their way meant that by extension God was happy with them, God was pleased with them, therefore they must be right with God and part of God’s kingdom.  You can’t look at where you come from, you can’t look at the nation you are a part of, you can’t even look at your financial means to say well that’s the reason that I know that I am a part of the kingdom of God.  What are some other things people look at?  What about good morals? Good belief? Good practice? I’m a good person!  A lot of people they say, Well, I have Christian values, I practice the right kind of lifestyle, I don’t steal, I pay my taxes,  I don’t break the laws, am a good neighbour, I’m a good friend, I’m a good family member, I’m a good citizen and I try to do the right things.  Good morals, good beliefs, good values, great! But that’s not going to make you a part of the kingdom of God.  If it did, if any of that stuff did, then all of these persons would probably be in; but none of those were in.

 

Jesus said, unless you are converted you’re not going to get in.  Sometimes people look at their heritage, the family they are from, they look at well, mama and daddy were Christians, grandma and grand-daddy were Christians, I come from a long line of Christians, sometimes they even say something like this, “my grand-daddy was a preacher, or my mama was a missionary.”  And so they look at what’s happen in the past in their family and say “obviously, my family is a Christian family.  My family helps start a church, my family has been in the church for so long;” but you cannot look at what happen with your mama and your daddy, grandma and grand-daddy or even anyone in your past, or even anybody around you and say “well, because that’s true in their life it got to be true in my life.”

 

You cannot take one and bring it, and let it count for another. There has to be relationship in your life with Jesus, there has to be a time when you have been converted. Their conversion doesn’t count for you. When you stand before God you stand before God either with Jesus or without him; but you’re not going to stand with grand mama or grand-daddy or mommy and daddy. You’ve got to have known that time in your life where you’ve been converted, there are lot of reasons that people might think, “well, I’m okay, I’m alright. I’m in it’s a guaranteed, it’s a done deal, it’s over for me, I’m settled, I know that I am going.”  But Jesus is telling them here you need to be careful, don’t base your assumption that you’re in on the wrong thing. Can I even say that there are some that base their assumptions on where they stand with God on things that have happen in the pass and even things that they do, I go to church, I pray, I give, I’ve been baptized now that’s all about what you’ve done, it’s neither what you’re doing, it’s not about what Jesus has done for you; and there’s a big difference in that. Be careful what you based your belief in going to heaven on, even some people today would say this one “I’m not an atheist I believe in God.” You can believe in God and be lost, believing in God doesn’t make you a Christian, if it did, the devil would be a Christian, he believes, by-the-way, he goes to church too, my Bible teaches that.

 

You can memorize creeds, prayers, you can site the Lord’s Prayer, you can site Bible verses. I’ve known people that weren’t believers and they would tell me they weren’t believers and could quote Bible scriptures to me; some people today say “well, because the school I went to,” by the way the Apostle Paul that was one of the things he held on to before he became a Christian. He said “I’ve got to be one of the children of God because I’ve gone to this religious school” you can go to Christian school; you can go to Dillon Christian School, that doesn’t make you a Christian. You could go to college and take religion classes, take Old Testament, New Testament, world religion all sorts of things like that; going to class, going to school, going to the right school is not what makes you a Christian. Well, what is the thing that makes you a Christian? Well Jesus is the one that makes you a Christian, faith in Jesus is what determine whether you’re a believer or not, whether you’re a follower of Jesus, or whether you’ve truly being converted.

 

But if you’re going to truly be converted, what Jesus says is; there’s a characteristic of humility that’s found in every one that is a Christian, and without that characteristic of humility you’ll never be a Christian. So we don’t want to assume that we’re in and we don’t want to make our assumption based on things that are external to us they need to be things that are Bible centric. So let’s look at what Jesus says about humble people, he says in verse 3 he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless you are converted, you become like children you’re not going to get in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself as this child, that’s the one that’s going to get into the heaven.” So Jesus puts a child in front of him and says, “I’m going to teach you a lesson here, you need to learn about this, you need to learn from a child.” Now, a humble person is going to learn from anybody they can, a prideful person says “you can’t teach me anything” so Jesus is going to try to teach them using a child; now, what do we know about children? We do know that they’re not always humble but I don’t know that that’s the kind of lesson he’s trying to teach. I think he is saying in general, children have certain attitudes that are true about just about every one of them; for instance, children are always dependent, they’re always needy – I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I need to go to the bathroom, can I have some cool aid. I mean, they’re always asking for stuff, right? Why? Children don’t have anything, they don’t own anything, they don’t possess any…they don’t have any power; they don’t have any ability they don’t have anything to offer you, when you do something for a child do they say, “Alright, let me pay you for it? Or they say “m going to pay you back.”

 

They don’t think like that, children are…they’re small, they’re weak, they don’t have anything and they need, need, need. Something else about children, they’re pretty trusting; you ever teach your children growing up saying “listen, don’t take candy from strangers” you know why you got to teach them that? Because if someone offers them candy they’re going to take it unless you teach them. Because, why would someone do something bad to you? They’re trusting, don’t get in a car with a stranger, well, they’re trusting enough that they would do that. See, when you are childlike in your faith, you’ve got this dependence on God, this need for God, this faith and belief in God that where if God just speak to you and says, I believe, I’ll follow, I’m with you God, I’m not questioning, I’m not doubting, I’m there and I need, so you are offering and so willing. I will accept and by the way I’m not looking to pay you back for it I’ve got nothing to offer you, I’ve got no riches, I’ve got no talent, I’ve got no wealth, that’s child-like faith.

 

So let me tell you about humble people what they’re like, if he’s putting a child before you says you need to be humble like a child you need to be dependent and needing and trusting, offering noting, expecting just what is offered to you. Here’s something I thought of about humble people, people that are humble are self-aware; have you ever notice that? And by that what I mean is-they don’t think more highly of themselves than they ought to, it’s even being said that humble people don’t think of themselves at all really, it’s not about them. A humble person doesn’t think “well, I’m somebody, I’m important, I’m high and might in my own mind that because of my position, or my skills, or my abilities or my- whatever that I’m something. Now, you may be gifted and talented but you just don’t think about yourself that way so much, well you think…let’s put it this way, you’re not self-deceived, you’re not so aware of yourself in the way that you would say “I’m important and God ought to be happy to have me. I’m somebody and I could be useful to God, God would be blessed if I was part of his kingdom.” Or you’re not someone who says “I really don’t think I need God, I’m alright, I’m good, I’m fine” you know a self-aware person says “I’m a sinner, I have need of a saviour” you understand that even though there’re some good things about you there is also some very, very bad things about you that only God can fix, you’re self-aware.

 

And then you moved on beyond that and a humble person very often recognizes their own spiritual bankruptcy, when you realize the sin in your life, and you realize the position of your heart, you realized how you’ve offended God; if you examine your life you don’t come to this conclusion, “well, here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to make a deal with God, I’m going to border with God, I’m going to trade with God. God I’m going to give you my life and in exchange I expect you to give me eternal life and salvation, and so I’m going to serve God in exchange he’s going to do something for me.” Here’s what you do, you look and you put your hands in your pocket and you pull them out and you say “I got nothing, what can I give God?  I am bankrupt, I’m destitute, there is nothing in me that is worthy of God” you’re not coming to God with an attitude of “I’m something and I’m somebody and I’ve got something to offer, you come saying there is nothing God from me I just need grace. I need God to do something for me that I can’t pay him back for, I don’t deserve it but I need it, you see humble people there’s another characteristic to them, they’re repentant.

 

We use this formula like: there’s a conviction that comes in your life because you realize your sin, there’s a confession where you begin to confess the same thing that God says about you to be true, God knows what you’re like, God knows what he’s like so we were convicted by our sin, we know that God is Holy, we know that we are sinners, then we are contrite, we’re mourning, we’re grieving, we’re broken over our sin and that leads us to a desire for Christ. We want Jesus to know that everything and more than anything and that leads always to a change life; and so the desire is – the desire is for Jesus, the desire is to have Christ above anything else and so we come to God saying “God I need something I don’t have, what I need is you. I want you to be the source of all my joy, I want you to be the source of all my hope, all my dreams, everything – my passion now I want it to be for Jesus.”  And you begin to live a life of joy now because you know Jesus, you begin to live a life for Jesus, you’re life becomes different because of Jesus.

 

So that’s what happen with a humble person, a humble person…their sin hurts them, a humble person doesn’t feel valuable, a humble person feels blessed. We feel like I need God and I’m just going to trust him, I will depend on him and I’m going to call out to him; when Jesus looks at this crowd of people that come around and says “hey, who is the greatest Jesus?” here’s what he says “saved people don’t think like that” saved people said that Jesus is the greatest, I’m nothing. What about the Apostle Peter? He’s probably not the one saying this, but here’s what Peter would say, “Jesus is great, I’m just a servant. Jesus is wonderful, he’s God’s son, I’m a sinner, I’m saved by grace.”

 

Here is humility; you got to have it to get in, because a prideful person say this “I’m something and I want you to serve me,” a humble person says this; “I’m looking to serve, I’m grateful to be apart, I’m thankful for what Gods done for me.” A prideful person says, “I deserve it and I want to be great because I want people under me.” There’s a whole different attitude to a humble person that says; “I don’t deserve nothing, I’m at the bottom and if God choses to elevate me that’s just God’s grace, that you Jesus.”

 

Don’t assume you’re in – don’t assume you’re in because of anything else that’s outside of you because all those things that we mentioned to start with whether it’s your country, whether it’s your education, whether it’s your standing, whether it’s your moral, all that stuff is based on pride. All that stuff said that I have something or I have a accomplish something, it’s about I-I-I, the only thing that gets you in is Jesus and so you got to get rid of all that other stuff and put your trust only in Jesus and only a humble person does that, because a prideful person says that “my dependence is on something other than Jesus.” Jesus says that unless you are converted and become like a child you’re not going to enter, only the person that humbles himself like this child that’s the one that gets in so you need humility, was that true about you when you got saved? What is your faith in to get you to heaven? Is it Jesus and Jesus alone? How do you know that you’re a Christian? Have you assumed you’re in and maybe you’re not? Don’t assume you’re in, only humble people get in, but I will give you the last thought and then we’re done. If you’re in, you possess greatness; it’s an interesting thing that Jesus says here in verse 4 “whoever humbles himself as this child he’s the greatest.” Now he first says you can’t get in unless you humble yourself as a child and then on the flip side he turns around and says anybody who humbles himself like that child is the greatest, what does that mean? Can we all be the greatest? Well, I think this is what he means, I think there is two possibilities here and I’m going to give you both because I think they’re both true.

 

In one sense, everybody in heaven is going to experience an equality, there is going to be a greatness in everyone in heaven and it comes from Christ, it’s derived from him. Christ who give you glory, he will glorify you, he will give you eternal life the life that you have will come from him, he will give you his righteousness and so when you talk about greatness in heaven, there is going to be a glory and a life and a righteousness that we all share equally. There’s a story that we’re going to get to in Matthew 20, we will explore this a little bit later instead of today, but Jesus tells a parable to explain this he says; “there’s a guy that goes out in the morning and he’s looking to hire some people and he sees these people and he hires them early in the day. And he comes back later on in the market place and he says there is some people standing around here in the market place maybe they got there late, who knows?

 

Maybe they had to travel long distances to the market place because they were looking for work so he says “you all come on” and he puts them to work in his field, then he comes back at the end of the day and there’s another group of people they’re all standing there and they’re doing nothing and he says “well, you all come let’s get to work” now the people he started with at the beginning of the day he says “if you come work with me I’ll give you a denarius, I’ll give you a whole day’s wage” and then he hired other people, and he hired these other people who only work for one hour and at the end of the day that was over and then he gets ready to pay them at the end of the day and he tells his foreman “alright go out there and pay those people, start with the ones I hired last.” And the people that worked for one hour he pulls out a denarius and pays them a full days wage and the people that were the very first people that got hired they got so excited; they said “hey, he’s giving them a denarius I know we’re going to get big money”

 

And then he starts going down the line, and then he get to those people he hired first he gives them a denarius, it’s a day’s wage and they say “wait a minute, you gave the people that got hired last the same thing that you gave us? What’s up with that? Shouldn’t we get more?” And he said; “hey, I made a deal with you, I told you what I was going to give you. Is it not right; is it not okay for me to do with what’s mine what I want to? If I want to give them the same thing I’ve got the right to do that.” See, they were greedy in thinking they were making an assumption in thinking they should get more, you said how does that work itself out? Well, let’s think about someone that maybe get saved at the age of seven, lives 80 years for the Lord Jesus and dies; let’s think about somebody else that on their death bed in a hospital with minutes to go, with their last breath cries out to Jesus, in heaven they will have the same life, the same glory, they’ll be in equality in heaven. He’s a good God, he’s a gracious God, if he wants to give to those who have being saved for a few minutes the same thing that he wants to give to those who have for all their lived faithfully and serve Jesus, that’s what he can do if he wants to. Jesus said whoever humbles himself like this child id going to be the greatest.

 

Now I he could possibly be speaking of a hierarchy, but I don’t know that it would be the sense that in heaven we think of our self as being great, maybe he’s speaking of rewards because there is truthfully a reward that comes for the believers and some believers are going to have more rewards and greater rewards than others. One of the things Jesus teaches about it is that if you want to be the greatest you need to be a servant, and only humble people serve. If you want to know people that aren’t serving, it’s usually prideful people, people who want to be served; humble people get busy, get after it, they just believe God, they trust God, they know what God say’s, they love him and they want to serve him. So if you want to think about the greatness of reward in that sense and who would get more in heaven and who would less, who would enjoy it more, who would enjoy heaven less, if you want to think about who is even great in the kingdom of God now, whoever serving the most is the greatest, that’s what Jesus taught. And the truth is, the path to service is a path of humility, so maybe both are true, aren’t they? In heaven they will be an equality, but at the same time there will be inequality when it comes to rewards in the path for both of those is humility. Jesus teaches a powerful lesson here, don’t assume you’re in; number two, if you’re in you got in because there was a humility that came when the Holy Spirit of God broke you’re prideful heart. And if you’re in, God as by his grace given you a greatness that you could never attain on your own, and made it possible for you to achieve and greatness and rewards through a faithful humble service of our King Jesus, and that’s what he wants you to know today. Now what does he wants you to do with it? Here’s what I think he wants you to do with it, I think he wants you to examine your heart, always asking this question: “I’m I confident about where I stand with God, I’m I in?” Can I go to a time in my life when there was a brokenness and a humility that came that cause me in faith like a child to cry out to God and say “God I need you, I need Jesus, I want Jesus and I’m just by faith going to trust you” If your salvation is based on anything other than Jesus then there is a pride right there.

 

But if it’s on Jesus then here’s what you’ve got, you’ve got a humble sprit like a child that says “I just need my father to do something for me, I need my heavenly father to provide something for me and that’s what he’s talking about. And if you’re in, let me ask you is you’re path that you’re walking now path to greatness because you’re humbly serving? Or is it a path going to another direction? You need to be servant of the Lord Jesus, humbly, faithfully serving. Would you commit yourself to do that today? Let’s pray together, if you have a need this morning if you want to come to pray around the alter you could even start coming this way now, if you want to give your life to the Lord Jesus meet me at the front we’ll pray together, we can call out to God and today you can know him by faith.

 

“Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus, thank you for the word of the son of God, thank you that he didn’t mince words but it was clear and plain. He want’s people to be saved and he said it in love, but there was a group that weren’t in and they thought they were, and God you told them the truth and now he speaks to us the same way. I pray that you help us as we examine our hearts to see the truth, I pray we act in faith and I pray that you encourage us by what you’ve done for us and the great glory that you’ve given to us and that you motivate us to live a life that shows how great we think you are, how worthy we think you are in our lives and how much we believe when you say that there would be a reward. God let us live lives of faith we pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.