The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 13 : The Gospel According to MATTHEW

[Chapter 18] (Matthew 18:1-4) Those Whose Faith Is Like That of a Little Child

(Matthew 18:1-4)
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’”
 
 
Those who have too many thoughts of their own before God are evil people. In contrast, those who rely on God by faith and who follow Him simply by trusting in Him, are people of faith. To otherwise follow the Lord with thoughts, rather than the heart, is in itself evil. God abhors anyone who worships the Lord with thoughts instead of the heart. When we look at ourselves before God, what are we really capable of doing? Are we capable of doing anything right and are we even able to control ourselves? No, we can’t even control ourselves. There is a song in Korea that goes, “♪I have received a draft card, ♬even as I don’t know how to take care of myself.♪” Likewise, we have nothing that is upright before God, neither our thoughts nor our will. Before God, our will is wrong, our thoughts are wrong, and we have nothing that’s right.
In today’s Scripture passage, the Lord is speaking to us about little children. When the disciples asked, “Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” This means that in the Kingdom of Heaven, those who are like little children are the greatest. And it means that it is these child-like people who will enter Heaven. In other words, Jesus is saying here that those who humble themselves like little children can enter Heaven and that they are the greatest before God.
When we look at ourselves before God, we have only our child-like faith and hearts to be approved by God and nothing more. As far as our thoughts, our acts, and anything of our own will are concerned, we have nothing that deserves His approval. The only thing that we can present to God is our child-like spirits. What do I mean by this? I mean that when the Lord says to us, “I have saved you,” we then simply believe in Him like a little child, saying to Him, “Yes, Lord. You have indeed saved me. I believe in You.” Before God, we have nothing else to present but only our faith that is as innocent, fragile, and weak as a little child. The Lord Himself said that a child-like faith is greatest of all. 
My fellow believers, as you and I carry on our lives, when we look back and examine ourselves, we realize that we have nothing to offer to God. All that we have to offer are only blemishes. We have flaws and our thoughts are not upright either, but even so, if there is one thing that we can offer to God, it is our faith that is like a little child. That we have faith like a little child means that we believe that the Lord has blotted out all our sins in our hearts. It means that we wholeheartedly believe in what the Lord has done for us, and that we also believe in what He will do in the days to come. Apart from this child-like faith that we have placed in what the Lord has done for us, we have nothing to present to the Lord. Except for this faith, we have nothing else to offer to God. That’s because we are all imperfect. 
The Lord has saved me. He bore all my sins through His baptism, carried them to the Cross and died on it, rose again from the dead, and now sits at the right hand of the throne of God. We believe that the Lord has thus blotted out our sins. We have nothing but this faith that’s like a little child. If such child-like faith were taken away from you and me, what would we be left with? Wouldn’t we be left with just our own insufficient selves? To us the people of faith, the Lord has given a faith that’s as small as a mustard seed, and this faith is the very faith that’s like a little child, innocently believing in what the Lord has already fulfilled and achieved. We have nothing else but this faith. Indeed, this faith is all that matters to the people of God. God has given us this child-like faith. Through the Lord, we have received from God such faith that’s like a little child. Now, there can be nothing else but this faith for us. We are incapable of achieving anything to reach our salvation, and so all that we can do is just believe that our Lord has saved us from all our sins.
In today’s Scripture passage, the disciples were asking the Lord, “Before You, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of God?” Then the Lord called a little child, had him stand before the disciples, and said to them, “In the Kingdom of Heaven, whoever humbles himself like a little child is the greatest.” Who really is the greatest before God? Those who humble themselves, know themselves, and like a little child, simply accept and believe in what the Lord has done for them—these are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. In other words, those who are truly great in the Kingdom of Heaven are those who simply believe in the Word of God with the heart—that is, those who believe in what the Lord said exactly as it is are the greatest before God. 
Someone who is not like a little child before God, but far from it boasts his own iron fists like General Naaman, is not a great man. A man who is so strong that he can whip around an iron mace weighing 100 kg is not a great man, but in the Kingdom of Heaven, it is someone who is like a little child that is the greatest. My fellow believers, is there anything that we can do before God? Unless the Lord helps us, what can we really achieve? Would we be able to serve the Lord with our material possessions, unless the Lord gives them to us in the first place? Unless the Lord gives us the strength to carry out our tasks, how could we serve Him with our bodies; and unless the Lord gives us wisdom, knowledge, and the faculty of the mind, how could we think, learn, or obtain anything? How could we have any faculty on our own, unless the Lord has given it first? Whatever abilities we may have, we have them only because our Lord has granted them to us. We all are merely like small children before the Lord. I am convinced that all those who have received the remission of their sins are like small children. That’s why I rely on the Lord. 
When is it that our hearts are most comfortable and most faithful? It’s when we realize our human insufficiencies and our hearts return to that of a little child, saying to the Lord with a spirit of a child, “Lord, please help me. I can’t do anything on my own; I ask You to do all these things for me.” It is when our sprits are humble like this that we can pray to the Lord, and strong faith springs forth in us to believe that God will indeed listen to these prayers of ours. And it is then that the Lord works in our lives. All these things are possible only when our hearts become like that of a little child.
My fellow believers, what could we possibly do without the Lord? Are we really great on our own before the Lord, instead of being as fragile as little children? That’s not true, is it? All of us are indeed like small children. Everything we do, we can do it only because the Lord allows this, and it is because the Lord has saved us that we were able to believe in Him like a little child and be born again. Isn’t this the case? Of course it is. What do we really have apart from this? We have nothing. When we analyze mankind, we see that ultimately, the only thing that is salvageable is its child-like heart—that is, nothing in mankind is worthwhile but for its simple acceptance of and faith in the Word of God. Apart from this, we have nothing that is of any use at all. 
However, many people do not believe even in this. Even though the Lord said, “He who is like a little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven,” this world is filled with so many people who are like Goliath that those who are like a small child are few and far between. Even though it is these child-like people who are the greatest, we see that on this planet, there are way too many people who do not have this child-like spirit. What about you then? Do you have a child-like spirit in your heart? Do you simply believe that the Lord has saved you from all your sins, and do you wholly believe in everything that He has done for you to deliver you from your sins? If you really believe so, then you are like a little child. Are you upset to hear me saying that you are like a little child? Would you rather prefer to hear that you are like an adult? Or a young man? I hope not. It’s precisely because when you are like a little child you can believe in Jesus simply and accept Him.
However, there are many people in this world who do not have a child-like spirit. There is no need for us be insulted by the fact that we are like little children. In fact, many people are unable to believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit precisely because their spirits are not like that of a small child. After considering all on their own, such people conclude that this gospel of the water and the Spirit is not logical and reject it, saying, “If we are sinless, then we should have become holy. Since the Lord has saved us, we must have become holy. But did God really give us the spiritual blessings of Heaven and make us His children only by this method? Must salvation be received only in this way?” 
There are many people in this world whose spirits are far from that of a little child. Nevertheless, when I look at myself closely, and when I look at each and every one of our saints, I am compelled to believe that all of us are like small children. The very fact that we believe in what the Lord has done for us means that we are already little children before Him. Those who pretend to be smart would never believe in this gospel, as they are not as innocent as a little child. Such people are happy only when they can do whatever they want to do with the Word of God, adding to it, subtracting from it, or multiply it all on their own; these people do not believe in God’s Word exactly as it is. That’s why the Lord admonishes us to have the faith of a little child.
My fellow believers, I ask you to believe that you and I are like little children. You and I are no more than little children in God’s eyes. If we were indeed little children, then we would believe that the Lord has blotted out all our sins, and we would wholeheartedly believe in everything that the Lord has done for us. If this is the case for us, then we can ask the Lord for everything else. We can ask the Lord for His help. Only someone whose spirit is like that of a little child is able to pray to God, ask Him for his help, and indeed live his life with this help from the Lord. I admonish you to realize that you are a little child. Unless you are a little child, you cannot obtain the Lord’s help. What did the Lord say? He said, “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:23-24). What is the Lord trying to tell us in this passage? He is saying to us that when we ask God with a child-like faith, simply by relying on Him and trusting in Him like a little child, the Lord will work in our lives. 
We should all realize here that the Lord often spoke of such a child-like faith in the Bible, and that He made it clear that this kind of faith is the greatest of all. Yet how is your faith and mine? Do you really have this kind of faith that’s like a little child, and are you really living by faith? The Lord has already given us a child-like faith. 
Yet despite this, we often ignore this faith, saying to ourselves, “What kind of faith is this?” We let it slide by us and neglect it, and we keep looking for some great faith instead. But we can’t find any, even when we look for it. No matter how hard we think, there is nothing to present before God. Do you have something to show off to the Lord? Do you have a great faith to present to God? How could we present a great faith, when none of us has it? We have nothing to offer to God. So instead, we believe in the Lord with a child-like faith and it is by this faith that we have received the remission of our sins. We also pray to the Lord and ask for His help with this faith of a little child, and we see the work of the Lord unfolding in our lives by believing with the spirit of a little child that the Lord will indeed help us. In short, the work of faith is made possible only when our spirits are like that of a small child.
My fellow believers, faith is not something that grows automatically from the beginning. Some of you may think, “It’s been ten years since I first received the remission of my sins, so my faith must be better than yours, since you just received the remission of your sins only a year ago.” But just because you’ve been leading your life of faith for many years after being born again, this does not mean that you would have automatically become a man of great faith. Regardless of how long it’s been since you were first saved, you should realize that for all of us, our faith begins from the spiritual state of a little child. True faith is to simply believe “the Lord has saved me,” and follow Him accordingly. Faith begins when you say, “I can do nothing on my own. Help me, Lord. I believe in You.” It is from this child-like state that faith begins.
Don’t aim too high for the starting point of your faith. Instead, begin by believing that the Lord has saved you. It is from this faith of salvation that more faith will spring forward, emboldening you to ask God for other things. Faith does not stem from anywhere else. The faith that enables us to ask for God’s help and receive His answer spring forth not from a seemingly tremendous faith, but from a child-like faith. Do you believe this, my fellow believers? It is from here that faith begins. But even so, what do we actually do? We keep trying to begin our lives of faith from some place great. It’s because we aim too high for the starting point of faith that we find it so hard, if not quite impossible, to believe in the Word of God. 
While following the Lord, whenever we ask Him for something we must have no doubt. If we pray to Him with a doubtful heart, then even something that is going well would not be achieved. If, on the other hand, we pray with the spirit of a little child, then we can ask God by faith and whatever we ask will be answered. This faith is tremendously bold. When we begin with the spirit of a tiny little child by trusting in God with a child-like faith, whatever we ask and pray for with such a mindset, God will answer it all. When we have the belief that God will surely answer us and ask Him by this faith, saying, “Lord, this is so important that You cannot let it slide by. I believe that You will answer me for sure.” My fellow believers, we must lead our lives of faith with a child-like spirit.
From where can we find enough faith to pray to God? It is when we become like the spirit of a little child that our hearts can pray and we can also march forth by faith. Great faith does not just appear from the beginning, but it springs forth when our spiritual state becomes like that of a small child. We should never allow our hearts to be conceited nor be ignorant of our true selves. Instead, we must be able to recognize the Lord who has saved us, innocently accept this salvation into our hearts by faith, and begin our walk from this very faith that’s placed in His perfect salvation. If we do not begin from there, and instead start by thinking to ourselves, “I am a man of great faith,” then we will find ourselves stumbling all too often. It is my sincerest hope and prayer that you would all humble your heart. Do not think on your own that you have great faith. Instead, I admonish you to begin your life of faith from a child-like state. I ask you to humble your heart. When you return to the state of a little child’s heart, your heart will be at peace, and you will then become bold and courageous to enable you to live a life of righteousness. 
By any chance, do you often say, “I have no faith. I’m faithless?” You have no faith only because your heart is too exalted. It’s because you think that you have a great faith that you actually are at the end of your faith. I am repeating myself here, but faith begins by believing in the Word of God simply like a little child, by the faith that has saved us. If you find yourself saying, “I have no faith,” then this means that your heart is too arrogant. When we already believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that has saved us, and when we already have received the remission of our sins, how is it possible for us not to have faith? The Lord has saved us from all our sins. We believe in this with our hearts. This then means that our faith has already begun. It is from then on that we pray to God and ask for His help. When we ask the Lord for our needs, would He not answer such requests from His believers when He has saved us? Therefore, if we have the faith that has saved us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, then we are more than able to obtain the Lord’s help. As we have received the remission of our sins through our faith that’s like a little child, we are bound to also believe that when we ask the Lord for our needs that He will surely answer us. So will boldness spring forth in us. All these things will come if we start from the faith that has saved us. 
If you are trying to begin from a great faith, then this is nothing more than a reflection of your arrogance. I ask you to admit the fact that you yourself are merely a little child. You shouldn’t compare yourself to someone else, saying, “Some brothers and sisters have a greater faith than mine.” Every real faith begins from believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit and receiving the remission of sin. 
My fellow believers, I believe in God. But from where did this faith in God fundamentally begin? My faith in God began from the simple belief that the Lord has saved me from my sins, from this faith in His salvation. It is from there that my faith began. My faith did not begin from anywhere else but this faith of salvation, from believing that the Lord has saved me and that I have reached my salvation. And it is because the Lord has saved me that I am able to believe in God. So I pray to God, “Lord, I believe in You. I believe that since You have saved me, You will answer all my requests and do everything I ask from You. So Lord, answer my prayer and give me everything I ask. Do all these things for me.” What grounds do I have to pray like this? It’s because I am like a little child that I am able to pray in this way. 
We keep asking God to give us more and more, but did we entrust anything to Him to keep it for us? No, we didn’t entrust anything to the Lord, and yet we pray to Him and ask Him time after time precisely because we believe with all our hearts that the Lord has saved us and loves us. And that is why these prayers are answered. It is on account of our faith that the Lord says that we are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
My fellow believers, are we great people before God? Are we not? We are indeed great people. That is right. Since all of us have a child-like faith, we are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet when people hear what we believe in and preach, many of them ignore us, saying, “Gee, you don’t even have the basics right; you don’t know how childish your faith is.” But that’s only because these people do not know the mystery of Heaven. We speak of our salvation all of the time because of what God has done for us is the most important of all. 
Yet others do not have a child-like spirit, and so they try to have a great faith and perform great wonders. But even so, are these people able to achieve anything? No, they can’t achieve anything at all. I ask you to never forget that if anyone has been saved, then he is infallibly a little child. I admonish you all to begin your faith from such a heart that’s like a little child. And you must also remember what Jesus said here: “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” By now, you should all have realized that a child-like faith is all about believing in and following what the Lord has done for you with an innocent heart.
There is no one who can ever enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he believes in the Lord simply like a little child and in what the Lord has done for him, saying, “Lord, You did all these things to save me. Yes, I believe in You.” My fellow believers, do you believe with an innocent child-like heart that the Lord has blotted out all your sins and mine to save us? None other than this, my fellow believers, is a great faith. It is the very faith that enables us to receive all the spiritual blessings of Heaven. It is the very faith that gives us the right to inherit the Kingdom of God. By no means is this faith small. Such faith—that is, to believe like a little child and say to God, “Lord, You took away all my sins. I believe in You”—is what makes it possible for us to have all the blessings of Heaven. This faith is no ordinary faith. It is exceedingly great. There is no faith that is greater than this. Is there any faith that’s greater than this? There is no faith in this world that is greater than the faith which believes that Jesus has saved us from our sins by taking upon all our sins with His baptism and bearing our condemnation with His death on the Cross. This is not a trivial belief that can just be ignored.
By any chance, is there anyone among our saints who thinks of faith and his relationship with God while setting aside this faith, without wholeheartedly believing that the Lord has blotted out all his sins? My fellow believers, do not set this faith aside. Your heart’s belief that the Lord has saved you is the greatest faith of all. I ask you, all the saved people, to keep this faith, and to take it as the foundation to begin your lives of faith. Now that you have been saved, do not just throw away this faith and turn your back to it. Believe that all blessings begin from this faith in the gospel of salvation. Do not neglect this faith, for it is by this faith that you can receive and enjoy all blessings from above.
My fellow believers, I believe in God. My faith in God began from the belief that the Lord has blotted out all my sins. My faith in all the work of the Lord, His power, and His every profound promise for my present life and future life all stems from the belief that the Lord has saved me. Because I believe in this, He will work on the rest of my life. But if the Lord has not saved me, then I wouldn’t be able to believe in all His work. How could I believe in Him? On what basis could I believe? It would be impossible. To believe without any basis is in itself an act of a madman. What is clear, however, is that the Lord has blotted out all my sins. Because I believe in this unwaveringly like a little child, I also believe in all the rest of God’s work. That is why I call on God by faith and live out my faith. Are you also like me? 
Faith begins by asking with persistence. The Bible shows us an example of such faith. Someone had a visitor, but he didn’t have anything to treat him. So he went to a friend’s house and knocked on the door. It was late in the night. His friend was not too pleased with him knocking on the door late in the night, but when he heard his request, saying, “I have a visitor at my home, and so can you please give me something to treat him?” he gave his friend what he wanted, as he could not ignore his friend’s ardent request, even though he felt too lazy to get out of the bed. The Lord said, “I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs” (Luke 11:8). 
Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11) My fellow believers, it is from here that every true faith begins. Do you believe unquestionably that the Lord has saved you and that you have become a child of God? Does your heart really and simply believe that the Lord has saved you? If you believe in this absolutely, then your faith is a tremendous faith, for this faith is what makes you God’s child, whose requests are answered by God. Anyone who believes that Jesus Christ has saved him has already begun his life of faith. He is now someone who lives by faith. Do you believe in this, my fellow believers? 
I admonish you all to never forget that God has saved us, to never forget the faith that enables each and every one of us to be saved. Treasure your life and live by this faith. Do not throw it away in neglect in your attempt to find another faith. Instead, believe that your life of faith begins from a simple faith like that of a little child, thank the Lord for giving you this child-like faith, and praise the Lord who has given us this faith.