Will Elder H. C. Ker kindly give his views through the Signs Of The Times on the words found in Luke xviii. 17?
Hoping the friends remember me at the throne of grace,
Scotsville, Cape Breton, August 29, 1908.
The text reads as follows: “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, shall in no wise enter therein.”
We are glad to comply with the request of our friend, Mr. MacKay, as best we can. We are sorry to know of his affliction: paralysis, but glad his mind is clear and stayed upon the Lord. We also hope the spirit of reconciliation to the will of God may ever be with him. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”
The text to which our attention is called is in the midst of many sayings of Jesus which seem to clearly show its import. The chapter begins with the parable of the unjust judge, and while it was spoken to the end “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint,” the character opposite to that of a little child is clearly shown. The unjust judge was strong and opinionated, fearing neither God nor man. The second parable in the chapter was spoken concerning those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and who prayed with themselves. This is also contrary to the dependent child.
While Jesus was speaking these things they brought unto him infants, the most helpless and dependent of all living creatures, that he might touch them. The bringing of infants to Jesus was not by mere chance or accident, but in the purpose and plan of God to more fully establish the lesson in the minds of his disciples, who needed to be thus taught. Jesus had not before dealt with infants; it therefore being a new thing the disciples rebuked those who brought them, but Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” This saying was no doubt a surprise to the apostles, and they wondered what it could mean. They themselves had manifested a spirit and disposition of importance in more ways than one. The very act of rebuking those who brought the infants said, We are the important and needful ones, Jesus has no time to devote to children. At another time the apostles were disputing among themselves as to which of them should be greatest in the kingdom of God. James and John desired the most prominent places in the kingdom, and the ambition of their proud mother desired it also. Under the old covenant some men held prominent places and were reckoned as superior to others. As leaders, judges, kings and priests, it was their right to demand of others what they would, and to command the people as it pleased them and fulfilled the law, but no such thing should exist in the gospel day. No one should be above another; equality, fellowship, must be the order. Therefore Jesus sought such means of teaching his disciples as would be most effectual. On one occasion he presented himself as an example, saying, “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Notwithstanding that in him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead, his entire life, in the flesh, was that of childlike simplicity and humble-mindedness. He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.” He, the King of kings, washed the feet of men; was the friend of sinners, dwelling with the poor and needy. He never manifested the slightest feeling of anger, malice or revenge. He confessed time and again his dependence upon God. Every word he uttered, every step he took and the works he did were all of God. His dependence upon his Father brings us to consider the infant, which is utterly helpless. And except men receive the kingdom of God as little children they shall in no wise enter therein. How severe this lesson Peter must learn! He was sincere in his boasting, but was not manifesting that childlike trust and dependence. Jesus told him that at Jerusalem many things should come to pass; the Son of man must suffer and be put to death and rise again on the third day. Peter then rebuked the Lord. Again Jesus said to his disciples, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night.” “Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” And, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” In the first place Peter boasted of his power to prevent those things Jesus said should take place at Jerusalem. How strong he must have felt; how unlike an infant. In the second place he boasted of his ability to be more loving and faithful than any other one of the disciples. He felt sure he could keep alive his own soul and do whatsoever he pleased. How different from the poor, humble-minded child of God; how different from Peter himself after he had been sifted by Satan. Instead of preventing the sufferings of Jesus at Jerusalem he forsook him; instead of loving him more and being more faithful than the other disciples, he denied him even with cursing and swearing. He must have felt ashamed of himself when he realized he was doing the very opposite from what he had said he would do; but how much more ashamed and debased he felt when Jesus turned and looked upon him, not with a look of anger or disappointment, but with pity and compassion. This was Peter’s conversion from a proud, boastful man, to that of a weeping child. He then entered into the kingdom “as a little child,” which kingdom is righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost, and is entered only through tribulation. After this he could out of his own dependence and nothingness strengthen his brethren. Each vessel of mercy must have just such a sifting by Satan as Peter had, to convert them from pride, self-righteousness and arrogance. “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
In the midst of these sayings of Jesus, a certain ruler came and addressing him as “Good Master,” asked, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life! And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good! none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these things have I kept from my youth up.” In this assertion is manifested the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, which was in the law, and which must be shown to the children of God as not the righteousness of Jesus Christ our Savior. Saul of Tarsus was taught this lesson in such a way that he never forgot it, neither do we, nor did that “certain ruler.” The Savior told him he lacked one thing: “Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” That “one thing “(riches) kept him out of the kingdom of God. The poor are made rich through Christ; the poor have the gospel preached unto them; the poor are with us always, and we can do them good; the poor inherit the kingdom of heaven. The rich are independent, as was the unjust judge, having need of neither God nor man. Such self-righteous souls can no more enter the kingdom of God than can a camel go through the eye of a needle.
The law of commandments was given by Moses, not that Israel could keep it, for none but the Lamb of God could keep that law; it was given to prove them sinners in the sight of God. Likewise, Jesus did not say those things to the rich ruler that he should do them and thereby enter into the kingdom, but in order to prove him a transgressor of the law he so assuredly said he had kept from his youth up. The law said, “Thou shalt not covet,” and when Jesus told the rich man to sell all he had and distribute unto the poor, that man saw for the first time that he was guilty of the whole law because he had offended in one part. He was covetous, and could not therefore bear the thought of selling all his possessions and giving it away, hence he went away very sorrowful. Paul said, “I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, [Thou shalt not covet] sin revived, and I died,” to self-righteousness, riches. In that death he was made alive unto the righteousness of God, and from that moment he hoped to be found having it rather than the riches or righteousness which was of the law.
Except we receive the kingdom of God as little children we can in no wise enter therein. By no effort of our own can we become little children in this peculiar sense, but the Lord makes us all little children in teaching us our utter dependence upon him, and our nothingness in the flesh, for in it dwells no good thing.
We now leave the subject for the consideration of our friend, and brother we believe, hoping he may find a little here and there to encourage him that he is taught of God. K.
Editorial – Elder H. C. Ker
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76., No. 22.
NOVEMBER 15, 1908.