A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Children Are The Greatest

 

Matthew 17 is the pinnacle of this gospel in the sense of revealing the Divine identity of Jesus. At the sight a pretty strong impression seems to have been left on Peter, James and John (17:4-6). When the disciples followed Jesus down from the Mount of Transfiguration they must have been further impressed with Jesus’ healing of the demon possessed boy (17:14-21), Jesus’ reemphasizing of His mission and purpose to go to the cross (17:22-23), and that even though Jesus had been transfigured, He was still interested and able to help the disciples in practical ways, such as paying their debts (17:24-27). But just how impressed were they?

 

“Who Then Is The Greatest In The Kingdom of God?”

 

Matthew 18:1 – “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”   [1]

Even though Peter, James and John had seen the Lord transfigured, (and had undoubtedly shared their experience with the other disciples), and even though they had seen Jesus perform countless miracles, teach with a unique authority and speak of His mission; even though the disciples saw all of this, they were still consumed by their fleshly, self-centered, self-serving, proud  attitudes.

 

Perhaps when Peter, James and John had shared what they saw with the other disciples who had been left at the foot of the mountain, the ones left below became angry and jealous. But I can also imagine that Peter, (especially Peter) did not share what he had seen in a very humble way either. Can’t you just see him saying, “Ahem, well, let me tell you guys who were left below what we who ascended on high with the Master, what we saw.” There were no innocent parties in this dispute that opens chapter eighteen.

 

It’s no accident that Jesus responds to the disciples’ question by calling over a little child to make His point. Jesus tells the disciples that children are the greatest. There are certain qualities that children have that every disciple should have. But there are also certain things that children have that no disciple should have. In Matthew eighteen Jesus is teaching that we should be like a child, but not childish.

 

 

Children Are The Greatest

Matthew 18:2-5 – “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,3 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.4 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.5 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”   [2]

It is amazing how many study this portion of scripture and simply glance over the fact that Jesus goes out of His way to say children are the greatest. Unless we recognize the prominent place of children in the ministry of Jesus, we will miss out on the substance of what He says in this chapter.

It’s interesting that the chapter begins with the disciples disputing over which of them is the greatest (see parallel in Luke 9:46-48). They were all puffed up with a look-at-me mentality. They thought they were the shinning examples of what a disciple of Jesus should be. Jesus said something quite different. Jesus said we have to look at children to understand greatness. And indeed, to be a disciple and know what a disciple is, we have to look at children.

Like a little child

Why did Jesus choose a little child to illustrate who the greatest would be in His kingdom? Probably because of the nature of children. Children demonstrate natural qualities in their early stages of development that are qualities the disciple needs to have in order to be a disciple useable to God. What are these qualities?

Children are sincere. Ever see a child try to tell a lie, they just can’t hide their feelings. Children have not learned to hide their feelings like adults have, they where their feelings out in the open. Children don’t cover up things, they can’t cover up things, and it’s not in their nature, yet. Children are honest. My children have loved Jesus from a very young age. Jesus is the Head of our home and family. To them, to talk about Jesus was second nature. That created some interesting situations when guests came over. No matter who the people were who came over to our home, our kids would go up to them, climb on their lap and it wouldn’t be long before they asked, “Do you have Jesus in your heart?” The Spirit used our children on a number of occasions in such ways. Children are sincere, they’re honest, and we should be too.

Children are sensitive. Children know when you’re upset with them. You can try to hide your feelings, but they can see what you say in your countenance. Children are perceptive. If I get discouraged around my kids, I may try to hide it, but they see it and usually try to cheer me up. That’s the way kids are.

Children are simple. Things are pretty much black and white for kids. A kindergarten class went on a field trip to their local post office. Once there they were given a tour and the postmaster showed the children the area of the post office where the FBI’s 10 most wanted felon’s list was. One of the children stared at the photos and then turned to the post master and asked, “Those are criminals right?” The postmaster said they were. “They’re bad guys, right?” “Yes,” said the postmaster. “Then why didn’t you just keep them when you tool their pictures?” the child said. Children are simple, they see things simply.

Now to be sincere, sensitive and simple as a child does not mean to be childish and we will discuss this later, but we should adopt childlike qualities to be great in the kingdom of heaven. The psalmist brings this out when he writes:

  • Psalm 131:1-3 – “1 Lord, my heart is not haughty, Nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, Nor with things too profound for me.2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.”  [3]

A “weaned child,” is not an infant screaming for milk or something else. A weaned child is a child who is growing to trust and know his or her parents. That’s how we should be. [4]

What do children teach us about Jesus?

Matthew 18:2 – “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,”  [5]

Have you ever watched children interact with adults? Children won’t go to just anyone. If someone is cold, hard, scary, uncaring, aloof and dull, a child won’t go to him or her. Children go to people who are fun; people who they can sense have a sincere love and interest in them. When Jesus called a little child, the child came to Him, that shows us that Jesus was warm, loving, sensitive, fun and someone a child would go to. Jesus is not the dull and unapproachable Person that He is often pictured to be. Jesus must have had some fun qualities and compassionate qualities for a child to come to Him when He called him or her to Himself.

What does Jesus teach us about discipleship through children?

What was Jesus trying to teach the disciples when he pointed them to children to understand greatness? Let’s see what we can learn from looking at children.

First, children teach us we need to be born again. Jesus 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” (18:3). The word “converted” is translated from the Greek term STREPHO (Strong’s #4762) meaning, “to turn; to turn around: to turn one’s self from one’s course of conduct, i.e. to change one’s mind.” [6] It is a word similar to repentance. The phrase, “little children,” is translated from the one Greek term PAIDIA (PAIDION – Strong’s #3813) which means, “a young child: a little child; little ones; infants.” [7] Jesus is therefore pointing the disciples to the fact that they need to become like a newborn child; they need to be born again. The kingdom of God cannot be entered without this rebirth based on a conversion, a faith that is characterized by repentance.

John Wesley used the imagery of birth to describe the nature of conversion when he said:

“Before a child is born into the world he has eyes, but sees not; he has ears, but does not hear. He has a very imperfect use of any other sense. He has no knowledge of any of the things of the world, or any natural understanding. [But]  . . .   as soon as he is born, he begins to see the light, and the various objects with which he is encompassed. His ears are then opened, and he hears the sounds, which successively strike upon them. At the same time, all the other organs of sense begin to be exercised upon their proper objects. He likewise breathes, and lives in a manner wholly different from what he did before. How exactly doth the parallel hold in all these instances?  While a man is in a mere natural state, before he is born of God, he has in a spiritual sense, eyes and sees not; a thick impenetrable veil lies upon them; he has ears, but hears not; he is utterly deaf to what he is most of all concerned to hear. His other spiritual senses are all locked up; he is in the same condition as if he had them not. Hence he has no knowledge of God no intercourse with him; he is not at all acquainted with him.  He has no true knowledge of the things of God, either of spiritual or eternal things; therefore, though he is a living man, he is a dead Christian. But as soon as he is born of God, there is a total change in all these particulars. The ‘eyes of his understanding are opened’ . . .  and he who of old ‘commanded light to shine out of darkness’  shining on his heart, he sees the light of the glory of God, his glorious love, ‘in the face of Jesus Christ’. His ears being opened, he is now capable of hearing the inward voice of God, saying ‘Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee’ and ‘Go and sin no more.’ . . .  He feels ‘the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him’; and all his spiritual senses are then exercised to discern spiritual good and evil . . . And now he may be properly said to live: God having quickened him by his Spirit, he is alive to God through Jesus Christ.” -  John Wesley (1703-1791)4

 

Children teach us that we need to be born again.

 

Second, children teach us to humbly depend upon God for all things. Jesus said, ““Therefore   whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”(18:4)  Just as an infant is totally dependent upon their parent to feed, clean, and care for them, so should the born again Christian depend entirely upon God for his or her needs. The word “humble” (TAPEINOO – Strong’s #5013) means, “to make low; bring low; to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances. “ [8] Here to be humble means to be dependent, it means to step aside and let God take over. John the Baptist conveyed this when he commented on the transition from a ministry focused on him because he was preparing the way for Jesus to a ministry where he stepped aside so the focus could move from him to Jesus. John said:

 

  • John 3:30 - “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  [9]

 The apostle Paul also spoke of this humility and described it in terms of being like Jesus. Paul was inspired to write:

  • Philippians 2:5-8 – “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  [10]

Later Paul wrote of this humility in very practical terms when he was inspired to write:

  • Philippians 4:12-13 – “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  [11]

Paul was totally trusting in the Lord regardless of his circumstances.

If we look a little further at humility in terms of what Jesus taught about it we see that to be humble is not to think less of yourself but simply not thinking of yourself. Remember in the previous chapter how Jesus said that a requirement to follow Him was to “deny himself”? That is humility. Sometimes by thinking less of ourselves we actually do it for self-serving purposes, to look humble before others. When we do that we aren’t being humble, we’re being proud.

Humility is a must because God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:6). Read a few verses on the importance of humility:

  • Proverbs 16:18-19 – “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.”  [12]
  • Proverbs 22:4-6 – “By humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches and honor and life.5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; He who guards his soul will be far from them.6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”  [13]
  • Isaiah 57:15 – “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”  [14]
  • Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”  [15]
  • John 13:14-15 -  “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.15 “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”  [16]
  • Ephesians 4:1-3 – “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  [17](See Colossians 3:12-13)
  • 1 Peter 5:5-6 – “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 1 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,”  [18]

Children teach us to be humbly dependent upon God.

Third, children teach us the need to receive. Jesus said, “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”  (18:5). When Jesus says to receive a child, “like this,” in a sense Jesus is saying that to receive this truth learned through observing children, is to learn how to receive Me. Also, to receive Jesus is to receive Him like a child.  Jesus and salvation cannot be earned or worked for, Jesus and salvation can only be received. John wrote:

  • John 1:12-13 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” [19]

Children are the greatest; they teach us that we need to be born again, that we need to be humble, and that we need to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Children Are Guarded By Jesus

Matthew 18:6-10 -  “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.7 “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!8 “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire.9 “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire. 10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”[20]

Jesus doesn’t just use children to teach important lessons about discipleship. Jesus takes particular interest in the welfare of children. Jesus acknowledges the inevitability of sin when He says, “For offenses must come” (18:7b). But a more severe judgment will be delivered upon those who bring or initiate the offenses (18:7c). Jesus said that the one who, “causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin,” (18:6), would be better off if they tied a millstone around their neck and threw themselves into the ocean and drowned. In other words, there is no escape for those who attack, abuse or victimize children.

Because of the severity of bringing offenses to children, Jesus says the one who is tempted to bring offenses against children should take drastic action. Jesus uses hyperbole to emphasize the necessity of taking action to avoid offending children by saying that the potential offender should go so far as to pluck out eyes and cut off limbs if that’s what it takes to prevent them from harming children. Such a sin and its consequence on the victim and the offender requires we do whatever it takes to avoid it happening. He says it would be better to enter heaven missing an eye or a limb than to be cast into hell for offending one of these little ones (18:8-9).

Jesus warns against “despising” (KATAPHRONEO – Strong’s # 2706) children (18:10). The sense here is, “to contemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of” children. [21] Jesus is a Defender of children. He also warns, “for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (18:10). This verse supports the thought that children have guardian angels. The Bible doesn’t speak at length about guardian angels for children or anyone else, but Jesus seems to allude to it here. Angels serve as protectors (Psalm 91:11; Acts 12:7). They can look in on our worship services (1 Corinthians 11:10. And they will separate the sheep from the goats at the return of Jesus (Matthew 13:41; 24:31).

Jesus cares for everyone single child. Jesus came to save children (18:11). He likens Himself  to a Shepherd who cares for every single sheep, even seeking them out when they go astray (18:12). Jesus rejoices over every child, every person who is brought back into His fold (18:13). It is not God’s will that any child or any person perish (18:14).

Charles Francis Adams, 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!" The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one's ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly.  [22]

Children are precious to Jesus, and they should be precious to us too.

“Woe to the world because of offenses!” (18:7)

We live in a world that targets children. Jesus says “woe,” which is another way of saying, “Look out!” those who target children to exploit them or use them, or simply dismiss their importance and value, should look out. Those who disregard the value of children are putting their hands on people Jesus sees as very valuable and dear to Him. The following article is an example of just such disregard:

A-C-L-U to represent group that advocates sex between men and boys

By Associated Press, 8/31/2000 07:34

BOSTON (AP) The American Civil Liberties Union will represent a group that advocates sex between men and boys in a lawsuit brought by the family of a slain 10-year-old boy.

The family of Jeffrey Curley of Cambridge said the North American Man/Boy Love Association and its Web site which is now offline incited the murder of the boy Oct. 1, 1997.

One of two men convicted in the killing, Charles Jaynes, 25, of Brockton, reportedly viewed the group's Web site shortly before the killing, and also had in his possession some of NAMBLA's publications. Also convicted in the killing was Salvatore Sicari, 24, of Cambridge.

The ACLU said the case, filed in federal court in mid-May, involves issues of freedom of speech and association.

''For us, it is a fundamental First Amendment case,'' John Roberts, executive director of the Massachusetts branch of the ACLU, told The Boston Globe for Thursday's editions. ''It has to do with communications on a Web site, and material that does not promote any kind of criminal behavior whatsoever.''

ACLU officials said NAMBLA members deny encouraging coercion, rape or violence.

Attorney Lawrence Frisoli, of Cambridge, who represents the Curleys, said he is glad the ACLU is defending NAMBLA, because he has had trouble locating the group's members.

ACLU board member Harvey Silverglate said that the group's attorneys will try to block  attempt by the Curleys to get NAMBLA's membership lists, or other materials identifying members. He cited U.S. Supreme Court cases from the 1960s that protected the NAACP's civil rights activities in the south.

The ACLU also will act as a surrogate for NAMBLA, allowing its members to defend themselves in court while remaining anonymous.

NAMBLA officials in the past have said their main goal is the abolition of age-of-consent laws that classify sex with children as rape.

At two separate trials last year, prosecutors said Jaynes and Sicari suffocated, murdered and molested the boy before stuffing his body into a concrete-filled container and dumping it into a Maine river.

Aug. 23, the Curleys were awarded $328 million by a Middlesex Superior Court jury in a civil suit against Jaynes and Sicari.

It is mind-boggling and hard to comprehend the reasoning and seared conscience of those who would protect a pedophile’s “rights” to use and abuse children. But such is the case in our world today.

A word on child abuse

Before I went full time in ministry as a pastor I worked eleven years in the foster care system. I saw first hand the abuse of all kinds that adults and even older children can impose upon the little ones. The sinful nature of human kind is nowhere more evident than in the dark recesses of child abuse. I realize that many who are abusers may have been abused themselves, but that is a poor excuse for keeping the cycle of abuse going. Abusers of children ought to take heed of the “woe” pronounced by Jesus upon such of their ilk. Those who persist in abusing children would be better off tying a millstone around their necks and throwing themselves into the deepest part of the sea. But having said that, the cross of Christ can bring healing, forgiveness and salvation even to those who offend in such a despicable way. No sin is too great that the cross-work of Jesus is not powerful enough to overcome it. Repent, be converted, be born again, and God will mend the brokenness, the betrayal, the fears, the anger, all that comes with such abuse. The blood of Jesus Christ is able to cleanse the sinner of “ALL” sin (1 John 1:7,9).

The one behind child abuse (Satan)

We saw this in our earlier study of Matthew when in chapter two Herod orders the murder of the innocent children (Matthew 2:16-23). The devil is a murderer and he will especially seek to murder children:

  • John 8:44 -  “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”  [23]

In Matthew 17 Jesus healed a boy who was demon possessed and the description of the boy’s ailment was as follows:

 

  • Matthew 17:15 - “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.”  [24]

The word “epileptic” is translated from the Greek term SELENIAZETAI derived from SELENIAZOMAI (Strong’s #4583) meaning, “moonstruck; lunatic.” The word is translated “epileptic” because it is believed by some that people of Jesus day associated epileptic-like seizures with the phases of the moon. The context demonstrates that what ailed the boy was not merely a physical ailment but a demonic attack that pushed the boy to suicidal acts of trying to burn or drown himself. That these actions were demonic are attested to by verses 18 in which Jesus cast out a demon from the boy:

 

  • Matthew 17:18 – “And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.”  [25]

Someone is trying to kill the children and that someone is Satan. Can there be any doubt that Satan is deeply involved with suicide, the self-destruction of human beings who hold the image of God (though tarnished by sin) and especially amongst the children who are so dear to God. Satan is an evil maniacal being out to dethrone God and hurt Him in any and every way possible. What better way for Satan to accomplish this task than to attack the children who are so dear to the Father? Satan is the one behind all attacks on children. The child abuser, the abortionist, the one who harms a child in any way has given a foothold to Satan and is under his influence.

Matthew 18 gives us insight into Jesus’ love of children and He seeks to protect and guard them against satanic influence and attack. If you think children’s ministry is unimportant, just take a look at this chapter. Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. As far as Jesus is concerned, children are the greatest.  

A word on Harry Potter

Such attacks on children are repulsive because of their blatant unashamed pursuit of children as prey. But there is a more form of attack upon children and that is seen in the media. At the time of this writing the blockbuster movie that has shattered all previous records is debuting. The movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is based on the best selling Harry Potter books. Some applaud the books as a means to get children to read. But the substance of the book and the movie is an attack on children. Why do I say this? Because the contents of this series of books and the movie are diametrically opposed to the truth of God’s word.

God tells us to have nothing to do with witchcraft or related occult things:

  • Deuteronomy 18:9-12 - “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations.10 “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,11 “or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead.12 “For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.”  [26]

You may view Harry Potter and its contents as “innocent” or “harmless” fun, but God doesn’t. God abhors witchcraft and occultic practices and calls them abominable to Him. If we are His disciples, shouldn’t we say the same? And even if we are uncertain of such things, shouldn’t we be more protective of the children that God holds so dear and precious?

If you causally dismiss the Harry Potter material, keep in mind that God does not. This causal dismissal of evil is nothing new. The people of God in the past dismissed evil and overlooked it at times and even went so far as to call evil good and good evil. And that led to their captivity and loss of blessing. Read what the Old Testament prophets were inspired by God to say in this regard:

  • Jeremiah 7:24 - “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.”  [27]
  • Isaiah 5:20-21 – “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!”  [28]

The psalmist prayed that God would help him turn him away from worthless things:

  • Psalm 119:37 – “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.”  [29]

Now you might be thinking, “Wait a minute, Harry Potter isn’t worthless.” But what godly truth, what light from God can come through the darkness of these books? Occult and witchcraft are often packaged in light but when opened lead to the depths of darkness. The Bible tells us to guard against such things when it states:

  • Romans 1:28-32 – “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  [30]
  • Romans 12:9 – “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”  [31]
  • Ephesians 5:8-21 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.14 Therefore He says: 1 “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  [32]
  • Colossians 2:8-10 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  [33]

Is Harry Potter harmless or something worth avoiding? Read the following excerpt taken from the Crossroads website of Berit Kjos about the effect of Harry Potter:

By age ten, Jacqui K. was fascinated with anything supernatural. Since her parents set no limits, she read every fiction and fantasy book she could find on the magical world she craved. In her imagination, she met wizards and witches, power and excitement. 

"I continued reading Harry Potter-type books through grade school, high school and into college," she says. "Three to five a week! The older I got, the easier they were to find.  The whole time I considered myself a Christian! If someone had pointed out to me what I was doing, I would have laughed. I was a normal teenager and a leader in my church group."

The mystical characters in her fantasy world filled her thoughts during the day and her dreams at night. But when some of them began talking to her, she recognized the power she had pursued:

"I cried out to God to help me, and He did. The voices stopped. I was no Bible scholar, but I recognized that they were from Satan. Some people said that I became delusional because I couldn't separate fantasy from reality. They were wrong. The problem was that I COULD, and had no idea that reading fiction could put me in contact with REAL evil.

"Thirty years ago, I had to search for those kinds of books, but now they're everywhere. The fantasies I craved then were extreme, but now the child who stays away from occult books is the exception. I fear that what happened to me is happening to more and more Christian children. I can speak with authority on the dangers of straying into territory that God forbids."

Jacqui discovered what most teenagers deny: Popular fiction communicates images and suggestions that take root in the reader's mind and imagination. The more gifted the author, the more seductive the suggestions. J. K. Rowling, a master at her craft, inspires children to read her books again and again. Each mental immersion into Harry's exciting world strengthens the reader's identification with its characters. To many, this imagined world of occult empowerment soon feels as familiar as the real world -- yet far more thrilling.”

There is good reason why God instructed His people to stay away from occult things such as Harry Potter. Things like Harry Potter provide openings through which the demonic enter the lives of those partaking therein. Don’t listen to those who say Harry Potter is harmless, because it isn’t.

The Seeking Shepherd

Matthew 18:11-14 - “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.12 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?13 “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.14 “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”  [34]

Jesus described Himself as a Shepherd (see John 10). By looking at the way Jesus explains Himself here we can learn a lot about Him, His heart. In these verses Jesus is seen as a Seeking Shepherd. Now Jesus is speaking in particular about His attitude toward children (18:14), but His sentiments toward the lost in general can be applied here. There are four important attributes of Jesus as the Seeking Shepherd.

First, Jesus the Seeking Shepherd has come to save the lost. Jesus states His primary purpose is to come and save the lost (18:11). This tells us that there are those who are lost, who are outside of the fold of God. You may be thinking that you’re all right; you don’t know God personally; you don’t go to church much; you don’t read your Bible or pray; but you think you’re all right. God and His word say you are “lost.” Without Jesus you are groping for meaning, purpose and reality in life. Jesus came to turn the light on and dispel your darkness.

Second, Jesus the Seeking Shepherd loves us unconditionally. Jesus seeks after the sheep that, “goes astray” (18:12). Notice Jesus doesn’t require the lost sheep to turn back to Him first, He goes out after the straying sheep. That is grace; God taking the initiative to save the lost (see Romans 5:8).

Third, Jesus the Seeking Shepherd loves us individually. This is made crystal clear here; Jesus goes out after “the one”(18:12).  Did you ever stop to realize that Jesus loves you as though you were the only one in existence? Think about that, Jesus would have gone to the cross if you were the only one who would be saved. That’s how great and that’s how acute His love is. Jesus loves us individually. So often we lose the quality of God’s love in the sea of His love for everyone in the world. But God, Jesus, loves us as though we were the only one. That is fantastic; that’s what a personal relationship with Jesus is all about.

Fourth, Jesus the Seeking Shepherd loves us emotionally. Like the shepherd who finds the lost sheep, Jesus rejoices over you when you are found and brought back into His fold (18:13). Jesus is not a stuck up stern religious Person who is cold and emotionless. No, Jesus is full joy and what brings Him the greatest joy is when one who has gone astray has been found and brought home.

Children Grow - Don’t Be Childish

Thankfully, Jacqui in the previous article was mature enough to recognize the evil content of the material she was exposing herself to. There are certain things about the nature of children which should not be adopted by adults such as the following Property Laws of a Toddler

1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.

Unfortunately, that’s how we could describe many grownups. It’s sad when people don’t grow up and it is especially sad when believers don’t mature in their relationship with the Lord.

The following Bible stories were written by children and are genuine, authentic and unretouched. They illustrate the mind of a child in trying to grasp the things of God.

 

·         In the first book of the Bible, Guinness's, God got tired of creating the world, so He took the Sabbath off. Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark, which the animals came on to in pears. Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.

 

·         The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals. Samson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah. Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles.

 

·         Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened  bread, which is bread made without any       ingredients. The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Amendments. The First Commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple. The Fifth Commandment is to humor thy father and mother. The seventh Commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.

 

·         Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol. The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.

 

·         David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times.  Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

 

·         Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you. He also explained, "Man doth not live by sweat alone."

 

·         The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels. The epistles were the wives of the apostles. One of the opossums was St. Matthew who was, by profession, a taximan.

 

·         St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage. A Christian should have only one wife.  This is called monotony.[35]

Now these statements may be comical, but if you’re an adult Christian and you find yourself agreeing with these statements, there’s a real problem in your spiritual walk. Unfortunately, some believer’s beliefs are not much different than these confused childish thoughts. 

Putting away childishness

The apostle Paul was inspired to warn those at the Corinthian church against being childish when he wrote:

  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 – “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”  [36]
  • 1 Corinthians 14:20 – “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.”  [37]

Elsewhere in the New Testament it states:

  • Ephesians 4:11-15 – “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—“  [38]
  • Hebrews 5:13-14 – “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  [39]

In all of these passages we see that there are certain aspects of childhood that we should not adopt. When Jesus exhorted us to be like children, He didn’t mean we should be childish. Children grow, they mature both physically and mentally. They learn to read and write and interact with those around them. They learn to be independent in the sense that they learn how to be responsible members of society. That is, if they are not delayed in any way. Babies are the cutest people, but only if seen in light of growth. Babies cease to be cute when they do not grow or mature. A twenty year old baby is not cute but in many ways tragic, (which is not to imply that God does not bless others through them in such instances). The point here is, we need to accept Jesus as a child and always depend upon Him as a child, but we need to mature in our walk with Jesus.

Two Childish Attributes

There are two very childish and immature attributes that creep into the lives of believers that expose a lack of maturity in their faith. Jesus mentions these two childish attributes to the disciples so as to show them their need to mature in their faith. What are these two immature and childish attributes?

Sloppy Agape

Matthew 18:15-20 - “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’17 “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”   [40]

Like a child who does not pick up after him or her self; like a child afraid of peer pressure; and like the child plays sick to stay home from school to escape a test or a bully; so is the disciple who does not deal with sin. Jesus tells us that when someone sins against you, be a grownup, be mature, and go and speak to him or her about it (18:15). Don’t brood, or gossip, or sweep it under the rug where it festers and grows into a monster that rises up against you later. Jesus tells us to address sinfulness as soon as it rears its head.

Notice too that Jesus doesn’t sugar coat the problem, He calls it what it is, sin. The word translated “sin” here comes from the Greek term HAMARTIA (Strong’s #264) meaning, to miss the mark; to offend; to trespass; to cross over the line; “to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong.” [41] When someone steps over the line against you, you need to take action.

Jesus gives us very clear steps to addressing sin. First, go one on one to the offender and tell them what they have done (18:15).  Jesus said that if they listen the tension between you and them will be relieved and reconciliation secured. But notice, whether or not the offender listens or agrees or accepts what we say, we are to go, we are to initiate the process. If we don’t go to them, reconciliation may have no hope at all. Unless contact is made, there is no hope at all.

Second, if the offender “will not hear,” or will not respond to your efforts, take one or two others with you as witnesses (18:16). Don’t put yourself in a situation where it is your word against the other person’s. Take witnesses with you. But there is a more important reason to take one or two others with you than merely protecting your back. I believe Jesus instructed us to take one or two in a second effort to keep both parties honest. It’s much harder to taint an account or speak in half-truths when objective parties are there to witness what is being said. Furthermore, one or two others may bring in counsel that the two opposing parties might not have considered.

Third, if the offender does not respond to you, and those you bring with you, tell it to the church (18:17). There is nothing that will divide and destroy a church faster than gossip. The church needs to be informed so that infectious propaganda is not used to get people to side with one opposing party or the other (see Paul versus Apollos in 1 Corinthians 3). If the person refuses to hear even what the church is saying to them, then they are to “be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

Binding and Loosing

Matthew 18:18 -  “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” [42]

The authority to resolve differences between “brothers” is rested in the church leadership in this final stage attempting to deal with sin in the camp (18:18). The church that has Christ as its Head has the authority and truth to bind and loose, to hold people accountable for their sin, and to set them free from sin in the sense that the Spirit proclaims and confirms the truth of God’s word in their midst.

“I am there in the midst of them”

Matthew 18:19-20 - “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”    [43]

The idea that Jesus is in the midst, or present with, two or three who gather in His name, is often taken out of the context of this chapter. The immediate context for these words is that of reconciliation between opposed parties. Two people such as husbands and wives, two family members, two friends, any two people who are willing to come together in Jesus’ name to resolve their differences, can be assured that Jesus will be there with them in the effort. This is very encouraging because Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). When two people are willing to leave their perceived “rights” behind and come submissively before Jesus to resolve issues by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), then no obstacle is too great to overcome. To come together in the name of Jesus means to lay our will and rights aside and submit to His will and way. Remember what the apostle Paul was inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  [44]

Before we rush off to the secular or even the Christian human counselor, our first move should be to get together prayerfully before the Wonderful Counselor Jesus and see what He would have us to do.

As a pastor I have been called in to mediate many a difference between parties, (sometimes differences which include myself with another person). When I enter into such ministry situations I always pray for the Wonderful Counselor to do His work, to reveal His will. Jesus always does reveal His will. People are not always willing to receive the will of Jesus and have to bottom out in their own self-willed ways, but Jesus always intercedes and is willing to work with those who come before Him in His name.

Jesus doesn’t want us to partake in sloppy agape, or sloppy love in the church. Love does not glance over or ignore sin; it addresses sin and encourages the overcoming of sin. Love seeks to overcome evil with good and takes the initiative to do so. Love does not condone sin, it sees to it’s cleansing from sin. The mature way to handle differences and problems with others is to take the initiative in resolving them and prayerfully come before Jesus, the Wonderful Counselor.

 

Unforgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35 – “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.24 “And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.25 “But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.26 “The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’27 “Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’29 “So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’30 “And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.31 “So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.32 “Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.33 ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’34 “And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”   [45]

As these words of Jesus show, unforgiveness is rooted in the lack of appreciation for Christ's cross work. Peter came to Jesus asking how often should he forgive an offender. Peter probably thought he was being generous in saying, “up to seven times?” (18:21). But Jesus surely blew him and the other disciples away when He said, “seventy times seven,” or an infinite amount of times, as often or as many times as it takes. Jesus then goes on to use a parable to explain why we should always be ready to forgive.

The point of Jesus parable is simply this, if we have been forgiven our great debt by God, how much more should we be willing to forgive the comparatively lesser offenses of those here on earth? The servant in the parable who was forgiven his great debt did not take it to heart in a way that led to application in his life with others (18:23-30). When word of such an injustice was passed on to the king, the unmerciful servant was called in to answer for his lack of forgiveness (18:31-35).

One of the worst characteristics of a child is selfishness and self-centeredness. Many parents do not address such behavior as sin, they simply let it go and the child grows more and more self-centered as a result. Selfishness in any form wherever you find it, is sinful. Not we don’t thrash a child for saying “mine,” when he or she plays with others, we teach them sharing. If children are given too much they often miss out on properly gauging value. Children need to learn appreciation.

Those who refuse to forgive others are acting childishly in that they are shortsighted as to their own forgiveness by God. The person who does not forgive does not have a true sense of their own offense and forgiveness before God. Read what the apostle Paul was inspired to write in this regard:

  • Ephesians 4:25-32 – “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,27 nor give place to the devil.28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”  [46]

Jesus ties it all together by saying forgiveness is not just lip service, it must be “from the heart” it must be sincere (18:35). Children fake things, the mature are sincere.

It’s All About Love

One of the greatest chapters in all of Scripture is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian believers. In this letter he addresses the needs of a very gifted but childish and carnal church. The pinnacle of his discussion on spiritual maturity is the well-known chapter on love. In this chapter he speaks about how loving occurs when we put away childish things:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  [47]

To grow up is to love; to love enough to deal with sin; to love enough to forgive. If we are maturing in our walk with the Lord, then we will see more and more the evidence and outgrowth of love, 1 Corinthians 13 Agape (the Greek term translated “love” here) love in our lives. Childishness is seen in selfishness. Christian maturity is seen in love.

Conclusion

Children are the greatest. Jesus said so and told us why. We can learn so much about being a disciple by looking at children. Children are precious to Jesus. There is a poem by Amy Carmichael that expresses the prayer we should pray for our children:

Father, hear us, we are praying.
Hear the words our hearts are saying.
We are praying for our children.

Keep them from the powers of evil,
From the secret, hidden peril.
Father, hear us for our children.

From the worldling's hollow gladness,
From the sting of faithless sadness,
Father, Father, keep our children.

Through life's troubled waters steer them.
Through life's bitter battles cheer them.
Father, Father, be thou near them.

And wherever they may bide,
Lead them home at eventide.

 

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Commentary – Matthew 14-28 (Tree of Life Commentary, Jacksonville, OR 1993). p. 105-106

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[7]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

4 Zundel, Veronica. Eerdman’s Book of Christian Classics. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1985. P79.

[8]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[22] Silas Shotwell, in Homemade, September 1987. 

 

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]Richard Lederer,  National Review magazine,  December 31st 1995:

 

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.