Matthew 19:13-15

Sermon preached on August 31, 2014 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

This morning I had the great privilege of baptizing Tucker and welcoming him into the fellowship of the church. It was a wonderful moment. It was also great to have Matt join the church but for the next few moments I want to focus on why we baptize infants. Many Christians today don't think it's right to baptize infants—they believe that a profession of faith is needed and since very little infants can't give a profession of faith—they shouldn't be baptized.

A Baptist once gave me a little booklet entitled, "
What the Bible Says About Infant Baptism". When I opened it I found that it contained blank pages. Every page was blank. They point they were making was that infant baptism wasn't biblical. I found that a bit humorous. But I was a bit disappointed. Whoever put that book together viewed the Bible as a series of proof texts. The premise is that if a doctrine isn't supported by at least one proof text, one verse that you can quote—then the doctrine isn't biblical.

But the Bible isn't to be viewed as a series of proof texts. This ought to be clear to anyone who reads Proverbs 26:4-5. Proverbs 26:4 says,

"Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself."

 Proverbs 26:5 says,

"Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes."

So which is it? Are you to answer a fool according to his folly or not? One verse says not to answer him according to his folly and the other one says to answer him according to his folly. These two verses are obviously not proof texts. Rather they show that we have to look deeper if we want to understand what they mean. We have to compare them. Roland E. Murphy says that the apparent contradiction, (Proverbs, WBC 22; p. 199)

"is to educate the reader to the ambiguities of life and to be careful in speech."

Matthew Henry, the old Puritan commentator, explains the apparent contradiction this way,

"Wise men have need to be directed how to deal with fools; and they have never more need of wisdom than in dealing with such, to know when to keep silence and when to speak, for there may be a time for both."

But the point, for our purposes, is to note that in order to get at the meaning, you have to study both verses, which seem to contradict each other, in order to discover the truth that is taught. The Bible sometimes teaches us truths in a way that involves much more than proof texting. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith some things should be 'deduced' from Scripture. It says, (1:6)

"The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture:"

The baptism of infants is one of the doctrines that is deduced by good and necessary consequence. Larry Wilson of the OPC has written a little pamphlet entitled, Why Does the OPC Baptize Infants? His argument is five-fold.

"(1) The church of the Old Testament and the church of the New Testament are, in essence, the same church.

(2) God regards the children of believers as members of this church.

(3) In the Old Testament era, the children of believers, because they were church members, were given the covenant sign of circumcision.

(4) In the New Testament era, God has taken the sign of circumcision and changed it to baptism.

(5) Therefore, in the New Testament era, the children of believers, because they are church members, are to be given the sign of baptism."

That's a valid argument. The definition of a valid argument is that its conclusion is logically entailed by its premises. This means that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true.

This morning I'm going to look at some texts that supports the truth of item 2—

God regards the children of believers as members of His church.

This isn't the total argument for infant baptism. But it is one of the premises for it. In the Old Testament the children of the Israelites were considered members of the covenant. God promised Abraham that He would be His God and the God of his children. In Genesis 17:7 God said to Abraham,

"I will establish my covenant
as an everlasting covenant between me
and you and your descendants
after you for the generations to come,
to be your God and the God of your
descendants after you."

That's a very significant pronouncement. God promised Abraham that He would work through His family. Today many people think that God works essentially with individuals, and in a certain sense that's true. Salvation is personal. Each individual has to believe on Jesus. Each individual has to follow Jesus. But it is also true that God works through families. One of the great means of grace that God has given is the family relationship.

Under Moses, when the covenant was renewed, Moses said to the Israelites, (Deuteronomy 29:10–13

"All of you are standing today in the
presence of the LORD your God—
your leaders and chief men,
your elders and officials,
and all the other men of Israel,
together with your children
and your wives,
and the aliens living in your camps who
chop your wood and carry your water.
You are standing here in order to enter
into a covenant with the LORD your God,
a covenant the LORD is making with you
this day and sealing with an oath,
to confirm you this day as his people,
that he may be your God as he promised
you and as he swore to your fathers,
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Who entered into covenant that day? Just the adults? No. The children are specifically mentioned—they are listed even before the wives.

In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter said, (Acts 2:39)

"The promise is for you and your
children and for all who are far off—for
all whom the Lord our God will call."

And in 1 Corinthians 7:14 the apostle Paul spoke of how the children of a believer are in a different category than the children of unbelievers. He wrote,

"For the unbelieving husband has been
sanctified through his wife, and the
unbelieving wife has been sanctified
through her believing husband.
Otherwise your children would be
unclean, but as it is, they are holy."

The children are holy, they are part of the covenant. The children of believers are set apart to God in a special way. They are to be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and are in the covenant.

In Ephesians 1:1 Paul tells readers that he is writing his epistle 'to the saints in Ephesus.' The word saint comes from the word holy. Saint literally means 'holy one.' In Ephesians 6:1, Paul addresses some of the holy ones who are part of the church in Ephesus—

"Children, obey your parents
in the Lord, for this is right."

Now this does not mean that our children are saved. We do not believe that baptism saves them. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ. Baptism doesn't guarantee salvation any more than circumcision did.

But if you put all these verses together it is clear that children are in the covenant and should be given the sign of the covenant, which is baptism. They are in the visible church. We call them non-communicant members. They are in a special relationship to God that is different than the children of unbelievers. We are to bring our children up in the church, tell them that they are heirs of the promise and urge them to believe in Jesus for salvation.

The promise is to us and our children. Our text makes this clear as well. It says, (Matthew 19:13–15)

"Then little children were brought
to Jesus for him to place his hands
on them and pray for them.
But the disciples rebuked those
who brought them.
Jesus said,
'Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs
to such as these.'
When he had placed his hands on them,
he went on from there."

We see three things in our text.

First, the great love that Jesus has for children.

People were bringing children to Jesus to have Him bless them—to place his hands on them and pray for them. When the disciples tried to stop it Jesus overruled them.

Indeed in Mark's account we read that Jesus was very angry with his disciples for trying to send the children away. Mark tells us that he was moved,

"with indignation..."

at his disciples.

Now in the entire NT we don't find that Jesus got angry very often. He had His passions in perfect control and it was only when faced with a great evil that He got angry. So obviously what the disciples were trying to do here was a great evil. So Jesus rebukes them and gives them a strict order that they are not to hinder the children from coming to Him. And the point is that Jesus loves children very dearly and we need to be very careful that we treat them properly and don't hinder them from coming to Christ in any way.

Secondly, we see that

Jesus blessed the children.

Marks account of what Jesus did reads, (Mark 10:16)

"And he took the children in his arms,
put his hands on them
and blessed them."

Jesus goes beyond what the parents expected. He took the children in His arms. He placed his hands on them and blessed them. Some commentators tell us that His blessing of them was 'a thorough blessing'. (See on Mark's account.) James R. Edwards writes, (Mark, PNTC; p. 308)

"His touch brought blessings, but it was also a blessing, a tangible expression of God's unconditional love for the unclean, foreigners, women, and children. Jesus' personal touch of common people became a distinguishing mark of his bearing and ministry."

John Frame writes,

"In the NT, Jesus pronounced the blessing of God on infants (Luke 18:15–17). Jesus wasn't just showing affection for the babies. Blessing is a very serious matter in Scripture. In blessing, God places his name on his people, as the high priest did in Numbers 6:27. In blessing the children, Jesus put his name on them. Significantly, baptism in the NT is baptism into the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48; 19:5; cf. 22:16)."

Now for us this means that

we should welcome children in the church.

Their place is here. We see this clearly from Matthew 18 where Jesus called a little child and had him stand in the middle of the disciples. He said,

"See that you do not look down
on one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels
in heaven always see
the face of my Father in heaven."

That's a great warning to us to not look down on children. There's even a more serious warning. In verse 6 we read,

"if anyone causes
one of these little ones
who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him
to have a large millstone
hung around his neck
and be drowned in the depths
of the sea."

Children's place in the church. They have as much right to be here as we do. We may have disagreements about whether there should be a special Children's Church during the sermon, about when children should be taken out when they are noisy—but the principle is that they belong here—whether in the sanctuary or the nursery. We have a Children's Lesson as part of our service. There's a good reason for that—children are part of our church.

Secondly, this means that

you parents must nurture your children in the Christian faith.

You are to teach them about Christ, show them Christ in your lives and urge them to believe on Him and follow Him. Larry Wilson writes to parents,

"You may not treat your children in a supposedly neutral fashion until they are 'old enough to make their own decision.' In baptism, the living God himself claims your child. Thus, you must train your children to respond with faith and obedience to the Christ of the covenant."

Thirdly, this means that

you who are children should promptly respond to the call of Jesus and believe in Him.

There's no need to wait. Jesus has brought you close to Himself. He calls you to believe. He says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like you. Go to Him. Don't delay.

Why did Jesus take the children into His arms? So that they would be blessed, so that they would be enriched, so that they could serve Him.

There are many examples of God using children to serve Him.

Remember how when Moses mother hid Moses in the basket in the water how his sister stood by and was instrumental in that whole story, how she said to Pharaoh's daughter,

"Shall I go and
get one of the Hebrew women
to nurse the baby for you?"

And only a boy or girl could have done what she did. An adult couldn't have done it. There are some things that God wants done that only boys and girls can do. Adults can't do them.

Or think about what David did when he was just a boy. How he relied on God's power and defeated Goliath. Because he was just a boy when he did it everyone knew that it was God's power that defeated Goliath.

Or think about God calling little Samuel as he laid on his bed trying to go to sleep. Three times God called him and he thought it was Eli and he kept going to Eli to answer. But it wasn't Eli that was calling little Samuel, it was God.

Or think about the little boy who went to hear Jesus and took his lunch with him. He had five little loaves and two small fish. And Jesus used that to feed 5000 people and to show them that He was the bread of life.

Or think about Paul's nephew saving him Acts 23. Forty men were going to kill Paul. They were going to ambush him. But a little boy heard about it and reported it to Paul. Paul was able to be saved and continue to serve the Lord, to preach and write much of the New Testament. In part it was because of the actions of a little boy.

So boys and girls, if you think that you're too young to serve God, to do great things for Him, you're greatly mistaken. You're not too young. You can do things for the Lord that no one else can. You should be very eager to serve Him every day. Every day when you get out of bed, you ought to be thinking, "What can I do for the Lord today?"

Lastly, all this means that if you are a Christian parent with a young child

you should have your child baptized.

Infant baptism is biblical. We don't have a single verse that tells us to do it but if you put the teaching of many biblical passages together—one can clearly see that the sign of the covenant should be given to our children.