Mankind is incurably religious. Monkeys don’t ask questions about where they came from. Cows have zero curiosity about the meaning of life. Even as smart as dolphins are, they have yet to show any interest in why questions or what their purpose on earth is. Mankind alone of all the creatures on this planet is incurably religious. Cultures and tribes going all the way back to the beginning of time have practiced religious rituals. I am not aware of a single tribe or culture or people group that has ever been discovered that didn’t give evidence of religious beliefs and practices. Certainly there are plenty of atheists around, but never a completely atheistic culture or people group. I like the old story about the atheistic cultural anthropology professor who took his class to observe some remote native tribe. They saw a man dancing around in a clearing chanting and cutting off the head of a chicken and spreading the blood around. The professor is completely dismissive and mocking and ridicules the backwardness of it all. But the uneducated African native is far closer to the truth than the educated Western professor. The native believes there’s a power greater and higher than him who is worthy of some kind of honor or worship. He believes this power is personal, that it has something to do with him and his life. And he believes that somehow blood is important to the relationship. Mankind has always had thoughts and ideas and beliefs about deity and a consciousness of sin and morality. We are religious to the core. The question is where do those thoughts come from? Where do we get our ideas about God? If God is infinite and incomprehensible and spiritual and invisible as Article One says, then how can we know about God and what He is like? It’s really one of the most important questions there is, because knowledge of God determines our eternal destiny.
The past two sermons considered the teaching of Jesus that to receive the kingdom we must be like children. This morning’s text is an illustration of that principle. A man who fails to gain a child-like trust in Jesus and a child-like indifference to worldly things misses the kingdom of heaven. This story is so important the Holy Spirit inspired it to be included in the three synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. Matthew is the one who tells us the man was young and Luke is the one who tells us the man was a ruler. There’s so much detail here that needs our careful attention and reflection so let’s be open to learn from the Holy Spirit and apply it to our lives.
In our attempt to describe the various aspects of God’s character categories have been developed and one of the most common ways of classifying God’s attributes is the one we find in the Belgic Confession. Two weeks ago I explained how Article One divides the attributes of God between the incommunicable attributes of God and the communicable attributes of God. In simplest terms a communicable disease is a disease that can be passed on, it’s catchable like the flu. And there are diseases that can’t be passed on, like Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis. We have already considered the Incommunicable attributes of God that He does not share with others, like being spiritual, invisible, eternal, infinite, all powerful, incomprehensible. This evening we come to the Communicable attributes of God, attributes God shares with others.
“Let the little children come to me, do not hinder them.” As I said last week it’s a beautiful picture, an idyllic scene really. What could be more endearing to the hearts of parents than to see Jesus taking their sons and daughters into His arms and blessing them? This beautiful picture has led some Christians to raise the question about bringing children to the Lord’s Table. If they are baptized and included in the visible covenant family of Christ then why should they be excluded from the family table and family meal? This discussion and debate has really picked up speed in the past couple of decades and it came into our denomination in the form of an overture to Synod in 2006. After several years of discussion and study, the CRC at the 2011 Synod opened the table to baptized children without making a profession of faith. Last November our elders sent out a letter to this congregation saying in part the following: “The Elders of First CRC have discussed, studied, reviewed and prayed about this decision and have come with a policy approved unanimously at the October 2, 2012 elders meeting. “It is our recommendation that with the children at the Lord’s Table issue, we maintain the historical perspective of the Christian Reformed Church (especially in light of the warnings found in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-32). Children and young people are encouraged to know their Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, and make a formal public profession of faith, as we currently do, before partaking of the Lord’s Supper thereby being held accountable to our Lord and to the Elders as communicant members to enjoy the blessings of such membership and to bear its obligations and responsibilities.” Since we are in this text in Mark 10 about children and since today is a Sunday we observe the Lord’s Table, I have decided to explain the elder’s position from Scripture. If we are to come into the Kingdom of God as little children, should we come to the table of our Lord not just as children but even while we still actually are children?
Last week I said to make an image of God is idolatry and a lie. Even to have mental images of God as anything like us at all is false. But failure to think about God in the right way is also idolatry and the sin of idolatry leads to all kinds of other sins. We must think about God rightly. Job 42:7 And it came about after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has. This evening we want to see God rightly. When Moses boldly asked God to reveal to him God’s glory, God answered by revealing some of His attributes. Like Moses we come asking to see God’s glory, His glory revealed in His attributes, each one like a shiny ray of sun emanating from the essence of God’s glory. Or in the words of Thomas Watson, “God’s glory lies chiefly in his attributes which are the several beams by which the divine nature shines forth.”
Introduction. In our series on Mark’s Gospel we are returning to this text again this morning. You will recall last week we laid a foundation for Biblical marriage and set the foundation on three foundation stones. First, God created marriage so marriage belongs to God. Second, God defined marriage as an exclusive and permanent bond between one man and one woman. [I came across something this week that fit well with that second point from last week. God took Adam who was one and alone and divided him into two pieces. From the second piece God created a woman and brought her back to Adam in order that the two could become one again (from Doug Wilson, For a Glory and a Covering, p. 31). Third, God performs marriage, it’s His doing, not the couples, not the ministers, not the states.