Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Lord's Last Sermon

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then "'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

Wasn't the Lord a bit harsh with these women? Why did he not accept their pity?

Nowhere in the scriptures are we told to feel sorry for the Lord Jesus. Rather, we read repeatedly that the Lord Jesus has compassion for his people—for us. About the Lord we read things like:
  • (Mat 9:36) When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
  • (Mat 14:14) When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
  • (Mat 15:32) Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."
  • (Heb 4:15) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses….

He sympathizes with us; he does not call us to feel sorry for him. Which is what the daughters of Jerusalem were doing.

For the rest of the sermon on this text, click here.


george said...

Hi George,

At the end of your sermon you said this:

"The good news of the saving work of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to you. We hear it in the proclamation of the word. We see it in the baptisms of the children. It is ours through faith and prayer."

My question is about the baptisms of children. How is the "good news of the saving work of Jesus Christ" proclaimed in the baptisms of children?


George van Popta said...

Hi George,

Thanks for asking. The good news of salvation is promised to the children of believers. The promise is visibly shown in baptism. We see what Christ has done for his people. It's visible proclamation. Word and sacraments are God's great audio-visual proclamation of the gospel. As the children grow up they are taught to embrace the promise for their salvation.

Anonymous said...

Thanks George,

Isn't the good news of salvation promised to any child, to anyone who believes?

If the baptizing of children is a promise of their eventual salvation, what's the difference between your child baptized, and your neighbour's who is not?

When is your baptized child saved? Is it at baptism? If so can they lose their salvation? How do you explain a baptized child who totally walks away from the faith, does not adopt it as his or her own? When does regeneration occurr in a baptized child?

Thanks for considering these questions, when I have time I'll look at that other sermon and maybe refer you and your readers to one also.


George van Popta said...

Hi again, George:

The good news of salvation is promised to all who hear the good news. All who hear it must believe. We are justified (made right with God) through faith. When a child of believers is baptized, God is making great promises to that child – promises that child is obliged to accept when he/she grows older.

The difference between a baptized child and one not baptized is that God has sealed his promises to the baptized child (again, promises that must be accepted by faith). Those promises have not been sealed to the unbaptized child of an unbeliever. But if that person later hears the good news preached, he then hears the promise of salvation, and if he believes he will be saved.

We don't know when the child is saved. Two things we know: we are justified by faith alone; and, the children of believers are holy, not by nature but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they are included with their parents. God-fearing parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in their infancy.

A baptized child who walks away from the faith will suffer the eternal wrath of God, unless he repents.

We don't know when regeneration occurs; "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).

george said...

Thanks George, if you are willing to continue the discussion I would very much like to. Maybe it would be best to leave it until next week after Easter as I won't have time until then. The question I would start with is this:

You said, "God-fearing parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in their infancy." You then say, "A baptized child who walks away from the faith will suffer the eternal wrath of God, unless he repents."

Do you believe it follows then that the baptized child who falls away and does not repent, never was elect to begin with? Or, do you believe that a child can lose their salvation?


George van Popta said...

Sure, George; we'll pick it up again next week. I, too, am busy with having to preach three times this weekend.

George van Popta said...


God will, unfailingly, bring to glory those whom he has elected (Rom 8:30) "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

The same scriptures (in Heb 6:4-6) warn against apostasy. It seems that a person can reject his salvation.

Don't try to hammer it all into a system, George. God will bring to salvation those whom he has elected; those whom God, from eternity, has elected will not fall. And yet, the warnings against apostasy are there and they are real, and we must take them seriously. Those who reject the gospel will be rejected by God; their condemnation will be well-deserved for neglecting and rejecting such a great salvation.