“Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17, Matt 18:3.
What Jesus declared in Luke 12:32, clearly show His Kingdom as something given. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom”. Here is a fundamental difference between an Old Covenant and New Covenant mindset. The Old speaks of what we must “do to become” (Deut.28:1,2). In other words, before the Cross, the life of a believer was a “doing to become” life. Yet until Jesus, not one person had ever managed to do enough. All fell short of the glory of God. (Rom.3:23). Even today, many Christians struggle to recognise that the Law was not given to empower men to be holier, but rather to reveal to them that apart from His life, they have no power in themselves to be as He is. They must give up the lie that they can make a life for themselves and humble themselves to receive the life already made for them.
This is why Jesus presented life under the New Covenant as like that of a little child. An infant simply receives the life they find themselves already born into. Life to them can only be received, as the only life they know is the one already prepared for them. They take no thought to ‘How am I going to save myself’ because each day they find that they have been already saved. Everything they need for life, from morning to night, is presented to them already prepared. They carry no anxious thought of ‘How will I clothe myself, how will I wash myself, how will I feed myself.’ They know no dependency on “I” for the only life they see before them, is one in which someone else clothes them, washes them and feeds them. No one is looking to them to do one thing, except receive what has been given. They don’t lie awake at night worrying about the future, because in the life (the Kingdom) they are receiving, everything they need pertaining to life, has already been given. The only life they know as infants, is a life where they don’t have to save themselves because their parents have never placed that expectation on them. Children who have been rooted and established in such love, bear the fruit of peace into adulthood, but tragically, those who have been robbed too early of such a childhood, bear the scars of fear.
For believers too, healthy maturity comes from being rooted and established in the love of the King, who is the life of the Kingdom, a Kingdom where there is no “doing to become” (Eph.3:17-19). Unfortunately, many believers have never been rooted and established in this love long enough for gratitude and joy to overflow from their lives, thereby manifesting the Kingdom of heaven on the earth (Rom.14:17). Their spiritual childhoods have been darkened by an atmosphere of expectation. They have never learnt how to receive because they have not been presented with a life they only had to receive! Instead they were raised under a mixed gospel that presented such a life as conditional on their doing. A little Law mixed in with the gospel, stole their sight. Instead of seeing their heavenly union and life in Christ as a present reality and walking in that Kingdom today, overflowing with joy (Col.2:6,7), they have been left not seeing further than the weakness of their flesh and everyone else’s! This is why life under a gospel leavened by a little law, is an atmosphere of comparison and condemnation, that inevitably leads to believers biting and devouring one another (Gal.5:15). I believe this mixing of the gospel of grace with a little law, is at the root of why the body of Christ has been plagued by division after division. Earthly minded believers have been blinded by the Law to the truth that the Christian life can only ever be One life; Christ’s. If you will not live believing your self-life died on the Cross, then you can only live trying to save your’self’. Christian, as long as you live like this, then although Christ is your life, this generation will not see His life through you, for how can you manifest what you have not even acknowledged yourself, how can you reveal what you are not seeing, how can you enter into, walk in, what you are not receiving? You can only receive what you know has been given!
In both Mark and Luke’s gospel, Jesus’ words on infants are immediately followed by the account of the rich young ruler. Here was a man whose trust in his own strength was only trapping him longer in the ‘doing to become’ life. He was so blinded by the Law, that He couldn’t see that the life He was looking for, was staring Him in the face; Christ, the life already prepared for him, the life already given to Him.
Eternal life, God’s life, has already been given through Christ. But how given is given? Despite what we claim to believe in our creeds, recite in our prayers, or sing in our songs, what always betrays what we are really believing, is our joy. You can only receive what you know has been given! To preach Christ and Him crucified, as the life of God already given, with no conditions attached, is to preach the Gospel of God’s grace unleavened by the Law. It is the presentation to men and women of the life of God, eternal life, as already given, a life where you don’t have to save yourself. We are not ashamed of this gospel for it is the power of God for men to see, to see something that enables them to receive as a little child does and so enter into and walk in, the very life of God, so bringing the Kingdom of God onto the earth. So what is it that men can see, in the light of this gospel? They see, staring them in the face of Christ, a life before them in which someone else clothes them, washes them and feeds them; for in Christ, we are clothed with His righteousness, washed by His blood and fed by the beautiful words coming from His mouth.
As long as the Gospel you are hearing, is not opening your eyes to see just how much has been given, then you cannot receive as a little child and so enter into the fullness of the Kingdom already given, for you can only receive what you know has been given! No eye had seen, no ear had heard and no heart had conceived of the life God had prepared for us to receive, until the Holy Spirit came (1Cor.2:9,10). He is the one who opens our eyes to see and our hearts to receive as little children, the life already prepared; Christ.
One thought on “You can only receive, what you know has been given.”
What a lovely picture of freely receiving without earning. It reminds me of Matthew 20: 1-16 where those who worked longest got the same as those who worked shortest. God’s benevolence is from His heart, moved as He is by the true condition of men individually.