Just when you thought that you had seen it all, now we find that children are up on a stage addressing hundreds of adult Christians who clap and carry on as if it were an admirable thing. And I do not mean singing, I mean giving “sermons”.
Let us see what Scripture shows about public behaviour suitable for a child. The Lord Jesus is our perfect Model. In Luke 2:46-52, we find the only direct instance of His public appearance. Until He was about thirty, it is the only direct reference since the magi from the east came to do homage to Him at just less than two years of age.
It is to be noted that the parents “found Him … sitting in the midst of the teachers and hearing them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers“. Note – He was sitting in the midst of them – an example of comely order, not at the lectern or on the stage. Secondly, He was “hearing them” – a perfect attitude such as should grace every young person. Thirdly, He was asking them questions – another example of appropriate humility for that age. Then, we are told that is understanding was revealed, not by His lecturing, but by His answers. No doubt His questions were so profound and searching that they asked Him questions. The Lord Jesus graced every stage of growth, from infancy to manhood. What a model we have.
At the age of twelve He knew more than they – He was the creator of the universe - but that was no reason for Him to depart from the place that was appropriate for that age.
David tells us prophetically, in Psalm 119:99-100, “I have more understanding than all my teachers; for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed thy precepts”. While the immediate reference was to David himself, it obviously found its fulfillment in Christ. Firstly, the understanding is linked to meditation; in the second it is linked to obedience to the word.
Such was His moral glory; with understanding greater than His teachers, greater than the elders, He never left the place that was suited to a young person of that age. I put no limits on a child’s spiritual growth; but if it is truly of God, such will maintain their place. Jesus waited until He was about thirty years of age before his public ministry began. This was the age for Levitical service as established by God in Moses’ time. David reduced that age to twenty. I have no problem with young men preaching, but not children.
But someone will argue that if the child is speaking the truth, or the address is good, then it must be of the Spirit. Not so. Things must be done according to Spirit and truth.
Others will argue that there is no prohibition in the New Testament, therefore we can do it. That is a seriously bad principle to adopt – where would that lead us? To chaos. And that is just the position of Christendom now. Formerly an Israelite was told “thou shalt” and “shalt not”; now the Holy Spirit teaches largely positively, by example, and indirectly.
In the public profession of Christianity there are women in the pulpit, sodomites in the pulpit, and now children! “…If the salt become insipid, wherewith shall it be salted? It is no longer fit for anything but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot by men”, (Matt. 5:13). Comments by unbelievers on the Internet attest to this. Men despise such performances by children. According to the verse just quoted, when that which purports to represent the grace of God to men, loses its character, judgment is near.
MM February 2009