Saved By God, From God, For God

Saved By God, From God, For God

Christians are notorious for using a vocabulary that is not always understood by those around them. There’s no doubt that we have our own lingo and jargon.

One such word is the word “saved.” Often, Christians ask unsuspecting neighbors, colleagues and friends the question, “are you saved?” and usually receive only puzzled expressions in response. These folk are desperately trying to understand the question, but have no reference point whatsoever from which to make an assessment of how to answer. The Christian, on the other hand, seeing this as a wonderful opportunity to evangelize, usually pounces on this hesitation, though just how much is communicated in such times is open to debate. Though the Christian is usually sincere in desiring to share his faith, he needs to provide some foundation for the person to understand what he is seeking to communicate.

Yet in saying this, the word “saved” is very much a biblical word. The scripture says, “whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

But what exactly is this referring to? What is it that those who call on the name of the Lord are saved from?

Well let’s take a look at the word “saved.” It is a word we use quite often, especially in the world of sports. We talk of a goalkeeper making a great “save,” or a boxer being “saved” by the bell. When used in this context, the word “saved” does not have any eternal significance to it whatsoever, but refers instead to a present day deliverance or rescue from calamity. The goalkeeper doesn’t provide eternal life for his team mates when he makes a save, but merely prevents a calamity – conceding a goal to the opposing team. The boxer doesn’t gain heavenly bliss because the bell rings, but the sounding of the bell signalled the end of a round when it looked certain that the fighter was about to lose the fight. Again, the word saved refers to being rescued from a calamity.

So what exactly does the Bible mean then when it talks of our need to be saved? What is the calamity from which we need to be rescued?

The Bible’s answer is a very clear one. God is holy and He is just. That’s not good news if we happen to be sinners, which the Bible declares that we are. All of us have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But thank God, that’s not the end of the story. But it gets a lot worse before it gets better!

God is good. God is also just. God is therefore a good judge and must punish sin. God’s justice will be meted out precisely as justice demands it – which when you think about it, is the worst of all possible news for us. We won’t be able to get away with anything – all the secrets of our hearts will be exposed, and we will be called to give an account of our lives. What is worse is that the sins we have committed are so grievous to Him that the punishment for sin is eternal in duration. In fact, rather than the judgment we will face being merely being left or abandoned by God, God is actually active in pouring out His wrath against our sin.

So what exactly does the Bible mean by the phrase, “the wrath of God?”

Well one thing we notice very clearly when we study the Bible on this issue is that wrath is not an isolated concept made up by merely one “out of sorts and grumpy prophet.” There are in fact over 600 references to God’s wrath in the Old Testament alone.

Two incidents in Exodus will help our understanding at this point. In Exodus 22:22-24, God says, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”

Then later on when the children of Israel make for themselves a golden calf to worship, the scripture records God as saying, “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.” (Exodus 32:10-12)

Regarding this, Dr. James Montgomery Boice writes, “it is evident in this passage that Moses’ appeal to God is not based either on imagined innocence of the people (they were not innocent, and Moses knew it), nor on the thought that wrath was unworthy of God. Moses appeals only on the basis of God’s name and how his acts would be misconstrued by the heathen. No doubt is expressed that wrath is a proper reaction of God’s holy character against sin.” Dr. Boice goes on to say, “God’s wrath is not arbitrary, as if God for some minor matter or according to his own caprice simply turns against those whom he formerly loved and favored. On the contrary, wrath is God’s consistent and unyielding resistance to sin and evil. In the first passage it is wrath brought on by sin against others, widows and orphans. In the second passage it is wrath brought on by sins against God.” (Foundations of the Christian Faith, p. 248)

Nahum 1:2-3, 6-8 declares, “The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness.”

Again, many more scriptures would verify the reality and nature of the wrath of Almighty God. Psalm 2:5-9 says, “Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

In the New Testament, the wrath of God is also clearly seen. Two main words for wrath are used. The first, thymos (in Greek) means “to rush along fiercely,” “to be in the heat of violence,” or “to breath violently.” It refers to a panting rage.

The second Greek word, orge, means “to grow ripe for something” with the noun form revealing that this wrath has been slowly building over a long space of time. It is a gradually building anger that rises in intensity, and therefore is not so much a sudden flare up of hostility, which is soon over, but rather as Leon Morris defines it, “a strong and settled opposition to all that is evil arising out of God’s very nature.” (Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross)

Romans 1:18-20 reveals the present day reality of this wrath. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Romans 2:5 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Are we all feeling the weight of this bad news yet? I don’t believe we will appreciate the amazing good news of the Gospel until we do.

Jesus is also coming back to rule and reign. When He does so, it will not be like His first coming when He came as a humble baby, born in a manger, but He’s coming back as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to enforce His rule in our world.

Revelation 19:15 declares, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”

Although this refers to a future event, the scripture reveals that the wrath of God is a present reality, as we’ve already seen through Romans 1:18. The scripture also says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)

I can’t think of a worse calamity than this one – facing the full fury of the wrath of God against our sin.

But is it just for God to punish sinners for eternity?

Let me respond with a quote from the great theologian, Jonathan Edwards, “Our obligation to love, honor, and obey any being, is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority; for that is the very meaning of the words. When we say any one is very lovely, it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved. Or if we say such a one is more honorable than another, the meaning of the words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honor. If we say any one has great authority over us, it is the same as to say, that he has great right to our subjection and obedience. But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he has infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honorable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honorable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of his right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon him. So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving of infinite punishment. The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite. (THE JUSTICE OF GOD IN THE DAMNATION OF SINNERS, Works, vol. 1; 669)

In light of this, it is merely the pleasure of God Himself that His wrath did not fall on us last night, or last week, or last year. In fact, it is very evident that God has been remarkably patient with us all.

So then, if facing the full brunt of the wrath of God for all eternity is the worst possible calamity, then the greatest deliverance becomes immediately clear. To be saved, is to be rescued from the wrath of Almighty God.

In His love, God sent His Son to deliver us or rescue us from His eternally fierce wrath against our sin. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 declares, “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

Romans 5:6-9 “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Question: Whose love is it?

Answer: God’s

Question: Whose wrath is it?

Answer: God’s

It was God’s idea to save all who believe in Christ from the ultimate calamity, the fierceness of the wrath of God.

What a deliverance! What a rescue! God sent His Son to save us from His wrath. To put it in clear terms – we are saved by God, from God, for God!

On the cross, Jesus bore our sin, and God poured out His wrath on Him, in our place. He took the punishment we deserved as He bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus bore the wrath of God on behalf of His people. All who believe in Him as Savior and Lord are forever rescued from this wrath. But for those who do not receive the Son of God, God’s wrath is being revealed (Romans 1:18) and the full brunt of that wrath will be meted out in judgement.

To these, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:12-13)

The scripture declares, “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3) The answer to this rhetorical question is clear. If we neglect this great salvation, there will be no escape. Indeed, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

So again, here’s the good news: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

Call out to Him now.

The Gospel

The Gospel


Luke 23: 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

I have often contemplated the potential scene in my mind as one by one, the proponents of all religions were given the opportunity of talking to the thief on the cross, and what they would say to him. This was a man who was a criminal, a notorious sinner, and definitely, one whose so-called “bad deeds’ would outweigh the good ones. Being nailed to a cross negates any further opportunity for good works to be done. But it would be an interesting conversation, wouldn’t it, to hear what each religionist might say to him? In every case (apart from perhaps universalism which falsely teaches that all people will be saved regardless of their works) each religion would require the man to somehow come down from the cross to DO something.

What would a spokesman for Islam say? How about a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness? What would a Buddhist say? or a New Age guru? How about a Roman Catholic? If each could speak to this man, what religious advice would or could they give to him for the purpose of being saved (however they even define what that means)? Some might say that all he could do would be to hope for mercy, but Christ, the biblical Christ gave him far more than just hope. In contrast to what all man-made religious systems could give the man, Christ gave him full assurance of salvation – and not just eventual salvation after countless years in the fires and torments of purgatory, but bliss and paradise that very day!

Certain religions would require baptism, others would require the man to go through religious instruction and devotion of some sort, while others would ask him to do more good works before his death hoping that they might outweigh the bad ones. But here’s my point, the man could never find salvation in those religious systems because he was stuck, pinned, nailed to a cross. His chance to help elderly people cross roads, or to give to charity or to live a life of service was gone. Nailed to a cross, works and service were no longer possible. His was a totally hopeless case.. except that crucified next to him was Someone who was able to save him by what He was doing, rather than what the man might do. Only the real biblical Jesus with the real biblical Gospel could announce to a criminal that before the day was over, he would be with Him in Paradise.

This thief’s salvation portrays the Gospel so clearly. Someone embracing anything other than the biblical gospel can only scratch their heads in wonder at the precious words given to this man, for in their system, such words would be impossible to say.

As far as I know, this man was the only person that Jesus gave instantaneous assurance of salvation to. Jesus’ words, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” removes all doubt.

Can we know what was going on in the heart of this man? Well, we do not have a perfect understanding, but putting the pieces of the biblical text together, we can get quite a good picture. What is clear from the Gospels of Matthew and Mark is that this man had been amongst the many who had mocked Christ. Yet seemingly, out of nowhere, he turns to the other thief and says, “Don’t you fear God?” Obviously, this thief was now fearing God for him to be asking this question of the other one.

He also knew he was getting exactly what he deserved – “we indeed suffer justly” he said.

He also recognized the innocence of Christ when he said, “this man has done nothing wrong.”

When he turned to Jesus and requested, “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom” though knowing death was inevitable for all three of those crucified, he believed Jesus would triumph over death, and therefore, would be resurrected.

In affirming the fact that Jesus would come into His kingdom, he affirmed the Lordship or even the Deity of Christ. How much he knew of this we do not know, but obviously, he knew that Christ was indeed King.

So, he had an awareness of divine judgment, he knew the availability of forgiveness, he believed Christ was the true King and that in Christ there is hope even for him, he knew of the coming Kingdom and wanted to be a part of it.

As God opens our hearts and mind to the one true biblical Gospel, we will also find in Christ the full assurance of salvation. As we turn away from any attempt at self justification, knowing that it is by grace that we are saved, through faith and all of this is the gift of God, not as a result of works (Eph. 2:8,9), we too will enjoy the sweet saving mercy of God.

What a testimony to the Gospel this thief is. His testimony is exactly the same as mine. God saves sinners through the perfect work of the perfect Savior, plus nothing! Hallelujah!


Question 60. How are you righteous before God?
“Only by true faith in Jesus Christ; that is, although my conscience accuse me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them, and am still prone always to all evil; yet God without any merit of mine, of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never committed nor had any sin, and had myself accomplished all the obedience which Christ has fulfilled for me; if only I accept such benefit with a believing heart.” – Heidelberg Catechism

The Trial

The Trial

THE CASE OF GOD THE FATHER AGAINST ______________________________ (FILL IN YOUR NAME)





“It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” – Hebrews 9:27

You now stand before God, the Righteous Judge, faced with the charge of great and terrible acts of high treason in the courtroom of heaven.

Gabriel, the high-ranking angel addresses the court saying, “All rise! The Righteous Judge is coming into His chamber!”

The Judge declares His court to now be in session and asks for all to be seated.

Without any delay, Satan stands up and addresses the court. He states that the record will show that you have broken all ten of the Ten Commandments. On countless occasions you’ve lied, you’ve stolen, you’ve used God’s name in vain, you’ve hated (which Jesus said was murder of the heart) and you haven’t put God first, before anything else in your life, just to name a few. Satan will prove your guilt on all counts.

Also, there is indisputable video evidence as well as reliable witnesses to attest to the facts in this case. Even your thought life stands as a testimony against you, for the Scripture says, “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

After the case is made against you, there is a hush in the court. The prosecuting attorney has shown that you have indeed committed acts of high treason against God. It seems inevitable that you will be found guilty.

Satan then addresses the Judge and says, “A good God must be a good Judge. The facts are clear. You must find this one guilty. Your own record in Proverbs 17:15 states, ‘He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.’ For you to acquit this one would mean that You are not righteous Yourself. You must find this one guilty as charged. I rest my case.”

The Judge then calls upon your Defense Attorney to address the court.

The Lord Jesus Christ: “Righteous Father, the case made by the prosecution is indeed true. I will not dispute the charges made. However, I will submit to this court two pieces of evidence in the defense of my client:

Exhibit A: THE PASSIVE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST – Let the record show that on Calvary’s cross, the sins of this one were transferred to me and I bore the full punishment demanded by Your high and holy Justice. I was wounded for his transgressions, bruised for his iniquities, the chastisement that brought him peace was upon Me and by My stripes, he was healed. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Exhibit B: THE ACTIVE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST – Let the record show that I, the second Person of the adorable Trinity, became a man, was born of a virgin and lived a righteous life on earth always pleasing You, righteous Father. I lived the life You demanded in Your high and holy law.

Just as this one’s sins were transferred to Me on the cross and I suffered the penalty due to him (in his place), so also all the acts of My righteous life were transferred to his account.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Righteous Father, if You will check the record, You will see that this man’s sins have been paid in full and in fact, the only record concerning this man now is that he lived My life, for My life was imputed to His account, legally and at Your good pleasure. For it was decreed this should happen in the eternal counsel of the Divine Trinity, before the foundation of the world.”

GOD THE JUDGE: “Having checked the eternal records and the validity of exhibits A and B, the case made by the defense is both true and satisfactory in this court for the purpose of dismissing all charges made against this man.

Would the accused please stand…

In that My Son has borne your punishment in full and has imputed His righteous life to your account, I declare you ‘NOT GUILTY,’ but more than that, ‘RIGHTEOUS,’ in the splendid righteousness of My Son. I can do this because My wrath, due to you, was borne by My Son. He has paid for your sins in full.

You are ‘JUSTIFIED’ in my sight. Forever I am at peace with you. Your sins I will remember no more, by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”

Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If salvation depends on the believer’s deeds, our salvation is only as secure as our faithfulness.

Justification is a legal word from the courtroom and for the believer in Christ, it is a past tense event, through the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ ALONE! Justified means not merely “just as if I’d never sinned,” but “just as if I’d always obeyed.”

This peace with God is not some temporary cease-fire (in hostilities) but is the eternal, immutable, and irrevocable standing of the believer with his God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

While this entire courtroom scenario is the certain expectation for those who repent and trust in Christ, it must be said that rejecting God’s free gift of salvation will result in something entirely different, horribly different in fact; one that provides no defense attorney in the court whatsoever, but instead, the full bearing of the punishment of your crimes against God in hell forever.

John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

You are a precious soul, made in the image of God. O may you make haste in coming to Christ! The Scripture says, “Now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) Tomorrow is never promised to anyone. The risen Lord Jesus Christ, summons you, even now, to repent of your sins and to trust fully and only in Him. Come to Him then, turning away from all you know to be wrong and trusting only in the finished work of the perfect Savior.

Church Membership

Church Membership

What Exactly Is Church Membership?

What does it entail?
Is it even Biblical?

Hour 1 – A Biblical Case for Church Membership:

As guest host on this Dividing Line broadcast, Pastor John was able to walk through numerous New Testament texts which only make sense in the light of formal Church membership.

Hour 2 – The Blessing of Church Membership:

Having previously established that formal Church Membership is a biblical mandate and requirement, Pastor John then discussed what it entails as God’s intended blessing for disciples of Christ.

Hour 3 – The Protection of Church Discipline:

The third teaching in a series on the Church, dealing with the often neglected subject of discipline. A Church failing to exercise discipline among its members is an unloving Church, walking in disobedience to Christ.

Hour 4: The Guardrail of the Creeds:

While never rising to the same authority as sacred Scripture (which alone is the word of God), the ancient creeds and confessions of the Church have served the people of God through the ages as concise and precise summaries of what the Bible teaches on very vital matters. These include, among others, the doctrine of God, the person and work of Christ, how a man is justified in God’s sight as well as the doctrine of last things (eschatology). On this Dividing Line, Pastor John taught on the practical value of the ancient Creeds and Confessions of the Church.

Parents & Children Together

Parents & Children Together


We believe it is a great privilege for a child to grow up in a Christian home and for the entire family to worship together, week in and week out in the Sunday morning worship service. Over time, this teaches the child much in the way of what a normal life as a Christian is to look like as well as the necessary connection each of us is to have with the local church. Here at King’s Church, we believe parents should keep their children with them throughout the entire service.

Let me say this again (in different words) – rather than children or teens attending their own meetings separate from their parents, we believe that the Biblical pattern is for families to worship together. The only exception we see to this (both now and in the future) is to provide a safe place for the under-threes in a nursery. However, we do not wish to segregate older children and teens from the rest of the congregation – sending them off to different rooms or buildings. Instead, on earth, as it is in heaven, young and old together, with one voice in unity, we the gathered people of God worship Him together.

We also believe that there are times when it is entirely appropriate for specialized ministry to take place (outside of the Lord’s Day morning service). One Biblical example of this is that older women are exhorted to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5), which presumably means that men are excluded from such a gathering.

While in no way wishing to be divisive or suggest that we are the only church in town obeying God, we practice “Family Integrated Worship” because of certain convictions we have. As we examine the Biblical data, we find that throughout the centuries this has been the normal way in which the people of God have gathered. This is clear from both the Old and New Testaments.

Deuteronomy 31:11-13 reads, “When all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Joshua 8:35 says, “There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.”

Ezra 10:1 – “While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.”

These and other scriptures testify to the fact that when God’s people assembled, it was normal for children to be included.

In the New Testament, children were present during Christ’s preaching and teaching ministry (Matthew 14:13-21).

When Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, he included a message for the children (Eph. 6:1-3). In doing so, a clear assumption was in his mind; that when his letter was read to the gathered Church, children would be present in the service to hear it. The same assumption can be found in Colossians 3:20, where we read, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

In recent decades, many have practiced a very different model for doing Church, something called “age-segregated worship” where the family is split up, fragmented, and isolated from each other in the service. We have now had a great deal of time to assess the long-term effects and fruit of such a ministry. The results are in and what we have observed has not been good. While church growth did occur, at least initially in the short term, when teens become adults we see a severe lack of participation in the life of the local church. The percentage of teens in youth ministry who make the transition to regular, ongoing participation in the local Church as adults, is alarmingly low. That is tragic and heartbreaking!

In the light of this, we need to ask an important question: Could it be that the model we have used may be a big factor in this?

We believe so. While the age segregation model was adopted in hopes of it being a blessing to children and youth, the unintended consequence of this is a thoroughly ingrained notion in our kids that to do church, a person must be with people of a similar age. Sadly, in a very real way, this is what we have taught them.


When a person, raised in an age-segregated model Church leaves their teenage years behind, they might have gone through the entire course of childhood and never been with adults, couples, and seniors in corporate worship. Let that sink in for a moment. They might even have been in the same local Church all that time and never known the pastor and elders. The pastor is an irrelevant figure in their lives. The child’s parents may know him but not the children. Oh, they might have perhaps seen the pastor’s photo a few times on a Church brochure. Maybe…. But they have had no personal interaction with him. They may never have (or very rarely) heard him speak. Given that the pastors/elders’ role is to shepherd the entire flock (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2), this is a very sad state of affairs and one that we contend is thoroughly unbiblical.

Is it any wonder then that with no specially marked room for those in their young twenties to go to during the Sunday worship service, they feel very out of place when, perhaps for the very first time, they are now having to worship alongside people of a different age? This is entirely new to them. They have never had to do this before. It is very difficult for them to find any sort of connection with the gathered church because we have taught them to be disconnected.

Because of this, you will see the absence of age-graded ministries at King’s Church. This is intentional on our part. While there may be times for children to be gathered together in order to be taught; similarly to teens, there are no specifically segregated youth or children’s ministries here as we do not find such terms as “children’s minister” or “youth minister” in the Bible. The very concept is extra-biblical.

It has been well said that parents who are relieved of their discipleship duties tend to become dependent on those who have taken over the job. Instead, the Bible clearly teaches that Christian parents (rather than the Church) have the responsibility of providing their children with a solid foundation in the things of God. Parents (especially fathers) are to discipline and train their children.


In Psalm 78:5-7 we read, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”

Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”


We wish to be clear here. Church ministry provides a vital role for the family. Yet it is a specific one in serving the family by training parents to bring up their children in the things of God. Churches should teach fathers how to be family shepherds. Rather than placing the burden of children’s and youth ministry on a few “paid professionals,” churches are to equip parents to teach, train, disciple, and evangelize their children. The parents’ responsibility in discipling their children is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week assignment from the Lord. It is an entire way of life.

Speaking to parents, Deuteronomy 6 says, “You shall teach them (God’s words) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”


I am convinced that the best thing parents can do to facilitate their children worshiping God is to model this themselves. Children cannot fail to notice parents singing hymns to God with their whole hearts, the bowing of heads in reverence while in prayer, the earnestness involved in the reciting of a historic creed of the church, as well as the very close attention given to the hearing of the word of God as it is read and when it is preached. Children also know the difference between an act of duty and an act of delight, even if they are not able to articulate the difference themselves. Joy in God is contagious. God can do much in the heart of a child when true worship is modeled before them.

The American family is fragmented enough. With the demands of life in a fast lane kind of society, it is often hard for families to even sit down for a meal together each evening. Life is hectic and chaotic and don’t we know it? My point is, that the church should not be adding to the problem. Instead, we gather together and on purpose to worship God as a family. In fact, the gathering of the people to worship is families joining other families in the worship of our triune God.

As a parent, while very conscious of my many flaws, I am jealous to be the model of worship for my kids. I want them to see a man after God’s own heart, not merely in the pages of a book, but right in front of them. I don’t want to hand over this amazing God-given opportunity and responsibility to someone else whom I do not know.

God made me the father of my kids and He wants me to lead them to Him through the means of what they observe in my life. I want them to be in awe of God as I am, and I am eager to model this for my children. No pretense… nothing artificial… but authentic worship flowing out from a heart captured by the God he loves. If this is in any way real in my life, I am convinced that children can sense this, to a far greater degree than we might think.

Parents can also ask questions of their children after the service is over, and explain anything that was unclear or not understood. It can become an amazing opportunity to teach the great doctrines of the faith, on a level the child can absorb, in spite of the fact that many things went over the child’s head in the service. Parents can ask “what were you thinking when we did this in the service?” and by their answer, find out immediately the perceptions of the child. Then the parent can explain things and point to the Bible as to why we did what we did in the service. Great learning can occur in such moments, especially when this kind of parental/child interaction becomes a regular habit in this way.

Both the historic and more modern hymns of our time are often filled with theological words and concepts beyond the grasp of a young child. However, it will inevitably begin to make sense to a child as he grows in understanding. The fact that he does not understand everything now is not a problem. The words, and the concepts behind them, will become more and more familiar over time, and that is a very exciting prospect.

Think of this: If a child is present as the word is being preached in earnest, and all around are caught up in awe of God as His word is heralded… do you really think a child can have no perception of this? I think the answer is obvious. A child can indeed grasp this.

Then, let me ask you: do you think they would capture this in children’s church to the same degree? Once again, I think the answer is obvious. It is not very likely. And as a parent, I would never wish my children to miss this taste of the majesty of God for all the world.

The formative years of a child are when patterns of behavior are instilled by the parents. Part of that training involves the family in worship together on the Lord’s Day. Sunday morning is different. It is sacred in fact. It is the time set aside when all in the family engage in the worship of God, along with the rest of the gathered saints and therefore, it is the task of parents to be teaching this to their children, both by precept and example.

Pastor Nick Batzig writes, “Our young children may not know and understand all that is being said from the pulpit, but they will forever have the example of sitting under sound biblical preaching.

My friend, John Larson, once told me how he had grown up in a church with a faithful pastor who preached God’s word expositionally every Lord’s Day. He said that while he didn’t remember much of what that minister said from the pulpit, he remembers the example that man set by faithfully getting up before the congregation week in and week out – to open and expound the Scriptures to the people of God. The example of a man who gives himself to a diligent study of God’s word in order to preach it to the people of God every week will impact our children for life. If we dismiss our children immediately before the sermon we are essentially taking that example away from them. Keeping your children in the service sets before them the model of God’s minister doing what is most important. This is why we should keep them in.”

He continues, “Every Christian family is (or should be) trying to figure out how to bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Every Christian family fails at points and feels the burden of their failures. It is a great encouragement when families are sitting side by side with other families in the worship service. It is a great encouragement to see young children singing hymns in the service. It is a great encouragement to see fathers leaning over and gently helping their children understand what is going on and how they can focus better. This is lost when we simply shuffle our children off to ‘children’s church’ until they are teenagers. This is yet another reason why we should keep them in.

Though I have – many, many times – felt my own insufficiency and failings as a father, I have also been encouraged by what the Lord is doing in the lives of my sons – especially during the worship service. The other day, I looked out over the congregation as we were singing and I saw my 8, 6, and 5 years olds trying to sing from the hymnal.

I, (as a pastor) unlike so many fathers in our church, do not have the privilege of training my children during worship times. I try to train them during our times of family worship. That sight of my sons participating was a joy and delight to my heart. That evening, friends of ours visited our church.

After the service, the husband came up and said, ‘It was so encouraging to see your sons singing There is a Fountain Filled with Blood without a hymnal.’

This was an enormous encouragement to me – in light of all of the failings and shortcomings that I am so painfully aware of regarding the shepherding of my family.

Likewise, when parents keep their children in the service for months and years, they will begin to see these sorts of encouragements. As their children hear the same hymns sung repeatedly, as they tell their parents something that they heard in the sermon, or ask a question about some part of the service, this is a great encouragement to the parents to continue to pursue training their children in the Lord. It makes us want to foster that growth that we begin to observe.”


As a church adapts to children being present throughout the worship service all of us are in training. The congregation needs to grasp the fact that children are not perfect, nor will they be. Congregational awareness is a vitally important component in all of this. And yet, on the other hand, parents need to be sensitive also, if not more so. Parents should make sure that an entire service is not disrupted by the noise of a child.

Concerning this, once again Pastor Batzig writes, “I wholeheartedly agree that the whimpering cry of a baby can be precious; but, more often than not, the crying of infants and whining or talking of toddlers is disruptive to the minister(s) and congregants. It is selfish when parents insist on keeping their crying baby in the service. If a congregant was constantly coughing or sneezing, the loving thing for that individual to do was to dismiss himself or herself from the service until their cough subsided. So too, parents ought to lay aside their right to have their child in every second of the worship service and care for the other members of the congregation who are seeking to listen to what is being said.”

With all this being understood, let us remember that our children are not merely the church of tomorrow, but the church of today. They are very precious to the Lord and to us. As we gather together on the Lord’s Day, may we worship God according to how He commands, not according to what may be popular in a particular culture and time.

May we stand in the tradition of Reformation faith and practice, gathering with God’s people each Lord’s Day to exult in God’s truth, thrill over His mercies and graces, and worship His magnificence out loud! As we do, may the Word of God be read, preached, prayed, sung, and seen (in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper), for the edification of all of Christ’s precious sheep – young and old, men and women, parents and children, visibly, publicly, together.