Teaching Children the Bible: Matthew 5 (Sermon on the Mount, Part 1 of 3)

(Read the passage of Scripture and brief exposition with your child daily.)

Matthew 5:1-3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  This is the characteristic of true faith, “poor in spirit.” It is the opposite of self-sufficiency. In light of God’s perfection, our virtue is bankrupt. We have no merit to offer God except for that earned for us by our Savior. The poor in spirit are conscious of their own lostness and hopelessness apart from Christ. We are to come to God in humility and broken of our pride.

Matthew 5:4
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Real repentance over sin is generated by true contrition and profound sorrow. God comforts the mourner through His forgiveness and salvation.

Matthew 5:5
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness is not weakness. It is gentleness and supreme self-control that is empowered by God. At the consummation of His kingdom, Christ will usher in a new heaven and a new earth, and the new earth will be owned by the meek.

Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” This is opposite of the Pharisees’ self-righteousness. Our lives should be marked by an intense hunger and a parched palate for true righteousness, which only comes through Christ. He is the bread of life (John 6:35) and the living water (John 4:10, 7:37). Jesus is the One who fills us and satisfies our souls.

Mathew 5:7
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Christians live every day and inherit eternal life by God’s mercy. Because God has been merciful to us, we are to show mercy to others.

Matthew 5:8
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” God will not allow Himself to be seen by those who are impure. A sinful heart is made pure by Christ when a person repents of their sin and believes in Jesus to be their Savior (Mark 1:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Every Christian will see God in heaven.

Matthew 5:9
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Christians are to be agents of reconciliation and bring peace to bear as representatives of the Prince of Peace. We are to be peacemakers, not just peacekeepers. Peace that compromises truth, integrity, or justice is a false peace.

Matthew 5:10
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Note “for righteousness sake.” The “blessed” are Christ-followers who are persecuted by those who hate Jesus. “There are different levels of persecution, yet no Christian can go through life without some form of it.” (R.C. Sproul)

Matthew 5:11-12
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The blessing promised is for Christians when they are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. This includes being slandered, reviled and falsely accused. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad” because God will greatly reward persecuted believers in heaven.

Matthew 5:13
Christians are the salt of the earth. Salt is a flavor enhancement and preservative. Because God’s love consumes the believer, we are to season this dying world with His love, joy, and compassion Our culture is preserved from self-destruction by the influence of Christ and His people.

Matthew 5:14-16
Christians are also the light of the world. Our light is a reflection of “the light of the world” – Jesus (John 8:12). His light brings truth to bear and rescues people out of darkness. It cannot be extinguished. The life of a true believer illuminates Christ to the world and thus glorifies God.

Matthew 5:17-20
This passage from the Sermon on the Mount is about Christ and the law. The function of the law of God is to expose our sin and show us our need for Christ. The law also reveals what is pleasing to God. Only Jesus lived in perfect obedience to the law, and He fulfilled it in every aspect (in the same sense that prophecy is fulfilled). Christ affirmed the inerrancy and Authority of the Old Testament as the Word of God. Note: We are not saved by keeping the law because none of us can do so (Romans 3:23). A sinner (law breaker) is saved by God’s grace through Christ, and His righteousness is transferred to the believer at the moment of faith (Romans 3:21-26, 4:5, 9:30: Philippians 3:9).

Matthew 5:21-26
Jesus teaches about His view of murder. Our Lord does not alter the terms of the law (“Do not murder.” See Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:16) but corrects the rabbinical understanding of the law. Jesus taught that this commandment is far more profound than the external act of murder. It also includes one’s internal thoughts, attitudes, and intentions of the heart; unjustifiable anger, hated, insults, slander, and estrangement from people. “So, when God says we should not murder, that means, by extension, that we should not do anything that damages our neighbor’s life.” (R.C. Sproul)

Matthew 5:27-30
Jesus’ view of adultery. Once again, Jesus does not alter the law (“Do not commit adultery.” See Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18). What He says here is that even if you have refrained from actual adultery, you have not fully obeyed this law if you look at another woman with lustful intent. It is not only the outward sin that offends God, but also the internal sin within our mind and heart. We must remove everything in our life that stimulates sensual lusts and desires for anyone other than our spouse.

Matthew 5:31-32
Jesus teaches on divorce. Divorce and remarriage are only allowed under two circumstances; (1) when a spouse commits adultery (see this passage), and (2) when the unbelieving spouse leaves (abandons) the marriage (I Corinthians 7:15).

Matthew 5:33-37
Jesus teaches about oaths. When a Christian takes an oath (in court, wedding vows, and so forth), they do so before Almighty God, who takes such vows very seriously. Oaths come with the burden of responsibility and should not be trivialized or made lightly. God wants us to have integrity and keep our word. Whenever a believer makes a promise, they keep it.

Matthew 5:38-42
Jesus teaches about retaliation. As Christians, we are called to turn the other cheek. We are not to get even or seek revenge against those who personally attack us with insults and slander. Instead, we trust in God’s perfect justice and let Him handle it. God alone is the One who repays the evil-doer. (Romans 12:19). This is a call to surrender all personal rights. Christ’s teaching here only deals with matters of personal retaliation, not criminal offenses or acts of military aggression, where believers act to defend themselves, family, or nation.

  • Download and print exposition for Matthew 6 (Sermon on the Mount, Part 2 of 3) at cmikids.com. It is free.

Scripture Quotes ©2018 English Standard Version Bible (ESV); Exposition by Stephen L. Karges ©2018 Children’s Ministries International, Inc.


Teaching Children the Truth: The Inspiration of Scripture

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)

The most loving thing we can do for children is to teach them the Truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). To do that, Christian parents and children’s ministry leaders in the church must know the Truth for themselves (John 17:17), speak the Truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and faithfully live-out the Truth everyday (1 John 5:1-5).

In other words, our wisdom, words, and actions must be founded upon the Source of Truth – the Triune God…God the Father (Deuteronomy 32:4), God the Son (John 14:6), God the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). One God – Three Persons (Matthew 28:19).

God has revealed His Truth on the pages of the Bible (Psalm 119:142; John 17:17). It is the very Word of the Living God. When the Bible speaks, God speaks. All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). The Word of God literally proceeded out of His mouth.  He is the Source and Author of the Bible.

With every verse of Scripture, there is a primary Author and a secondary author. The secondary author is the human instrument God chose to record His Text (2 Peter 1:20-21). Over and above the 40+ human authors of the Bible’s 66 books, there was the primary Author – God Himself (Matthew 4:4). The Word of God has come down to this world from the Throne of Grace. Every jot, every tittle, every verb tense, every word, every phrase, every sentence, every literary unit, and every book of the Holy Bible has come down to us by the Holy Spirit of God.

Although the Scripture was written down by men, it is not of men or from men, it is from God. (1 Thessalonians 2:13). God speaks through the Bible, so we must be discerning and know the difference between His Word and the words of men (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Truth does not come from within ourselves, as Buddhists believe, but from the Word of God, to which we add nothing (Proverbs 30:5-6).

The Scripture is the revelation of God (Psalm 19:7-9; Hebrews 1:1-2) and in the Bible, the true God is revealed. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, ESV).

God’s Word has power. Through the Bible, God releases His power to save (Romans 1:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18; James 1:21) and to sanctify (John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26).

Why is teaching children the Truth so important? Because God is Truth and how a child responds to His Word is the determiner of their life, indeed, their eternity (John 8:47, 20:31).  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV)

God is not silent, as some believe. He has told us everything He wants us to know. It is all written down. We need to learn it, believe it, submit to it, and pass-on the Truth to the next generation (Psalm 78:4-7).

Teach these things to your children at home and at church. (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). Give kids their own copy of the Bible. (My recommendation: English Standard Version [ESV] children’s Bible.) Then spend time together reading, studying, memorizing, and discussing the Scripture (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 2 Timothy 3:15).

That is how to impart truth to children.

Steve Karges is the founder and president of Children’s Ministries International, Inc.(cmikids.com) where he has served for 37 years. He is also the general editor of The Truth Test (TheTruthTest.org).


Steve Karges’ Testimony: 50 years in Christ

Contact: Steve Karges, Founder and President, Children’s Ministries International, Inc.; Coordinator, Global 4/14 Day, 760-746-1882, Steve@cmikids.com

SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 4, 2017, — Fifty years ago today, my life was changed FOREVER! On June 4, 1967, I walked down the aisle of my childhood church and received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I was nine years old.

On that Sunday around 12 noon, there were no bells or whistles, no bright lights or thundering noises, but everything in my life changed! All my sins (past, present, and future) were forgiven and I was adopted into God’s family. I was loved unconditionally and my future was secured for all eternity.

Today, I experience love when I feel unworthy, joy when my heart is broken, peace during life’s raging storms, hope in disappointment and guidance when I need a personal GPS. Jesus meets every need. He has brought meaning, purpose, and direction to my life. He plants dreams within my heart and then brings those dreams to life.

Through Christ, I have the strength to stand-up again when I stumble or get knocked down because I know the foe is defeated and victory is assured.

I am not perfect — just ask my wife! I am simply someone who was lost and God found. I am grateful He came looking for me and reached out His hand in love! I am glad I reached back by faith.

 “It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:32, ESV)

Fast forward to 2017 and I am a children’s pastor with a global ministry. I have learned from my own childhood experience that kids can understand the gospel, repent of sin, believe in Christ, and follow Him for the rest of their lives.

This is a day to celebrate JESUS!


Truth in Children’s Ministry: The Disney Way Undermines Authority of Scripture

In Evangelicalism, there is a movement in children’s ministry, which is rooted in the emergent church, that promotes the wisdom and business practices of entertainment mogul Walt Disney (1901-1966). These influencers encourage pastors and leaders to use Disney’s ideas to build the children’s ministry in their congregations. This methodology is known as the Disney way.

As with every innovative approach to ministry, this one must also be examined in the light of Scripture.

First, the Disney way of children’s ministry robs God of His glory. The Bible says all glory belongs to God (I Peter 4:11) and He doesn’t share His glory with anyone (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11; Psalm 115:1).

If a local church successfully implements the Disney way, and these methods effectively attract more kids to the children’s ministry, who gets the credit? Not Christ. The praise goes to Disney and his genius. The Disney way glorifies man by putting human will, human ability, and human achievement in the place of God.  Giving a man credit for church growth steals glory from God.

Some may say, “the end justifies the means,” but that is pragmatism and a classic example of how Biblical theology has taken a back seat to methodology in the church today.

Second, the Disney way of children’s ministry does not harmonize with Scripture. The Bible tells believers not to love the world or the things of the world (I John 2:15). What is worldlier than Disney, with its “Happiest place on Earth” motto? Christ is the One who builds His church (Matthew 16:18; I Corinthians 3:6-7). To think we can do this, with some help from Disney, undermines the Authority of Scripture.

Why should Christians exchange the “God-breathed” infallible Scripture for human wisdom? They shouldn’t. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19, NKJV; See I Corinthians 2:5).

Third, the Disney way of children’s ministry dishonors Christ and His church by trivializing the sacred and holy.  The church is not supposed to be a Disney production. Disney is an entertainment company that is based on fantasy. The Church, which is sacred and holy, is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15, ESV). In the Old Testament, the brothers, Nadab and Abihu faced God’s wrath when they trivialized the sacred and holy (Leviticus 10:1-3).

When children enter the church building to worship God, they cross the threshold of the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon, from the profane to the holy.

The Disney way prioritizes the “customer.” The church’s priority is to worship Christ in spirit and truth (John 4:24). How does He want to be worshiped? What pleases and honors Him?

Christ alone is the One who draws sinners to Himself (John 12:32).

Contact: Steve Karges, Founder and President, Children’s Ministries International, Inc., www.cmikids.com; General Editor, The Truth Test, www.thetruthtest.org; (760) 746-1882


A Call for Discernment: Strange Fire in Global Children’s Ministry Movement Minimizes Authority and Truth of Scripture

scriptureSince the 1970s, I have had a front row seat to the world and have witnessed firsthand the phenomenal rise of global children’s ministry.  Over the past 40 years, more Christians, churches, religious groups, and resources have been committed to the ministry of kids worldwide, than at any other time in history.

This has resulted in a cottage industry of children’s ministry products including college degrees, technology, expert consultants, publishing, conferences, books, magazines, curriculum, websites, chat rooms, social media apps, television and radio programs, music, equipment, facilities, events, professional entertainers, sports, games, toys, and more.

Some of these products are valuable resources that have improved ministry to children over the years. A number of products are questionable, at best, and a few are simply blasphemous.

Today’s global children’s ministry movement can be painted with a broad brush. In the name of “unity,” this worldwide network of “influencers” has embraced anyone and everyone regardless of doctrine. This includes pastors, children’s ministry leaders, missionaries, churches, denominations, para-church organizations, mission societies, political groups, educators, business leaders, religious publishers, Christian broadcasters and charitable foundations. Many who have stated beliefs contrary to Scripture are welcomed into this movement and tolerated, as long as they say they love Jesus.

But the written Word and the Living Word cannot be separated. They are ONE.

Although the global children’s ministry movement is a “grab bag” of theology, practices and manifestations, there are many creative and talented pastors and leaders who are committed to Christ and whose teaching is Biblically sound. These heroes of the faith evangelize and disciple children, and equip believers for ministry. As they continue to serve humbly, inspire others, and “build-up” the Body of Christ around the world, their contributions to global children’s ministry are making a huge impact.

While some partnerships are profitable for wider ministry to children, the global children’s ministry movement is dominated by the marketing of merchandise and “emerging” leaders who espouse a new form of spiritually. They have imported extra-Biblical beliefs known as Word of Faith, Signs and Wonders, Dominion Theology, Kingdom Now, Transformation Theology, Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare, Seven Mountains Mandate, New Mountain, Spiritual Mapping, Emergent Theology, Contemplative-Reflective Spiritual Formation, and Mysticism. The infiltration of these counterfeit doctrines into global children’s ministry has come primarily through leaders (and followers) of the New Apostolic Reformation and Emerging Church.

As a result of their influence, the Authority and Truth of Scripture has been minimized or completely disregarded in the global church. It has been replaced by “spiritual experiences” and entertainment such as “theater, art, science, drama, music, computer, and cooking,” as one purpose statement makes clear on an American church’s website.

The global church “promotes fun while building character,” and uses “reality-conscious teaching” to accomplish that.  The church is where a child can “belong…be heard…and meet new friends.” Parents are told that the way to connect their kids to God and help them grow spiritually is “achieved best through relationships.” Church has become “a place where loving God is cool and kids rule!”

The name of Jesus is occasionally mentioned, but His story is not fully told because the Bible is not used. “The Gospel” is referred to, but never clearly explained from Scripture, so children leave church confused, with no understanding of Truth.  When kids do not learn about Jesus from the Bible, they do accept Him as their Savior and Lord, or in their shallow faith, lack the assurance of salvation.

Eric Ludy, president of Ellerslie Mission Society said, “If you believe the Word of God is the word of men, your foundations will fail you. But, if you want to build upon a rock, then you take God at His Word. The Word of God is the Word of God and the Word of God is as God is: It cannot lie. Therefore, when you have those foundation points, you are not shaken.”

The global church is teaching children to build their foundations on sand, not ROCK. When God’s Word is minimized or abandoned, kids will eventually look for truth elsewhere. 2 Timothy 4:4 (NIV) says, “They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” Why are we surprised when kids decide not to follow Jesus and one day leave the church, never to return?

The responsibility for children’s ministry begins with Christian parents and ends with the leadership of the local church. Ask questions and find out what is being taught to the children in your congregation.  Are they learning the Scripture or simply fables? Do not be indifferent or remain silent, SPEAK UP FOR TRUTH!

Until Christians rise-up and demand change from their church leaders, this strange fire in the global children’s ministry movement will continue to infiltrate local congregations around the world. This is an URGENT call for discernment to Christian parents, pastors and Elders within the Body of Christ worldwide.

Steve Karges is president of Children’s Ministries International, Inc., a non-denominational, evangelical Christian ministry, which he founded in 1980 in San Diego, California. Steve is the coordinator of Global 4/14 Day, a worldwide day of prayer for children, held annually on April 14. He is also editor of Heroic Dads, a syndicated commentary for Christian fathers. Steve is married to Janette and they have two grown children. The Karges’ will soon become Foster parents for the first time. Visit www.cmikids.com.