By George Feldman
On one occasion the Lord taught His followers a lesson using children as an object lesson. A dispute had arose between His disciples as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you,except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:2-4).
First of all, some clarification is needed as to the context. This is not about personal salvation as we understand it today, but about place and position in the kingdom for believing Israelites. And the kingdom of heaven is never used as a reference to heaven as a future habitation for believers. To the contrary, the kingdom of heaven is about Planet Earth and Heaven's (God's) rule over the earth, beginning with the Millennial reign of Christ.
Unlike personal salvation which cannot be gained by good works or merit in any sense of the word, entry into the kingdom of heaven did. Certain qualities of character and personality found in attitudes and disposition of heart and mind toward God were basic and all-important. Even though children are born into this world with the dark side of human nature like the rest of us, yet He saw the positive qualities children possess while they are young. He told His followers they would have to be "converted", in other words, change, turn around, and become like little children: trusting, lowly, loving and forgiving. What God commands He can create by His grace in the life of every believer.
We believe there is universal truth in our lesson above; truth that is applicable to all believers. We must become like children in the same way His followers were instructed to be if we are to experience spiritual growth and enjoy God's blessings now and in the life to come.