Children and Salvation
The following is an excerpt from an upcoming book I’ll be releasing with B&H Publishing on February 1, 2013 called Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You are Saved.
Many parents don’t want to lead their child to make a decision for Christ too early. What if we coerce them into praying a prayer they don’t understand, and that keeps them from really dealing with the issues later when they understand it? Might having them “pray the prayer” too early inoculate them from really coming to Jesus?
Very good questions, but those all arise from seeing salvation as a ceremony rather than a posture of faith. There is only one posture ever appropriate to Christ: surrendered to His Lordship, and believing that He did what He said He did. From the very beginning of their lives, I want my kids to assume that posture! Why would I ever want them to have a different one? The opposite of believing is unbelieving; the opposite of surrendered is rebellious. I have taught my children, all along the way, to be surrendered toward Jesus and believing of what He said He accomplished.
But what if they don’t really grasp all that it entails? What if they don’t really know why they are leaning upon Him, why they need His grace? Well, do you understand yet all that it entails? As my kids grow older, they will certainly have moments of insight in which they understand better His grace, and defining moments in which they “own” that posture. But it is a posture I can encourage them toward from the beginning.
In fact, I’d even be happy for them not even really to know the moment they “received Christ.” I’d be thrilled for them to say, “For as long as I can remember, I have recognized the Lordship of Jesus and believed that He did what He said He did.”
I don’t mean here to downplay that salvation and regeneration happen at a point. Jesus’ use of birth language to describe conversion is enough to prove that there is a moment when we pass from death to life (John 3:1–3). You don’t “grow into” pregnancy. But don’t confuse the fact that it happens at a point with the necessity of knowing that point.
The bottom line: It’s never too young to begin trusting in and surrendering to Jesus. Luke says that John the Baptist was “filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). If nothing else, that teaches us that there is never an age too early for God’s Spirit to be at work in our children, and thus it is never too early to teach them to adopt the proper posture toward Him. The gospel has been announced! The whole world is summoned to repent and believe. That includes our children.