Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Children and the Gospel

Connor is getting to the age where questions about the gospel are becoming more frequent. This relationship to Jesus Christ intrigues him and well it should. He watches his mother and father walk, talk, and live with a man he cannot see, touch, hear, or feel. I imagine that even his wild imagination has trouble keeping up with such a proposition.

His prayers have been beautifully simple and heart-wrentching. I listen as he asks the Lord in the best way he knows how to keep him from sin, to help him to understand salvation, to help him turn from his sin and turn to God. He asks for grace and faith and says he is sorry for his sin. After discipline a while back he came to me later with the concern that he was a scoffer and didn't want to be like those that didn't listen to their father's instruction. He wants to read his bible and asks frequently to hear another story or chapter. He strives with all his heart to obey and honor Marie and I.

Does that mean that he is converted? Does it mean that spiritual life is within him? Maybe - maybe not. It is simply too soon to tell and the last thing that I want to do is give him some false assurance of salvation prematurely. Besides, I could never give him that gift anyway.

If this is an interest to you at all, check this out. Jim Ellif is my favorite pastor when it comes to talking about children and the gospel. I'll leave you with an excerpt from the article.

The parents of the interested child should move the emphasis off the externals mentioned earlier—praying a "sinner's" prayer (that is not even found in the Bible), walking an aisle, talking to the pastor, raising a hand, signing a card—to a look at life.

When your five year old child comes home from a children's meeting with a card in his hand saying that he has "prayed the prayer" of salvation and been converted, what are you going to do? If you have always emphasized that coming to Christ means that you "pray the sinner's prayer, and that once a person prays a prayer to receive Jesus he will be saved because God does not lie," then you are in a very difficult position. Now that he has prayed this prayer, how are you supposed to lead him?

If you persist in holding to your idea that praying a prayer, or some other external and additional (usually manmade) accoutrement to faith is the pivotal act that makes a Christian, then you have to accept his experience as inviolable. But if you are a more biblical thinker, you will not at all believe that doing such a thing invariably makes your child a Christian. With genuine respect for any movement and interest your child has shown toward God, you will nonetheless bring him to this reality: "When God saves a person, he makes him alive from the dead. When God makes you a true Christian you will see signs of this life that will increase until you can be sure that you are alive."


Allen said...

Good post Adam. I can't wait for the day when I can talk to my little one about the gospel.

It is encouraging to me to see such intentional and careful parenting. Thanks.

I'm not worthy! said...

This post just made me smile all the way through. The thought of Connor having such godly parents in his life, he is blessed more than he knows. Heck, you teach me alot and i'm not even your kid.

I can't wait until I can have little ones of my own.

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Tony K. said...

Good post. God's work in our hearts is a mystery - even more so in the heart of a child. Keep up the good work and keep praying.