Last week we considered the dangers of leading children into a premature assurance of salvation. This week, let’s look at a few practical ways to lead children into a strong and confident relationship with Christ.
Encourage Your Child
When your child speaks of his love and commitment to Jesus, let him know you are overjoyed by his desire to please God. Encourage him to discuss his thoughts and ask questions about things that confuse him. Encourage him to get to know Jesus better by spending time with the Lord in prayer and by reading His Word. You may want to consider letting him pick out an age-appropriate Bible and devotional book (there are some available for beginner readers). When he initiates time with God, let him know you are happy to see him seeking Jesus.
Never discourage your child by saying, “If you really knew God, you wouldn’t act like that!” To say such a thing would dishearten your child and render you a hypocrite. As a sinner, you fall equally as short of the glory of God and need His grace as much as any: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Resist the temptation to use God’s wrath as a threat to try to correct your child’s behavior with statements such as, “God’s going to get you if you don’t quit fighting with your sister!” Encourage him to approach God’s throne of grace through love of virtue, not fear of punishment.
When he sins, encourage him to find refuge in the forgiveness of Jesus. Let him witness you do the same. Teach your sons and daughters the Biblical model of admitting sin, being truly sorry for sin, asking forgiveness, and changing sinful behaviors and attitudes.
Challenge Your Child
Tell him God defines true commitment as never turning back. Inform him that turning to Christ is a lifelong commitment, not a one-time prayer. Explain his commitment must not be based on the commitment of his parents or friends. Tell him his commitment must be so strong and true that even if those he loves and those who love him turn away from God, he must not.
Ask him questions that do not require a yes or no answer. For example: “How do you know God loves you?” “Why do you need a Savior?” “What has God done about your sin?” Do not prompt, hint, or put words in his mouth. Allowing him to answer the questions on his own will help you discern his level of understanding and spiritual readiness.
Look for Evidence of Conversion
One definition of repentance is “to change one’s mind.” A true conversion is demonstrated by turning from sin to God, regardless of the age of the one converted. If your child has truly been converted there will be a visible difference in him. If the spirit of Christ truly dwells in his heart, the character of Christ will flow from his heart.
In watching for signs of your child’s conversion, ask yourself:
- Does he try to apply God’s Word to his life?
- Does he desire to obey his parents/authority more than before?
- Does he seem hungry to know Jesus?
- Does he receive correction and instruction with humility?
- Does he have a strong interest in pleasing God?
- Does he seem to genuinely love Jesus?
- Do you see a difference in him?
If he wants to talk about baptism and you are not sure if he is really saved, do not discourage him by saying, “We’re not sure if you are a Christian so you must wait.”
You can encourage as well as challenge by saying, “Don’t worry about that right now. Just keep focusing on getting closer to God. Let your concern be knowing and loving God for a while longer and then we’ll talk about baptism.” Scheduling a talk between you, your child, and your pastor may also be a good step at this point.
This blog was adapted from Ginger’s book, Don’t Make Me Count to Three!