Have you ever found yourself asking, “Is my child saved? Is he or she really a Christian?”
Whether you are a young parent like me or one who has grown children, we wrestle with the same challenge: How can we know if our children are saved?
Because we so desperately want to know that our children our saved, we can be tempted to rely on outward signs as a gauge of our children’s salvation. But, this can be a mistake!
Two “Signs” That Do Not Guarantee Our Children’s Salvation
As a kid there were times I would lie awake at night, fearful of falling asleep and then never waking up again. I would recite a prayer of confession to be sure that I really was saved, just in case the many times I recited it before didn’t take. As I’ve talked with others, I have come to realize that this is a common struggle.
When we consider Romans 10:9, we read that there is a confession we make when we believe in Christ. We acknowledge before God and others that we are identifying with Christ. Many of you may remember back to a specific time when you confessed to God that you desperately needed Him and wanted Him to save you from your sin. While confessing that Christ is Lord is important, there are cautions we need to consider, especially as we seek to disciple our children.
Are we looking to the prayer to provide comfort, security, and confirmation of salvation? Are we placing our faith in our own words rather than in Christ? The prayer itself is not enough to save us. It is faith in Christ that brings salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that salvation does not come through works but by grace through faith.
Whether you are a parent or a child, you may be holding onto a prayer that was prayed as the evidence for salvation. Be careful. The prayer itself is not what will save but faith in Christ. As we disciple our children, let’s regularly point them to the object of our faith, Jesus Christ.
An Obedient Life
What parent doesn’t want his child to be perfect, fully obedient, especially in public (and even more so at church)? If we lose sight of the gospel of grace, we may be tempted to conform our children on the outside, while forgetting their heart. They may be “perfectly” obedient as young children, but when they grow older, their true heart will become evident.
Who can forget the surprising actions of Judas Iscariot? He followed Jesus and spent countless hours with Him and the other disciples, yet though his outward performance was enough to fool his contemporaries, in the end the true state of his heart became known.
There were times when I trusted in my external behavior as evidence that I was saved, and felt that I was “okay” as long as I was better than most of the other kids. Parents, as you disciple your children, be careful that you are not encouraging them to place their faith in their outward performance. Though you may not say it to them directly, your subtle actions can encourage them to think that all they need to do is obey and then they are saved.
Instead, let’s join the apostle Paul in reminding them how it is they can be justified before God. Galatians 2:16 says, “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
Though we want to encourage obedience (Ephesians 6:1), we need to show our children that their hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and that their only hope to please God is by putting their faith in the perfect work of Christ.
Works Vs. Faith
As we disciple our children, we must help them understand the difference between trusting in their works and putting their faith in Christ. Ultimately, we have to leave our children’s hearts in the hands of our loving and sovereign God. There is nothing more comforting than to know that the all-wise, all-powerful, all-good and loving God of the universe cares more for our children than we do. If we need a reminder of this we simply need to look to the cross.
This guest post was written by Luke Bylsma, who serves as assistant pastor at Lakeshore Baptist Church in Grand Haven, Michigan. He and his amazing wife, Karin, have two children. You can follow Luke at The Pastor’s Blog.
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