Chapter 7: Lies Women Believe About Children
Day 4: Your Children’s Faith
Lie #30: “I know my child is a Christian because he prayed to receive Christ at an early age.”
There’s nothing quite so beautiful as the innocent and pure faith of a child. Many people wish they could capture it for themselves, envying the peace, the joy children have when it comes to following Jesus. Unfortunately, that purity and innocence doesn’t always last. As a child gets older, the peace disappears the joy fades, and the innocence is destroyed. The real world and real life have crashed in and the child suddenly becomes an adult. What now?
I cannot tell you the number of people I’ve talked to who grew up in a Christian home, departed from that Christian home, and lived extremely non-Christian lives, who tell me they have a relationship with Jesus and are on their way to Heaven. When I ask them why, they point out a prayer they prayed as a child; an experience they had with a relative; or sometimes the ol’ “I have a good heart,” argument. Sadly, none of these things are evidences of salvation.
It’s not enough to want to go to Heaven; we must meet the requirements to go to Heaven. Wishful thinking does nothing to improve our chances. Words we utter make no changes. If we truly want a relationship with Jesus, we must look to the Scriptures to first see what God requires to be saved, and then to discover the evidence and proof of that salvation.
God has certainly not hidden any of these things from us – quite the opposite, in fact. He wants us to know exactly how to have a relationship with Him and how to know for SURE that we have a relationship with Him. Not only is it all throughout the Scriptures, but the book of 1 John was specifically written “so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
In Luke 14, we learn that in order to follow Jesus, we must forsake everything we have – including our relationships and our own desires.
In Romans 10, we see that we must make Jesus our Master and we must surrender our lives to Him.
In Romans 13, we’re commanded to make our lives “living sacrifices” to honor God.
In 1 Corinthians 6, we’re reminded that our lives, and even our bodies, are not our own – we belong to Christ and were bought with a price.
In 2 Corinthians 5, we’re told that the proof of our relationship with God is the transformation of our lives – all things have become new.
In Ephesians 5, we’re called children of the light who must live in the light, not in darkness.
In Hebrews 10, we read that someone who claims a relationship with God but continues in their old lifestyle is “trampling the Son of God underfoot,” and that no forgiveness remains for such a person.
In 1 John 3, we’re told that someone who continues in sin not only does not know God but has never known God. He continues by saying that if you not a child of God, you are a child of the Devil.
These are just a few of the passages that speak about the assurance we must have in salvation. To put it all together, we must forsake our own lives in order to receive Jesus’s life. When we surrender our lives to His control, He works in us to transform us from the inside out so that become completely different people – people who look, act, and talk like Jesus, not the world. People who are known for righteousness, not sin and evil. People who are in the light, not in the dark.
When I often see is quite the opposite – people who say the right words but their lives do not match up. We have a saying around here that we use all the time – “your walk talks and your talk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” If nothing has changed in a person’s life, regardless of what prayers they have prayed, what churches they have attended, what good works they have done, or how “good” their heart is, the Bible is clear – such a person does not know God.
Romans 1:16 says that the gospel is God’s power for salvation. If nothing has changed, what power is there? None. A person who claims to walk with God but lives like the world is denying the power of God to transform a life.
So what about that prayer your child (or you) prayed so many years ago? Was it all a lie? Was it worthless? Not at all.
Children must learn to follow Christ, and parents are in the greatest and most powerful position to teach them. However, many parents do their children a disservice by failing to prepare them for the inevitable realities of the world that will challenge their commitment to Christ.
For a child, following Jesus looks a lot like following their parents. It’s obeying their parents and teachers, reading their Bible, saying their prayers, going to church. And a child knows no different – they are too young, too innocent, to know the alternative that the world offers. And so they do the right things, go to the right places, and say the right things. It’s easy – it’s all under the umbrella of their parents, or teachers, or other relatives.
But the older a child gets, the more they become exposed to the world – and to alternatives to Christ, to obedience, to faithfulness. It is at that point (often referred to as the age of accountability) that a child is now faced with their own decision to follow Christ. No one can make it for them. And now they know what’s at stake. They know exactly what they have to forsake to choose Christ. They know exactly what must change, what must stop, and what must start. And it is at that point, sadly, that many children choose the world instead of Christ.
We see this play out in the life of Samuel. If you’ll remember, Hannah begged God for a son, promising to give him back to service for the Lord for the rest of His life. God heard her prayer and gave her Samuel. When he was old enough, Samuel went to the temple to live and serve and learn from the priest, Eli. Samuel was a good student – he obeyed his teacher and served the Lord, and God looked on him with favor.
1 Samuel 3, we see God calling Samuel to follow Him. You’re probably familiar with the story. Jesus calls Samuel; Samuel runs to Eli, “Yes?” Eli says it wasn’t him, go back to sleep. Samuel does; God calls him again. Again, Samuel goes to Eli, and again, Eli sends him away. A third time it happens, and this time Eli recognizes what’s happening. He instructs Samuel to answer the Lord.
And so the Lord calls to Samuel once again, and now Samuel faces a choice. Will he answer? Up until now, God had not spoken directly to Samuel; Samuel’s relationship with God was through Eli. But now Eli was not here. Now it was just God and Samuel. If Samuel didn’t answer, no one would know.
But Samuel answered. He said “yes,” to God. And God spoke to him and told him to tell Eli of the judgement upon Eli and his sons for their sins. Yikes. Now Samuel faced another choice. Would he do what God asked of him? It would cost him. What if Eli got angry? What if Eli put him out? Remember, Eli had been the only father Samuel had known for years. This would not be an easy task… but only Samuel knew the assignment. If he didn’t do it, who would know? He could keep doing what he was doing, maintain the status quo, and no one would be the wiser. Except for God.
The next morning, Eli asked Samuel what the Lord has told him. It was the moment of truth – and Samuel did it. He told Eli exactly what God had said. No one made him; no one would have known if he didn’t. But he choose God in that moment, even above his family and his home.
Each and every child who chooses Christ will also face this turning point in their lives. As a child, it costs nothing to follow Christ. As an adult, it costs everything.
Remember when we talked about sin being the best news there is? If your child has grown into an adult who chose sin over Christ, let this be an encouragement to you. Jesus came to set people free. There is hope with repentance.
But to ignore their sin, to pretend that they’re okay, is not loving. It is condemning them without hope and without help. If nothing changes, it’s because nothing changed. At some point, a person must cross from death to life. And it does no good to pretend that a dead man is alive.
Too many people are afraid to talk about sin and Hell, afraid to be condemning. But their refusal to discuss such things are the very things that condemn thousands to Hell. Afraid of being judgmental, countless people overcompensate and preach that you can follow Jesus on your own terms, nothing has to change, and you don’t have to give up your sin. I even heard someone once say that Jesus looks at your pile of sin and mess and puts his arm around you, and says to you, “You just let me know when you’re ready and we’ll tackle this pile.” It’s not true. It’s against everything in Scripture. People are being deceived into thinking that they can have a relationship with God while still living in sin. But this is not transformation; it is not God’s power; and it’s not the abundant life Jesus promised. And ultimately, it’s not going to get you to Heaven.
It’s time to let the Word of God change our lives instead of letting our lives change the Word of God.
Key points to remember:
- Transformation is the evidence of salvation.
- Each child must make their own adult decision to follow Christ.
- If nothing changes, it’s because nothing changed.
- Sin is the best news there is.
- Confronting sin is the most loving thing you can do.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.