It Starts in Our Own Homes
This article appears in “Reconciling the World to Christ,” the April 2023 issue of the White Wing Messenger. The original title as printed in the issue is “Reconciling the World to Christ: Starting With Our Own Homes.”
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:9 ESV).
“How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when his own disciples do not teach his gospel to their own sons and daughters?”—Charles Spurgeon, The Kind of Revival Wanted by the Church.
The vision for reconciling the world to Christ should begin in each of our homes. Making the sharing of faith and providing invitations for our children to accept Christ as Savior should be a priority for all believing parents and grandparents. So often, parents care for the daily needs of their children and engage them in activities to prepare them for future success in life. While this is part of good parenting and an expectation, there is nothing more important than attending to children’s spiritual needs and direction. Unfortunately, many parents feel inadequate or ill-equipped to present the gospel message to their children and rely on the church to provide these opportunities.
While this is common and understandable, God has given parents the responsibility and most influential role when it comes to guiding their child’s path—including salvation. As parents talk to their children about salvation and engage them in conversation, the Holy Spirit can activate the faith of a child and draw them to repentance. How can a parent, grandparent, or caregiver become more comfortable introducing their child to faith?
LAYING A FOUNDATION
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 NIV).
Our children can develop a foundation of understanding God through our words and example. This foundation is laid as we talk about God through activities such as reading Bible stories with them, memorizing scriptures together, and singing worship songs in the car. This foundation becomes even more solid as our children experience life in our homes where faith is modeled through our examples, words, actions, and discipline. Deuteronomy 6:6, 7 reminds us that these words and our example are best experienced in the context of family life.
DETERMINE READINESS TO RECEIVE
As a child begins to learn the message of salvation, perhaps the parent is in the best position to discern if their child has an accurate understanding of the gospel. We must allow the Holy Spirit to draw our children through his convicting power. In our desire for their salvation, we should avoid pushing our children into making a faith decision, framing it in a way that they wish to please us, or motivating them by overemphasizing fear. We can ensure that children are ready and understand the gift of salvation by asking them questions.
You can share scriptures such as Isaiah 53:6, Romans 3:23, and Romans 6:23. Than ask the child questions such as “What is sin?” “How has sin affected your relationship with God?” “How can you be made right with God?” Listen intently to the child’s response to see if they fully understand. If they do not, you can provide correction to them in a loving manner.
LEADING YOUR CHILD TO CHRIST
“…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:9, 10 CSB, NIV).
If you believe that your child has a solid understanding of sin and that the Holy Spirit has led them to accept Christ, you can lead them through a review of God’s plan and the prayer of salvation.
It is always a good idea to review the plan of salvation with them. This can simply be sharing the following points with them:
- God knows all about your sins, but he still loves you.
- Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again to take the punishment for your sin.
- You can receive Jesus as your Savior from sin.
Before praying, share a verse with them to help them understand how they should respond to God’s invitation. You might read or quote one of the following Scripture verses that contains both the child’s response and God’s promise.
- “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 NIV).
- “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13 NIV).
- “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).
Verses like 1 John 1:9 give a clear understanding of God’s salvation promise that if we do our part (confess our sin), God will do his part (forgive us our sin). This is a wonderful review exercise to do with children. Ask them, “What is God’s part?” and “What is our part?”
If it seems from their responses that your child understands the gospel and is ready to receive Christ as Savior, give them the opportunity to decide. Ask, “Would you like to receive Jesus as your Savior now?”
If your child says yes, encourage them to pray. Say something like, “You can talk to God out loud, just like you have been talking to me. Tell God how you feel about the wrong things you have done. Tell him that you believe he died on the cross for you.”
If your child does not know how to pray or does not feel he can pray alone, help him form a prayer, line by line. Remember, it is not the prayer itself that saves the child. His salvation comes through his faith in Christ as Savior.
Sample Prayer: Dear Jesus, I am sorry for the wrong things I have done. I believe you died on the cross so that I could be saved from my sins. Thank you for forgiving my sins. I choose to live for you.
For older children, you might decide not to provide a word-for-word prayer. Rather, you can provide prompts for their prayer such as telling God that they are sorry for their sins, asking for forgiveness, and asking him to be Lord of their life.
When your child finishes praying, ask: “What did Jesus do for you?” Don’t say, “I’m glad Jesus has saved you.” Allow the child’s assurance to come from the Holy Spirit through the Word of God rather than from you.
To confirm the child’s experience of salvation, use the verse that you reviewed with them before your prayer. Remind the child of their part and ask, “Did you do your part?” Then ask, “What was God’s part?” Assure them, “If you did your part, God will always do his part.”
PREPARE THEM FOR BAPTISM
Once your child has decided to accept God’s gift of salvation, you should encourage them to take the next biblical step in their walk with Christ, baptism.
IT’S THE FATHER’S WILL
Jesus concluded the story of the lost sheep with these words, “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14). It is the Father’s will that our children are saved, and he provides us with the precious opportunity to lead them in this experience.
It is God who saves our children—not our will, our words, or our way. When we realize that it is God who does the saving, we can relax, ready ourselves to do our part, and see God work in the lives of our children.