If a child says he’s saved, should you believe him and treat him as saved?
That’s the question we’ve been tossing around these days.
I’m not talking about a child parents believe may not understand salvation. I’m talking about the fear many Christian parents have of an insincere profession from a child who understands salvation.
I’ve actually read advice from Christian authors that parents shouldn’t treat their children like they are saved until the children demonstrate “fruit” of salvation. They are cautioned that joy over a salvation decision shouldn’t be interpreted as fruit. That makes me uncomfortable.
Here’s what I’m thinking.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. Matthew 13:24-30
The Bible actually talks about how we should handle professions of faith, several times. We’re told that in the beginning, it’s impossible to tell the difference between genuine and false professions of faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow for any parent. But it helps me to know that, given evidence that my child understands salvation and their testimony of having received Christ as Savior, I should treat that child as I do any other professing believer. Then I should choose to trust God.
Can I know for certain whether any person, other than my own self, is saved? No. God’s Word tells me this.
Do the actions of people give reason to doubt the salvation of a person? yes. (Passages in First John)
Is it ever appropriate to question the salvation of a person? yes and no. Most of the Scriptures I can think of are really instruction for self examination. I am not reluctant to encourage someone to examine himself. I am far more reluctant to say “I don’t think you’re saved.”
Should I couch every biblical instruction with a “If Christ has indeed saved you…” I hope you agree with me that this is not appropriate. To do this calls into question God’s Word, which clearly states that when we call on God, he WILL save us. I’m more apt to confuse a child than help him by talking this way.
This issue seems to be rooted in a need to trust God with the salvation of our children. Do not worry about tomorrow! Seek first the kingdom of God today!
I need to pray for my children, to teach them about salvation, to respond with joy to evidence that they are drawing near to God. I need wisdom how to treat a saved child in the middle of children who have not been saved. I shouldn’t love a saved child any more than unsaved children.
By the way, my sister-in-law Rebecca gave me a book last year that handled salvation and children better than any other treatment I’ve seen. I have wanted to go through it slowly and review it, but in the meantime, I give it to you here.