I’ve always heard baptism given as the “first step of obedience.” I think I know what people mean when they say this.
We’ve been discussing salvation as an act of obedience.
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?” So then faithcomes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:16-17)
I want to be able to hug my unsaved children and love them, to praise their obedience and accomplishments. I don’t want to create the impression that my love is dependent on whether they obey God or me, especially as they get older. There’s a tension between calling our children to repentance (something we should be doing) and manipulating their desire to please parents in order to exact a conversion. Because of this tension, we are still praying for wisdom in this area, and we don’t feel like we have all the answers.
When our children were little, we wanted to be careful when presenting the gospel to our children. We wanted to see the Holy Spirit working: evidence of a developing conscience, awareness of sin, desire for salvation, and understanding of the gospel. We didn’t talk about “obey God and repent,” probably because as parents of young children, we could force our children to obey in most things. We didn’t want salvation to be one of those things. As they have gotten older, and it has been clear that they aren’t making decisions simply to please mom and dad, we have talked about salvation as obedience.
Jesus isn’t simply inviting us to come on a journey, and then he’ll give us instructions to obey. He tells us to follow him. This is a step of obedience, and it has been helpful for me to see it this way, whether it is sharing the gospel with my children, or with others.