- Is telling a person he is saved unbiblical?
- Is there more to assurance than saying “Yes, you’re saved because…”
- When a child states that he is saved already, at what point should a parent “let” him be saved?
- Should a parent ever bring up salvation with a child? At what point developmentally?
A quick survey of the New Testament epistles demonstrate that Paul speaks to the recipients of his letters as believers. In essence, he’s saying that they are in fact, saved. Of course, he is speaking to a group, but even in the case of his personal letter to Philemon, he calls him a brother.
On what basis does Paul make assumptions of Philemon’s salvation? Evidently on his profession and testimony: I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints…. Philemon 4
In fact, we make assumptions about people’s salvation all the time. Otherwise, every time we talk about the Lord, we’d be prefacing our comments with absurd qualifications “assuming you’re saved, don’t be weary in well doing…” or “if you’ve trusted in Christ as your Savior through faith alone, then you can be asssured he will not test you beyond your ability to bear it.”
When we have reason to doubt someone’s salvation (either because of a lack of testimony or lack of evidence of a regenerate life), we sometimes include these conditions. At some point, though, these are insulting and cynical. At some point, we simply trust God with the details. God’s Word never returns void, whether a person is saved or unsaved.
So, a friend of mine was recently saved. At one point, when Lee and I asked her if she was saved, she wasn’t sure. As we talked with her, it became clear that she was indeed trusting Christ for her salvation, that she was not depending on her own efforts to reform herself. Hurray! When we were discussing salvation later, we talked through a number of passages focusing on salvation.
- Is this what you’ve done? I asked.
- Yes, exactly.
- So…. what does God’s Word say about a person who does these things?
- She’s saved.
Fun conversation. What’s interesting to me is the process of finding assurance. Just like in my situation, my mom didn’t tell me I was saved because I trusted in Christ. She gave me Scripture and said, “Here’s why you might not be sure you’re saved. Now you determine whether you’re saved or not.” In other words, she put her trust in the Holy Spirit’s ability to convince me of my salvation (or lack thereof) through God’s Word. Likewise, for my friend, I didn’t know for sure whether she had trusted God. So it made sense to let God’s Word make that call.
But now, I’m thinking about my children. For some inexplicable reason, my children are rather private about spiritual things, and I’m wondering whether letting Scripture manage their salvation is a good idea. That takes a good deal of pressure off me, because I don’t feel the pressure to correctly identify the point of salvation for my children. (I’m talking about my two older children who are 6 and 5; since I’m not convinced my 3 year old understands the basic components of salvation, I’m not including her in this conversation yet.)
I’m still thinking on this. Perhaps next I’ll consider some objections to this approach.
she put her trust in the Holy Spirit’s ability to convince me of my salvation (or lack thereof) through God’s Word
I like this – As a very controlling, hands-on person, this will be hard when we get closer to an understanding of the gospel. I need to keep it in mind. My husband went through his teenage and college years unsaved because his well-meaning mother kept telling him “You got saved when _____ ” – So for him, telling him he was saved was harmful. Praise the Lord when he was out of college and facing a particularly difficult time he came face to face with his need for salvation. To this day he doesn’t remember the prayer he prayed or the event that his mother was refering to. Interestingly, he never got baptized after that event. It wasn’t until he was truly saved that he had the desire to be baptized. The Holy Spirit started leading instantly.