In the last several months, all three of our children have made professions of faith. I smile at how unexpectedly these events have unfolded. As a result, I’m developing thoughts on salvation and children, but as I’m watching my children, I hesitate to write thoughts which might embarrass or make them uncomfortable later on. As well, I don’t want to speak without considering long what is on my heart.
Last night I realized that I haven’t had the kids write out in their words their testimony. I might do this, and see what we get. While I do not want them to invent a memory, I would desire that they remember what they have done. Talking and writing about their profession is of great value toward this end. The more they remember, the better able they will be to evaluate their own profession in years to come.
If you’re wondering about young children and their capacity for salvation, I commend to you Spurgeon’s book on this topic. Please read it, if you have not done so. It will encourage and challenge you, far more than most child-rearing books in print today.
I believe that salvation is simple enough for a child to understand. I believe that, while it is appropriate to evaluate a child’s understanding of salvation, Scripture makes refusing a child’s testimony to be a very serious thing. Adults seem to require far greater maturity of an adult convert than a child convert. Children are developing mentally and physically, making their spiritual growth look different than an adult convert. Cultivating a desire for spiritual things is important (just because plants naturally grow doesn’t mean than we shouldn’t tend them carefully!) I need to trust the Holy Spirit with the salvation of my children. It is also not a good thing to carry guilt for a long period of time. How a child perceives himself is of importance (more on this later).
I struggle with my eldest, because she was four. We tried to put her off with praying because we thought she was too little but she would not be put off. After several days of her begging us to pray about her sins, we let her. At the time I felt strongly that she had a clear, childlike understanding of salvation. Yet, she refuses to be baptized. I realize she is young and the fear of the water is very real to her, but we have discussed how it is what God wants her to do and she says “Maybe when I am 10.” I don’t push her, but it does make me wonder about the sincerity of her decision. She has friends she has seen get baptized, but she has no desire. At four/five there isn’t a lot of change to see in her heart, although I did think i saw some at first. She’s a pretty “good” kid so there is no drastic behavior change. We still get some pretty nasty attitudes, but I have nasty attitude frequently myself and I am secure in my salvation. Perhaps I should grab the book you mentioned. One thing I know is I am not going to tell her ‘yes, you are saved,’ if and when she asks. I will ask her questions to help her determine in her own heart what the truth is, and pray that God will make it very clear to her.
And with the youngest, well there is no understanding or interest in this yet. She’s not as mature as her sister was at her age 😉 so for now we just pray 🙂
Jon Gleason says
Nicole, I was saved at 4 and didn’t make the decision to be baptized until I was 9.
When S. was 7 or 8 she wanted to be baptized so I had her write her testimony. I cherish that little piece of paper. It also helped us see where, if any, there might be problems in her understanding and we could focus on those areas. I got to thinking it might be a good exercise every few years to see how their understanding grows. I’m sure C would be able to write a text book answer for salvation, so my challange to him would be to tell me how he sees the process of his own sanctification…personalize it. Good thoughts. I’m reading a good book on teaching grace to your kids and I’ll let you know more what I think when I finish.