I was six years old and I “asked Jesus into my heart.” I answered everyone’s questions correctly about salvation. I was baptized soon after. And I was most certainly not a Christian.
I wanted to be saved because of Vacation Bible School, but not because of the teaching. I was much more interested in the snacks and games. I felt left out when a couple of my friends raised their hands, walked down the aisle and spoke with the preacher. I knew it was a good thing to do and that everyone was happy about it, so I decided to do it too. I didn’t love Christ. I didn’t want to follow Him. I didn’t want to turn from my sins. There was no repentance, no faith in Christ and no fear of God in my heart. I did a great job pretending! (You can read the rest of my testimony here.)
Men, it’s a wonderful thing when your child comes to faith in Christ. There is nothing better than that. But it is a terrible thing when, like my six-year-old self, there is no real understanding about what salvation in Christ is. That it’s not just being a good kid, regurgitating Bible facts from Sunday school or sitting up straight during a long sermon. It’s not even walking down the aisle and being baptized.
Being a Christian is the same for an adult as it is for a child. In the words of Albert Martin: “Saving faith is the desperate thrust of a helpless soul upon the arms of an Almighty Savior! … The cross radically disrupts the very center and citadel of your life from self to Christ and if the cross has not done that, you are not a Christian.”
It does incredible damage and dishonor to Christ when we affirm the salvation of someone, adult or child, who does not have the characteristics of a person who encountered Christ and has been transformed by the Holy Spirit.
When your child comes to you with their news, I’m not saying you should doubt and dismiss them. Christ’s saving power is not limited by age. I’m cautioning you to be careful, to know the heart of your child and to instill in them the truth about salvation, the truth about their sin and the truth about Christ. Watch them and seek out the fruits of a child who trusts in Christ. Give them high expectations of Christ and continuously glorify Him in their hearing. Make it clear that when a person is saved, they do not stay the same. God sanctifies His children and conforms them into the image of Christ.