How To Lead A Child To Repentance

Fritz McClure


What will you answer when a child in you class asks, “What does it mean to be ‘saved’?”

“TEACHER, what does it mean to be ‘saved’?” You knew the question was coming from Gary. He’s been looking so thoughtful lately, and now . . . the question has come out. But what will you say?

You have been praying each day for Gary–and the other boys in your class too . . . you have visited Gary and his classmates in their homes . . . you have been planning class activities so you’d know them better
. . . and you have prepared your lessons with Gary and the others in mind so that they would see Jesus and their need of Him in their lives.

You have searched for ways to show that cheating and other little things we do are sin too, through your teaching of “The First Sin” about Adam and Eve; and for ways to show Gary why he needs Jesus, God’s Son, as Saviour; as you have taught the amazing Old Testament story of Abraham offering his own son as a sacrifice. You have been encouraging daily Bible reading and prayer at home as they do the part for each day in the pupil’s book and Gary has done his well. And now he asks that question. What are you going to say? It must be answered– but how?

But before you answer Gary’s question, stop a moment. Let us take time to look at the foundation you have been laying in Gary’s life to bring him to this time. All along, as you have been teaching these exciting
adventures of the Old Testament-and the New-you have been making the first step in laying this foundation in any child’s life. The truths of this plan of salvation are:

(1) God is Creator. He made the beautiful flowers and trees, the birds and animals we see around us. The sun, moon and stars were brought into being by Him. And He made each one of us, boys, girls, men and women.

(2) God is holy and cannot look on sin. He made Adam and Eve (the first man and woman) perfect, but they sinned-disobeyed God, and because of their sin we are sinners also. We say that we are born in sin because God says in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (When children are old enough to tell right from wrong and keep from doing the wrong, they are old enough to be saved.)

(3) God sent His only Son to be our Saviour from sin. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son . . . .” We deserve to die because of our sin, but Jesus died on the cross because He loved us and came to earth to die for our sins.

(4) Jesus, God’s Son, is now alive. He did not stay dead. He is in Heaven beside God, our Heavenly Father, speaking to Him for us,

As clear as the plan of salvation has been made, your responsibility does not end there. Teachers need to know the spiritual background of the pupils and deal with the children individually at the time when each
is ready. Only a teacher who knows his pupils well can be sensitive to this time. You must make sure that your pupils understand fully the purpose of God’s plan of salvation, why it is for them and how they must
each trust Christ for himself.

You have been laying this foundation week by week and now you see a definite conviction and desire in a child’s life. First you must answer Gary’s question. What does it mean to be saved?

“Being saved, Gary, means being rescued from our sins and freed from the punishment they deserve. When we trust Jesus, He saves us,” you might begin. “Say, Gary, how about staying around a few minutes after class and we can talk about it?”

Now is the time to “get down to business” and seek to meet that longing you have seen in Gary’s life. Here are some questions and the resulting conversation that might be used to talk with seeking boys and girls like Gary.

1. Question: You want to be saved? Why do you think you need to be saved?

“You said so. Something about sin or something,” Gary might answer.

“Is it just because I said so? Here, read what God says about you and me and all the rest of the world.” (Turn to Romans 3:23.)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,'” he reads.

“What does that mean?” you ask.

“We’ve all sinned or done wrong things.”

“That’s right. What are some of them?”

Child will give specific answers–lying, disobedience, cheating, unkindness, etc. Draw out of child that these are sins against God.

“So that’s why you need to be saved.”


2. Question: How do you know God will save you? “Let’s find it in John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world . . . .’ Whom did God love?”

“The world. Oh, you mean me, too!”

“Then in that verse, how did God show His love for you?”

“He gave His only begotten Son.”

“So what did Jesus, God’s Son, do for you?”

“He died on the cross.”

“Why did He die?”

“For me–for my sins.”


3. Question: How can you be saved then? What do you have to do?

“Believe in Him.”

“That’s right. (Use an illustration for the meaning of believe or trust such as trusting a chair to hold you up or receiving a coin just by taking it”) So you have to believe Christ died for you and will save you. Now read John 3:16, only put your name where I show you.”

“‘For God so loved [Gary], that he gave his only begotten Son, that [Gary] believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'”


4. Question: Now would you like to pray and tell Jesus you are trusting Him to be your Savior, to save you from your sin?

(Have pupil pray his own prayer asking God to forgive him for his sins and Jesus to be his Saviour, and then thanking Him. He may need a little prompting, but should never repeat your words. )


5. Question: Is Jesus your Saviour now?


“How do you know?”

“I asked Him to be and He said He would.”

“That’s right! Read the last part of John 3:16–here, ‘but have everlasting life.’ Let’s mark that verse in your Bible and you can read it every day.” (Give a testimony of your own experience of accepting Christ, that the child might know you came to Jesus the same way.)

Lead in prayer for the pupil by name. Afterwards, smile and show Gary by actions as well as by words that you are glad he has trusted Christ and that you will pray for him. And do not be afraid of showing sincere
affection in your gladness of the wonderful thing that has happened in Gary’s life.

Usually, it is best to use only one verse in dealing with children, so as not to confuse them. Being able to read accurately is not the vital point here, although it is important, but being able to understand without a shadow of a doubt is vital. Other verses that could be used as the one verse are John 3:36, Acts 16:31.

Here are some further things that might be done to encourage the child:

(1) Make sure that he has a Bible, and mark the verse (John 3:16) with red, and with a marker (other verses, too, if used).

(2) Encourage him to tell his parents right away. If they are non-Christian, go home with him to help him tell what has happened.

(3) Give the pupil a chance to confess Christ in class the following Sunday.

(4) Encourage the pupil to go forward in church confessing to all that Christ is his Saviour. Offer to go forward with him. Follow this immediately with encouragement to be baptized in obedience to Christ’s

(5) Follow the child in his spiritual growth, talking with him from time to time, giving words and verses of assurance, being sure he understands the importance of daily prayer and the significance of confession of sin (I John 1:9).

Teacher, yours is a great responsibility. Teach the lessons faithfully. Know each child in your class so well that you are sensitive to the time when each is ready to trust Christ. Then God can use you through the
Holy Spirit to win that one to Him.


(The above material was published by the Accent On Life Bible Curriculum in Denver, CO.)

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