Issues Related to Salvation of Children
Three Questions That Deserve Answers
A. What can a young child understand about sal¬vation? Most children can understand that Jesus is always their friend and helper. The plan of salvation is clear and simple enough that some of them can understand it and respond to it at their level of childlike faith. Children whose mothers and fathers have given them Christian nurturing in the home will be more likely to respond than those who have had no exposure to the things of God.
Teachers must seek the Lord for guidance and be sen¬sitive to the Lord in leading a young child to Him. Unless the Lord is speaking directly to the heart of the child, there can be no genuine heartfelt experience of salvation. Teachers must also ask questions that will demonstrate the degree of understanding that the child has about salva¬tion. Teachers need to check the level of commitment the child has to that level of belief.
B. How early in life can a child make a commitment to serve the Lord? In order for children to be held account¬able for their sins, they must be able to understand the significance of their actions. More is involved than realiz¬ing that actions are acceptable or unacceptable. The child must be old enough to accept responsibility for his actions and their consequences.
This is a critical point, because there are few areas of children’s lives in which they have personal choice or individual responsibility. Is a seven-year-old allowed to decide whether or not she will attend school? Is she con¬sidered mature enough to decide whether or not to brush her teeth? Does a child of nine decide upon a visit to the doctor? She may be allowed choices in the flavor of ice cream or the color of a blouse, but do these experiences give a child enough maturity to make choices relative to God?
A young child is very easily manipulated, and that fur¬ther complicates the issue. A high-volume, explosive evan¬gelistic meeting may urge certain responses in children that the Holy Spirit did not author. Most children have a desire to please the adults in their life. The child evangelist who pressures the child to “seek for the Holy Ghost” is likely to receive a positive response simply on the child’s desire to cooperate.
C. What does the concept of repentance mean to a child? Repentance is an important issue, for the Bible mentions it frequently in reference to salvation. While a child may express sorrow for specific wrongdoing, it may be hard to determine whether this sorrow is simply distress resulting from being reprimanded or a true desire to turn from sin and please the Lord. Since no one can know for certain when a child becomes accountable, teach¬ers need to be very sensitive to the development of each child’s individual understanding.
The above article, “Issues Related to Salvation of Children” was written by Janet Trout. The article was excerpted from the book, Achieving Excellence in the Sunday School.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”