There is a message out there in modern day Christianity that screams: “You must have a day and time that you ‘invited Jesus into your heart’ to know when you were officially saved.” But according to Christ, what we MUST do is be born again (John 3:3-7). We must be a new creation in which there is evidence of the old passing away and God making all things new. That’s what I want to teach my kids.
I remember at the age of 19 knowing the Holy Spirit was working mightily in my life… calling me out of this world and beckoning me to become a true child of God. I answered His call and I was born again. I never said the sinner’s prayer. I simply repented and turned from my old life to my new life in Christ. I don’t recall an exact time and place that I “officially became a Christian.” But I know that I am born again.
Children are fickle and the bible says foolishness is bound up in their hearts (prov. 22:15). I have been at many vbs programs where the children “come forward and say the sinners prayer” and it’s a lot of the same children that came forward the year before… are they getting saved again? That is one of the dangerous pitfalls in circles that I have seen where the sinner’s prayer is mandatory. So much confidence wrapped up in a few words. This man testifies to those sorts of dangers here. So much confidence wrapped up in a few words.Some people are finding FALSE PEACE in saying the sinner’s prayer 20 years ago even though there is no sign of them being born again. The worst thing we can do is reassure someone that they are saved when in fact there is no evidence of it in their life.
It’s also important to know that belief is not evidence enough of salvation. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” (James 2:19) Many said a prayer and “believe” and are resting on false teaching as a means of salvation. Christ Himself said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. ‘Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” (Matt. 7:21-23).
That is a terrifying set of verses. Look at the ending: “Depart from Me, you who PRACTICE lawlessness.” One way to evaluate your life, to see if Christ truly knows you, is to see what you practice. Do you practice lawlessness? Do you live like the world all the while claiming to know Him? Are you seeking Him daily and growing in your faith? Is there evidence that you are born again? Don’t rest on some prayer that you said years ago because you thought that was a means to salvation! When the Holy Spirit of the living God comes and resides in someone you better believe there will be a change! You better believe He will continue to change you! “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6).
All of this explains why my husband and I choose not to practice the sinner’s prayer with our kids. We don’t want to give them a sense of a false salvation. Salvation is not based on words but on an act of God. There will be evidence of saving faith in our children’s lives. Jesus Himself makes this clear: “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. ‘Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?’” (Luke 6:43-46).
How horrible would it be to tell your child that they are saved because they said a prayer when they have never really been born again?!
Lastly, is it possible to say the sinner’s prayer and be truly saved? My answer: YES.
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Rom. 10:9-13). Confessing with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead is never a bad thing IF it is done out of GENUINE FAITH/SALVATION. The problem is many confess “Lord, Lord” with their mouths yet Christ will say He never knew them. Remember Matthew 7:21-23 that I shared earlier? Confession alone is not enough (many verses in the book of James make that clear). We must look at these verses in Romans 10 (just like we should look at ALL verses) in light of the ENTIRE BIBLE and not isolate them justifying why we think an ungodly person is saved because they repeated a prayer after someone one day. The sort of confession that saves is born out of a faith that is everlasting.
So what do we do with our children?
1. We pray for them everyday.
(Scott in particular). Each night Scott asks the Lord that our children would come to know Him at the earliest possible time. We would love it if our children were genuinely saved at a young age. What a joy that would be! Their lives would be saved from so much heartache if they truly come to KNOW HIM early on. We depend on God to work in the hearts of our children.
2. We share the gospel with them often.
Can we really hear the Good News too much? During our family devotionals Scott often references the gospel and we have explained it numerous times to our children. We believe that the Word does not return void and so we continue to trust God to work in their hearts as we wash them in the water of the Word.
3. We tell them the truth.
We let them know that they don’t get to heaven through mommy and daddy’s faith. Their faith has to be their own. We tell them that there will be evidence of saving faith in there lives. Consistent fruit. A desire to know God and delight in the things of God. And finally, we tell them to “count the cost” when it comes to Christianity. We emphasize that being a Christian is not a light matter or something to consider in passing. Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:26-30).
Have you checked out my husband’s book, Marriage God’s Way?