Your child says they want to turn to Christ. How do you know if they are really ready?
Some kids make genuine life-long commitments to Christ at surprisingly young ages.
Others want desperately to make the adults they love happy and learn the lingo well.
How do you know which situation you are in?
Before we get into this topic, I need to tell you where I am coming from.
Nancy Ruth’s testimony
I accepted Christ as a very small child.Â I wish I could tell you an exact date and time, but that is part of what my testimony is all about.
I can tell you that God has always been very real to me.Â I have questioned many things in my life and even been very angry with the Lord, but I have never questioned whether God existed or not.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?Â Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
I still have a vivid memory from when I was two years old.
It was the middle of the night and I woke up terrified.Â I was so scared I couldn’t even flip the covers off my bed, let alone go to Mom and Dad’s room to tell them about my scary dream.
I don’t remember the dream, but I know that whatever â€œitâ€ was was going to get me and my baby sister (who was sleeping soundly across the room).
As I lay there shivering, I suddenly remembered that God is our Father and wants us to talk to Him.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
My two-year-old self thought, “Why don’t I just tell God what I would have told Daddy?”
So I did. I told Him all about my scary dream and how “it” was going to get me and my baby sister and…
The strangest thing happened. I got a complete peace and I knew we would be safe and nothing would get us because God was watching over for us.
“‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble.'”
My parents and others tell me various times I accepted Christ as I child. I don’t remember any of them.
I remember my dad teaching us the Bible. I remember my mother praying with us and for us. I remember various Sunday School teachers, Vacation Bible School, church camps, and other things.
“Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”
It really bothered me that I couldn’t remember asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, so I did it over and over again.
Then in 6th grade at summer camp came the call for anyone who wanted to make a decision for Christ. I went off by myself beside a large rock and prayed.
“Lord, I can’t remember if I’ve ever done this before, so please forgive me of my sins…”
“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Then the strangest thing happened. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but it felt like God said to me, “Enough. Enough! You may not remember the exact date and time, but I do and that’s what matters.”
I figured that was good enough for me.
- I told God I would do whatever He wanted me to do in life. He’s taken me far from home and back again.
- I’ve been completely broken and God rebuilt me. (That’s a story for another day.)
- I earned a Master of Divinity (general pastor’s degree), became a children’s minister, and now write devotionals for busy families.
- I don’t know everything, but I strive to keep growing and learning.
- I still pray for and pursue dreams, striving to place God’s Will (His plans) above my own.
- Many people have touched my life and I try to make a difference where I can.
And that brings us back to leading children to Christ.
Be sure to ask lots of questions.
The best setting for this is a comfortable place away from peers.
If one or two other adults are present, that is fine, but make sure it is the child who answers the questions, not the adults.
The key is to find out what they know and understand about sin, Christ, and salvation.
You want to avoid the games of “tell me what I want to hear” or “parrot my answers” which can lead to false assurances of salvation.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones those who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
Next month I’ll give you some specific questions someone who is ready to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior should be able to honestly answer (by themselves).
Remember that in asking your questions, you are looking for understanding, not the textbook answer.
Be sure you know when to stop.
If the meaning is there, even without the exact words, that’s ok.
You probably have a child whose heart understands more than they have the vocabulary to express.
Still, if you are unsure, it is ok to take things slowly.
If the exact words are there, but you are not sure if the words are understood, STOP! You could be in a “parrot” situation.
If at any time you are unsure, STOP!
If a child cannot answer these questions biblically, STOP! Encourage them to keep learning and tell them more if you wish, but do not push for a commitment to Christ.
If they are not ready yet, that’s ok.
It’s not your job to change their heart.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Keep teaching them and give the Holy Spirit a little more time to work (Acts 16:14). Let them grow in their understanding of what all of this means.
Next month I’ll give you the questions kids should be able to answer on their own.
How did you come to know Christ? Were you ready the first time you talked to someone about Jesus?
Do you talk to children regularly about Jesus? What are some things you look for to see if they really understand?
Please share your stories and comments below.
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