Faith of a Child
“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I have made mistakes. I believe that you are God's Son. I believe that you died on the cross for my sins after living a perfect life! Please forgive me of my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. I love you! Amen.”
Almost seems too easy, doesn't it? As adults, we tend to make things more difficult than they have to be. Our children, though, get it! They truly understand what it takes to live eternity in heaven with Jesus.
The difficult part for us as adults is finding the right words to have the most meaningful conversation with our children. We want to make it difficult and conditional. Jesus made it easy and unconditional. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (ESV, Matthew 18:3). He also said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven"(ESV, Matthew 19:14). So how do we talk to our children about eternity without hindering them from making the most important decision of their lives?
First, there is not a specific age when a child must accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. Most of the time, the child will begin asking questions about Jesus and heaven. This is a great time and opportunity to begin planting the seeds of faith. Before a child can accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they must first understand who Jesus is, what Jesus did for them, and why we need Jesus. Preschoolers can understand some basic theology: God made them, God loves them, and God thinks they are special! These basic statements can be the launching point for much deeper discussions about Faith.
Next, a child must understand sin. Sin is anything we think, say, or do that makes God unhappy. Young children will sometimes have a hard time acknowledging that they sin. Once they understand that they are not perfect and can ADMIT that they have made mistakes, they can begin to realize why Jesus had to die on the cross for their mistakes. Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins. We are not perfect, and there has never been anyone other than Jesus who has lived on the earth perfectly. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ESV). For children, it may be telling a lie to a friend, sassing their mother, disrespecting their father, hitting their brother, calling their sister a name, or many other things that children do to get a consequence. Jesus was perfect, yet He chose to pay the penalty for our sins. Children must be able to admit that they have fallen short of what God wants them to do. Then they must ask God to forgive them of their sins. Children must understand sin in their head and ask for forgiveness with their heart.
Only then can children accept Jesus as the payment for their sin. They must BELIEVE that Jesus is God. They must believe that He came from heaven to earth, lived a perfect life (never made a mistake or disobeyed God), died on the cross for their sins, was buried in the grave, arose (came back to life) on the third day, and is in heaven now waiting for them. They must believe that Jesus is the only way to eternity (forever) in heaven. Jesus said, ““I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, ESV).
Finally, children must CONFESS that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior. They must ask Jesus to come into their lives, and they must turn from their sins and live the rest of their lives for Jesus. This does not mean that they will be perfect and never make another mistake, but it means that they will strive to be more like Jesus and follow His example. When we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior, He sends the Holy Spirit to be with us as our helper. The Holy Spirit will help us to make the right decisions and follow Jesus. We will still make mistakes and sin, but the Holy Spirit will let us know when we fall short and remind us what Jesus did for us. Another part of confessing Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior involves telling others. We must share this important decision with others. We must not only tell others, but we must show others through our words and actions. It should be obvious to those around us that we have chosen to live a life with Jesus. Our thoughts, our words, our actions, our worship, our service, and every other part of our lives should bring Jesus glory!
Accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior is the most important decision a child can make in his life. It is more important than a job in the future. It is more important than what pretty little girl a boy will get to marry one day; it is more important than what stinky little boy a girl will get to marry one day! It is a decision that will impact the rest of their life. It can never be taken away. It cannot be lost. Jesus will never leave them.
As a parent, I will always cherish the conversations in our family that led up to both of my daughters accepting Jesus. What a blessing to be the one to lead my girls in their prayers to ask Jesus to come into their lives. It is a great confidence knowing that they have chosen to give their lives to Jesus and are living their lives following and trusting in Him.
Parents, talk to your children every chance you get. Begin now to plant the seeds that will help lay the foundation of their faith so they can one day accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.