Tuesday, August 23, 2022


Geoffrey R. Kirkland 

Christ Fellowship Bible Church,  St Louis, MO


Maybe you're a parent begging God to save your children. Perhaps you have children in the home that you've been teaching, training, exhorting, disciplining, and pointing to Christ regularly for years. And your earnest heart-cry is for them to be drawn to Christ savingly so as to know Him, love Him, enjoy Him, and glorify Him with their lives!  You also recognize that you cannot save them and achieve this work for them. God must save their souls. But, what if a child does come to you and profess faith in Jesus Christ? Then what? What do you do? How do you respond? You respond with immediate excitement and joy but you also recognize the importance of true submission and surrender to Christ. Yes, a devotion to following Him is essential! What are some pastoral "helps" that could guide you when a kid professes faith in Christ?   Here are some suggestions:

  1. Rejoice and encourage them! — If your child speaks to you and says they have put their faith in Jesus Christ, your immediate response should be one of encouragement and joy measured with sobriety and compassion. You want to be sure to keep two crucial realities in balance with one another. First, you want to respond with joy and excitement because the best thing your children can do is profess faith in Christ and walk in the fear of the Lord! At the same time, secondly, you want to respond with sober-mindedness and a compassionate caution so that you don’t immediately give a full-blown affirmation of their salvation at the instant of their profession. Why? Salvation is not a decision but a devotion of one’s life to Christ. Salvation is not just profession of Christ but possession of Him. So, rejoice! Encourage your child! Hug them! But be thoughtful and caring and compassionate and wise with your choice of words. 
  2. Rehearse the gospel with them! — Take the time and make the priority to be with your child and ask them questions about what led up to their decision to follow Jesus. After you probe the heart and dig out their heart-desires and motives, then be sure to rehearse (again!) the saving gospel with them. Remember to carefully show them, from the text, the good news of the simple gospel of Christ. At the same time, emphasize the response to this gospel message. One must repent (turn from sin) and believe (trust fully in Christ alone). This will inevitably result in an abiding in Christ, a walking in holiness, a love for God’s Word and God’s people, and a joy in obeying in Him. Ensure that your child understands not just the facts of the message but the demand of a disciple!
  3. Affirm your care to journey with them! — I believe at this point the parent should again affirm that he will walk the entire journey together with his child. Let them know that you are here with them, to help them, to guide them, to minister to them, to shepherd them, and to point them to Jesus.  The goal of this step is to assure your child that you commit to walking with them not just to a decision about Jesus but a daily, ongoing journey with Jesus Christ in His Word, in prayer, with God’s people, in holy living. 
  4. Explain good works & Spirit-given fruit bearing! — Your child has heard you speak of these truths many times. But at this point, it behooves the parent to explain again the reality that no good tree can produce bad fruit and no bad tree can produce good fruit. The point of this? It emphasizes that a tree is known by its fruit — and yet its fruit doesn’t automatically grow and appear overnight. But it takes time for the tree to grow, mature, bear fruit. But yet it inevitably and certainly will do so. Encourage this with your children. Tell them what Christ expects of His own whom He saves. Let them know that if they are truly Christ’s, the Spirit of God will most certainly bear the fruit of the Spirit in their hearts and lives.
  5. Encourage that if God has saved, he’ll keep them & bear fruit in them! — One important element in the shepherding of young hearts is that they don’t believe your affirmation to give them their soul’s salvation, but you want them to trust Christ and rest in His promises. That means that you want to continually point to the Spirit of God who will bear witness (testify) with their heart if they are truly children of God. And, at the same time, you want to assure them to cling to the promises of God for those who believe. Again, you can encourage your child that if God has truly saved their soul, He will manifest fruit in them and so prove to be His disciples and He will keep them and protect them until glory. 

What an exciting time as a parent with children who grow up hearing of Christ, studying His Word, sitting in family worship, learning the catechisms, and understanding biblical truth. We pray for and earnestly implore God to save our children by His sovereign grace. They must be born again! We know that. And we recognize we are entirely powerless to accomplish such a soul-work. Only God can change the heart! But when your child makes a profession of faith. Walk cautiously but compassionately.  Walk with love and with grace. Pastor them diligently, carefully, biblically, and patiently — just like a pastor walks with someone who professes faith in the congregation. 

May the Lord give grace, wisdom, and discernment as we seek to honor Christ and shepherd the souls of children faithfully.
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