Hello Brother VanGelderen,

When your child makes a profession of faith and their is no change of attitude/behavior or fruit, as a parent, do you rejoice and accept they are saved? Should we move forward with baptism?



Thank you for your practical questions. Dealing with children demands care so as to help and not hinder. Two major thoughts come to mind in response to your inquiry.

First, let’s address the matter of salvation. Children can come to Jesus. We speak of childlike faith (Luke 18:15-17). There is a simplicity in trusting in Jesus to save. On the other hand, the simplicity does not imply a child simply saying a mantra of words.

Believing in Jesus involves the whole soul, which consists of mind, affections, and will. In the mind, there must be the understanding that sin is the problem that causes us to fall short of God’s glory, judgment is the consequence, but Jesus is the Savior who died for our sins and rose from the dead offering us eternal life. Children can understand the basics of sin, consequence, and salvation through Jesus. Did your child have this understanding?

The affections means that what is understood affects the person as they personalize what they have been convinced of. This is the Holy Spirit’s work. He is the one who convinces of sin, righteousness (Christ), and judgment (John 16:8). It’s when a child (or adult) realizes “I am a sinner that deserves judgment but Jesus can save me.” Did your child come to this personalized realization?

The will involves making a choice—a faith response. It is important to understand and vital to be convinced by the Spirit, but faith must be exercised. A choice of dependence must be made. Faith is not a work, it’s dependence on the worker—Jesus. Did your child, the best they knew, simply depend on Jesus to save him/her? If so, the Bible says they are saved (John 3:16; 6:47).

If they did not have basic understanding, then caution needs to help bring them to understanding. If they were not personally convinced of their need, then care should wait for the Spirit to convince. Or, if they did not simply trust in Jesus to do what He said, then faith is lacking. But if they called on Jesus in simple dependence to save them from sin and judgment, that is the condition of faith, and the Bible says they are saved.

Second, let’s consider the matter of spiritual growth. Just as salvation is not automatic, but a faith response to the convincing of the Holy Spirit, so spiritual growth is not automatic, but more faith responses to the leadership of the Spirit. As we received Christ by faith, we must walk in Him by faith (Col. 2:6). Just as salvation comes in response to the gospel message, discipleship comes in response to truth as well.

Jesus moves in and indwells the new believer. He lives in each one, through the Holy Spirit, to lead and empower. If children can grapple with Jesus as Savior, they can grapple with Jesus as the leader who empowers.

Some who get genuinely saved are not discipled. They are not shown the path of faith, of walking in the Spirit. As a result they are left to self-dependence, and the flesh fails. Is this a possibility in your situation?


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