Avoiding the Tragedy of False Conversion
While there is no sure-fire formula to secure the salvation of any human being, the Bible assures us that if a child truly repents and trusts the Savior, God will begin a good work in him that He will complete. Our role as parents is to ensure that he is truly born of God, rather than of the will of man. Too many within the Church think all that is necessary for any child to be saved is for him to “ask Jesus into his heart.” That may sound like good doctrine, but it’s not biblical. This misunderstanding of the necessity of genuine conversion usually comes from an unawareness of the reality of false conversion.
After I had spoken at one church, a woman excitedly told me that her eight-year-old had been eyeing the communion juice. She informed him, “You can’t take communion until you have Jesus in your heart”—he then “asked Jesus into his heart” so he could have the juice.
While many of today’s converts come to Jesus for the “juice” of promised benefits, the biblical motive for coming to the Savior is that we have sinned against God, and therefore need mercy. Someone once said, “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” That’s true . . . in this life. We do want our children to be able to stand on their own two feet. However, there is something infinitely more important: where they will spend eternity—in heaven or in hell. A misunderstanding of biblical conversion can do great damage to that cause.
Anyone, including a child, who comes to Jesus must have knowledge of sin and exercise biblical repentance. When a child fails to find that place of true repentance, we shouldn’t therefore be surprised when he “falls away” from the faith as he encounters the temptations of the world. However, there are things you can do to help guide your children toward true conversion.
The Problem and the Cause
A television news story revealed that a well-known football player was having trouble with his memory. He would walk outside, remember that he had forgotten something, then go back in the house. By the time he got inside, he had forgotten what he went back for. This greatly concerned him. The story then mentioned that the player had received ten concussions in his football career. Slow-motion video clips showed him being tackled and violently hitting the ground.
At that moment I realized something I have never heard anyone mention. Although rugby, which is very popular in New Zealand, is as violent as football, there is one major difference. Americans are aghast that rugby players don’t wear helmets or protective padding. Rugby players get bruised, they pull muscles, and they get bloody noses, yet concussions are reasonably rare. I have never heard of a player having multiple concussions, let alone ten!
I would suggest the reason football players have concussions is that they wear protective helmets. Rugby players have an instinct to protect their heads when they tackle or fall. As they hit the ground, they instinctively hold their heads up. Football players, on the other hand, use their helmeted heads as battering rams. When they hit the ground, their head recoils, and the seven-pound helmet gives the head an even greater impact. I may be wrong, but it seems that what they are trusting to protect their heads is the very thing that is causing the damage.
This is the case with self-righteousness. Sinners are deceived into thinking that they are inherently good, and that their good works are pleasing in the sight of God. After all, how could doing good be bad? Their good deeds may be good for society, but they won’t do them any good on the Day of Judgment. In fact, their good works have a bad result because the self-righteous don’t see their need of a Savior. The very thing that they think is helping them is doing them eternal damage.
This is why it is so important to instill the Moral Law into young minds, before children learn to become self-righteous, to show them the standard of goodness that God requires. Its power, under the Holy Spirit, will help your children steer clear of the deception of self-righteousness, and bring them to the righteousness that is in Christ alone.
To help our children see God’s perspective on goodness, we must first agree with His testimony about them being morally bankrupt—there is no one good, no, not one. Then we can rid them of the idea that their own righteousness will save them, by showing them the righteousness that God requires.
The Way of the Master
To check your child’s understanding of salvation, ask if he thinks he is a good person. He will almost certainly say that he is, if he has no knowledge of sin (see Proverbs 20:6). This is because, without the Law, he has no understanding that in God’s eyes “good” is moral perfection—in thought, word, and deed. Then go through the Ten Commandments, opening up their spiritual nature, and show that none of us can be good as far as God is concerned.
When we implement this incredible tool that Charles Spurgeon referred to as our most powerful weapon, we bypass the human intellect and speak directly to the conscience. Scripture tells us that the human mind is at war with God, and is not subject to His Law (Romans 8:7). Therefore, to witness effectively, we have to find ground upon which there is agreement with the Law, so that we can reason with the lost about sin, righteousness, and judgment to come (John 16:8). That place of common ground is the conscience: “the work of the law [is] written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness . . .” (Romans 2:15).
Human understanding is “darkened” (Ephesians 4:18), but the conscience is the area where God has given light. The word con-science means “with knowledge.” The conscience is the headline, written boldly to warn of sin, while the Scriptures give the fine print. None of us can say that we don’t know it’s wrong to lie, steal, murder, or commit adultery; that knowledge is written in large print on our heart. However, in the Scriptures we see the true nature of sin: that God requires truth even in the inward parts (see Psalm 51:6). The fine print reveals that lust is adultery of the heart, hatred is murder of the heart, fibs are bearing false witness, etc.
When you reason with your child about sin (what’s in his heart), righteousness (which is of the Law), and judgment (eternal hell), simply say to him, “You know it’s wrong to steal, to lie, etc.” As you do so, his conscience affirms within him the truth of the Law. You will more than likely notice that he subconsciously nods his head in agreement as you go through the Commandments. The ally in his heart—his conscience—will side with you as you do so.
Since God desires that all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), be sure to use the tools He has provided for that purpose. The conscience, your God-given ally in the hearts of your children, will work with you as you go through the Moral Law, convincing them of their need for a Savior.
Adapted from How to Bring Your Children to Christ…& Keep Them There.
- 1.How to Bring Your Children to Christ (Part 1)
- 2.How to Bring Your Children to Christ (Part 2)