Your Child's Profession of Faith, Dennis Gundersen's main concern in this book is to warn parents of the dangers of pressuring their children to make a public profession of Christ (I should say that it appears the book has been updated and expanded, but what I am sharing comes from the original booklet). We should let it happen naturally. My previous pastor said that he could have made his children believe that Barney the Dinosaur died upon the cross for their sins. Children are very impressionable. And at least my children, they so much want to please their parents (I am very thankful for that). I could guilt any one of them into praying the sinners prayer or "asking Jesus into their heart" (neither of which I will ever do since I do not think they are biblical concepts). Gundersen says,
"If you pressure a child about publicly professing Christ as a way of proving that he has a work of grace in his heart, it will often become a pressure he cannot emotionally bear, and he often will then make a profession, not because he has become a believer, but in order to please you. It is obvious to all that children have an intense desire to please the adults they respect. Instead we as parents, teachers, and pastors should keep them from getting anxious about a public profession. We must guard against their making a profession merely to win the acceptance of either you, the church, or their friends. We must rather continuously emphasize to their minds that the only acceptance of any eternal consequence is acceptance with God through Christ." (38)Maybe I act as I do with my children because of the years I spent as a youth pastor. I cannot tell you how many times I went to a camp and came back with students that thought they were saved when in fact they clearly admitted they were living a lie. Jesus had not meant anything to them, but they acted as they did to keep peace with their parents. I remember one specific occasion when sharing the joyful news with their parents that they had just repented and trusted Christ at camp, the parent responded, "No you didn't, you got saved when you were 5 when we prayed together." I couldn't believe it.
I continually tell my children that I want it to be their faith in Jesus, not my faith. I want them to really believe in what He did on the cross for their sins. I want them to fully understand the calling to surrender their life in faith and repentance. I agree with Gundersen when he says, "I will not tell a child who feels he may have come to Christ that he has not" (19). I rejoice with my kids that they say they believe in Jesus. And I agree as well when he says, "There is no wisdom in hurrying them to make their commitment public while hoping or even praying that their profession will prove to be a genuine one sometime later. Why take the chance of deception? Your child will not be any less saved by your judicious waiting for more substantial evidences, if God has indeed preformed a work of grace in the first place" (23).
If you are struggling with the issue of determining the salvation of your child, I would suggest to you this book. Sometimes he takes a harder stance on things than I would, but for the most part, it is helpful. One last statement from him that is very helpful. "When dealing with evidences of true conversion, there is no warrant for suggesting that we can be satisfied with seeing anything less in a child than we would in an adult" (39).
So for me, I am going to continue preaching the gospel & Jesus & the cross to my kids every day. And I will be continually telling them how much it needs to be their faith, not their parents. And I will continue to pray to God, who opens eyes, to save my child. And I will allow them to make the first move as to public profession of their faith in Jesus.
What do you think? How can you know for certain if your child is saved?