• Our Lord told this living story!
• A certain sower went forth to sow seeds. In the course of his work the seed fell on four different kinds of ground: the wayside, stony places, thorny ground and what is called good ground. You may read the story in Matthew 13.
• We do not need to speculate for our Lord interpreted the parable. The seed is the Word of God, the sower the messenger. The wayside reception represents indifferent acceptance soon snatched away by the devil. The stony places tell of shallow, insincere interest which does not last. The thorny land points out lack of separation from worldly interests. The good ground is sincere, genuine, whole-hearted reception.
• The application is easily understood. We see it on every hand. Thus it was in our Lord's day, and so it is today. Of vital interest to us today are people who might be "good ground." What is the spiritual analysis of such soil? How can we recognize it so that we might sow it?
• We must never fail to remember the mysterious yet indispensable part played by the blessed Spirit of God. For it is He alone who causes each "seed" to germinate.
• But then there are certain elements always inherent in good soil. For instance, there is that matter of the simplicity of faith. A genuine willingness to believe what God has said. Unselfishness is another. A desire for righteousness is a third, or to put it simply, wanting to be good. There are other elements: Love, thankfulness, honesty.
• Where can this "good ground" be found? I mean, where are those who possess these noble qualities into whose hearts can be sown the precious seed of God? How can we be assured that there will spring up fruitage—some 30-, some 60-, some 100-fold?
• I am so anxious to tell you. There are acres and acres and acres of such ground. Perhaps tens of millions. They are the children of today. Look how they fit into the pattern.
• Children are possessed of simple faith of 24 karat quality. They'll believe you without questioning. Essentially, they're unselfish and loving and thankful. They are less spoiled than adults by the world's sophistication. They are more open to the love of God. Many children are "good ground."
• It will soon be 20 centuries since our Lord spoke those words of thrilling challenge as He charged those who loved Him to go into all the world with the amazing story of the grace of God. You would have thought that long before this, every last man, woman, and child on the earth would have enthusiastically received that pardon and new life which our Lord provided. But no, and there lies the tragedy!
• Today, there are far more heathen in the world than when this message was first given. Even after 2,000 years of preaching there are more who have never heard than those who have. The goal of reaching the world with the message of Christ is farther away than ever before. If the Christian world percentage were to continue to decline at the current rate of population increase versus conversion increase, there would come a time when there would not be a single Christian left.
• World population figures are startling. Due to better methods of communication the heathen world has awakened to modern medical miracles. The warfare of today's drugs against entrenched disease has been pushed to wider fronts. In countries where only 1 out of 3 babies used to live now only 1 out of 3 dies. Many of the decimating plagues of past centuries are now under control. Older folks live longer. The production of wholesome food is increasing. Literacy is on the rise. Education is better. More and more of the world's millions have come to know and practice the simple laws of sanitation.
• Do not misunderstand me. God said to Noah and his sons, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." In the final analysis God is responsible for every living soul. The tragedy is in the incredible failure of the Christian Church to keep pace with this increase.
• Here is the most important thing in life. Here is the goal of all living ... the meeting of a sinful, condemned soul with the Saviour of men who can pardon that sin, remove the condemnation, and bestow the incomparable gift of life everlasting. This is what life is all about. This is the reason men are born.
• And yet, here is where the failure occurs. Many entrusted with the message of life are failing to give it forth.
• Why this failure?
• Certainly, it is not God's fault. Let us say this ever so emphatically. God's heart is full of love for the sinner. God's will is that no one should perish. God's provision is sufficient for everyone. Christ died for the whole world of lost men, women, and children.
• Whose is the fault then? Why has the world not been reached? How is it that today more than half the world probably will never hear?
• It seems rather easy to lay the blame at the doors of the Church and charge that the Church has failed, miserably and criminally. But the Church is composed of people, and we are the people. It is true, unquestionably, that Christians have been and are at fault. We are guilty of inexcusable lethargy, selfishness, and love of ease. We have been lulled into lives of do-nothingness by the diabolical strategy of the devil. The fault is ours. We are guilty. We have no excuse.
• How did all this happen? Do not Christians love the Lord? Yes, they do! Do not they, deep down, desire to serve Him? The answer is still yes. What then has caused this failure, this hopeless situation in which we find ourselves?
• I would like to suggest a cause which lies close to my heart. It may be that this very matter is at the root of the incredible failure which has beset the Christian Church since its inception. It may be that this reason has been the very heart of the secret attack of Satan against souls being saved. It could be that this point became the difference between success and failure; between mediocrity and victory.
• We have not sought to win the child to Christ.
• I am not charging the Christian world with insincerity. Christian people generally are the most sincere in life. Nor am I charging Christians with indolence. I earnestly do not believe they are. But I do charge the Church as a great whole, with the failure to bend every effort to be sure, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the children which come under their care pass out of spiritual death into the new life which is found in Christ.
• Yes, there has been evangelism. There have been earnest efforts to win the lost by personal and mass means. Most Bible-believing churches seek to do their best to turn sinners from sin to salvation. A concern for the unsaved surges deep in many Christian hearts.
• But we have missed the door. We have failed to lay emphasis—the great emphasis—on child evangelism. This is the key to everything.
What Could Happen?
• Think with me now for a moment of what could happen if the Church and its host of Christian people became dead in earnest about the matter of reaching all the children for Christ.
• The present situation is sad in the extreme. It is said that out of 100 children which are brought to the church at the early ages of Cradle Roll or Nursery, when some years have elapsed and the adulthood is reached, we have only 10 remaining. We have lost 90 out of 100 over some 20 years. Whether or not these figures are accurate we know the picture is anything but rosy.
• You can easily see what this does to the efficiency of the Church and to all related agencies of Christian service. There are never enough people. There isn't enough manpower and womanpower even for the duties connected with the local Church. Sunday School teachers are short. Young people's leaders are few. Material for church boards and the outreach of the Church are always lacking.
• This shortage enters the realm of financing too. There are just not enough families contributing to the well-being of the work. The general fund is usually precarious. The building fund is slender. The missionary giving suffers mostly. While those who enjoy and profit from the Church do what they can. Perhaps the fault lies in the fact that there is too great a loss in the Church's manpower. Too many have slipped away. Ninety out of 100 is a terrific loss.
• The most lamentable lack is found in the realm of missionary candidates. While there is every cause to thank God for the unselfish, noble, Christ-honoring men and women who make up our missionary army today, the truth is that the ranks are pitifully thin. The need is exceedingly great, and the laborers are exceedingly few.
• Part of the reason lies in the inability or irresponsibility of the home folks to support volunteers in missions. The total amount given by all the churches for all foreign missions is just a scant dribble when compared with the flood of money spent for pleasure, or automobiles, or non-essentials.
• It seems that you could take a pen and fill it with the ink of bitter frustration, and write over the entire enterprise of the cause of Christ in the world ... Not Enough. Insufficient help in the church and Christian projects. Insufficient money to carry on the glorious tasks of the Gospel. Insufficient manpower to meet the rising challenges of the world's unsaved. Insufficient everything.
• But wait a moment. Suppose with me that the Church of Christ and godly energetic Christian people throughout the world suddenly realized the gold mine they've been passing by. Suppose they began with steadfast resolution to mightily endeavor to lead every last boy and girl under their care to Christ. Suppose they took of their store of patience and godly affection and sought by every means possible to train the newly saved child in the way he should go. Suppose the pendulum of Christian accomplishment should begin to turn and not stop turning until those frightful statistics were reversed. Look what might happen:
• What a transformation in the Church. There would be an abundance of workers. There would be a waiting line to teach in the schools of the Church. There would be a great backlog of competent men to fill the offices of the Church and related organizations. In the women's division, there would be more than enough. In the young people's field, many competent leaders.
• What of the financial picture? This would be utopia indeed. Because of the additional families and wage earners of the Church, there would be enough money for everything. The pastor would be paid sufficiently, there would be quite enough finances for adequate help in the Church. When funds were needed for new buildings or new equipment, there would be no problem.
• The missionary picture would be completely reversed. Instead of a thin line of courageous but poorly equipped soldiers of the cross, there would be reinforcements—plenty of them. The weapons of the Christian's warfare would be ample. The forward movement positive.
• What do I mean here? In answer, may I be exceedingly frank with you? I feel that due to either ignorance or prejudice, the Church of Christ has missed perhaps the greatest opportunity for growth that God has given her—the evangelization of children. Some perhaps have been actually unaware that the miracle of the new birth could occur in the hearts and lives of 10-year-olds, or 8- or ... 6- .. . or.. . .? Others, in the foolish pride of their own hearts, have been unable to surrender the idea that salvation necessitated some adult knowledge and understanding. The net result being ... that a child's salvation was neglected, or put off, refused, disbelieved until the child grew into the years of uncertain adolescence when he no longer was interested in becoming saved.
Why Lead Children?
• Why lead children to Christ? The answer is simple indeed ... they're lost and desperately need to be found. Their hearts are full of sin as are adult hearts. Their ways are the ways of death just like older people. There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, even children.
• The story of the Garden of Eden is no myth. It is desperately true. God created our first parents in innocence and placed them in the lovely Garden. But Satan came and tempted Adam and Eve. When they fell they took with them the entire human race. Every baby ever born into this world has been born in sin, possessed of a nature which will eventually, if left without salvation, drag the sinner into eternal hell. I speak soberly here.
• We do not need to look far for confirmation here. Read the sad story yourself. Adam and Eve are driven from the Garden to take up living outside. To them are born sons. The elder fails to obey God's revealed will. In answer he, with cold-blooded premeditation, murders his younger brother. God seeks to question him only to be met with sullenness, lies, and complete lack of remorse. Not a very good record for the first child born into this life.
• The record goes on, widening out until it becomes a deluge of sin, hatred, and violence. So great is the wickedness, that God sorrowfully sends the flood to wipe the slate clean of humanity, and begins all over again with a single family.
• I'll grant it does seem unbelievable that the innocent-looking babe in the cradle has within himself all the potentials of a criminal. But it is true. Observant parents will agree that very little time is needed to develop the inherent traits of sinful nature. Hardly six months goes by until the cooing darling is subtly demanding his own way, and screaming loudly if he does not get it. Parents are amazed beyond words when their little "angel" comes into the house with a big fib on his lips.
• Do not misunderstand me here. It is my sincere belief that all children who die before they reach the age of accountability are covered by the blood of Christ by a merciful and righteous Father in heaven. Heaven will be full of children who have been made safe in the arms of Jesus by the sovereign application of the salvation found in Christ.
• I am concerned about the salvation of children who have now come into the knowledge of sin.
• But there are other reasons. Childhood is a natural time for salvation. You see, the entrance into salvation is on a very simple basis. We are saved by grace through faith. This means, that God saves us and on the simple condition of our belief that He will. Children have this faith. They demonstrate it constantly with those who surround them. It is just unquestioning confidence untainted by worldly wisdom. In a child, this is a beautiful thing.
• Adults do not possess faith with such purity. Their faith is complicated with doubts, mistrust, and uncertainty. That is why it is more difficult for adults to be saved. But with children faith is found of just the right quality. Tell them about the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ and they will believe it. Suggest that God will wash away their sins and make them clean and they will accept it. It seems that God has built the entrance into His peerless salvation of just a child's size. Even adults, as they become saved, must enter on children's terms (Matt. 18:3).
• How wonderful too, to consider that when a child is saved he is prevented from a life of sin. While it is glorious to see a hardened sinner come to Christ, become transformed, and find a new life in Christ, it is still more glorious to see children, fresh and untouched by sin, kept from the degradation which sin invariably brings.
• Along with this are increased opportunities for service. As the child receives Christ as his Saviour, he enters the Christian life. Old things pass away from him and all things become new. There are now new forces brought to bear on his life to aid him in doing that which will bring honor to Christ and rewards for himself.
• The Holy Spirit takes up His abode in the newly cleansed heart. The Lord Jesus takes note, and from His vantage point of the right hand of the Father, begins to guide and direct the young life. The opposing forces, to be sure, begin to tempt and beset, but the Lord gives added grace.
• Nothing is more true than the saying—save a child and you save a life. Who can estimate the potential which a child may bring? Here we find the great principle of Gospel multiplication at work. The child, after being saved, reaches out to others. These in turn influence still more and so the good in a child's salvation may reach round the world. Education and training may be tailored to the need. The child becomes a sharpened tool for the Gospel.
The Lord's Emphasis
• One day the Lord's disciples came to Him with a question. They wanted to know who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. That is, who would occupy the positions of prominence, the places no doubt, corresponding to those earthly positions held by the Pharisees and scribes.
• In answer, our Lord called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of the disciples as a sort of an object lesson. The word used here denotes a child perhaps from 6 to 10 years of age, not an infant that must be held in arms but a little boy, in middle childhood.
• There was the child in the midst so that all the disciples could see. And as our Lord no doubt, placed His hands on the lad's head or shoulders, He made a startling statement. He promised that unless the disciples (who were concerned not about entering heaven, but who should be the most prominent there) were to reverse their thinking and turn back to the natural characteristics of childhood, such as simple trust, lowliness of mind, and unfeigned love ... they wouldn't even get to heaven. This must have been upsetting in the minds of the disciples.
• But that wasn't all. Our Lord went on to say that those who sought after the qualities of childhood such as humility, simplicity, trustfulness, confidence, would find these valuable assets the keys to greatness in the coming kingdom. All this must have been a complete reversal of the wordily wise opinions of the Twelve.
• This was new teaching indeed. First, entrance into life eternal is not on the basis of wisdom or attainment but rather on two simple characteristics of childhood, faith and trust. Then, those who are greatest in heaven are those who live lives of humility, even again as a little child.
• But the Lord did not stop with answering the disciples' question. Probably, with the child still in the midst and with the Lord's hands still on his head, Jesus proceeded to speak about the value of a child. There is a tie-in here between the acceptation and reception of a child and the acceptance and reception of Christ Himself. In some wonderful way, if one is to welcome and entertain a child in the name and for the sake of the dear Lord, it is as if he were welcoming and entertaining Christ.
• This does not include all work with children. But the requisite is, that the work be done "in My name." That is, Gospel work or service with a view to leading the child to Christ and teaching the child about Christ.
• Our Lord follows this with some exceedingly solemn words, possibly some of the most sobering in the entire Scripture. He says that for adults to offend such children as believe in Him, as for example, the one in the midst of them, it would be better for such that they be dead, so great is the offense.
• What is it to give offense to such children? The meaning is to give cause to stumble, to entice such to wrong thinking or wrongdoing. To lead such children (by virtue of being an adult) into the paths of sin and unrighteousness because of the child's trust in the adult. This sort of adult behavior is a capital offense in the sight of God.
• The heavenly Father carefully watches over children. Do not think for a minute that anything can be hidden from His all-seeing gaze. No adult is to treat scornfully or lightly the faith of a little child. It is exceedingly precious in the sight of God. For we know that God highly values faith, and here is faith that is nearly 100 per cent pure, unmixed with detracting elements.
• The Bible promises immediate access to God for young children (Matt. 18:10). How good it is to know that God's little children have guardian angels. Moreover, these angels evidently have top priority. It is said that such angels "do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." This means that God's ears are constantly open to the needs of such little ones. He is greatly concerned for their well-being.
• You see, when children are saved they do not have the same strength or adult wisdom to live a godly life and overcome temptation. Therefore, God is lovingly obligated to give them extra care so that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Saviour. Much of this protection and guidance is evidently entrusted to some specially picked guardian angels. How wonderful are the ways of God.
• Christ inserted at this point in His discourse, the tender and beautiful story of the one sheep who had gone astray. It is of great interest that such a parable should be given while His hands were evidently on the shoulders of the young lad in front of Him.
• The discourse is concluded by a declaration of the will of God. The Lord states that God's will is that not one of such little ones shall perish—not one. And if this be true, then such children must be saved while they are yet children. There is no other way.
Who Can Lead Them?
• Oh, don't you see? This is the joy and delight of the whole matter. Any true Christian can lead a child to Christ. It does not require specialized training. You do not need to be a college graduate or have a diploma from a Bible School. It is not necessary that you be fluent of speech or adept in argument. And while conversance with the Scriptures and familiarity with proof texts is always desirable, even these are not indispensable requisites for evangelism with children.
• If we were to list abilities or qualities for leading children to Christ they would be simple things of the heart. First, a born-again experience yourself, then a God-implanted concern for the salvation of others, plus love in abundant quantities and a generous degree of patience. Next the realization that dealings with children must be on the basis of complete simplicity, and last the good philosophy that all moves must be made in utter dependence upon the Holy Spirit. But these qualities may be the prized possession of all Christians.
• You see, the salvation of a child is the mighty operation of God by means of the simplest possible process. Salvation today is by grace (that's the love of God in operation) on the condition of faith (that's the belief-response of the child). This is actually all there is to it. In the infinite wisdom of God, He seems to have conditioned this miracle (salvation with all its inclusions) on the easiest terms. Perhaps He had in mind the child. At any rate, the whole matter is completely uncomplicated.
• I do not mean to imply that there are no primary and necessary elements. There are. The child must acknowledge the fact that he is a sinner. We will speak of this later. He must be reminded that there are consequences of sin. Then, he might be reminded that it was on the cross that Christ died for his sin. There hung a Substitute for him. The question that follows is an inevitable yet natural one ... Will you receive Him as your Saviour?
• While all of this is extremely elemental, it is by no means even slightly inconsequential. This is importance of the first order. This is a naked choice between life and death. This is the goal of life and the concern of heaven. Therefore, over the entire matter we write the warning ... handle with care, bathe in prayer, allow time and to spare.
• It would seem to me that Christian parents are the most logical ones to lead their own children to Christ. Surely they are the ones who understand the child best. For in the home, those two great elemental forces of heredity and environment have combined to form a vast potential for good and for God. The parent is the one best suited to use this power.
• The home affords abundant opportunity. Every day and every night parent and child are together. And the wise parent will watch for and take just the right time when all factors converge to bring about the desired meeting of their child and the Saviour.
• Moreover, the parent easily becomes the teacher-leader to show by example and precept the way of advance in the Christian life. Day by day he or she can advise, counsel, teach, reprove, correct as the opportunity opens. A sweet and tender companionship is established which becomes mutually helpful for the growth in grace in both parent and child.
• There are others too, who by virtue of their position or relationship become natural winners of children. The Sunday School teacher has the child for one precious hour each week out of 168! How important that this teacher know the Saviour and use sound Sunday School materials. Also that the teacher keep contact with his class members continuously. The class is built around this important subject of Christ and the children. The lesson each week should be based on God's word. Some of the class members have already received the Saviour. Usually the teacher is already dearly loved by the child in question. Here again, opportunity can be made and the vital transaction of salvation completed.
• Some great children's movements have actually come into existence because of this exceptional opportunity to reach children for Christ. Child Evangelism Fellowship is centered on the need for, the explanation of, and the opportunity provided for the child to receive Christ as Saviour. Vacation Bible Schools, as well, have afforded great opportunities to reach children for Christ. Not to mention the widespread summer camp movement. All of these are excellent and God is using them.
• But we have not covered all. We still believe that any earnest Christian can lead children to Christ. Even those who feel greatly hesitant about speaking to adults. Even those who have no gifts for public ministry. With children the approach is easy, the response is sincere, and the results are more often sure. We sincerely commend this ministry to you.
• When we talk about leading children to Christ, what age children do we mean? There is a difference of opinion here, and perhaps a clarification of this issue can be helpful. There is little doubt but the child our Lord used in Matthew 18 was a young child, you might safely say from 5 to 8 years of age. We must remember that in this same connection, with the lad still in the midst of the circle, our Lord solemnly pointed out that it was not the will of the heavenly Father that one of these perish ... that is, little children.
How little! Some Christian educators contend that the age of accountability, that is, when a child knows right from wrong, arrives somewhere in the span of Junior years—9 to 11. This may be true with some, but undoubtedly it is also true that this point in life is reached much earlier by others. Who is to say dogmatically that a certain year is the one? But, whether the age of accountability is reached by some even during pre-school years or in pre-teenage life, it is vitally important that the claims of Christ be presented again and again to every living soul from the earliest childhood until he has accepted God's offer of grace and salvation.
• Would it not be definitely true that the possibility of salvation keeps steady pace with the possibility of sin? Would there be a time in the child's life when he could sin, but when it would be too early for him to be saved? Certainly not. Therefore, we may gauge the period of the possibility of salvation with the advent of the child's realization of sin and its consequences.
• We speak here of sin which a young child would recognize, but sin nevertheless. The root essence of all sin is willful self-assertion, opposed to the authority of God. To be sure, all the ramifications of sin may not be understood but the root principle is surely present. The child, knowing of the authority of his parents or adults, and realizing their commands or restrictions, steps over the line and chooses his own way. This is sin, and is easily understood to be so. The child in his native simplicity, is again quite ready to admit such. He knows and acknowledges his transgression. He has been "bad."
• It is no secret that childish transgression occurs very early in life. Nor is it debatable that the child can be brought to a recognition of such transgressions. He is capable of understanding more than he is given credit for.
• In the minds of too many adults there is a compounded complication of the means of conversion that must not be carried over into the realm of childhood salvation. For instance, along with faith as a requisite for salvation, often many other requirements are added such as confession, good works, baptisms, tears, sorrow for sin, forsaking of habits, promises to do better, and the like. These are additions to the one Biblical requisite of salvation—which is faith.
• Take for example the crystal clear statement of Ephesians 2:8: We are told there that salvation is accomplished by the grace of God. The term grace is a most glorious one, meaning that out of the fullness of the love of God and out of the exceeding plenitude of His power, He saves us fully and completely ... by Himself. But then, such marvelous salvation is ours through faith, that is, the faith He supplies. We appropriate it to ourselves by the process of believing, receiving, accepting that which God proffers.
• It is wrong to make out of faith what is not there. We are saved by faith, not particularly strong faith, not necessarily old faith, not adult faith, not rich faith, not educated faith, not skillful faith, not compounded faith ... just faith. Just believe what God has said.
• So in dealing with the child, the faith which is required on God's part is just childlike faith. God stands ready to save the child on the exercise of the child's native faith. If he is but 4 years old, God will be pleased with a 4-year-old faith response. If the child is 8, then God will accept an 8-year-old faith.
• The statement of Acts 16:31 was evidently relayed to the family of the jailer. He and they were told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Again, it is unnecessary to add to God's one requirement. God stands ready to save when the person "believes" He will. If it be an adult, then God will accept adult faith. If it be a child, then God will quite readily receive simple faith.
• Let it be assured that very young children, and I speak here of those in early childhood, have in their God-given makeup, the divinely required answer to the love of God. Tell them earnestly of their need as sinners, and of the loving provision of God through Christ, and call for their natural response of belief. It is there, most assuredly, for God has placed it there. When the response appears, the vital contact is established. It's that simple.
• Are there definite advantages of leading children to Christ in the very early years?
• Our Lord evidently thought so, for He said in Matthew 19:14: "Suffer [allow] little children, and forbid them not, [do not restrain or hinder them] to come unto Me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven [of such as these, the kingdom of heaven is composed]." Note that here again, the word little children is used. The text has definitely in mind the pre-teenager. These children were "brought" to Christ by their parents. Many of them were, no doubt, pre-school age. In the corresponding account in Mark's Gospel (10:13-16) we find the Lord taking them up in His arms, and holding them there as He places His hands on them and blesses them.
• As Doctor Luke writes of this same incident (Luke 18:15-17), he adds that the parents brought "babes" using a different word altogether. It could easily be that there were infants with the young children. But our Lord as He speaks of entrance into the kingdom does not use the word for infants but the word for little children. It is obviously not possible that infants could knowingly trust Christ to the salvation of their souls, but it is both possible and greatly desirable that young children, pre-adolescent, pre-school, pre-teenager, shall learn of the claims of Christ and find in Him that miracle of grace which will transform their lives.
• Could not this then be God's own way? Is this then not the secret of many coming to Christ? Would not this be the answer to the great difficulty the Church has encountered in warring against the multitudes of adults who are in Satan's kingdom?
• The key then would be the salvation of children before they reach the age of adolescence. For at this difficult age they battle against many forces. There is the great problem of physical and mental change. Their minds and bodies are undergoing a transformation from that of childhood to that of adulthood. This age is fraught with the frustrations of being neither "fish nor fowl," neither child nor adult. Very naturally it is an age filled with doubtful uncertainties.
• High school and college ages bring many other influences. The pressure of education, the wide world of science, choosing a vocation, courtship, and marriage demand time and study. Oftentimes, this is an age of doubt.
• Adulthood adds more problems to the case. Business, home, children cry insistently for attention. There is little time for that exercise of simple faith unto salvation. Real problems crowd out the invitation of the still small voice of God.
• The practical results of early salvation seem to form an imposing array. Consider the danger of procrastination which is averted. It has ever been the trick of Satan to urge "putting off" the matter of the soul's salvation. How many will be in hell due to this diabolical subtlety of our archenemy, Satan, no one will ever know. Some live entire lifetimes, planning on becoming Christians, "someday," but never making the definite move. Childhood knows little or nothing of this danger. They respond to doing things now!
• Assurance of salvation comes easily when a child accepts Christ. As his faith in God's ability to save is simple, so his faith in God's ability to keep him is equally uncomplicated. The specter of doubt seems to be quite uncommon. Perhaps it could be that God, in His loving-kindness, gives them a double portion of assurance.
• With early salvation, the child also experiences early growth in grace. As the miracle of salvation is an event, so the Christian life is a process. But the sooner the process begins, the greater may be the growth in grace.
• The Bible describes the newly born-again believer as a "babe in Christ." Doubtless, some adults may find difficulty in adjusting their adult life to Christian "babyhood" again as they must do. The result could be a failure on the adult's part to grow up properly in the Christian life. But with the salvation of children, the two processes may run concurrently. As they grow physically, they grow spiritually. Is this not God's normal method?
• God's partial purpose in salvation is that it is "unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10). Though God could easily have chosen other methods, His testimony in the world is to be carried forth on the shoulders of Christians. It is gloriously true that we are saved wholly separate from good works on our part; but it is also correspondingly true that our salvation should result in a life of good works before the world.
• We enter into such an exemplary life slowly. There is a time of trial and error. Our early Christian years are school years. We must spend time in maturation before we reach the goal of Christian adulthood. What then, how natural it is to grow spiritually as we grow physically. Is this not God's method? And if so, then the key to such mature success is conversion in childhood.
What Is Involved?
• What actually happens when a child is saved? We fairly well know the results of an adult's coming to Christ. Is there a difference when just a child is involved? Does God have a probationary time or perhaps a "junior-type" salvation for all those under a certain age?
• Of course not! There is but one salvation offered in the Bible. It is the same regardless of the color of a man's skin, the condition of his bank account, whether he has a college degree ... and the same holds true no matter what his age. Jesus Christ died for a world of lost people—men, women, AND children.
• It is therefore true that when a child sincerely and honestly receives, accepts, believes that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Saviour of his soul, all the incomparable benefits of full and free salvation are rightfully his. There is no difference. Salvation is just as fully the possession of a child as it is the possession of an adult if the required conditions are met.
• What does a child's salvation include?
1. His sins are removed forever.
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
2. He becomes a child of God.
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).
3. He becomes a possessor of eternal life.
"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I John 5:11, 12).
4. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in his heart.
"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you?" (I Cor. 6:19)
5. He receives title to a mansion in the sky.
"In My Father's house are many mansions ... I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).
6. He becomes an ambassador for Christ.
"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ" (II Cor. 5:20a).
7. He becomes a partaker of the "blessed hope."
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thess. 4:17).
• What does a child have to do in order to be saved? Is there a difference between the method of a child's conversion and an adult's? Is an adult saved instantly and a child put on probation? Must the child prove himself before God will permit him to be saved? The answer to these questions is a definite "no." Children and adults are saved alike.
• God saves on one condition only. When one has heard the story of the love of God and the sacrifice of Christ, one must then believe it. ... This belief must be genuine, deep and full, all embracing, and completely sincere. We differentiate by calling this type of belief a belief of the heart in distinction to a belief of the head. When you believe in Christ you believe with your entire being.
• Actually, the child already possesses this type of faith. It is faith in simple purity. It is faith uncomplicated by questions of doubt, or fear of failure. It is faith that receives at face value the promises given. It is innocent, guileless, chaste.
• Tell the child something and, if you are his friend, he will believe you. Ask him to do something and he will do it. Seek to find an answer and you will find it. God has made childhood the age of trust.
• The child therefore, readily conforms to the condition of salvation. Over 100 times in the pages of the New Testament the receiving of salvation is conditioned on faith or belief. The candidate for conversion is told he is a sinner. This is not hard to receive for evidences are manifold. Then he is told that God loves him and that the Son of God has died as the penalty for his sins. And, if he will ask Christ into his heart, and will open the door of his being to Christ, the Lord will come in and abide.
• This is not difficult for the child to understand. He will most readily accept this and his faith, in its essential purity, will become operative. The very thing which God requires for the miracle of conversion is found in its essential purity and in abundance in every child.
• The response of the child's responsibility is almost automatic. If the leader will carefully do his part, tell the story of the Gospel simply and truthfully, the child will at once become ready to exercise his faith. And on the exercise of the faith of the child to the Gospel, God will do as He has promised—He will save.
• It is beautifully true that God, in His wisdom, has fashioned the salvation of a child on the simplest possible basis. It is easy for a child to be saved. We could almost call it the normal thing. The pure faith which a child naturally possesses is just the kind of faith which God requires.
• But it would be folly of the worst sort to consider leading children to Christ as trivial, slight, or unimportant. Rather, this is "big business." This is doing the work of God according to the plan of God. This is the way God desires for human beings to be saved.
• The one, therefore, who purposes to offer himself for this profitable ministry of evangelism with children should earnestly prepare. Such preparation must begin with his own heart. Let him be quietly certain of his own salvation "by grace through faith." Let him seek daily to have his heart cleansed by constant confession of known sin. Let him be assured of the definite possibility of salvation for children. Let him continually ask God for a heaven-sent concern that these little lambs for whom Christ died, shall be early brought into the fold of the Good Shepherd.
• Preparation should further include complete familiarization with the true and gripping stories of the Bible. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, Abraham and Isaac, et al—and the New Testament stories, too. It is wise to know these as well as you know your own name. These are divinely given for the purpose of bringing about salvation.
• Add to this an acquaintance of Bible types and figures. Christ is like bread, and water, and we need these (and Christ) to live and be strong. Being saved is like the Ark of Noah, for in it we can be safe even when the storms of life come. The devil is like a roaring lion and we must needs live close to Christ.
• There is no substitute whatsoever for the ability to repeat Bible verses at will. Secure a list of salvation verses, of life verses, of service verses, of reward verses. Memorize these so well that they are not only on the tip of your tongue, but you begin to think and speak in Scripture phraseology.
• Over and above all, let your basic dependence constantly rest upon the indispensable ministry of the Holy Spirit. Pray without ceasing for His unique leading in everything you do. Learn to listen for His instructions. Depend wholly upon His power.
• How does one go about presenting Christ to children? Is it difficult? Are there many pitfalls to be avoided? Does this require much training?
• No! In fact, the key to successful evangelism for children is just truth brought down to their level, unmixed with human psychology or argument. There is little need for preliminaries to set the stage. It is unnecessary to use the "proper" music to bring them into the mood. Much of the time and energy spent in building up the right "atmosphere" in adult situations is wholly out of place here.
• The Bible furnishes the approach. In it are many stories given for this purpose. The story prepares the way for the invitation.God has planned it this way. Tell the story and then press home the application.
• For example, the story of Christ and the woman at the well (John 4). Jesus sat on the well, and the woman came seeking water. He told her of spiritual water. For as natural water could quench physical thirst, there is spiritual water to quench heart thirst, and to bring peace, joy, satisfaction. The application is easy.
• A graphic story is the scene of the cross with the emphasis on the two thieves. Both were sinners, and suffering the results of their sin. But one turned to Christ and asked for help and the other did not. Jesus promised the one that he would go to heaven. Christ offers the same to us, but we must turn to Christ too.
• A blind man in Jericho heard that Jesus was coming. He called for Jesus to come and help him. Jesus heard his cry, came, and opened his eyes. Really, all people without Christ are blinded by sin for they cannot understand spiritual things. We need Jesus to open our eyes so that we can see too.
• For presentation to children we must keep the message simple. Do not go into opinions, pros and cons, shades of interpretation. All these may have their place with adult minds. They are detours to children. Tell the story and make the application.
• By all means, do not be hesitant to ask the child to receive the Saviour. To tell the story merely for the story's sake is to waste time and possibly lose precious opportunity. Unless you are positive the child is saved, never fail to invite him to Christ.
• Let us briefly analyze the three essentials which must be found in every conversion. This is true whether it be a child or an adult. These three basics need not be openly stated, or even specifically referred to. But they must be intrinsic in every born-again experience.
• First, the matter of sin must be acknowledged. Without this our new relationship to God could be just one of "better companionship" or "closer acquaintance." The idea would be, that God is all right and we are all right . . . let's get acquainted. This would deny the fact of sin and the awfulness of its consequences. Such a relationship would render pointless the incomparable sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross.
• It is not necessary to dwell on sin, for the reality of sin and its deathly character does not yet loom large in the child's thinking. But sinner the child is, and his sinfulness must be established as a foundation on which to set forth the saving grace of Christ. He will understand and acknowledge his "sinful" position.
• On this ground may be built the saving grace of the Lord. Something should be said of the uniqueness of the life of Christ. His virgin birth was different from any other. His life was absolutely without sin. Never once did he do anything that was wrong. It must be shown that there is only one Jesus Christ and that His life proved His sinlessness so that He could be our Saviour.
• But the Lord's life was only the prelude to His death. It is through the sacrificial death of Christ that we are saved. And this death was a graphic one. You can picture it for the child. There the Lord hangs on a cross between two thieves. This death takes place on a little hill where everyone can see. He hangs there six hours and then dies and is buried. It is a painful death but the biggest pain comes from the Lord's sorrow for us because we are so sinful. After three days He rises again.
• Why did He die? He didn't have to. But He loved us and He wanted to save us and someday take us to heaven. That's why He died.
• The eyes of the child's heart must be focused on the Lord at His death. This is where he must "look" in order to "live." It is not enough to describe the greatness of our Lord's ministry. There must follow the emphasis that Christ died for the child. That He paid the penalty for the child's sins. It must be a personal thing.
• The next step follows easily: Since the child is a sinner, and since the Lord Jesus died for his sins, does he not want the Lord to be his Saviour? Of course he does, but there must be here a conscious movement of the child's will.
• It is possible that the pliable heart and will of the child might be led to this point and fail to move over the line into salvation. What a horrible thought to contemplate! The one who is dealing with the child should let nothing interfere in this vital moment.
• Over one hundred times on the pages of the New Testament salvation is conditioned on faith or believing. What does it mean then to believe? What is saving faith? Again let us point out that God in His manifold wisdom has made the entrance into salvation exceedingly simple. To believe is to have complete acceptance and confidence in what Christ has done and what God has said. Faith is just believing what God has said about Christ and the child. That he is a sinner and Christ is the Saviour.
• Now, at this point, there must be a movement of the child's will. There could be a certain sense in which a child had known of the fact of his sin, and of the fact of the Saviourhood of Christ, but had never made it actual in his life. We are helped here by the corollary word in John 1:12. There, to believe is to receive and to receive is to believe. In other words, in order to believe, there must be a voluntary reception of Christ. The child must say (at least inwardly), "Come in, Lord Jesus." He must feel that he needs the Lord and take Him. He must say, "Yes, yes" to God. He must do something to indicate the willing acceptance of his heart.
• Now technically speaking, perhaps the child does not need to speak with his lips, but this has been found to be of help. In Romans 10:9, 10, the Spirit of God seems to suggest that confession with the mouth is an aid to believing in the heart. To be sure, heart-belief is a first requisite. But heart-acceptance is made easier by mouth-confession. And this becomes an indication of the movement of the will.
• Actually, it does not matter too much what the child says. But it is vital to secure some response. With children, this is never difficult. You may press home to them the present necessity of inviting the Lord into their hearts. Having lived in a home and having invited others to enter, they will see the congruity of this. Now, it's time to invite the Lord who loved them and died for them to come into their lives. Actually, He waits for their invitation. Do they want Him to come in? Well, then let's invite Him. "Come in, Lord."
• We cannot overemphasize the value of knowing Scripture. After all, the Scripture is your guaranteed weapon (Heb. 4:12). You may not always want to give it from memory, but you should always be able to do so if necessary. Here are 21 verses for a starter:
• Who Needs To Be Saved?
(1) "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom.
(2) "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
(3) "He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).
• Who Is Able To Save?
(1) "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John
(2) "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (I Tim. 1:15).
(3) "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25).
• How Does Christ Save?
(1) "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we,
being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were
healed" (I Pet. 2:24).
(2) "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (I Cor. 15:3b).
(3) "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:14, 15).
• What Must We Do To Become Saved?
(1) "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts
(2) "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).
(3) "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
• What Happens When We Trust Christ?
(1) "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things
are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17).
(2) "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" (I Cor. 6:19).
(3) "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one" (John 10:28-30).
• What Shall We Do After Salvation?
(1) "Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring
it to pass" (Psalms 37:5).
(2) "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God" (Rom. 12:1, 2).
(3) "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him" (Col. 3:17).
• What Is Our Duty To Others?
(1) "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me
in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching
them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with
you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:18-20).
(2) "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
(3) "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
Someone To Help You
• It is welcome news indeed to remind you that there is a special Person assigned to aid you in this important task of winning the children to Christ. This Person is very wise, very able and entirely accessible. I refer to the blessed Holy Spirit of God.
• On the night just before His crucifixion our Lord specifically told of the Spirit's coming and ministry. He taught the disciples that it would be particularly the work of the Spirit to reprove the world of sin (John 16:7-11). He promised that the Spirit would continue to teach as He had taught, so that the believer might be guided into all truth (John 16:13).
• Christ further promised that one of the ministries of the Spirit would be to bring all things to the remembrance of the believer. This would definitely include all the truths which Christ had previously taught them (John 14:26).
• The Holy Spirit is designated as a Paraclete (John 14:16, marg.) meaning "One who is called to our side to aid us in our service." The Spirit's personality and character are described beautifully as our Lord mentioned Him as "another" Comforter, meaning another of the same identical kind as our Lord had been (John 14:16).
• On the Day of Pentecost, the Spirit came into the world and took up His abode in the fleshly hearts of all believers (I Cor. 6:19, 20). From this point of vantage He can easily direct the soul-winning activities of Christians. Actually, this is one of His primary ministries, and there is a certain sense in which He is positively indispensable in this field. While ministers may preach, and evangelists may plead for souls to receive Christ, it is only by the work of the Spirit that men, women, and children are convicted of sin and of their need of a Saviour.
• The consequent truth therefore is that those who seek to win others to Christ, and in this case, children to Christ, never work alone. There is always the guiding, encouraging, reminding, empowering aid of the Spirit. He is vitally interested. This is primarily His ministry. As you lean upon His omniscience you will lack nothing.
• Just remember, His ministry is Christ-centered. He does not speak of or from Himself. His purpose is to present Christ. Our ministry therefore, receives His fullest assistance as we do the same.
• How then can the soul-winner utilize this peerless aid offered by the Holy Spirit? There is no mystery here. All of this is quite normal. Perhaps first, one ought to recognize the relationship the Christian bears to the Spirit.
• When a sinner truly touches the risen Christ by faith, he is saved and becomes a new creation. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to establish the realities of the new position. So, the believer is regenerated or born again by the Spirit (John 3:3-5). This is the believer's entrance into the family of God. Concurrent with that, the Spirit establishes His own residence in the newly cleansed heart (John 14:17). He baptizes the believer into the body of Christ which is composed of Christ, the Head, and Christians of all ages as members of the body (I Cor. 12:13). The fourth ministry of the Spirit is that of sealing the believer, thus establishing the ownership of God (Eph. 4:30). He is the Seal.
• These four ministries are instant upon conversion and sovereignty effected. They automatically occur with every Christian and are everlasting in their continuance. There is one further ministry which is of the greatest importance to Christian life and service. It is the filling of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18). For though the regeneration, the indwelling, the baptizing, the sealing occur only once, the filling can occur as many times as there is opportunity and need.
• Just as the term implies, the filling of the Spirit means the infiltration of the believer's life with the Spirit's power, wisdom, and love. It is God's way of energizing the believer for service. It is the absolute requisite for effective ministry.
• The filling of the Spirit can and ought to be a daily or even hourly experience. It is the answer to every need. The only requirement is that the believer be clean from sin and empty from worldly ambition. Cleansing is brought about by frequent, sincere confession of sin (I John 1:9), and emptiness from worldly desire is the result of dedication of life (Rom. 12:1, 2).
• With the soul-winner's heart under the gracious control of the Holy Spirit, the accomplishment of leading children to Christ is more easily and surely brought about. For the salvation of children is very near to the heart of God. And being so, it surely is a great delight in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
• In dealing with children, where is the best place to endeavor to bring about their conversion?
• The "best place" is, of course, exactly where the Holy Spirit leads; but there does not seem to be any specific answer. The most natural place is the home and at a parent's knee. It is there that all the great involved forces converge. The parent is always the child's greatest teacher, and in the parent's heart are found the interest, love, patience, information, and the ability to begin training in the things of the Christian life.
• But it is also the will of the Spirit to reach children in other places. The Sunday School class is a fertile ground if the teacher is alert to his opportunities. Church services and invitations may be geared to children's salvation as the pastor becomes aware of the vast possibilities of inviting children to receive the Saviour. Many evangelistic meetings specialize in children's meetings.
• In the last few years there have arisen other God-inspired movements which have specialized in the salvation and the teaching of children. The world-wide Child Evangelism Fellowship has pioneered the weekday Good News Club. The meetings are held weekly in neighborhood homes. The lessons are geared to a child's understanding and graphically illustrated by pictures on flannel graph boards. The teachers are earnest friends who are convinced that children can be saved in their early years.
• The Vacation Bible School movement is another potent source of reaching the children for Christ. Usually held in churches in the summer, it is thoroughly loved by boys and girls. Many lessons furnished are aimed directly at the salvation of the child. A similar institute of recent years is the Bible camp. Usually held at some scenic outdoor retreat, there are unusual opportunities given for consecutive, cumulative Bible challenge.
• This does not tell it all. Really, children can be reached for Christ wherever they are found. In any place where a sincere soul-winner and a child with a willing heart are found, the miracle of sins forgiven and new fife in Christ may be brought to pass. No unusual environment is needed. Soft music or stained glass windows are not requisites. Even the Bible, although very important, is not demanded if the teacher has memorized the important passages dealing with salvation.
When a child responds to an invitation it is important that he be dealt with individually. Here are a few suggested steps:
Ask him as kindly as you know how, why he came—just to be sure that he does understand. If his answer indicates that he does not understand, do not force him to go through some form of acceptance and thus make a Christian "professor" of him. Pray with him and make this experience a step forward in loving and wanting Jesus. A child who genuinely loves the Lord will accept Him when he hears "with hearing ears" and his heart has been made ready by the Holy Spirit.
If a child came to accept Christ, go over the plan of salvation by questioning him and letting him supply the answers. He may have come with a garbled idea—some points clear and some not. Base your explanation on one Bible verse, making God's invitation so plain that his faith will not rest on your word but on God's Word. Perhaps John 3:16 might be used for a very young child, and Romans 10:9, 10 for an older one.
You might use John 3:16 as follows: "God says in His Word, the Bible,
|'For God so loved the world'||that means you|
|'that He gave His only begotten Son'||that means the Lord Jesus Christ|
|'that whosoever believeth in Him'||that's what you did when you asked Him to save you from your sin|
|'should not perish'||or be punished for all your sins|
|'but have everlasting life'||and that's living with God in heaven forever and ever."|
Let the child pray in his own words. Avoid putting words in his mouth lest he repeat, parrot-fashion, expressions that he does not understand. If he has difficulty praying easily by himself, explain that prayer is talking to God as simply as he talks to anyone else.
Finally, ask him if he knows he is saved. If he answers "Yes," bow in prayer to thank the Lord.
If he doesn't know he is saved, take him back to the Scripture you used, to be sure that he did what God told him was his part. You can assure him that God does His part. Let the child's assurance rest on fact—what God says—not on his bound-to-fluctuate feelings. Then thank the Lord for saving him.
What Actually Happens?
• When a child, following accurately the Scriptural conditions, accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour, what really happens to him?
• A careful search of the Bible reveals no difference between the conversion of an adult and the conversion of a child. Evidently, the same results occur in the genuine acceptance of Christ by a child as in the genuine acceptance of an adult.
• This means that the child's sins are forgiven, pardoned, washed away, to be remembered no more (John 1:29; Heb. 1:3; I Pet. 2:24; Rev. 1.5; Ps. 103:12).
• With sins forgiven, the child is immediately clothed with the robes of the righteousness of God. He is thus declared to be justified. God looks on him as if he had already lived a life of perfect righteousness, patterned after the exemplary life of Christ (Rom. 5:1; Titus 3:7; Gal. 2:16).
• Coincident with these blessings, is the peerless gift of life everlasting. This gift of God is immediately entered into by the child the moment that he, by faith, contacts efficaciously the risen Christ (John 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; I John 5:12, 13).
• Instantly, upon the cleansing of the child's heart, he receives a new Guest to live therein. This marvelous Personage is none other than the Holy Spirit of God. He is warmly recommended by Christ, and is said to possess characteristics identical with those of the Lord. This means that the Spirit loves the child with the same fervent intensity as Christ does, and has in Himself the peerless ability to guide the child in paths of righteousness (John 14:16, 17; 16:13, 14; I Cor. 6:19, 20; Rom. 8:14, 15).
• The child also becomes an ambassador for Christ. Not a large ambassador to be sure, but nevertheless, an ambassador. One principle of Scripture is that "a little child shall lead them," which can certainly be true as far as truly saved children are concerned. They often become responsible for the subsequent conversion of their families (II Cor. 517-20; John 6:9; II Kings 5:2, 3).
• The name of the child is also inscribed on the Lamb's book of life in heaven (Phil. 4:3). Such is never to be erased, for the inscribing is done on the basis of the love of God and the grace of Christ. How wonderful are the ways of our Saviour as He demonstrated the riches of His saving grace in the conversion of every child.
What Does Not Happen
• While it is gloriously true that the converted child is exalted to an amazingly high position of a true child of God with all the rights and privileges of sonship, we are in no way to expect to see the child attain full maturity in the Christian life overnight. In actual experience, the child is a "babe in Christ" and must grow in grace until he reaches spiritual adulthood, just the same as older converts.
• As with the physical birth of a child, the newly born-again boy or girl should be given loving tender care, and patient understanding. He should be fed the "sincere milk of the Word" (simple Bible truths) until he is able to have a diet of the "stronger meat." Those around him should affectionately nurture and encourage him, and if necessary, reprove him.
• Do not look for perfection too soon. Remember, just as adults have a cruel and subtle enemy of their souls, so the child is subject to the same attacks. Watch and understand, and if the attacks come, endeavor to give aid to overcome.
• Do not look for a completely sinless life. The child may still disobey, may be angry or selfish and no doubt will be! The truth is, that even though he has been genuinely saved, he still is in possession of the old nature. The same principles of dealing with sin apply to the Christian child as the Christian adult. Take this sin to the Lord in sincere confession (I John 1:9) and know pardon and cleansing.
• The child's spiritual character takes time to develop. Do not expect him to be a model in the Christian life immediately. Christian character is one of the products of the Spirit's filling. Lead the child in prayer that He will be as "clay in the potter's hands" and thus enable the Spirit's ministry to manifest itself.
• Remember that while the essence of conversion is immediacy, the essence of the Christian life is growth. The beginning is small. There may not be too many indications of the transformation which has taken place. But let growth be encouraged. Let the means of grace be steadfastly employed ... Bible, prayer, church, companionship, example, encouragement, challenge ... and before long there will be satisfactory signs of the presence of the dear Lord in the life of the child. Further, let the child occupy a large place in your own prayer life.
• The divine technique of dealing with children is of necessity much simpler than the method of dealing with adults. Not that God requires more of the adult, but because adult life is filled with problems, questions, difficulties which complicate the acceptation of Christ. The heart of the child is innocently pure of such hindrances.
• Therefore, don't become involved. Don't raise extraneous questions which do not matter. Don't bring up points and differences which may confuse the child. Determine to stay with the fundamental, yet simple, issue:
1. The child is a sinner and needs a Saviour.
2. Jesus is the world's Saviour and will become the child's Saviour if received.
3. Will the child here and now take Christ as his Saviour?
• In all of this do not be timid or hesitant. This is big business, probably the biggest you'll ever do. You are putting into operation the greatest force in God's world, His saving grace. The Lord is behind you even though the devil is opposing you.
• Don't dwell on the details of sin with children. When you have mentioned sin in the child's life, and when you have illustrated it sufficiently so that the child understands and acknowledges it, then pass from that to the subject of the Saviourhood of Christ.
• Don't underestimate the value of children. By worldly standards the conversion of an adult is greater than the conversion of a child. The tendency is to think ... he's just a child. Heavenly standards however, seem to reverse this opinion. God's own method is the salvation of children while they're children. In this way the full benefit of the fife is realized.
• Don't "talk down" to children when you deal with them about their souls. With other matters the parent may command, or the teacher may academically advise. But when the subject is salvation the leader is but the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit, and the child is an entity which will live eternally.
• Don't hurry. It is possible to do irreparable harm in rushing the child through. Better to pray and appoint another day than to fail here.
• There are other "don't's," but perhaps they may all be comprehended under this one ... don't fail to rely upon the Holy Spirit.
• The salvation of a child is truly glorious, but it's just the beginning. The Christian life begins now and stretches on and on and on. There is so much more to learn and experience and do. How good is our God to fashion it this way. Something new every day.
• The responsibility of leading the born-again child into normal healthy growth is primarily that of the heavenly Father. To this end there is the loving Holy Spirit who lives no farther away than the beat of the child's heart. Most certainly He will begin and continue the child's spiritual education.
• Possibly the Spirit will lead you to aid in the child's development. You will therefore remember that the child needs to begin to talk about his new life in Christ. This is both normal and necessary. You will offer opportunity for this.
• The means of grace are exceedingly vital here. The child must have a daily diet of prayer and Bible reading. If the child cannot read yet, then someone must read to him. You should further urge regular companionship with those of like faith. The weekday club, the Sunday Bible School, the young people's group are excellent here. It is encouraging to know that there are others who love the Lord too.
• If you are a friend, and not the parent, visit the child's home. No doubt the child has already told his parents that the Lord Jesus is now his Saviour. You will want to visit the home and offer to give instruction as to the "care and feeding" of the little lamb in Christ. Who can tell, there may be some other lost sheep there whom you may lead to Christ.
• The "follow-up" just goes on and never stops. That story, however, is not the province of this booklet. There are excellent books written for that purpose. There are also great agencies like the Church, Sunday School, Christian Day Schools, whose purpose is the edification of children.
• Nothing will ever take the place of your prayerful interest. For when you lead a child to Christ, you become the spiritual father or mother. He becomes graven on your heart. You are related to him eternally. Your concern for him will endure while you have life...
From How to Lead Young Children to Christ by William W. Orr. Wheaton, IL: Scripture Press Publications, ©1961.
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