Jul

25

2013

Brian Croft|12:01 AM CT

Is Your Child a Christian?

Is my child a Christian?

As parents, we all wrestle with how to answer this question, and I've found there are usually two extremes that need to be avoided. The first is made worse by a lack of discernment shown in many churches when they routinely extend altar calls to 4- or 5-year-olds, ask them to raise their hands if they love Jesus, and then baptize them as converted followers of Christ.

The second is often a reaction against the carelessness of the first. This extreme prevents both parents and also pastors from being willing to affirm a child's conversion until they are adults, independent of their parent's authority and care. While reluctance on both counts is somewhat warranted, I believe a middle ground must be approached in order to discern clear biblical evidence that a child, teenager, or young adult has become a new creature in Christ.

Five Evidences

Admitting the obvious—that we are not God and cannot see the heart—I maintain certain evidence can help us discern the legitimacy of child or teenager's profession of faith. In the spirit of Jonathan Edwards's five signs of true conversion, here are five evidences I often use as a template when dealing with this difficult issue.

1. Growing affection and need for Jesus and the gospel.

2. Heightened understanding of the truths of Scripture.

3. Increased kindness and selflessness toward siblings.

4. Greater awareness of and distaste for sin.

5. Noticeable desire to obey parents.

In my experience as a parent and pastor, I've realized age isn't the most important gauge in determining true conversion. Instead, it's generally wise to look for these evidences in an age-appropriate manner. For example, a 16-year-old will articulate his understanding of the gospel differently—and more fully—than a 10-year-old. The same may be said of a child's desire to obey their parents or display a selfless spirit toward their siblings. As children age, these things will begin to look different, and our expectations should follow suit.

Nevertheless, visible fruit must be present in some way, and I'd strongly discourage anyone from affirming a child's conversion without some kind of tangible evidence apart from a verbal profession. On the flip side, though, I'd caution parents and pastors from falling into the trap of demanding more from a child than can be reasonably expected and observed.

Five Questions

Here are five questions to consider when looking for the above evidences and evaluating the spiritual condition of a child.

1. Does my child appear to truly love Jesus, or is he or she just telling me they do because I said so?

Children will often do what we tell them to do, believe what we tell them to believe, and say what we tell them to say. When it comes to saying, "I believe in Jesus," parents can manipulate a response even with the best of intentions. Instead of coaxing the right words, however, we should look for genuine affection for Jesus within the child and, as best we can, ascertain if this affection finds its root in what he's done to save them from their sins through his death and resurrection.

2. Does my child independently seek to know God's Word?

I've read God's Word with my kids before they could read themselves. What caught my eye, though, is when my oldest daughter began to read and seek to understand its truth apart from my prodding. She would read Scripture on her own and then ask me questions. These behaviors revealed what my wife and I identified as a genuine desire to know God's Word better—independent of either of us.

3. Does my child demonstrate greater understanding of deep spiritual truths?

A helpful confirmation that my oldest son had been converted happened about one year after the fact. While reflecting on finishing the Book of James in our Wednesday evening Bible study, my son shared he was sad to miss the final week since it was going to be an overview of the book. I asked why he was sad, given that he'd been there throughout the entire book, and he replied, "I feel like I remember the last three chapters of James well, but I don't remember much about the first two." I then realized we had started James 3 soon after we felt our son was converted.

The word "awakening" is a helpful way to understand conversion not just in adults, but in kids, too. Consider whether your child appears to understand truths about God, the gospel, and the Bible better than before. Have you noticed a spiritual awakening?

4. Is my child demonstrating spiritual fruit contrary to his personality?

It's common to mistake spiritual fruit with positive aspects of a child's personality. We need to know, then, the different personality traits in each child before we can discern true spiritual fruit. For example, my son is an extrovert, loves people, and has always loved those in our church. Therefore, love for the local church, although a fruit of conversion, wasn't the best place to discern my son's conversion since he's naturally wired to love people anyway. My oldest daughter, however, didn't naturally love people the same way—something that noticeably changed after her conversion. In short, it's important to honestly assess your child's personality and look for evidences of supernatural fruit that would appear contrary to it.

5. Is there independent remorse for daily sins?

My wife and I found it helpful to look for our child's burden over their sin apart from any discipline, correction, or punishment. A parent can make a child feel "convicted" for sins, but that doesn't necessarily mean God by his Spirit has brought the conviction. Look for moments when your child hurts a sibling with their words and goes to apologize on his own. Look for your child to come and confess a lie to you before you catch him—for no other (apparent) reason than that his own heart and conscience were convicted by the Spirit.

I realize this is tricky ground. As a parent and pastor, all of the above must be applied on a case-by-case basis. Though many of us may be in different places on the spectrum, we must nonetheless endeavor to avoid the extremes on either side. Find a nice seat in the middle as a starting point, and from there be wise, assess honestly, and pray that the merciful God who regenerates adults, teenagers, and children alike will give you much discernment, patience, and grace.

Brian Croft is senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the author of Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness and Test, Train, Affirm, and Send Into Ministry: Recovering the Local Church’s Responsibility to the External Call. Brian blogs regularly at Practical Shepherding.

Categories: Christian Living
  • Jess

    Do you make known these things to your children? Should children be aware of what real faith produces, or does it make them perform to a standard?

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  • http://www.thenarrowingpath.com Sherryn@thenarrowingpath

    What a helpful article, thank you. I have occasionally wondered if my approach with my kids was the right one (gospel teaching through conversations, classic hymns, and Sunday School...no altar calls or pushing for them to 'ask Jesus into their hearts'). This article reminds me that I regularly see all of the fruit you mention, in both of my kids. Sometimes when they are feeling a bit of doubt, I have explained that these very things you mention in your article are the way they can know that God is working in their life. They seem to find reflecting on this very helpful, and can see that there are many things they do that they know they couldn't do on their own, or that they have become stronger in. For them that is concrete evidence of God at work in them.

    It truly is a beautiful thing to see the Lord at work in the heart and mind of a child.

    May I repost this on my blog?

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  • http://www.christianhomeandfamily.com Carey

    This is a great list and a great post... and I'm sure not intended to be comprehensive. Right away I see that many of these could not be seen to the extent they should if the "way" the parent is discipling / teaching the child is not what it should be. So much rides on our wise, Spirit-led parenting - even the fruit the Spirit produces in our regenerate children.

  • hamon

    My automatic assumptions would always have me including independently reading the Bible as a criteria as well. But I've come to realize that not everyone is a reader, even of the Bible. While this is the ideal there are other ways to learn the truth of scripture otherwise every illiterate person that ever lived would not have been able to be a Christian.

    • Jonathan McGuire

      Exactly. We push "quiet times" yet never consider the vast %age of believers never had, nor have, this option. This is very American, even if it's ideal.

  • http://willadair.com Will Adair

    Where is Jesus in this scenario? There are a few Christians that believe he has quite a bit to say about the election of children. Something to the effect of "let the little children come to me." Some might even say that he has a covenant with them. :)

    - your friendly neighborhood Presbyterian

    • Scott Kroeger

      We ought refrain from reading too much into a passage. "Let the little children come," in the first place, referred to a specific group of children, who were restrained from coming to Jesus, by the disciples. Second, the broad principle is children may and do come to Christ, with a faith that serves as our example. However, to imply the irrevocable election of children in general who will not remain as children but will grow up,seems to lead one (to be consistent) that: children (in general) are elect= grown ups who used to be children are election= hallelujah, everyone is elect ;)and we know that such a conclusion is incorrect
      - your friendly neighborhood (Calvinistic) Baptist

    • Jay Risner

      Point 1: "affection for Jesus"

  • Steven Norris

    This is a well stated and helpful example of the Baptist position, but it is not the classic Reformed position for it blurs together as semantically the same 'Christian' and 'conversion.' It is expressed in terms other than covenantalism. The Westminister Directory, for instance, says that children of believers are Christians and presented for baptism because they are federally holy. This is perfectly in line with justification sola fide but not evangelical practice as commonly practiced.

    • Scott Kroeger

      I praise the Lord for the wise "Westminster divines" and their efforts to present to their generation and those to follow, a solid declaration of theology. However, we should first look to the Scriptures and its understanding of a Christian, an evaluate whether the "divines" were correct, as opposed to imposing on Scripture and understandings of the "divines." Christian, from the Scriptures = believer. The elect in their unregenerate state before conversion, are not yet Christians, they are unsaved rebels from God, Whom He will at His choosing, draw to salvation, at which point they will be rightly called, "Christian."

    • Matt Foreman

      I don't find anything in this article that should be a problem to experiential Reformed paedobaptists - believing your children are in the covenant and yet still seeing that they need to be born again. Paul's words have relevance to your children -

      "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love" (Gal.5:6)

      "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Gal.6:15)

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  • Kelly Merlo

    I'm struggling with this. I'm certain that I was a Christian as a small child because I absolutely believed that Jesus was the Son of God and He died for my sins. And believing in Him made it possible for me to have eternal life. But I was not in a household with exposure to scripture or even parental guidance regarding living in obedience. I don't think I 'displayed' most of the points mentioned above. I just knew that I loved Jesus. But God in His grace, eventually brought me to a church that taught me the deeper truth of the blessing that comes with obedience, and the power that was in me (Holy Spirit) that could produce that obedience and desire to 'know' God more. And that didn't happen until I was 34 years old.

    • http://willadair.com Will Adair

      Kelly,

      The article is written from a Baptist understanding of conversion. Other Christians camps (like Lutherans, Methodist, Presbyterians, & Reformed) would say that the list above is proof of sanctification and not conversion.

      • Justin Keller

        I find Matt Foreman's earlier comment to be well put. If it's helpful, then change the language of the post from evidences of "conversion" to evidences of "regeneration." Calvin thought that children of believers were presumptively members of the covenant, but he also thought that the regenerate would show evidence of the new birth.

    • Karen

      Kelly, I could have written your post. I am pretty sure I was converted very young but did not have the discipleship needed in my home to grow in that conversion. God, in His grace, protected me and brought me to places where I could be taught. That, in turn, has led me to be very purposeful about how I disciple my children. I have spent years wrestling over the fact that I did love Jesus but had no one to teach me. I've struggled with anger at times. The fruit of all that is understanding that God had a plan for my life, even if just to drive me to be purposeful about teach truth to my children. I think it has also helped me understand how little I really participate in the conversion of my children. It's not my job. Only God saves and only God sanctifies.

      Lists are helpful but we can't let them replace discerment from the Spirit. I have a child that fits this list to a tee, until about 6 months ago. Is he unsaved? Was he only doing things to please mom and dad? Those have been my questions. I have come to the conclusion through prayer and lots of crying that he's wresting with God right now. He will be 13 in January but he's well ahead of his peers in maturity. He thinks like he's 16. I believe he's wrestling to make Christianity his own. I have to trust the work of the Spirit in his life and continue to speak gospel truth to him. His conversion is not job. Teaching him Truth is. This list was helpful but regardless of whether they are saved or not, our children need to consistently hear the gospel. Some for conversion. Others because without a consistent preaching and reminding of God's grace over us, they will gain wrong ideas of what the gospel means in their life. For me that looked like legalism. I appreciate the list. I believe me must use it cautiously and be open to leading from the Spirit in how we disciple our children. And we must trust.

  • http://www.owasso.k12.ok.us/webpages/gyankey/index Gregory Yankey

    I agree with you Will. This is clearly from the Baptist position. Mr. Kroeger will, no doubt, accuse me of imposing my personal situation on the Scriptures, rather than letting the Scriptures speak to my situation. However, I wholeheartedly believe that the Baptist position is discriminatory against people with disabilities and children with special needs who are non-verbal (e.g. autism spectrum disorder, Down Syndrome, or other disabilities). I would like to see the Gospel Coalition theologically wrestle with these issues. I hold to the Reformed position, and we are having our daughter who was born with Down Syndrome last year baptized at the PCA we just joined on August 18th. We could not do this in a Baptist church because they deny the practice of covenantal infant baptism. I left the Baptist church to go to the PCA because I believe this issue has NOT truly been explored by Baptists (although I read an article that Mennonites were wrestling with this issue, and baptizing adult disabled people who could not verbally express their faith.)I was told if my daughter was elect she was saved with or without baptism, and if she was not elect, she was not (obviously, but doesn't really address the issue of who is in the VISIBLE church.) One baptist friend told me if my sons who are on the autism spectrum do not profess faith they are "just not elect." I really hope he didn't mean that.

  • Cecilia Lynn

    As the Bible says, my children are already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but they're also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that they will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul, we are working out our own salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).

    The concept of praying a prayer "asking Jesus to come into your heart and be your personal lord and savior" is un-; nay, anti-Biblical.

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  • Mike Reid

    Er, no.

    I don't think this kind of thinking is in the spirit of Edwards' 5 marks of true conversion at all. For Edwards was a paedobaptist and did not think of the children of believers in this way.

    This article takes Edwards' thought in one context and uses it in a context foreign to Edwards.

    MR

  • Kris Wilson

    While I realize that this article comes from an earnest desire to help strike a balance when it comes to the conversion experiences of children, it carries a tone of Biblical authority that is not explicit in Scripture. Scripture is truly quiet about the conversion/sanctification experiences of children who come to Jesus as young ones and still have much developing and change to go through. I bring this up as one who was raised in solid Baptist churches all my life and knows the damage it can have, first-hand.

    If you ask a 12 year old if they are demonstrably better at these things than they were pre-conversion, or if you ask their parents, assuredly, you will get a mixed bag in responses, even in those who are growing disciples of Jesus Christ. I was one of the "good kids." My personality made me eager to please, terrified of disappointing parents and heavy handed, on my own heart, when it came to any sin. But I gave my heart to Jesus at 6 (4 if you ask my mom) and asked to be baptized right after. My scriptural knowledge was precociously extensive by that point, as was my cognitive development. I meant every bit of it. But I spent the rest of my youth, all the way until my 20's, running down the aisle... praying the sinners prayer, re-committing my life - convinced I'd done something wrong the first and subsequent times. All because of one thing: As I grew, my parents used ever moment when I was failing to succeed at some direction they'd given or a hint of attitude they might have detected as an opportunity to bemoan the loss of their "good, compliant" daughter. Those very questions you've listed were nearly verbatim, recited from pulpits on Sundays. Well, surely I must not have been, 'cause I don't remember being such a failure at 7 as I was now. As a pretty much, model pastor's daughter, I was so convinced of my utter failure that it was only by God's grace that my Mother interrupted my suicide attempt at 15. Constantly, I was reminded that, if I had truly offered myself as a living sacrifice, and was yielding to the Spirit every part of my heart, I wouldn't have the struggles I did.

    I graduated from a conservative Christian college, in 1990. But it took me 10 more years, and a marriage to an incredible man, who now has 2 graduate degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and Moody Bible Institute, for God to show me how the fullness of the writing s by the Apostles, did not support such an obsession with the truth of a conversion experience in children. It gives a 17 year old an ulcer and my failure to come up with proof positive of all you've listed above, actually drove me from my faith for a few years. Because if no matter what I'd done wasn't measuring up, if no amount of hours on my knees and memorization of His Word and an earnest desire to be 100% his, was enough... how was I so sure God was even real?

    By His profound mercy, grace and provision, I follow Him and love and trust Him more now, than ever before. But if you had asked my parents, when I was 19 and having the audacity to listen to that sinner music by (early) Michael Card... with all its screeching electric guitars, they would have had serious concerns. After all, I was not following their leading on the matter. I was NOT obeying them more.

    Please, please do not set children's ministry philosophy back to the 70's. This is a minefield and the hearts of children are the cost.

    • Kelly Merlo

      Praise God for His grace and mercy finally revealed to you after all those years. I agree with you......this is a minefield. My own children are still recovering.

    • Ern

      I wish there was a "like" button so I could press it for this comment

  • http://southerngospelyankee.wordpress.com Esther O’Reilly

    Great article, but boy is it ever disheartening when the answer to all those questions is "No..."

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  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I understand the reasons for posting this, but this comes dangerously close to turning the evidence for salvation into the grounds for salvation. There is a danger in an over-emphasis on examining the fruit. Where in that list is any reference to the gospel? "Loving Jesus" is not the gospel; Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses believe in "loving Jesus." Shouldn't the emphasis be on understanding the gospel? Shouldn't it be that our children understand that they are sinners in need of a Savior, and that Christ's death satisfies that penalty, not our own works? Shouldn't verses like Romans 3:28, Romans 4:5, Galatians 2:16, and Ephesians 2:8-9 come into play?

    Certainly one desires to see evidence of regeneration, but there is a danger in over-emphasizing the evidence and turning the evidence into the grounds, and that is legalism.

    Jordan Cooper put up a response to this blog from a Lutheran perspective: http://justandsinner.blogspot.com/2013/07/how-do-i-know-if-my-child-is-christian.html

    • Kris Wilson

      Thank you for this link, J. Dean. My husband and I have a hard time finding a denominational home, these days, and one reason is because we've come to believe that the hyper-focus on a date, carved in stone, as the moment of conversion, especially in children, leaves out the very organic, ebb and flow of the faith journey. There are elements of unknown that we cannot reconcile until the journey is finished.

    • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

      Kris,
      If you look at the Lutheran and first generation Calvinists, they are not so whipped on the date; their concern is that one possesses faith-and rightly so.

  • http://www.thenarrowingpath.com Sherryn@thenarrowingpath

    Thank you all for the thought-provoking disucssion. I can see the concern some have over making a 'checklist' for evidence of salvation. As a mother of a child on the autistic spectrum, I know a lot about the pitfalls of assessing human beings through 'checklists'! I was saddened to read of the commenter here who was told his kids weren't saved because they didn't verbalise their faith. Like God is limmited...sorry, can't take your lovely boys. If only I hadn't let them be born autistic, then they could have been saved. Whaaat? Nonsense. What a minefield. One hurdle my 9 year old son had to get over was realising that feeling his emotions in his mind and not his 'heart' was fine. He is so literal he really couldn't grasp giving his 'heart' ot Jesus, as that is not where he feels his emotions!! No special date, altar call or sinner's prayer for this child...just a thirst for knowledge, progressive understanding, and a love for the Lord and his laws.

    Sometimes a checklist can provide guideposts to get us thinking, which is what this article has done for me. Now, I am not inclined to take things in a particularly literal way (unlike my dear boy), so a list like this gets me thinking about all of the subtle changes I see in my children, that to me are the Lord's work and certainly not the results of my awesome parenting. ;-) I do realise however, that some will take it as prescriptive, and I can see the danger there.

    The above list in no way captures the many moments where I see my children growing in love and respect for each other, in an earnest deisre to talk about and learn more about all things to do with God, or in their continued spiritual growth through some quite awful family situations. Not wanting to promote a purely 'experience-based' response, I still find it hard to think what else could explain my children's current spiritual state at 5 and 9, except that they are saved. OTher views are welcome, however.

    Having said that, as a missionary kid I too was 'saved' from an early age. However, upon my return to my homeland, I certainly went completly off the rails for about 15 years. Seriously so. Yet I never stopped believing. I just was lost, for many reasons.

    Over the past few years I have been able to see the Lord working in my life and drawing me nearer to him. Then at 38 came the massive turn around...some of you will know what I mean. So, does that mean I wasn't saved before then? I have grappled with this lately and have come to realise that yes, I was saved. But I had wandered far from the fold. My shepherd rescued me from danger, and brought me back. The same thing may very well happen to my children. Surely we can have great hope and faith in our Lord Jesus, trusting that he will bring them back, since they were his to begin with. Since we can't 'prove it', I seems to me to be another area where we just have to trust in the Lord's faithfulness and keep loving and praying for our kids! Sorry, I know that is not a highly theological argument, but it's all I've got this week!

    Thanks again for all of the contributions (and the discussion over at the Lutheran blog!)

    • Kris Wilson

      After I read my comment to my husband last night, his first reaction was, "And that doesn't begin to address raising special needs kids in the faith!" We have a high functioning autistic son and a daughter with severe anxiety and ADHD. It totally takes you into uncharted waters. Thank you for bringing that up here.

    • http://www.owasso.k12.ok.us/webpages/gyankey/index Gregory Yankey

      Thank you for your response. I was worried that people were ignoring my question about raising special needs kids. I don't mean to accuse baptists of not being merciful to kids with special needs. When we did go to the Baptist church they did embrace our kids and included them in activities. For that we are grateful. But I think their theology and sacramental practice is not consistent with their desire to be merciful and include people with disabilities (e.g. If I were in a wheel chair and wanted to be baptized, couldn't I be "immersed" in water by simply having a lot of water poured over me? My non-verbal children are excluded from baptism there because they can't profess faith either.) This is why I believe the paedobaptist view is more consistent with the gospel.
      One more point I need to make is in regards to the early Church's attitude about the evil Greco-Roman practice of "exposure" of unwanted infants for whatever reason (being born female or with a disability). There is anecdotal evidence that Christians would rescue the exposed infants that pagans would leave to die, baptize them, and raise them as their own. It was encoded in the Roman "Law of the Twelve Tables" that Romans were not to allow disabled or deformed children to live. Christians were counter-cultural--taking these children in as their own and baptizing them--refusing to expose them to death. The early church INCLUDED disabled children. The baptist position which demands a verbal profession to be baptized does NOT include them in the visible church. This is clearly an ANTI-gospel position. Baptists need to wrestle with this and come up with an answer. It is not enough for me that I was told by my former pastor that I should not worry because if my children were elect they would be saved anyway. We all know this if we have good theology. It doesn't address the question of who is included in the visible church for me.
      In addition, my experience is similar to many of you who have commented. I came to believe at an early age, but find that I struggle with temptations and sin all the time to this day (at the age of 46). To me the key is that I am aware of it, whereas a person who is not regenerate doesn't usually care. I think the Puritan tendency to look for all these evidences could lead to a dangerous works-based treadmill. If you know your history of Puritanism, church membership became so low because of the demand to testify to these evidences that they had to establish this idea called the "half-way covenant" so people could vote in the civil society. Church membership was a requirement to vote at the time.

      • http://www.thenarrowingpath.com Sherryn@thenarrowingpath

        Gregory, it saddens me to hear of the exeriences you and your children have had. Thank you for raising the issue in the first place, as it is an important one and something I am open to hearing other's views on. I do not know the answer to this dilemma but as a mother of kids with autism, ADHD and Tourette's Syndrome I can relate to the love and appreciation we have for them, and the desire for their salvation.

        It does seem very harsh to refuse a person baptism because of a particular disability. Surely we can trust that the Lord knows their heart, and that it would be better to baptise if unsure? Although raised a Baptist, I do not have a fixed view on this. To be honest, this is the first time I have had to even think about it.

        My kids are verbal, but perhaps where this article was helpful for me is that my children sometimes behave in reponse to sensory overload in ways that others might judge as sinful (as I am sure many parents of special needs kids can relate to). Yet there are times when their neurolgical systems spiral up into hyperactivity or into meltdown. There is a difference. Yet I see them trying so hard regardless of the challenges they face, and I see the spiritual growth ocurring as described in this article and am greatly encouraged. The comments have helped me reflect that yes, this is perhaps more a list of signs of spiritual growth rather than markers of conversion.

        Either way, it is encouraging, and I hope Gregory that you can see the Lord at work in your children's lives regardless of their capacity to verbalise! May the Lord bless you!

  • Matt Peters

    I find the list of 5 evidences/questions more an illustration of somebody who is maturing spiritually. I think it is very difficult to discern whether somebody is a Christian or not. That is really between them and God. I find the assumptions that children need to be doing these 5 things to be another example of the false idea that people have to 'DO' things to be a Christ follower. I think these 5 evidences are just that. Observations or commonalities people have identified in others who are seeking God. They are not, however a requirement, nor a things to aspire to. They are the after-effect of a heart close to God's. Think of the Thief, crucified with Christ. He had neither the time nor the facilities to do any of the 5.

  • Randal Kay

    I would say these might be good to apply to adults as well!

  • Alien & Stranger

    I agree that these can be signs that a child knows the Lord and is growing spiritually. Since I came to know the Lord well after starting a family, my one desire has been for my husband and sons to come to know and love the Lord. However, the one of my children who manifested all the signs mentioned, turned away from the Lord a few years later, when he went away to university in his late teens, and is now a hard-line anti-theist. The younger two I happened to lead in prayer for salvation when they (at different times in their lives, prior to their teen years) indicated that they wanted to pray to be saved. Both have led chaste lives, go to church with me (they still live at home), have manifested some spiritual discernment, but otherwise seem to have little spiritual hunger or enthusiasm. I did my best to give them a good spiritual and moral foundation during their primary school years, but it became difficult during their high school years (no "bedtime stories"!), further complicated by my husband being an atheist, so they had no male spiritual role-model at home, and family discussions were out - in fact, any attempts tended to backfire, so I ended up keeping my mouth shut and have been trusting the Lord to work in their lives, despite my failings. (I thought perhaps I'd tried too hard to make up the deficit and that back-fired too). Needless to say, 22 years down the line from when I invited Jesus Christ into my life, prayer and faith for the Lord to work in their lives is what keeps me going.

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  • Peter

    The evidences that Rev. Croft cites thoroughly confuses evidences of growth in Christ with what the Bible says about the faith and salvation of children. The entire subtext of the article is that children's faith and the profession thereof is somehow inferior and/or suspect, thus in need of proving to adults. The Bible says the opposite.

    In Acts 2:38-39, the Apostle Peter stated that the promises of baptism and forgiveness are for believers and the children of believers.

    In Matthew 18:3 and 19:14 Jesus exalts the faith of children as the model for adult believers.

    Christian parents, raise children in the faith be confident in their Christianity.

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  • Daniel

    1) look at your child's works
    2) look at your child's works
    3) look at your child's works
    4) look at your child's works
    5) look at your child's works

    Or you could look to God's promises in Holy Baptism.

  • AC

    I am not sure the 5 questions on the top line up with the 5 questions that follow. Also making a list and then interpreting the answers can be as dangerous as acknowledging conversion by a raised hand.

    Knowing the actual moment of conversion is not always clear. I have seen God open people's hearts to the Gospel in an instant and as with mine, over a period of time. I think our conversion is initially evidenced by our understanding of who God is, the reality of our sin and it's implications and that Jesus is our only hope. Moving forward, I think it continues to be evidenced by and strengthened by a "growing in grace and the knowledge of our LORD." What that looks like is different in everyone. I think it's safe to say that it could be summed up as an ever increasing love for God and one another. 1 John 4.

  • Jay Risner

    Many of these comments make it sound like looking for evidence of genuine faith is wrong.

    Have you read 1 John?

    • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

      But this comes dangerously close to confusing "evidence" of salvation with "basis" for salvation, ie-works-righteousness. Atheists do "good works" as well. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses claim to "love God." All of those criteria do not distinguish between true saving faith and a cultic faith.

      Furthermore, in Matthew 7, I would point out that the people Jesus casts off are the people who point to their works. Note that none of those in that passage say "Lord, did we not confess You as the Christ and trust in you for the forgiveness of sins?" They run to how good they were, how much they did, how great and wondrous their "Works" were.

      I wish more people would pay attention to that passage when they're talking about running to works for assurance.

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  • Rhoda

    Hmm. Going slightly off topic, I'm a bit wary about your definition of an extrovert as someone who 'loves people'. Being an introvert is not that you don't love people, it's that you replenish your energy by spending time alone. I like people, I just don't like crowds or making smalltalk.

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  • http://textsincontext.wordpress.com Michael Snow

    Another essential question: Are you teaching your child God's word?
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/gods-assignment-teach-your-children-his-word/

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