Leading Your Child To Christ
In these days of abounding evil, it is great wisdom to bring boys and girls to Christ at an early age. Christian parents must be alert to the great privilege and serious responsibility of bringing their own sons and daughters to Christ. There is no definite time or age limit. A child is old enough to become a Christian when he realizes that sin is against God; that he, because of sin, is lost and needs to be saved; and that Jesus died to save him.
Here are some guidelines offered by W. D. Hudgins, in the winning of a child to Christ:
1. Realize that the child should be sought for Christ as early in life as possible. When the boy or girl seems clearly to realize the difference between right and wrong, and is capable of real repentance toward minor wrongs in the home, steps can be taken to determine the feeling the child has toward sin and the Saviour.
2. Take seriously and take advantage of questions which a child asks about the Saviour and the plan of salvation.
3. Watch for opportunities and be ready to urge and accept a decision for Christ when the child shows anxiety to trust Him for salvation. Be ready to help him or her to make a sincere commitment, in simple trust, to the saving grace of God in Christ.
4. Be praying for the child and be on the alert for any indication of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. A child should never feel that there is "a certain age" at which he should become a Christian. Parents should teach the truths about sin and the Saviour, and when the Holy Spirit works in the heart of the child, then the parent may sympathetically guide the child to an acceptance of Christ.
The following steps in leading a child to Christ, are suggested by Franklin Ellis, at one time National Director of Child Evangelism Fellowship:
First of all, show him that he is a sinner. The need for salvation can not be understood apart from a realization of sin...even in the experience of a child. He may not be aware of the fact that he is a sinner, even though he has known a sense of guilt for doing wrong. Usually you can help the child most by asking a few direct questions like, "Have you ever told a lie?" or "Did you ever take anything that did not belong to you?" He will readily admit to these things, and you can show him why they are sin.
After a child realizes that he is a sinner, it is necessary to show him the consequences of sin. Contrast the holiness of God with the sinfulness of man. Show him that although man was originally created without sin--in the likeness and image of God--he soon broke Godís law, bringing about the awful consequence of separation from God. Show him that while God hates sin, He loves the sinner and desires to deliver him from sinís punishment.
It is not usually wise nor necessary to dwell upon the subject of hell in telling a child of the consequences of sin. This does not mean that we must omit any reference to hell. But since the child is not a hardened sinner who must be awakened by fear, the loss of heaven will prove to be as good an incentive as the fear of hell. A child will usually respond to the fact that a loving Saviour is preparing a place in heaven for him.
Then show the child the work of Christ in his behalf. Begin by showing him that Christ was not a sinner: He did not possess a sinful nature, and He never committed a sin. Show him that though Christ was without sin and thus did not deserve to die on the cross, He willingly accepted the punishment in our place. At this point you will find it helpful to illustrate the idea of substitution with a story or anecdote.
The concluding step in leading the child to Christ is to actually help him to receive the gift. John 1:12 and Revelation 3:20 are both helpful Scripture passages in explaining that salvation has been purchased; that God offers it to all men and women and boys and girls; and that the only requirement is that we receive it. Ask him to bow his head in prayer and then you may give him the words to use.
A suggested prayer might be, "Heavenly Father, I realize that I am a sinner and that I can not save myself. But I thank You that Jesus died for my sin. I now receive Him as my personal Saviour and thank you for saving me. In Jesusí name. Amen."
After the child has trusted Christ to save him, it is wise to give some basis for assurance: John 1:12 and John 3:36 are excellent passages for this purpose. Likewise, show him the necessity for prayer and Bible reading. Give him a gospel of John or Luke in which you note the date of his spiritual birthday. Tell him to read a portion of Scripture every day.
No two children are alike any more than any two adults. Moreover, your task is a spiritual, not a mechanical one. You will have to seek the constant guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to depend entirely upon the Holy Spirit.