Oh, did I type that outloud?
Recently I read post by a not-so-young mother who was raised in the Evangelical Christian church – and apparently is taking her children to the same type of church. This church is one that preaches and teaches that by saying a “sinner’s prayer” or “asking Jesus to come into your heart,” is the way to eternal salvation.
However, I do believe we are setting our children (and adults) up for destruction if we engage in this age-old pattern of teaching/preaching false doctrine.
First of all, it is unbiblical.
Second. Jesus does not need anyone’s permission to do anything, to anyone.
The premise behind the sinner’s prayer or having children “ask” Jesus to come into their hearts, is stating that they have been forgiven of sin and are free to enjoy life with the promise of an eternal reward. A proverbial “get out of jail free card.”
But that does not resemble Biblical repentance in any way, shape, or form. As a matter of fact, it is deceptive and a distortion of truth.
“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
The first issue is to understand the gravity of sin. I don’t believe our little children are quite capable of this knowledge – especially since the Bible tells us that “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge” (Pr. :7).
Do they understand what it means to “fear God?”
Sin is not just being disobedient to mommy and daddy – but it is a result of the fall and the act of rebellion against God. Are we telling “little Mary and Johnny” that they are “of their father the devil?”
“I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” (John 8:38 & 44a).
I most certainly hope NOT!
Now, I raised two children of my own and I was also caught up in this “Christian-Save-Face” game of self-gratification and social preservation.
Instead of “raising my children up in the way they should go…” (Pr. 22:6), I too, pulled the car over to the side of the road to answer my son’s declaration of “I want Jesus to come into my heart too…” and together we recited the “sinner’s prayer” and I relinquished all further responsibility of the teaching of sin, repentance, justification, and sanctification to the church.
My children graduated high school and immediately upon moving out of the house, left the church like over 70% of all American children.
Our children who are raised with this false doctrine leave the church because they have no idea what they believe or why they believe it.
We have a responsibility to preach Jesus’ Gospel from the pulpit and as parents, raise our child up … not just in “the church” – but raise them up in the doctrines of the Gospel, as an everyday disciplined style of life.
I can guarantee that, that this little child has no idea what Jesus means when He says that “For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death” (Rom. 7:5). Does a child understand what it means to “live in the flesh?” Or that he deeds were “bearing fruit for death?”
Apparently, the child’s parents certainly do not – or they wouldn’t have boasted to the world-wide social media web, about the salvation of Jesus when he was so cordially asked into the heart of their righteous child.
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16)
The truth is this – We must teach and preach the fear of God – and extol Him with great reverence, honor, and admiration. As He is I Am. He is the Holy One.
“Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Psalm 97:2)
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)
And He does not tolerate sin – no matter how many times you walk the proverbial aisle.
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
“For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thes. 4:7).
“And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 Jn. 3:3)
I don’t know about this little boy or anyone else’s child – but I couldn’t get mine to brush their teeth and take a bath without a fight, so I seriously doubt this little child understood the command to be perfect, pure, and holy.
And what about repenting of his sin? Do children understand what it is to mourn their sin?
“Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 2:8-10)
The penalty of sin is death. And Jesus, being the only, perfect propitiation to settle God’s wrath, died for that sin – and that act should not be taken lightly – or in vain.
Somehow, I just do not believe that this little sinner wept over his sin.
My point is this – When we begin this type of “work” in our youth – in non-believers in general, we are not preaching and/or teaching the Gospel of Jesus – this is a false doctrine that has given many false hopes in an eternity that will turn out to be not be pleasant.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt. 7:21-23).
We must preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus, just as it is written – not adding to it with sinner’s prayers or other non-sense, or taking away from it by lessening the penalty of un-repented sin.
“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (Jn. 15:6).
The Bible says that the penalty of sin is death, and the Bible says if we do not tell them of their error – Their blood is literally on our hands.
“If I [God] say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand” (Ez. 3:18).
The teaching of false doctrine must be called out and we must come back to realizing who exactly Jesus is – and He is not some “sissified, whiney, Jesus”… “Just waiting… hoping…” for the world to invite Him to be a part of their lives (thank you Voddie Bacham).
No, He is not.
Nor is He going to come chase you down (Liz Curtis Higgs) and pull you out of ugly hell-hole, pit that you dug for yourself to satisfy your lustful desires.
He is standing at the “gate” (see Luke 15:11-32) when we realize that we are the wretched sinners that we are and enter into His covenant – on His terms.
Yes, He will rejoice – but not because of anything we have done!
After all, He’s not lost, we are.
But, He will rejoice for who He is, and everything He has done, for His glory – alone.
We, as parents need to ensure our children know who Jesus is – to believe in Him, talk to Him, and learn about Him, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14).
But we cannot make them false declarations about salvation – or lead them to believe that the sinner’s prayer covers them for all eternity.
One day that “child-like faith” is going to dissipate – one day, they will grow up, they will rebel, they will want to do things “their” way and we must make sure that we are not neglecting the truth of the Gospel – that as they grow, the Gospel truth of Jesus grows within them and they are well aware of not only the penalty of sinful behavior – but also their weakness as human beings, born into a volatile, hateful, sin nature.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Cor. 13:11).
There is a heavy weight of responsibility in being a parent. In teaching our children truth, justification, and sanctification – teaching them in the way they should go, so that they will not depart – But nowhere does God’s Word include a passage about the “sinner’s prayer” as being an act of repentance for sin nor is it the propitiation required for salvation.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (Jn. 14:6).
We must get back to the Gospel of Jesus – in our pulpits and in our homes.
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6).