So Lucas comes home from kindergarten and tells us that he’s a Christian. Honestly, Laurie and I were a little miffed. This is the sort of thing that a parent might want to be involved with, or at least get a heads up. We discovered that his class was taken into a chapel where they were given a solid dose of hellfire and brimstone. Then they went off alone with their third grade “buddies” and were asked if they wanted to go “down there.” Lucas didn’t, so his “buddy” led him in a prayer.
I emailed the teacher. She was surprised. Why wouldn’t I want my son to be a Christian? She explained that the school had been doing this sort of thing for years. I contacted the superintendent, and he explained that, based on statistics, the best age to get people saved is when they’re young. Besides, what if they go to another school? At least we got those little souls locked into a heavenly eternity while we still had them.
If you don’t see a problem with this, I would advise you to stop reading. You’re not going to like the rest.
Think about the way that you became a Christian. A baptism? A confession? A combination? What gives you the assurance that whatever you did truly activated your fire insurance policy and keeps the policy current? We hold to the tenants of our denominations, the claims of our pastors and priests, specific verses, ignoring the counterclaims of other faiths. But how can we be absolutely sure that our salvation is secure?
I propose that our assurance should be established in a relationship, not in tradition or doctrine.
When Jesus came to the Jews, their assurance was based firmly in their biological connection with Abraham, and their faithfulness to the Law of Moses. Tradition. Circumcision. But Jesus was not happy with them. He said that he could raise sons of Abraham from the very stones at their feet (Matt. 3). Paul said that true circumcision was of the heart, not the flesh (Rom. 2).
What if God showed up and said that your baptism was useless, or that your confession didn’t really qualify?
Jesus looked at his circumcised brethren, saw their wicked minds and hearts, and called them children of the devil (John 8). By implication, they would share the devil’s fate. Jesus said that hell was made for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25). The earth was made for men. But when men make fathers of gods, they retire to the homes of their fathers. Man’s eternity is based in relationships.
God approached Israel in relational terms. He called them his bride. And when Israel rejected Yahweh for pagan gods and killed the prophets he sent to urge them back, he stopped listening to their prayers, rejected their festivals and sacrifices, and sent them a certificate of divorce (Jer. 3).
Okay, that’s Israel. Shouldn’t our security in Christ be stronger than Israel’s security in the Law?
Well, consider Paul. In II Cor. 5, he reminds his Christian readers that their actions will be accountable to Christ, explaining how this fear of this judgment motivates him in his ministry. Paul? Afraid of judgment? In I Cor. 4, Paul refuses to pass judgment on his own heart, yielding himself to the examination of Christ who will judge even his thoughts and motives. It’s not as if Paul believed his salvation was in jeopardy, but he was not as quick as his brethren to rest on his Jewish laurels when it came to sharing life with God.
Why do we think that when it comes to Christ the wedding vows are more important than the marriage?
I don’t want to stand before Christ with nothing beyond a childhood confession or a sprinkling of water. I don’t want to live a life of sin, then use the Four Spiritual Laws as my key defense on Judgment Day.
No (and this is as much for me as any of you), I want to establish a genuine, holy relationship with Christ now, and nurture that relationship, so when my spirit leaves this body there is no risk that Christ would look at me, despite my protests, and say, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”