Home Security

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.

BOOM! Insta-Christian.

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.”

Relational.

15 thoughts on “Home Security

  1. Are you saying that none of these children’s confessions are valid? They are babies and their relationships have to grow. That’s where mentoring comes in. I was six and knew nothing except that God loved me and I loved Him too. I grew in relationship until my teens when it came to full bloom.

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    • Hi Geezer (Lynda?)

      I was a child convert, and am very grateful for the pressure I received from my parents and the “repeat after me” prayers that I prayed from a sincere heart. God really came in, and since then, my faith has matured in a very similar way to what you expressed.

      This post was more about assurance than salvation. How do we know we are saved? I propose that this is proven only in a living, fruitful relationship with the risen Christ, rather than secured by some kind of transaction that may or may not result in true life. How do we know? Because we know HIM. I believe that is the witness of Scripture. And we can learn from the mistakes of Israel who were pretty secure in their salvation, even after Jesus showed up and proved otherwise.

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  2. Our girls were baptized according to the tradition of the Methodist church. This was not good enough for the local Baptist church, so Katy was dunked according to the Baptist tradition. Some time later, I read the first chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians and noted Paul’s frustration with the different baptisms dividing the young Church. So, first we must remember that salvation comes from God’s mercy (read Paul’s letter to the Romans). We are all sinners and there is nothing we can do to clear that sin. Any time that we believe that we can take care of ourselves, and lock in our salvation, then God will burn down our barn or let us be reduced to the point where only God can pick us up. We were all saved when Christ died on the cross. John 3: 16 says it all. Appreciate this, and don’t let the shadow of doubt dim the promise.

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  3. I’m not so sure the theology of the “accept Jesus into my heart” prayer is so off.

    “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

    “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.'” (Rom 10:8-11)

    The thing is (and I appreciate your words) the relationship part is easy for a kindergartener to understand (Matt 19:14). We tend to muck it up as we get older. My parents sent me off to Christian camp when I was little. I cam back with the message, “You are not your own!” I did not doubt it for a second. My non-believing parents thought it was cute and remind me of it to this day.

    My question is, why if we have been saved do we need continual assurances that our faith is genuine? Why have so many of us been baptized two, three, or more times. Why have we “rededicated” ourselves to Christ so many times and feel convicted every time we hear an alter call. “I’m not sure it was real the last time.” O, you/me of little faith…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great point. As a natural doubter, I remember praying the Sinner’s Prayer with my mom when I was really young. Then, unsure, I tried again with my sister. I didn’t feel anything and wondered if I could trust something that was copied from another person, so finally, when I was 11 I prayed by myself in bed and remember have a strong feeling of assurance.

      I walked out to tell my mom. She was throwing a Tupperware party. The refrigerator was open, and she was trying to get something out. I told her that I was for sure a Christian this time. She said, “That’s nice, dear. Go to bed.”

      HA!

      The truth is: I was probably “saved” ever since I believed in the gospel, engaged with it in my heart, and confessed that belief openly. I never really doubted Jesus, just the transaction itself. I’m not sure what I was expecting the transaction to feel like, but the Lord was gracious. I didn’t have to feel anything for it to be real, but God granted some extra assurance for this doubting, persistent child.

      Relational.

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    • I totally agree. I think to Barnts’ point, there is a measure of fire insurance to modern Christianity. I heard a great pastor once say “I don’t want to get married and then spend my whole marriage thinking of ways not to get divorced. I want to enjoy my spouse.”

      I think that’s actually the core issue. We can go too far one way and think we have no responsibility, or we can go the other way and think we actually caused/earned salvation. In the end, isn’t this a marriage? Shouldn’t I want to love my God/King/Spouse? So, if I sin, I want to make it right with him, not just say “It’s all under the blood.” That is true, his grace is enormously outpacing my sin. But I want to love God, interact with his Holy Spirit, AND depend on his grace.

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      • That’s a great way to sum it up. I appreciate that quote from your pastor. “…thinking of ways not to get divorced.” That’s good.

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  4. I am a preschool teacher at a Christian school, and I agree that children should not be given the “hell fire and brimstone” sermon. Sadly, I have seen it done and the confusion that can follow. I also became a Christian when I was 4. I really can’t express how great full I am. My Sunday school teacher presented us with the truth about sin. That resonated with me. I understood that I had sinned. Then she presented the good news about Jesus. I knew I needed Him. So, that night, I asked my Dad about it, and we prayed together.
    Now, I make sure that my preschoolers know what “sin” means. And I make sure they know the good news about Jesus. I encourage them to talk with their families and with me if they have questions about following Jesus. I teach them over the course of time, not all at once. But my colleagues don’t think I do enough, because they would like me to get the prayer prayed. I don’t know who is more right.
    I am careful not to say ‘to ask Jesus into their heart.’ Not for theological reasons, but because kids are literal. It is hard for me to explain my way out of the phrase when I have a kid who thinks Jesus is going to split open their physical heart. When my daughter was 4, she declared that she would never be a Christian. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t want her head to catch on fire! (She had just heard the story of Pentacost.)

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    • Ha! That’s great, Connie. Thanks for doing that good, important work. My relationship with Christ was very real and very important when I was a child. In fact, it was probably more dear than it has ever been because it was unhindered by the natural intrusion of doubt and confusion that comes as we “mature.”

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  5. I think the important part is that we are defending a relationship, not when we said some words, like we were initiated into some club, or, creepily, cult.

    I am also a child convert, saved when I was 4, and knew for sure that I belonged to God from then on. But would never stand alone on that moment. I have had relationship, actual interaction with Him since then, proof that Someone is alive in me, now.

    Of course, it takes time for evidence to show, especially if we were 4 years old when we did so, but the important part is that the evidence eventually DOES show. Someone, THE One, is living and acting IN us. We look for THAT, not, sit back and be relieved that someone we love has secured a place in heaven.

    Lucas, the subject of this post, is our son.

    He is 15 now, and has learned more about Christianity and the Bible than most kids we know, as, he has been raised in conversations in our family, and Bible studies and church and youth group.

    But in the same year of the Kindy Hell-fire Conversion Party, he was in chapel and learned that we’re kind of like pumpkins. God scoops out the bad stuff in us (yeah, it was near Halloween). He came to us and said that he still had bad stuff in him; all the goopy stuff hadn’t been scooped out. He was what, 5 by then? A child knew that something was screwy with that. He’d said the words, but, for one, his desire for God was not any more potent than before he’d said the words. He was still mean to his siblings, he was still disobedient to his parents. He didn’t feel different. We are continually praying for personal relationships for our children and God, that He speaks and interacts with them, that desire for Him arises and not fear that they might be left out of heaven if they don’t jump on board.

    Are we alive in Christ? Not just initiated into a Non-Hell-Fire Club?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. But!! Middle child, Micah, has said, in recent years (he was around 7 or 8), that he asked God inside, and, of course- YAY! Applaud the desire for Him! We are not discouraging these times. Praise Him! The point is, we don’t stop there. We pray for life to come from these moments, Life with Him in relationship. This is our design. Community in Him.

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    • Yes, Micah 6: 8,
      “He has shown you, O man, what is good;
      And what does the Lord require of you
      But to do justly,
      To love mercy,
      And to walk humbly with your God?”

      Relationship

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Home Security - BrianLucas.me

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