By Denise Kissee
A few years ago I had the awesome privilege to go to Russia to train volunteers in Children’s Ministry. One of the subjects I was asked to discuss was the topic of “Children and Salvation.” This was pertinent to the culture as those listening believed that children could not make a decision to trust Christ until the age of 12. The challenge that laid before me was to search the Truth of God to present a case that was founded solely on His Word. The question I addressed was, “Can children possess the faith necessary for salvation?” I want to share with you the two things that I learned:
1. There is no mention of intellect or reasoning as a condition of salvation.
“The Bible tells us, ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’ (Ephesians 2:8, 9) Note: it is only by grace, from God, exercised by Him, that anyone is saved. We are saved through faith, also a gift from God, exercised by the individual. The condition to possess the faith necessary for salvation is faith alone, in Christ alone. The most trusting, believing people in the world are children! It is no wonder that it is the adults that must be changed to become like children before they can enter the kingdom of Heaven, not the children who must wait until they are adults.”
2. Nowhere in the Bible can I find that you must be a certain age to make a decision to follow Christ.
In Matthew 18:1, the disciples ask Jesus “Who then is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” After calling a little child to himself and taking him into his arms, He states:
Matthew 18:3, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven.” A little child is humble and in awe of strength. To him, his daddy can do anything. Children’s belief is without doubt and limitations. “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37)
Mark 10:14, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Jesus was telling the disciples that they would have to be radically changed and become like something they definitely were not at the time just to make sure they would even make it into the kingdom. They would have to become like children. They would have to model their humility after that of a child. Only then would they qualify to be both in the kingdom, and the greatest in it.
Matthew 18:6, “… these little ones who believe in Me,” and
Matthew 18:14, “Even so, it is not the will of your Father who is in Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Is Jesus including children when He says that it is His will that all are saved? An angel says to the shepherds, about the birth of Jesus, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people: (Luke 2:10).
Can children understand the concept of sin? Can they understand that they are a sinner? Can they believe the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus? Can they believe Jesus died for them and that He forgives and offers them eternal life?
At the close of my volunteer training session in Russia, after having walked the ladies through a gospel tract I had written for children, I shared a personal experience of my five-year-old son coming to me at home and saying, “Mamma, I want to follow Christ”. You see, he had been taught God’s Word from infancy. He came as a child. Together we knelt down and prayed, and the best way a 5-year-old knows how, he followed Christ. A lot of time has passed since this day. This 5-year-old boy is now a young man of 26 years old and is still following Christ. Upon hearing this story, the ladies started shouting in Russian, and I thought to myself, “I am just about to be beaten up!” Little did I know that it was Truth they were grateful to hear!
They were shouting, asking how they could get a copy of the tract so that they could lead their children to Christ!
Since this time, the simply written tract has been translated into the Russian language. I’m trusting that God has used this tract to change the culture, proclaiming that children can follow Christ at any age as long as they understand the concept of sin, they are sinners, and that God sent his one and only son, Jesus, to pay the penalty of their sin.
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Denise Kissee served as Director of Elementary Ministries at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga for three decades years. Her ministry and love for children has not been limited to FBCW. Denise has traveled extensively sharing her knowledge through church growth and leadership conferences, both nationally and internationally. Her passion is to help others reach children and families with the gospel of Jesus Christ.