Are your children safe, or are they saved?

Only when children know and fear God, walking in faith and in Christ’s righteousness, can they truly be both safe and saved.

Rebecca works for a children’s ministry training and equipping agency. Here she challenges us to think again about discipleship and salvation.

Parents often like to bring their children to the playground. They assume that the playground is a “safe” and educational place for their children, to foster their physical and social skills while having fun. It is also a good place for parents to take a break. While at the park, parents can take the opportunity to catch up with reading, connect with friends and even make some new friends. This all sounds great, yet accidents can happen. Mounted sign boards remind parents that they use the playground at their own risk. For this reason, parents will keep an eye on their children even while talking, reading or on the phone. This, coincidentally (or not), is the perfect picture of the God-assigned role for parents, as watchmen for their children.

However, regardless of how carefully we watch over them, there remains a prevailing question – are our children really safe? The playground, a place that is supposedly “safe,” is in reality, not a safe place. Today’s news abound with shooting incidents in public places and educational institutions, reminding us that children’s safety is at risk even when they are at school. Their lives could be lost at any moment. This thought triggers the other question, do you care more about your children’s spiritual safety or just their physical safety? If they are saved spiritually, you can be sure that God watches over their eternal security, which can never be affected by temporal circumstances. Only when children know and fear God, walking in faith and in Christ’s righteousness, can they truly be both safe and saved.

I want to bring out three misconceptions which parents and children workers might have regarding this.

1) Children programs are all about fun and activities.
Children programs are great, but what our children really need is to be saved into the kingdom. Our children have the potential to be God’s witness to the next generation, to be messengers of the Lord, His servants, salt and light for a broken and depraved world. They can be mustard seeds, achieving growth of tremendous proportions. They are citizens of the kingdom, but also a prime target for Satan. Satan wants to stop that from happening because he wants to be the ruler of the generation. In the face of this, teachers and parents should evaluate the purpose of our children programs and other activities. Do these programs or activities lead our children to salvation through faith in Christ? I struggle often with the temptation of planning fun programs that draw attention to anything other than God, rather than for the children and for the Kingdom of God.

A great program looks great, attracts crowds and brings me satisfaction. But in the time of Jeremiah, the Lord spoke to Baruch, the secretary of Jeremiah: “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord.” (Jer.45:5). This is true to us today, as we all agree that now is the end time, the end has come, the day is here, an unheard disaster is coming, we are getting nearer to God’s judgment. At the same time, Satan’s alarm rang, he is restless, actively work to reach children. Therefore it is time for us to wake up, Christian parents and teachers! There is no time for us to please ourselves or our children with fun or satisfaction, if we don’t reach out our children, Satan will take them. Our children really do not need great activities, academic degree, a luxury home, facilities, but the salvation of the soul.

2) Children will be saved no matter what because they belong to the Kingdom of God.
On the contrary, we all are sinful at birth (Rom. 5:12; Ps. 51:5). Though we cannot be sure of the extent to which children are responsible for their sins, we know that at the time of Ezekiel God poured His wrath and judgment upon Israel. God did not spare the babies, but instead told His messenger: “Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark.” (Eze. 9:6). God spared righteous men with the mark of God and did not spare the children; these children were destroyed with their parents. The wicked led his family to worship and serve the idols. “The children gather wood, the father light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.” (Jer 7:18). Children too are at risk of divine judgment.

3) Children will be saved if their parents walk in righteousness
Children are not necessarily saved by a godly example. Just because we are setting a godly example, it doesn’t mean that our children will be saved. True, parents and teachers who do not teach their children to walk in righteousness cannot save their children. But even those who do teach their children at a young age to walk the straight path cannot guarantee salvation. In Eze.14:20, 22-23, God says that even if you are as righteous as Noah, Daniel, and Job, your righteous living cannot deliver either your sons or your daughters from God’s judgment. Christian parents and teachers should see the importance of leading their children to the altar to serve the Most High God. Children who grow up in the church or in Christian schools are not guaranteed salvation.

To our children, church could be reduced to a form of social community, cultural religion, or intellectual pursuit. This kind of church cannot save our children. What does save our children, however, is the work of God in their lives as a result of our obedience and godly example. God told the house of Israel to not only sacrifice to Him but also to obey Him in their way of life: “But I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.” (Jer. 7:23). Every home has an invisible altar in some way, shape, or form.

If the people of that household are not serving God, they are serving some form of idol at their invisible altar. And in a similar sense, teachers form a kind of altar in the classroom. If they emphasize fun and games, that could become an invisible altar of worship. If they emphasize a loving and caring atmosphere, they could lead the kids to worship at an altar of comfort. What do we spend our time doing with our children? What practices do we enforce? How do we involved our children in our daily lives? The answers to these questions will reveal the invisible idol that we serve in our homes. This places a strong burden of responsibility on teachers and parents.
Therefore, as teachers and parents, we should rebuild the altar with the new covenant of Jesus Christ. Our wounds are deep. “Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?” Lam 2:13. Yet Christ Jesus came to heal this wound – He is the only sacrifice needed at our altar. Therefore bring our children to the altar. His sacrifice brings reconciliation of relationships between God and man, and between one man and another. We live in a mess of relationships today, a field of hurt in spheres of church, family, marriages, siblings, coworkers, pastors, and leaders. By meeting at the altar, God’s fire will cleanse us and burn away the dross. This is where our children can learn to know God, to fear Him, and walk with Him in faith.
In the process of reconciliation, repentance is expected. Parents and teachers should set the example of turning to God by obeying His instructions. They need to learn Scripture well in order to instill a biblical worldview. “Set up road signs; put up guide posts. Take note of the highway, the road that you take. Return, O Virgin Israel, return to your towns.” (Jer. 31:21). Without a biblical view, we are tossed to and fro by the tumultuous waves of the world. It is very challenging work to avoid compromise with the world and to understand the will of God, but it is ultimately rewarding as well.
Just as Ezekiel was called to be the watchman for the house of Israel (Eze. 3:17), parents are called to be watchmen for their children. Children need a lot of guidance until they are adolescents. Remember, we are fighting against Satan to win our children to God. What they are taught and what they encounter in the world greatly differs from the commandments of the Bible. Thus, children need watchmen to reproof them with God’s Word. Just as parents keep a close eye on their children at the playground, Christian parents need to be alert like watchmen, staying alert to the condition of their children until they are saved.