This is the fifth talk in the series of conversations that I have been blogging on with Jim Elliff on Family Life Today. Let me start with a brief summary of where we have been and the topic for today.
Yes, I would say maybe a better way to put it, Dennis, might be this is what we’re observing God do in the heart of our children. First of all, He convicts them of sin and righteousness and of judgment, actually even convicts them of going to hell, as much as we are afraid to talk about that in our day.
Secondly, the Lord reveals Himself to the child. If knowing Christ is what eternal life is all about, according to John 17:3 and many other places, then the Lord must reveal Himself to the child. He is a person, and He can make Himself know or withhold Himself, that’s His business, isn’t it?…
The Bible would teach, I believe, when we speak technically about this whole matter, that, really, this giving of life, which is regeneration, precedes their repentance and faith. Because they’re dead, God must make them alive in order to repent and believe. Now, that’s a technicality. Sometimes those two thoughts are grouped together in the Scripture, but it’s an important technicality, because of our understanding of the depravity of man.
As we think of regeneration we consider what God does that we cannot see and that we can see. Elliff describes regeneration in three parts: conversion, true heart obedience, and perserverance. This change is not a decision or a prayer, it is a matter of life-change in a child. Elliff states:
when a person repents of sin and puts their trust in Christ, they’re not just a one-time repenter and a one-time believer. They then have a lifestyle of repentance and faith. They’re a lifelong repenter, and they’re a lifelong believer. You see that work of the Holy Spirit within the child resulting in ongoing repentance and ongoing trusting in the Lord.
In history, over against the Christian world of today, parents and the church had a time of watching and testing to see if a child’s faith was real. They wouldn’t pronounce a child a Christian as soon as they prayed a prayer, which is what people often do today. We are not looking for perfection, but for movement forward.
This conversation is well worth the time to listen to or read. This is important stuff for parents, so take the time to consider carefully the whole process of salvation in your child.