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Helping your Child with Assurance of Salvation

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Helping your Child with Assurance of Salvation

As a family pastor, I am often confronted with the topic of parenting. Parenting is very challenging. We are called by God to shepherd our children’s hearts and this is rarely easy. If you and your spouse are saved you know that God has given you the responsibility of leading your child to Christ. This is a Christian parents’ highest calling in life. We work so hard to lead our kids to Christ that in my observation the temptation is that when they finally make a profession of faith, we exhale, and the tendency is to move on to the next child.

But what should we do when, months or years later, our child, who made a profession of faith in the past begins to wonder in their tweenage, teenage, or early twenties, if they were genuinely saved as a child? They have lost their assurance and are desperately trying to get it back. Perhaps they are struggling with a particular sin. Perhaps, something tragic happened and they are questioning God’s goodness that leads to a lack of assurance. Perhaps they are years removed from their childhood profession of faith and they simply cannot remember the facts surrounding the event. Whatever situation you find yourself in as a parent, you are now facing a son or daughter who lacks assurance. So, what should you do? I have seen this situation handled in a biblical way and in a non-biblical way.

The non-biblical way is to dismiss your child’s concern and point them to a spiritual experience in their past like their first profession of faith or their baptism. We are walking through 1 John right now as a church which speaks about ways we can know if we are saved or not. According to John, the evidence that a person is saved is their present walk with Christ, not a past spiritual experience. Consider 1 John 2:4 which says, “And by this, we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” Present obedience is the sign that someone has been saved. True salvation always yields fruit. One of the fruits on the tree of salvation is present obedience to Christ’s commands. So often I have seen the mistake parents make of dismissing their child’s concern of false assurance by counseling them to cling to a past decision rather than present evidence.

The next reason you, as a parent, should not dismiss your child’s concern is that they may be lost. As painful as this may be parents, you may be making an eternal mistake to dismiss this as a real possibility. What if your child is lost and your response is, “O no sweetie I was there when you got saved so don’t worry.” Giving your child assurance of salvation when there is no present evidence of their claim is more than unwise parenting. It could be a fatal mistake.

That being said, another way to poorly handle your child’s lack of assurance is to quickly jump to the conclusion that they are lost and tell them so! The point I am making is that you don’t know either way. All you know is that they are spiritually unhealthy at best or lost at worst because they have expressed to you that they lack assurance. 

Yet another reason dismissing your child’s concern for their lack of assurance is unwise is because this does not teach them how to walk through hard situations in life. God wants us to be honest with each other when we are experiencing times of doubt so that other stronger Christians can help us. Burying your child’s lack of assurance with the shovel of a past experience is not teaching them how to biblically handle life’s problems. This is particularly problematic with the issue of assurance. By dismissing their concern, you are not only teaching them to dismiss future doubts (which are sure to come in life), you are teaching them what to say to someone else who is struggling with a lack of assurance. What if the person they counsel one day is really lost and they give bad, unbiblical advice, because of the advice you gave them? My fear is that parents are using band-aids where stitches are required. Parents tend to look for a quick solution rather than a lasting one because parents do not want their child to experience the pain of a possible long process of seeking assurance. In my 10 plus years of observing parents with youth and children, I have seen the quick fix to often cripple the child leaving him or her without the spiritual tools to walk through hard times.

So how should parents handle this situation? A Christian parent should mirror their child’s concern and help their child walk through the evidence of salvation found in Scripture. My advice to you is to let your child work through this season of doubt. Let them struggle. When they struggle through the Scriptures that teach the doctrine of assurance the result will either be strong assurance of salvation or salvation itself! By dismissing their lack of assurance, you are missing out on an opportunity to talk to your child about the Bible!

When you take the time to obey 2 Cor. 13:5 and walk through the examination process with your child you are teaching the child that answers to their spiritual problems are found in the Bible. This teaches them to go to the Bible every time they have a problem in life. What will your child do when they grow up and leave your house if you have never taken the time to show them how to handle their problems biblically? A parent’s job is to equip their children with the tools they need to follow God when they leave home.

Parents carry their babies but when they become toddlers a good parent lets them try to walk and is even willing to endure the screams and blood from all those bumps and bruises because they know they must let their child figure it out (with their help of course) if they want to see their child walk sometime before the age of 10! A parent that is willing to let their child fall and cry will also notice and clearly perceive growth and strength in their child’s legs that they would not have noticed if the parent carried their child too long. Parents, point your children to the Word and watch God increase their faith and strengthen their assurance over time. The fruit of this hard season will be assurance of salvation that is deeply rooted in God’s Word and clearly perceived by you and your child. They will thank you for it later. God bless you church!

Posted by Matt Williams
in Bible

Church Discipline

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Church Discipline

I have had the privilege of serving in 5 different churches. I will forever be in wonder over this reality. The fact that God chose me for pastoral ministry is one of the great mysteries I will never be able to solve. I do not have the words to express the gratitude in my heart to serve as a pastor, which, I believe, is the most holy calling a person could be called to. Holiness means set apart or different. Being a pastor is a different calling than other callings. This is because the God whom I represent is a Holy God. He is different from His creation and calls us, His people, to also be different from other people.

            The longer I serve God in this role the more I am convinced of the pastor’s role to show his flock in God’s Word that they are to be different from the surrounding world. If we, as Christians, say we know God then we must be different as He is different. Leviticus 11:44 says, “For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.” Holiness is the distinguishing evidence of all Christians. This must be true if we claim the God of the Bible as our God.

            This claim is not simply a claim to be individually holy. Another significant mark of a Christians holiness is his or her desire to live out their holiness with a group of believers in a local church. The Church is a gathering of people who say, among other things that “we are different from the world” and we are proving that by corporately worshiping a God who also claims to be different. This claim must have evidence to back it up. What would be the result of our churches if we as Christians claimed God as our Father but lived as if we did not know Him? Lots of people say they know God. What is the evidence of this? Part of the responsibility of the Church is to hold each other accountable to be the people we claim to be. The title of this article is “Church Discipline.” You may never have heard of such a thing. What is church discipline? Why is it important? Is this idea biblical?

            In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” Notice first that there was a clear indication of who was “outside” and was “inside” the church (expect an article from me about church membership soon). Paul goes on to say that we are to judge those inside the church meaning people who claim the name of Jesus. I thought we were not to judge people? Are we really supposed to judge our brother? The answer is yes. God does expect us to hold each other accountable for how we live. God’s people are to be different and the expectation is that we represent Jesus well to lost people. Perhaps you have heard like I have, people say, “Why would I go to church. Those people are just a bunch of hypocrites!” Sadly, there is truth to this claim. Those who claim Christ often don’t look any different from the world around them. Why would a lost man become a Christian if he sees God’s people living no differently than he does? God has a different plan in mind for us and the church. We are too, as Peter says, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

            Call it church accountability. Call it loving your brother. Call it a Christian’s responsibility. Call it what you will but there is a very clear calling in the Bible for believers to live different lives and hold one another to our claim of being in Christ. We are our brother’s keeper. Proverbs 1:7 says, “fools despise wisdom and instruction.” One of the things we are saying when we become members of a local church is that we want the body of believers to hold us accountable knowing our tendency as sheep to stray. At the heart of church discipline is representing the God we claim. Calling out a brother’s sin with any other motive than their restoration does not represent Christ well. We must hold one another accountable with the heart of God. God bless you as you live differently than the world.

Posted by Matt Williams
in Bible

But I have prayed for you

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“But I have prayed for you”
Luke 22:32
In Luke 22 Jesus reveals to Peter an intense conversation between Satan and Himself. The first reality to consider is that spiritual warfare is ever-present whether we see it or not. Most of the time we are oblivious to it. However, our Lord saw it fit to inform Peter of Satan’s demands to sift him like wheat. Could Jesus have let Peter alone in his ignorance, simply reassuring Peter of His love and protection of him? What would Peter (and us) stand to benefit from such knowledge? I see several reasons. First, Jesus wants to comfort us with the knowledge that Satan is more powerful than we are but that Christ is more powerful than Satan. There is a chain of power. The god of this world is more powerful than we are. Christ wants us to know this. Satan, must, as in the case of Job, ask permission to harm any of God’s Children and is powerless to harm a hair of our heads without divine permission, regardless of his pitch or tone. This knowledge simultaneously humbles us and exalts Christ. Jesus wants us to know that we cannot conquer Satan without Him.
Christ’s end goal, to sustain Peter through Satan’s attack, does not merely come to us in factual terms only. Jesus also gives us insight into the means by which He sustains Peter. “But I have prayed for you.” This is the second benefit we have to this conversation. Jesus reveals to us the weapon He used to sustain Peter. “But I have prayed for you.” If Christ needed prayer to defeat Satan, how much more do we need prayer to defeat him! O Lord, forgive us for taking prayer too lightly! Perhaps the intensity of our prayer would not be lacking if Christ informed us of every time He used them to fight off the enemy on our behalf!
Still, the third benefit of Christ informing Peter of His conversation with Satan is that it gives us insight into the longsuffering character of God. Christ not only predicts Peter’s fall but also predicts Peter’s recovery. Only a God of great omnipotence could predict such things. Only a man with absolute authority can allow Peter’s faith to temporarily fail and rise again for His sovereign purposes. Christ’s love of Peter saw beyond his failures. God’s choice of Peter to lead the other 11 disciples came not because our Lord overlooked his sins but paid for them. It is an overwhelming thought to consider that Christ presently sustains me despite His knowledge of my future sins. Let us consider the power of appealing to such a longsuffering mediator as our Lord Jesus.

1. What should this knowledge of spiritual warfare do to the frequency and fervency of our prayers? 2. How might we apply these prayers to our brothers and sisters on the search team who may or may not know they are experiencing spiritual warfare? 3. How might we apply this to our future pastor?

Posted by Matt Williams

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