I made a commitment to evangelizing our children when they were infants. As adults now, I can say that thankfully, they are both walking with the Lord. But the road wasn’t easy, and I still pray for their spiritual growth.
Our oldest child made a profession of faith in Christ at the age of four. I have heard many testimonies of people being saved that young. We never reminded him he made that profession of faith, but throughout all his growing up years, he remembered and referred to that moment as his moment of salvation. Even as a teen and college student, even at times when he wasn’t walking close to the Lord, he knew he was saved, and pointed back to that time as the moment of his salvation. It was not that easy with our second son.
Our second son also ‘prayed a prayer’ early in life. We, as with the first, never reminded him of his profession of faith. He had some ups and downs as a teen and gradually came to the realization he was lost. His true salvation experience came in his late teens.
Evangelizing Our Children | Our Duty
Evangelizing our children is one of our primary duties as Christian parents. But how do we do that? How do we evangelize our children in such a way that their commitment to Christ as both Savior and Lord is real and genuine and lasting? But before we even get to the how we must ask why? Why is this so important? Why must Christian parents be intentional about evangelizing their children? Perhaps most important, we must ask what does the Bible say about evangelizing children? Today we will look at what the Bible says about evangelizing your children, and why it is so important.
Evangelizing Our Children | Where, When, and How
There are a few key passages I want to look at as we consider what Scriptures say about this topic. The first is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
This passage is given to the Israelites by Moses shortly before he died. The Israelites would soon begin the conquest of the Promised Land. However, there would be many temptations to other gods during that conquest and afterward. The injunction was to remember God and put Him first always. Secondly, to diligently – that is, persistently, thoroughly and systematically – teach their children about the Lord and His Word.
To teach these things to your children, Moses says they must first be “on your heart.” Meaning that the first step in evangelizing your children is to be sure you are right with the Lord yourself. Paul says we are to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Second, you are to teach the Word of God in four specific circumstances:
- When you are at home (“sit in your house”)
- When you are away from home (“walk by the way”)
- When it is evening (“lie down”)
- When it is morning (“rise up”)
Those four circumstances cover the where – everywhere – and the when – anytime – of teaching the Word to your children.
Finally, this passage covers the how: by binding the Word to your hand and head, and by writing them on the doorposts of your house and gates. In other words, you are to have the Word inside you, beside you, and all around you. The better you know the Word, the better you can share that Word with your children.
Evangelizing Our Children | Jesus Welcomes Them
The second passage that tells us of evangelizing our children is in Mark 10:13-16:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
This passage shows us Jesus interacting with children and His heart for them. Jesus wasn’t merely upset that the disciples were trying to keep the children away. He was indignant. Indignant is a strong feeling characterized by a sense of something being unjust, offensive, or insulting. A good synonym would be incensed or outraged. Putting it mildly, He was very troubled about their attempts to stop the children coming to Him. He goes on to say that children – with their trusting hearts and forthright honesty – embody the essence of the kingdom. We are all to be like children in the kingdom, and to do all we can to bring more children to the King.
The third passage we will look at today is from Matthew 18:1-6:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
We are again looking at how Jesus interacts with children. The first thing to notice is that children were close enough to Him for one to be called to stand in front of Jesus. Taken together with the passage from Mark that we just looked at, we can conclude that children were likely around Jesus quite a bit. And why not? He loved them as much as He loves us. Second, we notice the caution against causing a child to stumble – it would be better to be drowned in the sea than to be called to account for being a stumbling block to a child. Even we, as parents, can become obstacles to faith for our children, unless we are diligently teaching them of the Lord and His Word.
Evangelizing Our Children | Be Cautious and Thorough
The final passage we will look at today is just one verse, Ephesians 6:4:
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Although the passage is addressed to ‘fathers,’ it applies to mothers as well. Parents are to rear children in the ‘discipline and instruction of the Lord.’ The word translated ‘discipline’ refers to training the whole child, including mind, heart, and body. Such training includes commands, admonitions, reproof, and punishment as well as simple teaching and instruction.
Parents are to teach their children the entire Word – which includes teaching about sin and salvation. We need to be cautious that we are teaching the Word, but not be leading them to think that salvation is easy-peasy. Of course, it is simple, but it requires something from us as well – our whole life. If we are thorough in teaching the Word throughout their lives, not just the need for salvation but the whole counsel of God, then they will learn that Jesus doesn’t just want a prayer – He wants their entire life.
Next week, we will take a closer look at practical steps to take in evangelizing our children.