As a parent and as a pastor I have a great desire (massive understatement) to see my children and the children in our church come to faith and repentance in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Shorthand, I desire to see them regenerated. I regularly pray for the salvation of my children during our family-devotions and for the children in our church during corporate worship. This coming Lord’s Day we will observe the Lord’s Supper. I greatly anticipate the day that many of the children whom I will watch pass by the table Sunday and whisper to their parents, “I want some,” referring to the elements, will be welcomed to the table as Baptized believers to receive the bread and cup. One of the big questions for the local church, elders and christian parents is; how do we discern the true conversion of our children as they begin to respond to the Gospel call?
Over a year ago I came across a blog post from Brian Croft offering guidance in discerning the salvation of children that I found to be helpful. Pastor Croft makes clear that there is no surefire mechanical checklist that can be offered. He stresses that each child should be discerned separately (case-by-case) taking their age and maturity into consideration. As a template, Croft offers five evidences for parents and pastors to look for:
- A growing affection and need for Jesus and the gospel.
- A heightened understanding of the truths of Scripture.
- An increased kindness and selflessness toward siblings.
- A greater awareness and distaste for sin.
- A noticeable desire to obey parents.
Let me emphasize that we are referring to these evidences as just that, evidences. I would not recommend that you tell your child, I want to see these five things mark your life because that might confuse them. We are not talking about moralism or works-based salvation. We are talking about gospel salvation; by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. If they don’t understand the gospel message then they are not regenerate. However, if they have responded to the gospel message in faith and repentance and their lives are consistently marked by these evidences…well, they just may be new in Christ.