No blinding light

I fancy writing a book one day, maybe I will call it “No blinding light”. Often the path to becoming a Christian is explained with quite a strong emphasis on the conversion experience. Acknowledgement of the need to repentance, often by sudden realisation. A born-again moment, a moment of spiritual rebirth.

For someone brought up as a Christian from birth this can present a problem. “When was my dramatic conversion, repentance and rebirth, can I remember the day?” And sometimes the answer is difficult.  Parents are instructed to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Also Paul tells good Christian parents “Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

If children have always accepted Jesus as their Lord and saviour, how massive a moment is their conversion, repentance and rebirth? Without this blinding light experience they may doubt their assurance, never having known a time when they did not feel that God was their God.

Some weird views can result from this conundrum – should we allow our Christian children to wander into sin and error so they can feel the full force of  a conversion experience?  Some groups do not consider children as Christians, believing instead that you have to be mature enough to decide for yourself. Tough on the toddlers!

I am not suggesting there is a different gospel. No, we must all be reborn through the Spirit to our own covenant relationship with God, it’s just that godly children are already living in grace, aren’t they? What do you think?

What did Jesus mean when he said: “I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Comments please…

About David Allsopp

Married, 4 children, Christian, Head of IT
This entry was posted in General, Spiritual. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to No blinding light

  1. Phil Hill says:

    The child of a believer, like the spouse of a believer is ‘sanctified’ according to Paul in 1 Cor.7. This was in contrast with the Jewish belief that marriage to a non-Jew made the spouse and any children of the marriage ‘unclean’ and therefore disqualified from temple or synagogue participation.

    However, there is no definite promise that the children of believers will be saved. The OT statement about the results of training children is not so much a promise as a general principle. The children of believers are given a great advantage in growing up within the fellowship of believers (as for the Jew in the synagogue/temple)and they will also develop a childhood agreement with their parents’ views. This childhood acquiescence must mature into a genuine conviction of the truth and a personally committed faith in Christ. This may happen suddenly or gradually – so gradually that for some children of believers they have no memory of NOT having a genuine faith in Christ. However, every believer will say that he or she has reached the point of a personal relationship with God in Christ through repentance and faith. There is a somewhat separate issue here to do with assurance of faith. Is assurance of the essence of faith? Calvin argued that it was, but the Puritans held that there may be genuine faith without the inward assurance that God has forgiven our sins. I am of the view that this is to misunderstand faith. Faith is trusting (a). in the truth of the gospel; and therefore necessarily (b). in the promises of the gospel that arise from its truth. If the truth of the gospel is ‘believe on the Lord jesus Christ and you will be saved’ then you cannot believe unless you believe the PROMISE’. I think doubts enter in sometimes because of the ‘gutter to glory’ syndrome of testimonies to a changed life. The Bible speaks more of changed hearts from unbelief to belief and from hardness to love than it does of dramatically changed lifestyles. Assurance is not achieved by looking at ourselves to observe sufficient repentance and faith, but by looking at Christ to observe His sufficient grace to save us.

    • Hi Phil, thanks for commenting. Of course it cannot be the case that salvation is anything other than a personal thing and it cannot be inherited. But you put your finger on it when you talk of the nature of assurance.

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