Know any unbelieving children and teens? Does one of them live in your own home? Is there any greater sorrow for a Christian parent than having a child who rejects the Gospel? Here is an important article by Burk Parsons, “Hope for Prodigal Children.” This article is not just for parents. It is also important for teachers. One of the most dangerous things we can do concerning prodigal children and students is to deny their unbelief and pretend that everything is okay. As teachers, it may be that we are prone to assume belief in our students—especially children from “good Christian homes,” or children who seem to know all the “right answers” during the Bible lesson. Whether our own children or the students we teach, consider these words from Pastor Parsons:
My greatest concern, however, is for those parents who are not burdened for the souls of their prodigal children. Because their children were raised in good families with good Christian principles, having been taught the way they should go in life, many parents have concluded that they are just fine despite their prodigal lifestyles and unbelief. They may rightly believe that God is sovereign and that He is the only one who can save their children, yet they have forgotten that God has ordained the ends as well as the means to those ends. As such, He calls parents of prodigal children of every age not to presume their salvation and pretend everything is spiritually fine, but to pray for their salvation, preach the gospel to them, and plead with them to repent and believe. When Christian parents don’t face up to the difficult reality that they have prodigal children who are wasting their lives by chasing after the temporal pleasures of the world, they likely won’t face their children with the truth of the gospel, and, what’s more, their children won’t face the difficult reality that they are facing eternal condemnation.
As teachers in the classroom, one simple way to “not presume” the salvation of the students in our class is to be careful in the language we use. For example, we should be careful not to use unqualified statements such as, “We trust in Jesus.” “Jesus has saved us and made us children of God.” “Jesus has given you eternal life. You will live with Him forever.” Instead, use language that encourages students to examine their own hearts and points them to Gospel truths, such as, “If you are trusting in Jesus, you are a child of God. Jesus has promised eternal life for everyone who trusts in Him. Are you trusting in Him? What does this look like in your life?…”
(Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)