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Subject Topic: Teaching children about Salvation Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Jubilee Gang
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Posted: 07 March 2009 at 11:11am | IP Logged Quote Jubilee Gang

Teaching children about Salvation

There is much confusion today about what it means to be a Christian. It is very important that what we teach children about their relationship with God is accurate. When we just teach children that salvation is “being friends with God” or “having Jesus as their best friend” we are not exactly presenting the full scope of what being a Christian really is. I can be friends with you, but it does not change my life for eternity. It does not give me eternal life. Yes, Jesus should be our best friend and we need to develop our relationship with God but that is a byproduct of the change that occurs in our heart when we are born again.

Some misconceptions in our society about being a Christian are that going to church makes one a Christian, praying and reading the bible makes one a Christian, being born in a Christian family or attending a Christian church makes one a Christian. Or even being religious, following a churches statement of faith, rules, or regulations, or just being a good person makes one a Christian. Most of these things are good and help us grow spiritually, but do not make one a Christian.

When a religious leader came to Jesus in John chapter 3 he asked Jesus what I must do to enter your kingdom. Jesus did not say belong to a certain church, obey more rules, or become more religious. He told Nicodemus you must be born again.

Now there has been a lot of confusion about what exactly being born again is. Is it just a decision to follow Christ, or is it a transformation of the heart of a person?
If it is no more than making a decision to follow Christ without a change on the inside being a Christian is no different than being a Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim. It is simply just a religion that we have joined.

What sets Christianity apart from all other religions is the supernatural change that takes place in our spirit man. This is the good news. We do not have to serve God in our own power. He changes us on the inside and gives us his very life and nature so that we can serve him. Its not just rules and regulations he puts the law in our heart when he puts his love in our heart. Rom. 5:5 says that the love of God has been put in our heart by the Holy Spirit. The bible also says that Love is the fulfillment of the law. If we love God and our neighbor we have fulfilled the law.

In Ezek 36:26-28 Ezekiel prophesied “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.“ Here Ezekiel was talking about the change that would take place in the lives of believers after Jesus came and paid the price for our salvation.

I know the term “born again” was over used a few years ago when everyone from presidential candidates to movie stars said they were born again Christians. The term got drug through the mud and no one really knew what it meant, so we quit using it. The world asked what does “Born Again Christian” mean and no one knew, so we came up with terms like having Jesus in our heart and being friends with God.

When Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and disobeyed God something happened to Adam. He died. Not physically because we know from scripture that he lived for many years after the fall. He died spiritually. He was separated from God. When this happened he laid the foundation for all man kind to be born separated from God or dead spiritually.

That’s why the bible calls him the first Adam and calls Jesus the second Adam in 1 Cor. 15:45. In 1 Cor. 15:22 the bible says as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

As in the word of the Christian rapper, Tripp Lee “The bad news we were born in sin, The good news we can be born again.”

In order to be restored to the place where God had created us to be we needed a total transformation of our spirit man or be born again. When we receive Christ we are born into God’s family. We are not just adopted but born into it.

The Bible says in 1 Cor. 1:13 that we were delivered out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God. Or in other words, we are taken out of the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of God. When I see this word translated I always think of the transporter room in the old Star Trek program. We were taken from one place and put into another into another.

The bible also says in 2 Cor 5:17 that if we are in Christ we are a new creation. Old things have passed away, all things have become new. This does not simply sound like a decision to follow Christ or being friends with God to me. It sounds like a total transformation of the heart.

With out this change in our spirit man we have simply became religious or joined a religion. Without the supernatural element of being born again we have a form of Godliness but deny the power. We have dead religion that we have to strive to be good enough and follow the rules and regulations. When the good news is that Jesus paid the price with his blood on the cross for our salvation, and all we have to do is receive the free gift that God offers us.

Without the blood of Jesus being shed we cannot be born again. Today, we live in a bloodless society. We don’t even see our meat being processed any more. We only see the pre packaged meat that we buy in the store. But Christianity is a bloody religion. From the sacrifices of the Old Testament that God commanded to cover the sin of Israel to the Blood of Jesus being shed to take away our sin in the New Testament. The Bible says in Heb. 9:22 without the shedding of blood there is no remission or taking away of sin.

Now, I am not talking about being graphic and gory with children. I would never scare a child for anything. But we cannot leave the blood out of our faith or teaching. It is the very basic element of our faith. That’s why Jesus commanded us to takes the Lord’s Supper or communion was to put us in remembrance of his sacrifice for us.

I am not a huge fan of the term “having Jesus in our heart” either. The Bible says that Jesus is at the right hand of the father making intercession for us in Romans 8:34. I understand what we mean when we say that Jesus is living in our heart but Jesus himself is not living in us. His life and nature is in us. His character is in us. The love of God is in us. The 1 Cor. 13 kind of love is what is in us.

I realize that some of this is quit technical and is not presented on a Child’s level. Instead of talking about our nature being changed from sin to love, I talk about when Adam disobeyed God he received a sinful heart. We all are born with a sinful heart because of Adam’s disobedience. He represented all of us. When we are born again we receive a clean heart. I then explain what this means on a child’s level.

I had heard the terms Jesus died on the cross for our sin, born again, being saved, and all the other Christian terminology that is thrown around lightly my entire life growing up as a pastor’s child. But I did not understand it, until I became an adult and researched it out for my self. Sadly to say that many people grow up in our churches hearing these terms and never fully understand it. Then walk away from the faith because it was not presented in a way that made sense to them when they were older. It was presented like a fairy tale or Santa Claus and when they were old enough to think for their selves, they realize it did not make sense and walked away from the faith.

We as the body of Christ need to get back to teaching what “being born again is” so that the children and teens growing up in our churches understand it. If not when they become adults they will see no difference in Christianity, Buddhism, or Hinduism and will walk away from their faith and the church.

By Jerry Moyer
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Kidologist
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Posted: 07 March 2009 at 3:52pm | IP Logged Quote Kidologist

WOW, this was great! I get very frustrated when I hear the "Gospel" shared in warm fuzzy vague language. The Gospel contains a powerful message of God's grace, but it is a message that surrounds and flows out of the cross. A Gospel message that ignores the cross may be "God-friendly" and may not be heretical, but it isn't the Gospel.

We have gotten so afraid of offending that we too often soften and therefore neglect essential parts of the Gospel message.

While we don't need to be offensive in our manner of presentation, the Gospel itself IS offensive, as it confronts sin, warns of eternal punishment, and asks for a life of allegiance to God alone. That is a radical message that can not be completely made "friendly" even as we try to focus on the 'advantages' of being a Christian (forgiveness, love, purpose in life, etc.) - there is an inherit negative, which is our eternal state without repentance.

Thanks for the reminder, we have a unique message, The Only Way message and we need to be clear about that, even as we seek to be gracious and gentle in our treatment of unbelievers.

It's not easy - but it is important!
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Kidjoni
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Posted: 09 March 2009 at 2:01pm | IP Logged Quote Kidjoni

This is great, thanks!

I just found out that another one of my past students went to see Jesus this past week..that makes 2 in the last 6 months.  God's just impressed on my heart how important it is to understand this each day I work with my kids. 



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zNyteAngel
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Posted: 12 March 2009 at 11:10am | IP Logged Quote zNyteAngel

Awesome! I can't agree more. The Gospel message is so very important, kids need to understand that when they accept Jesus they have a new standard to live by - not just attending church or praying, but actually living out the Word daily.

Thanks for the reminder! :)

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ErinMascot
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Posted: 12 March 2009 at 11:49pm | IP Logged Quote ErinMascot

I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with my 2 1/2 year old son last year and had to really think about how I could do it to meet his level. Basically it was:

We do bad things. This is called sin.
Sin keeps us from being close to God.
Jesus can help us from sinning... if we allow Him to lead us, if we listen to Him, and love Him as our leader, we can get to heaven.
(One of my son's favorite people in church had passed away a few months before so he understood heaven was where Frank was.)
Heaven is the best place in the world, forever and ever! If we love/listen to/follow Jesus He will keep us there, with all the people who also love/listen to/follow Jesus. We won't get sick or hurt ever again, either.

In a way he accepted Christ, but although I was excited and pleased, I'm also looking forward to filling out the picture for my son so that he can better understand God.

But as I slept that night I kept thinking if Jesus asked (the toddlers and infants, by way of contextual translation) to come to Him, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these, how much do we truly need to KNOW about Jesus?

Is it more about being able to trust in Him and submit to Him because we'd have little power and scope if we were still under 3 years of age? And doesn't this perspective validate the "adolescent behavior" of those who try to be the god of their world, thinking they can't be hurt, living for the now, and when reality comes knocking then their world comes crashing down around them?

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Jessica Klinker
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Posted: 16 March 2009 at 1:17pm | IP Logged Quote Jessica Klinker



I wanted to talk a little bit about the term “Asking Jesus into your heart”. I think this is very confusing term for our literal children. I once had a little girl tell me that Jesus was jumping on her heart when her heart was beating fast after running.

I have changed the term at our church to “Asking Jesus to be the boss of your life.” This term seems to be something they understand, and I don’t feel it waters down at all the event.

After talking about Jesus being the only one who can forgive our sins because He is the only one who never sinned, we talk about how He can bridge the gap between God and man. Then we talk about the only decision we need to make is if we would like Jesus to save us from our sins and be our savior.

After that we talk about the fact that Jesus knows what is going to happen yesterday, today and tomorrow. I love to tell the kids that this is why I want to ask Jesus to be the boss of my life because He already knows what is best for me.
Jessica




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Jubilee Gang
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Posted: 16 March 2009 at 1:46pm | IP Logged Quote Jubilee Gang

Jessica

I am not a huge fan of the term Jesus living in our heart also because of the same reason you stated. Kids take things lteral. I understand what is ment by the term but still not a huge fan as I stated in the article above.

After a child is born again I like the "boss of my life" analogy. Jesus should be boss of our life if we are a christian. However its not enough to just have Jesus as boss of my life if I do not have a change in my heart. That is why people become religious. They are following the teaching of Jesus but have not experenced any change in there heart.



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zNyteAngel
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Posted: 16 March 2009 at 1:47pm | IP Logged Quote zNyteAngel

When you have kids become saved, does anyone have them take the next step of becoming baptized?

Personally, to me that is what we are supposed to do - Acts has many people becoming born-again and it's done by baptism not asking Jesus into their heart.

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SueBo
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Posted: 16 March 2009 at 2:25pm | IP Logged Quote SueBo

After kids accept Jesus, we ask them to be baptized. Right now with our neighborhood program, we are teaching them basic steps. Accept Jesus, be baptized, become part of a church family (many don't go to church), and change your life/heart to serve Jesus. We've been working on those 4 steps and we've had several kids baptized. Now, it's getting the kids to church and learning what it means to follow Jesus.
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Jubilee Gang
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Posted: 16 March 2009 at 3:01pm | IP Logged Quote Jubilee Gang

Suebo

I totally agree.
I personally believe this is the correct order of events. However in this day in age we need to be very careful not to baptize outreach children without parental permission. Say you got a Roman Catholic child born again at an outreach and baptized them right away. The parent might have a problem with them being baptized into a Protestant church and not into the roman catholic church.  I personally do not have a problem with baptizing children right away but in this day and age some denominations and religions it would be a major offense to baptize a child into your church as they see it. It could even lead to a lawsuit.



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SueBo
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Posted: 16 March 2009 at 7:05pm | IP Logged Quote SueBo

We go one step further, we go to the parents home and ask their permission. So far not one parent has turned down their child's request. During our worship service, the child comes forward with his/her family and the child introduces his/her family to the congregation. So far it has been a total blessing to the church and the family. Thanks for the encouragement.
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Jubilee Gang
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Posted: 16 March 2009 at 7:23pm | IP Logged Quote Jubilee Gang

Suebo

Thats great! Sounds like you are doing an awesome job! Keep it up!



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pastor4kids
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Posted: 17 March 2009 at 1:55pm | IP Logged Quote pastor4kids

Great posts! 

This Sunday I am teaching the kids about communion and we will have a communion service during children's church.  I am surprised at the parents whose child has accepted Christ, they are baptized, yet still they won't let them participate in taking communion because they aren't ready for it (too young, don't understand, etc).  

Joni - my thoughts and prayers are with you.  I truly do know how you feel.  This past year (March 25, 08) we lost 5 of our girls in a house fire (ages 7-13) and this fall we lost a 21 yr old that we had picked up on the bus from age 12-16. It's painful and difficult.  I rejoice they are in heaven - but I miss them still.  

Their deaths came at a time where I had been asking myself if I was done - if I was still being effective teaching kids, if I should be doing something else....The following day was Wednesday and that evening I came into the classroom and taught on what happens when we die and salvation and the eternal life.  Some of the kids commented on how I'd taught that before, they've heard it a hundred times, etc.. It brought me to the realization that yes, I was doing what I supposed to be doing, yes, I was still effective, and yes, it all matters - now.  Not just when they're teens or adults, but they need it now because that time may never come. 

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xtremeguy
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Posted: 23 March 2009 at 11:27pm | IP Logged Quote xtremeguy

Our church actually has a policy on baptism.  We will not baptise any child/young adult under the age of 17- which is the legal age of adulthood in Texas- without a parent consent. 

This policy is in place because often times we have children who start attending our church without their parents or the rest of their family.  They hear the teaching and want to do what is taught.  In the past churches have been brought to court over such issues of doing things with children without parental consent.



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