In the last few months I have been asked this question in various forms. When a jr. high or high school students asks this type of question what would you say?
Some parents tell their kids they know the child is a Christian because they have said a prayer, or walked down an aisle. Many men through out the ages have said prayers while in battle and God did not answer their prayers to be saved out of the battle so they could go on to serve Him. Were they saved? How would you know?
Many people have walked down an aisle in multiple church services and a day or 2 later they look no different than before they walked. Does the aisle have some sort of secret power? How can our kids know? How can we know FOR SURE that we are Christians? Can we know?
I used this illustration this past Sunday morning in our short time of small group when I had asked the guys if they were reading their Bibles and praying over the summer break and I got a less than exuberant response.
Kimmy and Ian just got engaged. Now Ian is away in So Ca and Kimmy is here. Think about what it would be like for them to be building their relationship like this. Ian calls Kimmy in the morning just to wake her up, say that he loves her and to visit. Kimmy tells him that she is too tired to talk right now. Ian is really nice and so he apologizes for waking her too early. He calls again at noon, but she is having lunch with her friends, so now is not really a good time. Maybe she is telling the girls how excited she is about being engaged. He calls again in the evening and she is at the movies, can't talk right now but she will call him back later. At about midnight she rolls into bed and picks up the phone and call. "Hey Ian, just wanted you to know I'm alive, but I'm so tired. I'll try again tomorrow". This goes on for a couple of days, then a week, month, the summer, a year and over an entire life. What should Ian think?
Do they have a relationship? How can we say we have a relationship with God if we never talk to Him and He never can talk to us? How can we be children who obey if we don't know what our Father wants us to do? You can tell me all day that you have a personal relationship with Christ, but if you don't communicate with Him then is that really any different than what the illustration would look like? Worldly people would say that Kimmy and Ian don't have a relationship if they acted like this; how must God feel from many of our relationships, or lack of, with Him? Do I have to encourage Kimmy and Ian to talk to each other? Do I have to remind them that they should communicate? Should we have to be exhorted to read our Bibles and pray if we truly have a relationship?
Don't tell people you think they are Christians. They are the only ones who can know their heart and God will convict, or convince, them. Encourage where you see fruit, but then also make sure you speak up when you don't.
We are told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is the most important decision we will ever make or not make. To make no decision is to make a "NO" decision. We can know we are Christians because the Holy Spirit will encourage us as we walk according to the Word. I'm not exactly sure how He works, but I know personally He does.
Here is something to think about; as a parent, friend and small group leader. There are many people standing on the edge of the cliff and hell is over the edge. Many are ready to take one step forward and be lost forever and you/we may be the only ones who can grab them and bring them away from the edge. Don't tell them you think they may be able to fly.