How do your children perceive that heaven and hell are real? That Jesus Christ loves sinners, even the chief? That souls are perishing apart from Christ? That they themselves must receive Christ or be lost?
Obviously, this will never happen without the Spirit’s blessing on the Word of God to make it come alive to them, so that they understand the solemnity, as well as joy, of texts such as:
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10.
But children, as well as adults, perceive the reality of the faith by observation and engagement. For ours is an experiential or experimental religion.
John 7:17 – If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.
In addition, as you know, the observation of the good deeds of the saints (and evangelism is a good deed indeed!) is a means the Lord uses to cause Himself to be glorified in the sight of all men.
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
With all of that put together, I would encourage elders and parents to consider having their youth to come to evangelistic events and participate if it is wise for them to do so. Obviously, there are some areas and situations where you will not want to bring Christ’s most tender lambs to. But there are many places where it is appropriate.
In their engagement, the youth will better understand that heaven and hell are real places as you plead with souls to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. The youth will better understand that Christ came to save sinners, and of all kinds. That while our sin condemns us to hell, Jesus Christ can take us to heaven all on His own merit. Please take the faith from the realm of the theoretical to the experiential.
Plead to the God of heaven after you come back in prayer and have your children pray for the souls that were encountered as well. And if a soul is converted, rejoice with heaven that one who was dead is now alive.
This is one neglected way for children to perceive the reality of the faith we profess. With all the youth “dropping out” of the evangelical churches – and there are a variety of reasons for it, including the fact that many have never truly been to church, but to youth programs instead – having them go out with you to take the message of Christ crucified is surely a means the Lord might use to draw them to saving faith themselves. If nothing else, they will hear your pastor preach the gospel over and over again in a pointed and earnest way – and for themselves, faith will come by hearing, and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:15-17). They will observe the discussions you have with souls on the road to hell and they will see the folly of sin and the hardness of the natural heart – but also see you depend upon the Spirit to reconcile sinners to God in Christ.
Surely this will have its effect on them.
And if nothing else, they can never go before the Lord one day, and charge you with hypocrisy. They will see that you truly believed what the Bible had to say and if they abandon the Lord, it will not be because you were a man or woman who was double minded.
I will also say that the children are often a great boon to the evangelistic efforts of a congregation. While tracts are often refused from adults, they are rarely refused when children offer them! It is hard to resist the children especially when they are so earnest about their labors.
So, with this small post, I hope you might consider having the children of the congregation along to evangelistic events that they might perceive the great division between all peoples into sheep and goats and the love of God demonstrated on the glorious Cross of Christ for the sheep.
That they would see in us the sentiment of Spurgeon:
Oh, my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies; and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.
C. H. Spurgeon, “The Wailing of Risca,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 7 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1861), 11.
Perhaps, when we implore our children to be personally reconciled to Christ, they will see the urgency of that message for themselves, as they have seen us plead with others to be saved, and they will be saved in the process as they experience the reality of the Word – that hell is real, but praise be to God for Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given us a full and free salvation to carry us to heaven, if we would receive Him by faith.
Soli Deo Gloria