I have believed in Christ since I was a young child but is it important that I cannot remember when I became a Christian?
The circumstances involved in each believer’s testimony are as unique as the people themselves. Though God may use diverse events to draw lost souls to Christ, the spiritual work of the Holy Spirit in illuminating God’s Word to the sinner’s heart is the same for all. He brings conviction that we were born into this world as lost sinners (Rom. 3:23). He reveals Christ as the eternal Son of God, who on the cross willingly became our substitute, taking the punishment for all humanity’s sins (Rom. 5:8). He urges us to receive God’s free gift of salvation and escape a lost eternity in hell (Acts 16:31; Rom. 6:23). He pleads with us that trusting in Christ is the only way to heaven (John 3:16-18; 14:6). The Holy Spirit delights to bring these truths to the level of a seeking child’s understanding.
Though all believers are saved at a certain point in time, not all believers will necessarily remember the time and place. Those who trusted Christ in their adult years will normally find it easier to remember the events leading up to their salvation while it is more difficult for those saved as a child because many childhood memories tend to fade over time. What is important is that you presently know you have trusted Christ as your Savior. (1 John 5:11-13).
The Lord Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). The Lord had been asked “who is the greatest?” and He used a child to teach the importance of humility. It is easier for a child to humble themselves, which is a necessary attitude for one to recognize their need of a Savior. Their inquisitive minds and unhardened hearts are more receptive to the gospel because they have not had time to be significantly deluded by the deceitfulness of sin and the influences of the world. As one grows into adulthood, pride becomes a tremendous stumbling block. Whether one is a child or an adult they must come to Christ in child-like faith. “Children do not have to become adults to be saved, but adults have to become like children.”1
The Lord has given Christian parents the privilege and responsibility to share the gospel with their children but they must avoid the temptation to pressure them into a confession before they truly understand. They should read and tell Bible stories to them, taking the opportunity to apply the gospel at every opportunity. Encouraging them to ask questions and answering their inquiries from God’s Word is also important. If it is clear that that the Spirit is working on their hearts, parents should ask positive questions to help gauge their understanding. If a child understands and without prompting expresses an interest to be saved, then they should be encouraged to do so. However, when presenting the gospel to anyone—children or adults—we must never play on their emotions. Instead we must wait for the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts.
It is important to remember that we are not saved by our words or by just intellectually believing the gospel facts. Instead we must each individually enter into a personal relationship with Christ (Rom. 10:9-10), believing in our heart that when Christ died, He died for me (Gal. 2:20).
The reality of spiritual life is more noticeable in adults than children but even little ones can demonstrate their love for God and His people in ways that are commensurate with their age. Those truly saved as young children should exhibit more discernable fruit as they grow into adulthood.
Being born into a Bible-believing family is a tremendous blessing. Hearing God’s Word in the home and in local church gatherings can expose a child to the gospel at a very young age. It is possible for a one to be saved at such a young age that later in life they cannot remember the time, place, and circumstances of their salvation. However, the important question is: “Does their present lifestyle demonstrate that they have truly believed?”
1. William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., 1995), p. 1276
by George Ferrier