My question is since we as people can't truly understand in our human minds the concepts of relationships, death, and sacrifice until we have matured in our minds (which starts happening at puberty), can we truly understand salvation and the need for it? As I grew and developed into a young lady, I remember another time in my spiritual life when I felt called to make a commitment to God. This was at church camp when I was thirteen. This commitment wasn't just a desire to have Jesus be my savior and be able to go to heaven someday. No this was a new decision. A decision to serve and love the Lord with all of myself. This decision was made with more mental awareness of what Jesus had truly done for me, and with the understanding that I could truly have a personal relationship with God.
So, was I saved as a little girl when I prayed with my daddy, or was salvation really gained later when I truly understood the message of the Gospel?
As I have watched my own children go through this same process of praying the simple children's prayer of faith for salvation, and then later struggling through to find their own personal understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for them, I have wondered about this salvation assurance that is preached. Recently, I have watched my son Brenden go through this process. I can tell you about the day he prayed and asked Jesus into his heart as a little boy. But in the last year or so I have watched him as he has struggles to come to terms with what he truly believes about Jesus, God and the Bible. He is thirteen and going through those normal identity issues that all teens go through. He has to question and ponder whether he believes what his parents have taught him, or if there may be a different truth. It has truly been a joy to watch this process in him. He is like his father, and is a quiet thinker. He doesn't feel the need to shout out the answers and talk through everything. Instead, he quietly listens and learns, and watches and studies. In the last couple of months, I could see that it was all starting to line up in his heart and mind. That the TRUTH of God's Word was revealing itself to him and then it happened. At just the right time, he heard the call to make a commitment to the Lord and he stood and made that choice to make GOD the Lord of His life.
So, now was he truly saved as a little boy when he prayed that simple prayer of faith, or was it not until he wrestled through his Faith that he was saved.
Well, here is my thoughts. I believe he received the wonderful gift of forgiveness and eternal salvation at the moment he in faith believed and asked for it. Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God .Was that when he was a little boy, or a teen? I truly don't know because I can not see inside his heart. But what I do know is that God knows His children and he claims them to himself. Ephesians 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship[c] through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
As I read the story of Jacob in the Old Testament I see that he had a relationship with God even before he wrested with Him and found his faith in him. I also notice in this story that Jacob after wrestling with God has times when his faith is weak. But, God is ever faithful to Jacob. Genesis 27-29 So, I know that God seeks out His children and calls them to himself.
I also know that many would say that the prayer of salvation is the first step in our relationship with God, and that the act of sanctification starts in this second step of devoting our lives to Christ. But I have also seen (especially in people whom come to salvation as adults) this desire to make God the center of ones life as a direct result of salvation, immediately take place.
As I have pondered these things about salvation as a child, I have felt blessed to have been raised in a Godly home. I feel privileged to offer God's truth to my own children while they are young. Because the Truth was constantly available to me as a young girl, it was easy to grasp it and take hold of it. It allowed me to place my trust in God even as I went through those years of finding my own identity as a teen. It continues to be the foundation I stand on when doubt and insecurity come my way. You see I believe that true faith takes place daily, as we take up our cross daily. There is in this world always going to be things that come to distract us from God, and confuse us about what is true, but if we learn and follow His ways we can be assured of our eternal salvation. Luke 9:23-27 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”