Who Needs A Savior?

John MacArthur, president of the Master’s Seminary here in SoCal, has begun airing a series of sermons on his radio program, Grace to You, about parenting. He’s said more than once in these early broadcasts that parents’ number one job is to help their children understand they are sinners. OK, that seems wrong.

Until I reflect on my own experience as a young child, trying to reason my way out of being part of the all in “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I didn’t want that to be descriptive of me! I figured, if I could just think of one person in the Bible who had not sinned (besides Jesus, because I understood He was God), then maybe I could be like that person. I hadn’t really dealt with what any sins I’d committed up to that point, made me.

So, yes, in my own experience, I needed convincing that I am indeed a sinner.

But why is that important?

Without an understanding of my situation—that I am a sinner, separated from God, destined for hell—I won’t comprehend my need for a Savior. Why would someone who is not drowning need to be pulled from the pool? Why would someone without a heart problem need a heart transplant? Why would someone not incapacitated by debt need debt relief?

Simply put, only those who recognize their problem will also recognize they need an answer to that problem.

To be honest, this great cultural shift we have experienced in the postmodern and post-truth era has harmed the gospel more than we may realize. People now a days have argued with me that no, we are not sinners. Never mind the clear evidence. Never mind that we have not stopped saying, “Nobody’s perfect.” Never mind that the logical deduction from the simple Biblical statement, “The wages of sin is death,” can only be that we are all sinners, because we all die.

But believing the lie that humankind is actually good, not sinful, not in need of a rescue plan, the idea of a Savior seems old-fashioned, out of date, unnecessary, quaint.

I’ll admit, I don’t like it, but I think MacArthur is right. Children, and adults, need to be convinced they are sinners.

Sadly, some people consider telling a child about hell to be a form of child abuse. After all, they might have nightmares, they might not be able to fall asleep at night, they might begin to worry and fear the future.

Well, children can also get nightmares, have a hard time falling asleep, and worry or fear the future, if we tell them they will be going to school when they turn six. In other words, just because something they must face may have unpleasant consequences, we should not pretend it doesn’t exist, that it won’t happen. School happens to kids in one form or another. We would not be helping a child by saying, don’t be anxious about school, don’t stay awake at night thinking about it, put it out of your mind because school is a non-issue—it’s somebody’s idea of a sick joke, and they should be prosecuted for child abuse if they told you anything else.

The good parent does not withhold information about hard things. They prepare their child for them instead. They pass along the secrets that will make their school experience a plesant and productive one. And they walk through the difficulties with them.

Why would a parent do less when it comes to their children’s eternal destiny? “Let’s not talk about it” is not an answer to the need of a child’s heart.

Am I a sinner? Do sinners suffer death as a result? Can I escape this fate?

I remember one night crying. I was sick and I had begun to think about death. My mom came to my bedside, wanting to comfort me. Why are you crying, she wanted to know. Because I don’t want to die. Oh, Becky, she said, you’re not going to die.How relieved I was! Until I realized she was referring to me dying from my present illness. But I meant, I don’t want to die, ever! The comfort I felt moments before was snatched from me. I didn’t have an answer to my problem.

Who needs a Savior? The better question is, who doesn’t? Who won’t face death? Who isn’t a slave to sin? Who has hope for eternal life without a Savior?

Nobody, no one, none of us.

So are we doing children any favors by withholding the truth and in the process withholding the hope that having a Savior brings?

I think not. The sooner we realize the situation of our eternal souls, the better, I think. Hard as it sounds, we simply cannot get to grace without first coming face to face with our need for grace. We cannot accpt God’s forgiveness until we realize we need to be forgiven.

We all need a Savior, and I think telling a child they are just like the rest of us, is a good thing.

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Published in: on June 14, 2018 at 5:21 pm  Comments (6)  
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6 Comments

  1. Interesting issue, Becky. I grew up in atheism, there was no such thing as “sin” and it was really disconcerting. I couldn’t process human behavior, nothing ever made any sense. I still joke about being the most excited person ever to discover sin was actually a thing. So for me as a kid, having no explanation for myself and other people was even more distressing.

    My own kids got a bit too caught up in the self esteem movement. We were trying to make kids feel good about themselves. What wound up happening was that we created this unrealistic expectation, this sense of failure when life wasn’t wonderful and they weren’t feeling good about themselves. Rather then giving them self-esteem,we gave them doubt and insecurity. So I kind of regret not teaching them more about sin myself.

    I’m not much of a MacArthur fan, but I’m leaning his way on this, too.

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    • Agreed, IB. I tend to think MacArthur is too dogmatic most of the time, and that he could emphasize grace more than he does. So when he first said this about parenting, I’m thinking, No, surely not. But your own experience illustrates the fact that children do figure out that sin is in the world, so to either pretend it isn’t, or worse, to acknowledge it is and give the impression that there will be no judgment for sin, sets kids on an unrealistic path. Our culture shows where it leads, for sure.

      One thing is clear, it’s hard to counter the influences of the world. For one, they affect us. For another, our kids are exposed to the thinking of the world at such early ages. I don’t know how they accomplished it, but my parents convinced me we were to be different. It wasn’t easy to feel out of step with my classmates in public school. But I’m so thankful for what I learned through it. And that illustrates something else: hind sight is always easier. 😉

      Becky

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  2. “Well, children can also get nightmares, have a hard time falling asleep, and worry or fear the future, if we tell them they will be going to school when they turn six. In other words, just because something they must face may have unpleasant consequences, we should not pretend it doesn’t exist, that it won’t happen.”

    I am completely bemused that you would believe the concepts of being born a sinner and the fires of eternal hell is anywhere near comparable with starting school at 6 years of age because it is more affiliated to a horror movie. Have you been a mother of a child Becky? Because if you have you must have forgotten because you would not write such fabrications.

    “The good parent does not withhold information about hard things.”

    The good parent is not something your people understand because you would indoctrinate kids with what is a life altering ideology with absolutely no respect for the child and without any conclusive evidence or facts. How can you claim you are 100% right about God and Christianity that is based totally on faith, you only have faith that your God is the right god and faith that the bible is true and science is totally wrong? This is purely total ignorance.

    “Why would a parent do less when it comes to their children’s eternal destiny?”

    Because children are very young and do not yet understand anything of the world they live in and will believe any crap handed to them because they have hardly lived, so therefore why should they be encumbered so soon with issues of death? Not to mention being born a sinner, Satan and hell, that is more than enough to give any child and many adults nightmares.

    Just maybe good responsible parents should allow the child to make up their own mind about their beliefs when they can think rationally for themselves and not pressurise the child into religious and political dogmas to please their own prideful arrogance that can potentially limit or screw up the child’s future life.

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    • “children are very young and do not yet understand anything of the world they live in.” Do you really believe this, Steve? Maybe those who have no access to TV, who aren’t allowed on the internet, who have no friends, who live in an isolated farm or ranch somewhere. But that’s not most kids in western society. And kids really only need to look at their own family to know about revenge, covetousness, greed, lying, pride. The mistake I made as a young person was to think that sin was only big, socially unacceptable things, like stealing or kidnapping or murder. When do you think a child should learn that, no you cannot take your brother’s toy. And no, you cannot say No to your mother. And no, you aren’t always going to get your way.

      Or do you think kids should just be allowed to make up their own minds about these things?

      I wish you understood the heart of parents who care for their children beyond the temporal and are as concerned for their eternal destiny. But clearly that concept is one that eludes you, Steve. It would be better if you didn’t judge, I think.

      Becky

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  3. You obviously think kids are young adults Becky. You are completely wrong, it does not matter what information they are exposed to, they have no means of processing it like an adult does, and do you really think a child understands everything like an adult does because they find it on the internet or TV?

    “And kids really only need to look at their own family to know about revenge, covetousness, greed, lying, pride.”

    Do you really think children recognise these types of things, especially within their own family? You must be well out of touch, because “blood is thicker than water” and adults will rarely admit faults but children are far less inclined to recognise any fault within their own families.

    “When do you think a child should learn that, no you cannot take your brother’s toy. And no, you cannot say No to your mother. And no, you aren’t always going to get your way.”

    A good parent will teach them this as I was taught, you do not need to bring the condemnation of God and hell down upon their heads.

    “I wish you understood the heart of parents who care for their children beyond the temporal and are as concerned for their eternal destiny.”

    Becky, I would support this if I could, but there is absolutely no evidence or even a slim chance this is true, so face facts, why teach kids something that is not proven to be real and is only your personal ideology? Surely they deserve better than that, don’t you think?

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    • Steve, I think kids deserve the truth. I find it ironic that you think kids are too young (no idea what age you’re thinking of) to handle the truth about sin but you think they’re old enough “to choose for themselves.” Well, first of all, how can they “choose for themselves” if they don’t know what the choices are?

      Kids always must choose for themselves. None of us is saved because our parents believed something. We aren’t saved because we learned something about God and Jesus or sin and hell when we were young. But that information gives us a chance to make a decision that is not based on ignorance. But you, Steve, have already made up your mind. You don’t see, so you say, no one should see. And you would prevent the little children from coming to God. Now that is shameful.

      Becky

      PS, I’ve posted on my site and I think in previous comments the study done by Yale, which 60 Minutes reported on a number of years back that showed even infants recognize which is “the good puppet” and which is “the bad.” Kids may not name sins with the names we adults know them by, but believe me, they recognize them! I taught school for 35 years. I’ve seen kids from all different backgrounds. They are much more discerning than you give them credit for in this comment.

      Here’s the link to that post – https://rebeccaluellamiller.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/scientific-discovery-of-the-sin-nature/

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