Monday, July 18, 2016

Why should all lives matter?

What lives Matter? Do all lives  matter? Do white lives matter? Do only black lives matter?  What about Mexican or Salvadorian lives? Do they matter? On what basis? 

As Christians, that is, a those who have been called, justified, and sanctified by God for his purposes, whose sins have been paid for, what is our view as to whose lives matter? The false narrative that many would ascribe to says that one group of people should be preferred above others because they have been persecuted and enslaved or one group has been supposedly, "blessed by God" over another group.

Multiculturalism suggests that we celebrate our differences.  Scripture suggests that we celebrate our unity. By this I don't mean that I celebrate that I am white and am male. What I mean is that I celebrate my relationship and my unity with all people in Christ. This is what unites me to all believers around the world.  Christianity transcends any physical differences and becomes the thing that is to be celebrated. As Christians, we should understand that it is not about color, origin or language. Those things are not what we celebrate. Because, if we do celebrate them alone, they will separate us and what we end up with are white churches, black churches, Chinese churches and African churches, etc.  Columbus has all of these. (I understand language is a barrier in some instances).  This is what Paul is emphasizing when he says in Colossians 3:10-15.

10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave,[e] free; but Christ is all, and in all.
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Our harmony, as believers,  is based on our commonality which is being part of the same family, God's family. There are no classes and we are all free to serve and love one another.  We have the same Father and the same Spirit bearing witness to the same Word that what God tells us is true.  So, we celebrate our unity not our differences.  By celebrating or emphasizing our differences we become divided and segregated.  By celebrating our unity, we see that we are all equal, valid, valuable, loved and cherished in Christ. None is more valid than another. None is more usable by God than the other.  Those that would divide us have a limited, temporal perspective.  They do not realize that in Christ, we are one.  Revelation 5: 9-10

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

If we are students of the Bible who are accustomed to listening to others to find out what the Scriptures say, then we are at the mercy of their bias and prejudice.  If we are students who would study the Scriptures and find out whether what we are hearing is true or not, then we will be able to validate the truth of those things written herein.  We must interpret correctly and apply what Scripture teaches.  

There is one race. The human race.  All are valuable, all are valid, all have worth and meaning. None more than others. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Maturity and Discipleship in the Church

In the coming weeks, we will endeavor to study discipleship in the life of the church and the responsibility placed on each believer. We must be those who look to Scripture as our guide for what this looks like.  We cannot look at those around us, in the workplace, TV, or popular culture. There are too very few examples.  Maturity is a rare commodity.

Maturity can be defined as Those whose true passion is knowing Jesus Christ , growing in Christ is their ultimate goal and their aspirations are centered around  the affect they can have on others for God's kingdom.  (Philippians 1:20-21; 3:8-10 ; 2 Timothy 3:16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Galatians 2:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 6:4).  This vision will lead us to fulfilling our corner of the great commission as we train those close to us.  The Sovereignty of God places people into our lives for this very purpose.  We seek God and pour everything we have into those he brings into our lives. 

Paul admonishes the Corinthians to "act like men" (1 Corinthians 16:13).  This phrase "quit ye like men"(KJV) or "Act manly" is written in the middle voice.  Thus, it could be said this way: "Act manly for yourselves".  In other words, no one can do it for you.  You can't be godly by accident or by osmosis.  A famous sportswear marketing slogan is "just do it".  Applying this to our topic could be tough if we don't know what to do.  We do not live in a culture that extols real virtue.  Today, manhood means pickup trucks, hunting, wife jokes, sports, beer and video games.  In other words, no responsibility, just time-wasting, and "fun".  Womanhood means fashion, shopping, exercise, hard bodies, gossip and balancing career and family.  In other words, self.  Our society calls good evil and evil good ( Isaiah 5:20). 

The Church in the USA is being taught very little about God's character other than the fact that he is forgiving and loving.  It has become a place of positive thoughts and empowering.  The man upstairs is presumed to wink at our "indiscretions" and "everyone" is going to heaven.  We are unfamiliar with God's Power, Foreknowledge, and Independence or his Holiness and Wrath.  Our worship is rarely centered around justification, sanctification, Atonement, Propitiation, biblical grace, or the merits of the gospel but it is centered around us and how "God" makes us feel.   We have been lulled to sleep and led to believe that God somehow needs us to make himself  happy.  It is popular today in evangelical churches to teach that God is in heaven hoping to make us successful and fulfilled.  Our view of God directs our passions, desires and actions.  It is no wonder that we are distracted.  It is true that Jesus said "I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly"-- Spiritual life, that is. But, spiritual LIFE is not what characterizes us today.  How far has the church actually come?  The Puritans exercised church discipline on those who did not teach the tenets of the faith to their children. Today, the American church may not even know what the tenets of the faith are.  Would we know where to start? Church leadership for the last 100 years is to blame but so are individuals. We have come to a place of serving God only as long as we receive the temporal outcome we expect from him.

Our purpose should not be figuring out how Jesus fits into our lives but rather endeavoring to understand how we fit into the mission of Jesus Christ.


Immature men and women produce immature men and women, no matter their age.  I appreciate that many of you at Bethel have caught a vision for who we are to become in Christ and realize that it is our responsibility to invest in others.  On this road to spiritual maturity we can begin to bring others with us.  I pray that our time together mid week will be a time of fruitfulness and a springboard for true discipleship to take place. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spiritual Maturity. What is it and how do we achieve it?


Spiritual maturity. What is it? How do we recognize it?  Christians are living in pursuit of it, but is it easily discernible?  Some of us at varying times even think we posses "it".  Needless to say it is of utmost importance that believers fully understand what Christian maturity looks like.  Some may feel that it is knowing the right doctrine or the timeline of the "end times"; Being pre-millennial or Amillennial. Some would say that having the right standards and incorporating modesty into their lifestyle is one of the keys to maturity.  Spiritual gifts are posessed by all true disciples of Jesue but do not necessarily indicate a certain level of maturity.  Is maturity a product of  being in church every time the doors are open?  Surely if someone is an elder, pastor or deacon in a local church they must be mature, right?  Does the amount of Scripture one has committed to memory beget spiritual  maturity? Obviously, some of these things can be helpful to a believer as they seek maturity but in and of themselves they certainly miss the mark.

Spiritual Maturity can be defined first of all as a process. A process which is never completed and is always tested.  During this process, a believer is becoming something, or rather someone.  His understanding of Scripture shapes his responses to life. As he gains wisdom and understanding from Scripture he is able to recognize his sin, humble himself when he fails, forgive when wronged and move on toward Christ-likeness.  During this process he is shaping and making disciples of those around him, not necessarily by his words but by his manner of living (Philippians 1:27).  His words and actions are merely a reverberation of who he is becoming.  Maturity is the intersection of two things: who a believer is becoming and who he already is in Christ (Romans 3:24; 8:1;  2 Corinthians 5:17, 21;  Ephesians 1:3; 2:6,10; Colossians 2:10; Philemon 1:6).  In Christ a believer is complete. In practice he is not.  He is far from it.

 Maturity is the intersection of two things:  what a believer is becoming and who he already is in Christ

Maturity does not mean a believer will always respond the right way or always say and do the right things. Growing in Christ is a process through which a Christian progresses where his character is slowly transformed from the inside-out  as he becomes more and more like Jesus Christ. This growth is slow, painful, and self effacing.  Put another way, maturity is a process by which Christ becomes the absolute center of a believer's life (2 Peter 1:5-9). His every decision, motivation, likes, dislikes, thoughts and actions increasingly conform to those of Christ's. In theological terms this is called sanctification. 

The avenue through which maturity is attained is not an easy one.  Spiritual growth is usually increased in the midst of discomfort, pressures, hardship and trials where we become more and more dependent upon God's Grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).  It is here where we glory in our infirmities and shortcomings so that the power of Christ might be made known. We give up protecting ourselves and manipulating our situation to ensure that we come out on top.  We allow ourselves to be wronged and pray for our attackers while at the same time understanding that God is in control. We mourn over our own sin first before looking at others.  We hunger and thirst for righteousness because we just can't seem to get enough.

Mature believers see reconciliation as the first and only option, not the last resort.  2 Corinthians 5:18

Why is spiritual growth so difficult?  It is slow, painful and against our self centered nature.  We look in the mirror and don't like what we see (James 1:23).  We are continually tempted to put ourselves first.  We know what others should do but resist taking the same advice.  On the road to spiritual maturity we are forced to deal with our past, our present and to consider our future.  We have to deal with the painfulness of the sins of others and how they have hurt us.  We all have different places from which we are coming but the goal is the same.  God in his sovereignty has allowed our past and is giving us grace in the present to forgive and bear fruit.

One thing that makes this growth process difficult is the fact that spiritual maturity is not a primary goal of  American Christianity today. The goal today is more people and more power.  If we have more people we get more money to fund more building and more programs and we feel like we are doing more for God. With more people comes more power and influence.  But, God needs neither our money nor our influence.  He is pursing us to make us like Christ--lowly, meek and of no reputation. We are not building the Church, He is.

We are not building the Church, God is.   

If we could only embrace this teaching we would no longer see church splits, church committee fights, and power struggles.  There would be no jokes about deacon's meetings ending in fist fights and we would no longer resemble the world in the way we resolve conflicts. The world's philosophy (take care of yourself) would no longer be the underlying presupposition of today's church.  Scripture properly understood and applied to the heart is our answer. 

Maturity is patient, kind to those who are not kind, does not envy the successes of others, it is is not boastful.  Maturity does not behave in a way that would result in unbelievers questioning God's power to change a life.  Maturity is not provoked to accuse others.  It does not think evil of other believers because a mature believer knows he may not have the full story.  He believes the best, hopes for the best outcomes for others and prays for those who wrong him (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

Normally we view trials as inturruptions in God's will for our lives. When, in actuality they are messengers from God to grow and mature us.

The sign of spiritual maturity is fruit, the fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a very interesting perspective on the connection between suffering and maturity.  Let's put a face on this fruit and examine what it really looks like.  Love for the unlovely. Love for those who hurt me and don't love me the way I would like them to love me.  Joy in the midst of circumstances that are hard, grieving and draining. Joy because of the gratefulness I have toward God for his manifold blessings. Peace in the middle of the trials of my faith showing that my trust really is in God alone and not my own abilities.  Long suffering or patience with those people and events that interrupt my schedule and cause my life to take a turn that I did not anticipate.  Gentleness with those who attack my motives or just plain irritate me.  Goodness describes God alone (Matthew 19:17) but He allows me to partake of this part of his character as I look to bless those around me.  Faith to see what God sees in the trials of life (Romans 8:28).  Meekness is who I am as I grow in Christ-likeness and refrain from having to have the last word and always answer my accusers. Temperance or self control becomes my guiding principle as I live a life consecrated to God but free of offense in the way I present myself.  I speak the truth but, in love and allow God's truth to be the offense (1 Corinthians 1:18), not my methods or style.



 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Patriarchy in the Church: Misuse leads to Abuse


Patriarchy is a word which has varied meanings depending on the one defining it.  The word is being misused and redefined to suit those in the Patriarch movement.  Though the biblical use of the word refers to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the use of the word today has much broader connotations. This distorted use of the word is wrong and changes God's word and his intentions for his church, the Bride of Christ.  

This abusive movement of Patriarchy teaches that women must always be under and obey male authority or headship.  It instructs that a woman is never to be apart from male headship or authority.   If she is a widow then her son or her father would then become her head. If this is not possible then another male relative or her pastor would become her head. Some very popular leaders in this movement even espouse "wife spanking"! Since she is to obey just as children are instructed in Ephesians 6:1 so they say, she should be disciplined as well. Does this mean a brother should spank his adult sister? Though only some in the movement would espouse this, the principle holds: Once we depart from Scripture we can come up will all kinds of distortions, misuses and abuses. 

The main verse used to teach this false doctrine is 1 Corinthians 11:3 which says "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." (ESV)  KJV and NASB say "the head of every woman is the man".  Does this mean that any random man is head of every other woman?  Of course not.  The relationship here is clearly marriage, not a son being a head of a mother or a brother being the head of his sister.  Or, God forbid, a married pastor being the head of his wife and other women in the church who are single or widows. 

Why is this verse written at this particular point in 1 Corinthians?  The immediate context is doing all to the Glory of God.  There is no disputing that there is a created order and differing roles for male and female, husband and wife within the church and in the relationship of marriage. This view is called complementarianism.  The word means to complete.  What 1Corinthians 11:3 does teach is a hierarchy of godly leadership and godly submission.  It illustrates for us that our roles rightly understood and lived will bring glory to God.  Just as the role of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph were defined by God to begin a nation and a bloodline that would bring forth the Messiah, so, we in the Church of Jesus Christ have been given roles to fulfill that would bring Glory to God.

Ephesians 5:22-28 and Colossians 3:18-23 teach this same principle to the same people. These verses are not teaching that a woman should place herself under a brother, or son but that a wife should place herself under her husband.  Not to be strong-armed, or abused but to be cared for and to reveal the created order and intention by God for his creation.  God, Christ, men, wives, children and employers/employees all have a role to play in this.  By godly submission, each of us lives out his/her role to the glory and praise of God. 










Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Man Like no Other

Mankind has undergone the oppression and dominion of sin almost from the time of the earth's inception. Shortly after the creation we have suffered from effects of sin.  The Bible recounts for us the fall and entrance of sin into the world (Genesis 3:6; Romans 5:12).  Those who deny this, do so because of blindness.  

Adam's sin was passed down or, imputed to us. It was charged to our account. It was placed on our side of the balance sheet.   He was our head whom God chose to represent all of mankind.  His sin is our sin.  Not fair?   Was it fair that God rescued some of us by placing our sin upon the one who never sinned?  This is called imputation, whereby God placed our guilt upon his perfect sinless son Jesus Christ so that we might become just in the eyes of God(2 Corinthians 5:21).  Was this fair to him?  We don't want fairness, but mercy and grace.

Make no mistake, those who are not just in themselves have been justified and declared to be righteous because of the actions of Jesus Christ.  They place their faith in him as their substitute.  Their eyes have been opened and they now realize their guilt before God and the fact that they can be saved from the wrath of God by accepting the work of Jesus Christ on the cross as payment for their sin. Payment in full.  Because of this, the birth of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in history.  He was the Son of God. He was
Immanuel, God with us.  Though we do not really know when exactly he was born, we can rejoice in the fact that he came, was obedient unto death, and conquered sin.

Merry Christmas to you.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Courtship and Betrothal: Biblical or Reactionary?

As Bible believers we should constantly ask "Is it biblical?".  But, that may not be enough.  Many things are biblical but we don't do them. In your church, do you greet one another with a holy kiss or a handshake?  A holy kiss is "biblical" but, through bible interpretation we have determined that it was an activity based in culture, and did not have its roots firmly planted in the character of God. So it is biblical but not practiced today in the US. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind to one another. This is not based in culture but in the character of God. The passage tells us the reason we should be kind, which is the fact that Christ was kind to us. Therefore, The interpretation and application of the verse is based in God's character.  It doesn't change...ever.

Courtship and Betrothal are words that have been tossed around for years in Christian home- schooling circles (See David Crank's article).  Depending on whom you follow, one could come away with varying degrees of emphasis and understanding.  Various passages are used to teach this but fall short when biblical hermeneutics are applied.  Many of these teachers are misapplying the "biblical" principle illustrated above. 

The idea that parents should be involved in dating and marriage propositions on behalf of their children has become popular, and with good reason. The culture is corrupting the church in ways that are not repairable.  Reverence for God and a resultant concern for others has been lost.  Thus, the activities of church-going individuals with regard to dating has seriously devolved into selfish gratification that is harmful to all involved.  I like to refer to what we are seeing today as "recreational dating". No purpose, just fun and excitement.  There is little regard for young ladies as "sisters in Christ" or young men as "brothers in Christ".  Everyone is fair game and my happiness is the goal! I wonder, is this idea biblical?

This downward spiral is no surprise, is it?  Is Christian culture in the US becoming more like Christ or more like the world?  The result is that parents are becoming involved in the dating process.  They want to be sure that their son or daughter does not make a mistake in marriage. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, this godly concern is a biblical concern because marriage is to be a picture of Christ and his church, his bride.   But, how we get there is the thing with which I have a problem. In other words,  How parents become involved and stay involved in this process is where there is an issue.

Some parents err on the side of patriarchy and  force themselves into this process against the will of their young people.  They are well intentioned but wrong. This is simply a short cut.  They have never had much of a relationship with their kids.  So, they have forced obedience and neglected to look at the heart. I must say they have done their best, but simply did not know any different. Other parents err on the side of humanism, thinking that junior is 18 now and they have no right to speak into his life.  They stay out of the entire process and give no guidance at all.  They "hope" junior has found a good match but have never really taught him what to look for.

I would like to bring balance to this whole issue.  Are you ready?  The key to this whole thing is very simple and biblical. Develop such a thriving relationship with God that your life overflows into a fruitful relationship with your children so that when they come to the place of making these kinds of decisions they will desire your input with open hearts and minds.  No coercion, no manipulation.  John Wesley said something to the effect;  "don't look for a ministry but anticipate the fruit of a disciplined life".  This begins at a young age and carries through. Start today.  You may have blown it many times over.  Start today. Your kids might be older now.  Start today.  Create a culture in your home of loving God and loving others because it is the right thing.  Put away the legalism and forced "godliness".  Allow God to change your heart. If you have taught your children to know and love wisdom then they are going to desire all the counsel they can get (Proverbs 11:14).  Allow Spurgeon's Catechism to guide your emphasis and motivation for living: 
Q. What is the chief end of man? (what is man's purpose?)
A.  Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

There is a culture in your home.  You may not be aware of it but there is one.  In your home, projects may be more important than people.  Things might be more valuable than godly character.  Anger and coercion may be the means by which you get your kids to obey you.  Manipulation may be the way you relate to your spouse. Achievement may be more important than humility.  This is culture.  They key here is to find out what Scripture says about culture. On what does your family place value?  (Proverbs 29:21, 12:15-16; Colossians 2:8; Ephesians 5, 6; Luke 6:45)

Quick guidelines for relationships
  1. Until one is ready to support a family, or is on a reasonable path to this,  no thought should be given to dating, courtship, betrothal or whatever you want to call it. But, one should always be preparing spiritually by being under sound biblical teaching and engaging in ministry.
  2. Ask others more mature than you if you are ready for marriage based on issues of spiritual maturity and responsibility.  Be teachable and listen. 
  3. Parents, if your kids are in a youth group, the inevitable dating will only complicate things and cause harm in the church and drama in your home.  Your young person will end up being affected by hurt feelings, misunderstanding and wrong assumptions.  (I do not care for youth groups because unhealthy dating is virtually impossible to avoid) 
  4. Can premature dating help my child grow in godliness and increase in godly character?  I think not.  If godly character and a rich relationship with God through Christ is not my goal for my children, I must reevaluate my focus.  Sound radical?  Living for Christ is supposed to be radical (Luke 9:23). There is no other kind of Christianity. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Child and The "Sinner's Prayer". Is it the "sinners prayer" that saves us?


Will my child profess Christ? What do I do when my child asks to be saved? Does my eight year old understand the gospel? Is he old enough or mature enough? I doubt my salvation, what should I do? Can someone know for sure they are saved? I prayed the sinner's prayer 20 times and I still don't have a confident assurance of my salvation...
How should Christian parents handle these questions? The easy answer that has become popular since the mid 1800's is to lead our child in "the sinners prayer". The better answer is much longer but more in line with Scripture. Keep in mind, the Bible gives us a clear answer to these questions.

Leading a child in a "sinner's prayer" in a moment of emotional crisis may be the catalyst for a lifetime of spiritual doubt and confusion.

In fact, children are not the only ones with questions about salvation and assurance. Many adults who have been raised in Christian homes and who have prayed "the sinners prayer" multiple times still find themselves without assurance. They doubt their own sincerity and so they pray "it" again and again hoping to finally find confidence and comfort.
Let me just say at the outset that I am aware of Romans 10:9-10 which seems to teach this idea of a sinners prayer.  However, many people profess belief in the elements listed in these verses but still lack the saving faith necessary for salvation.  The point of these verses is not only belief but what happens when one truly believes on Christ.  IF I believe Romans 10, what does this  really mean?  The demons believe and tremble (James 2:19).  Belief in these things is critical but an intellectual belief and saying some words is not what the passage is teaching.  We all know people who have done this and who have no desire to follow God or know him. So, this is not a formula to be followed.  In Romans 10, Paul is teaching that I must be willing to submit to Jesus' Lordship in every area of my life.  It is a deep personal conviction of without reservation that Jesus is my own master and sovereign.  Hence the term Lord Jesus in the passage.  It is teaching that submission to Him is what I am signing up for.  An individual whose heart has been penetrated by the saving Grace of God is one who willingly submits to this.  We see this idea in other passages as well (Luke 9:23-26, 14:26-27). Only God can do this work in a human heart.
 So, what is wrong with "the sinner's prayer"?  History has part of the answer.

Charles Finney (1792-1875) was an attorney by profession and ministered in the wake of the "Second Awakening," as it has been called. Finney one day experienced "a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost" which "like a wave of electricity going through and through me ... seemed to come in waves of liquid love." The next morning, he informed his first client of the day, "I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause and I cannot plead yours". At that time, Instead of applying himself (Ezra 7:10) to the study of Hermeneutics, Church history and Theology, at Princeton Seminary, or any seminary, he decided to begin conducting revivals in upstate New York right away (Red Flag!). One of his most popular sermons was "Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts." This was typical of his man centered theological system. Can man change his own heart (Matthew 5:8; Ephesians 2:1)? He was a convincing orator but lacked background and understanding of the Attributes of God and Scripture. Finney used persuasive tactics to coax thousands of his listeners to "come to the altar" and "make a decision for Christ".
The “sinner's prayer” was born.
"Just ask Jesus into your heart” the saying goes. No repentance. No understanding. Just a decision that makes mom and dad the preacher feel better. Prior to this time, sinners were given Scripture, counsel, and left to the Holy Spirit until finally they cried out to God for forgiveness. They came to an understanding by the aid of the Holy spirit.  They were given time and allowed to be illuminated as to the severity of their sinfulness against a holy God. Finney's persuasive speech yielded thousands of professions of faith but when examined later these professions were nothing more than temporary, emotional responses which left the sinner unconverted and unrepentant. Under Finney’s teaching of Self Reformation, many decisions were made but few persevered. Church buildings were built only to sit empty just a few years later. If few persevere, few were converted (Mark 4:17). We cannot reform ourselves.
The new birth is induced by the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23).  It is a monergistic work (the work of God alone) brought about by the power and working of God, not by human ingenuity or emotional persuasion. It is a work which God begins (Philippians 1:6) and completes on our behalf (John 1:13). We cannot take credit for something God did in our life, we're not that special :) (Romans 3:10-18). However, when our will is regenerated, we do repent, we do believe and cry out to God for Mercy and salvation. 

But the "why" we call  out to him is the critical factor.  Again, it goes back to Philippians 1:6.  He  begins this work on our behalf and we simply respond to His gentle but effectual wooing.
The Church for centuries had no “sinner’s prayer”. They responded by faith and repentance to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and called upon the Lord for mercy. Prior to Finney, preachers did not ask people, especially children leading questions like: “Do you want to go to heaven when you die?” Or, “do you want to spend eternity with Jesus?” Every child will answer these types of questions in the affirmative.
Dig deep  (Proverbs 20:5)
When your child says: "I want to be saved mommy!" Our first response should be a series of questions. Why? From what? When did you start thinking this way? We want to gauge their understanding of sin and God. Are they being motivated by simple self preservation or do they thinking clearly and rationally about sin and God?  Questions are a great way to try to understand their thinking. (Proverbs 18:13)
If your child asks something similar to: "will I go to hell when I die?" We could respond with "Why do you ask that ?" or "tell me what you know about that".  They may reveal that they lied or committed some other mischief. Do not flat out tell them "NO" because at that point they would be trusting your word instead of going through the process of beginning to trust God and His word.  If you try to ease their mind they will not have developed the discernment they will need later in life to look at the fruit in their life and compare it with the fruit mentioned in Scripture. This conversation with your child may reveal that God is convicting them of sin. We do not want to try to make them feel better by telling them they are "OK". We want the Comforter to do that in His time through His word.
Do not be the source of your child’s comfort. Rather, direct them to God's word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit for comfort.
Parents must know the Scriptures. What does good fruit look like in the Bible? Am I seeing this fruit in my child or young person? Are they making decisions that are not motivated by selfish desires but by a desire to honor God's word? Are they suffering for righteousness' sake? Do they hunger to learn God's word?
Prolonging, or not forcing a "decision" is far from detrimental if we use this time to point them back to God's word and His Character.  Patience.   Allow them to formulate a deeper understanding of God.  Teach them what repentance looks like in Scripture.  Show them examples of David (Psalms 51:1), young King Josiah (2 Kings 22:1-20 ), King Saul's bad example of repentance etc. They should already be exhibiting repentance in your home by the age of 3 or so.  A child should see mommy and Daddy modeling this by asking forgiveness. We must be growing in our walk with Christ which serves as a model for our children.
Your child May come to you and say "Daddy, I just asked Jesus to save me". That is wonderful. What a blessing. rejoice with her. "What prompted you to do that?" Ask more questions.  But, here is the critical point: I do not want to continually point my child back to a decision they made when he is feeling doubts about his salvation.  Nor would I do this with an adult. I want to point them to Scripture and teach them to examine the fruit in their life. Scripture, in some cases was written for exactly this purpose, to give assurance to the believer (1 John 5:13).

If an adult doubts his salvation, point him to Scripture as his source of assurance. We never want to convince him that he was sincere when he prayed  a prayer.  His assurance comes from God's word and the work of Christ, not the sincerity of a prayer.

What Bible verses would point us toward assurance of our salvation? Click here for marks of a true believer. There are obviously many more but these are a start.
The Christian life is a life of transformation and growth. Ask God for grace to walk with him in obedience and humility. Be teachable as you are exposed to the word. Humble yourself and refrain from imposing your views upon Scripture but allow Scripture to formulate your views. Assurance comes through obedience to God's word. Assurance comes as we examine the changes that God is making in our life and our conformity to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).   Biblical assurance does not come from questioning the sincerity of a prayer.