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I believe one of the most important considerations a parent can have is whether or not their child is saved. And while we often can’t know with certainty whether or not another person is saved, there are things we can look for.

A while back I posted a list of signs a child isn’t saved. Recently I been thinking about human situations that might cause a parent to fear that the child they thought was saved really isn’t.

So let’s say you have a son or daughter who understands, believes and loves the gospel. You see real spiritual fruit and sanctification in their life and you feel they are walking with Christ.

But there is something going on in their life that makes you doubt their salvation.

Here is a list of real life situations that shouldn’t.

1. He is sinful.
The Bible is clear, we all sin. None of us will be sinless and perfect until we reach heaven. So a child’s sinful behavior is not a sign that they are lost. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 ESV)

2. She has a besetting sin.
Sure, an obvious sin now and then might not be a sign of lostness, but what if they keep repeating the same sin over and over? What if they continue to fight with one of their siblings or repeatedly have too much interest in impressing the world?

Please consider these words: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:16-17.) Paul is talking to Galatian Christians, and he assumes that they have strong desires of the flesh that compete against the will of God.

Or consider the words “But we all stumble in many ways…” James is talking to Christians from the twelve tribes and he knows of their failures.

The key for your son or daughter is how they responds to their sin. Does their sin cause them grief? Do they have a fear of God’s wrath? Do they understand the destruction that sin causes? Are they praying for God’s grace in his work of sanctification?

It’s a part of the fallen nature of even saved humans that they have desires of the flesh that stay with them. This includes your children.

Pray with them. Help them do battle with the flesh. Remind them that no one can snatch them out of their Savior’s loving hand. Help them to seek God’s grace in how they live. But don’t see this as proof that they aren’t saved.

3. He is depressed.

Reading the Bible, you see characters who behavior and words sound like those of a depressed person. Paul dealt with hard challenges and he talked about their difficulty. Elijah, Jeremiah and Job are all on record expressing how they deeply struggled with their life situation. God knew about their sins, but he didn’t hold their struggles against them.

Depression is hard, and sometimes it is indicative of a lack of faith. But many, many times it isn’t. And sometimes the fruit is sweeter when it comes from a time of depression. Pray with them. Pray for peace and joy. Pray for a renewed beautiful sweetness of life.

4. She disagrees with you theologically.
There are some ideas about God and the human situation that are necessary for salvation, but many, perhaps most, are not. So if your child disagrees with you about transubstantiation, or the proper way to baptize, or egalitarianism vs. complementarianism, it may be a reason for a concern, but a parent should be careful about doubting the child’s faith because of it.

In Philippians, Paul says, “And if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” So while he wants his fellow believers to hold true to the important elements of the Gospel, he doesn’t seem very bothered by the fact that other Christians disagree with him on lesser matter. And he’s aware of how he was forced to change his mind.

Yes, I know that theological beliefs have impact in how we live – financially, vocationally, and politically. Remember Paul’s thoughts about strong and weak Christians.

I think the key here is this question: Are they sincerely trying to determine what the Bible says about the matter? If not, if they know what the Bible says, and don’t care, again, there is cause for worry. But if your son or daughter is seeking to be guided by God’s word there is good reason for you to have peace about his or her beliefs.

Pray for wisdom for yourself in determining which battles to head into. And remember: you might be the weak Christian.

5. He isn’t successful.
What if she can’t maintain a B average? What if he works and works and never is able to excel in sports? What if you’re nervous she will never be able to hold down a professional job? What if he has no interest or aptitude in the arts? What if she is developmentally delayed? There is nothing in the Bible that says non-excellent people are not following God. But there is evidence of God using the non-excellent. Moses couldn’t speak well, for example. Paul, in First Corinthians says that he didn’t come to that church with lofty speech or wisdom, but with weakness, fear and trembling.

God uses weakness. His power is made perfect in weakness.

I’m guessing you can think of people in your life that the world would consider to be complete failures who have nevertheless ministered to you, taught you, helped you, and served God in the way they served you.

Your son or daughter might be that person for others. Pray for that to happen. Pray for their weakness to proclaim the love of God.

From an eternal perspective, the disabled young adult who cannot live on his own but nevertheless sings the praises of God, is better off than the young adult with the amazing career who has turned his back on his Heavenly Father.

6. She doubts her own faith.
As I’ve mentioned, the state of salvation is an important issue for anyone, and should be cause for introspection and soul-searching. With this in mind, if your child is concerned about whether or not he’s saved, it may be a good sign. Do you see fruit in their life? Point it out to them. Ask them to spell out what they believe about the gospel. Remind them of their first love of what God has done for them. Help them to see God’s glory. Point out the promises of God’s word. Talk about the paths God has taken them on.

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Now to be clear, all of these traits could be visible in an unsaved child, but they are not strong indicators of a lack of salvation. These situations are difficult (with the possible exception of #4) and sometimes very difficult. I certainly don’t mean to minimize that. Keep praying for your son or daughter. Encourage them. Remind them of the gospel. Call them to repentance. And encourage them to share their story of how God saved them.

And thank God for what he’s done and for what he’s doing in your son or daughter’s story. At the end of every Christian’s story, none of these things will be an issue.

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Are there any situations I’ve missed?

Photo by Dutch Blitz Folk (two of my kids and their friends) and I’m thankful for help with this post from Abigail Dodds, Andy Naselli and Jason DeRouchie.

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