“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
With regard to our children who seemingly “walk away” from their faith, it is my opinion that they either a) did not possess saving faith or b) are in a temporary state of doubt, denial, or insanity that might last a short period or longer before they come back to their senses. That’s not to say the first group won’t ever be saved, but we do know that the gate is narrow, and few enter through it. And, we don’t know if the second group is indeed saved or instead is like those who have withered and died.
How are we to worship our Lord in all this? Indeed, we find some instruction in our bibles. First, let’s not kid ourselves. This is very serious and heart-breaking business. Remember a couple of passages? The first is Paul. The second, Jesus.
Romans 9:2-3 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Matthew 23:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!
So, we see terrible anguish over the fate of the lost. It seems to me that I have a bit of hypocrisy in my heart when, on one hand, I understand the need for hell for some people, but on the other I beg God to forgive my unrepentant children. I might end up with a hard heart in the first case and perhaps even have a crisis of faith with the other. No, I must settle this serious issue.
It seems to me that I must truly get my head around my OWN judgement before I can that of others. Do I truly understand and accept the fact that my sin has irrevocably separated myself from God, that truly I deserve nothing less than eternity in the lake of fire? This isn’t a mere academic exercise. And before we say that we would easily trade places with our children to spare them from such a fate, have we really thought this through?
What would eternal punishment be like? Do I agree with God that this is my rightful destiny?
If we are anything short of completely agreeing to our own damnation, there is a part of us that thinks that we don’t deserve it. And if we don’t deserve it, then there must be righteousness in me, something I have earned. And if I have earned my righteousness, then what business does God have in sending me to hell? Wouldn’t he be UNJUST to judge the righteous? See where I’m going with this? We know that the bible teaches us differently, but our personal doctrine can lead us places we don’t want to go.
We might be tempted to ignore all this unpleasant stuff and instead focus on the blessings of God. We might try to lure people into faith by telling them all the benefits of Christianity, how their lives will be so much better if only they would believe. However, we don’t see anyone doing that in the bible. There is always the warning and the promise. Together. It would not be wise for us to take matters into our own hands and deviate from the gospel message.
We may not comprehend all this, but we can resign ourselves to the fact that God is, indeed, good in the way he has determined things. In fact, the whole system is just the way he wants it. Someday, he may open our minds and let us see what he sees. We can be assured that we will agree with him. His ways are not our ways, right? And, in that, we should rejoice, right? God is just, and that’s a good thing. The plain truth is that if we are honest, we should rejoice in this even if we, ourselves, are in the lake of fire. Hell is a terrible thing, but it is still a good thing.
Now, how should I pray for my children? Well, I’m going to lean heavily on the side of hope. I have every reason to believe that my children’s faith was genuine and God-given. They professed. They acted. I saw transformed lives. I just don’t know what happened, just like I’m sure everyone was bewildered at Peter, John the Baptist, and Doubting Thomas. Yes, I may be wrong, but I will have faith.
In that respect, I will not despair. I believe their eternal salvation is secure. But what might be happening? I think that Satan has deceived them in their own sin to the point that they are completely fooled. Perhaps Peter’s pride backfired on him. And, apparently, God allowed it to happen. In fact, God can allow Satan a great deal of rope. Just take a look at what happened to Job. Might it be that God has allowed Satan to test my children by attacking their doubt? Could this doubt have been encouraged by other people? Might this sin taken them over so that they don’t even remember what they experienced in their salvation?
I think it’s entirely possible. It’s not the way we normally think of a conversion, but no one expected Peter or John the Baptist to act the way they did, either. But those stories are in the bible for a reason, are they not?
So…. I pray that you, God, may remove their blindness and soften their hardened hearts. I remind You that scripture says Jesus leaves the ninety-nine to find the one that is lost. My kids have wandered. Find them, Lord. Bring them back into the fold. Why let Satan ravage them and make a mockery of salvation? Our enemies will scoff at them and you, Lord, and say that salvation isn’t real, that it isn’t secure, that you, Lord, can’t keep people from walking away. They will laugh and say that Christianity isn’t such a good idea after all. Look, see how many leave!
Father, don’t let our enemies scoff at you because of my children. I heard their testimonies and saw their changed lives with my own eyes. I believe they are believers. Satan is too powerful. I am no match for that evil angel. Apart from your divine intervention, I am toast. So are my kids. Please help them. Soon. I beg of you.
And, if it be your will that it will be a long time, so be it. I shall not complain. I’ll praise you and rejoice, whether long or short. What are a few years, anyway, when compared to eternity in heaven? It is nothing.
Father, if it should be that they are not saved then I pray that you may have mercy on them and forgive them. Yes, I know you have determined the elect before the foundation of the world, but why can’t I hope that they might be among them? And, besides, Paul instructs us to pray for the lost (Romans 10:1). So, I pray for that you have mercy on them. And, if they are not to be counted among the elect, I pray that you have mercy on them and hold them back from the extent of sin they are capable of. Your word shows there is degrees of punishment (Matthew 10:15), let them not go down as far as their hearts would have them go.
In any case, Father, I will praise your name and rejoice, even if through tears.
Father, if I am wrong about the way I am looking at this, please instruct me. I want to be sure of doctrine. I certainly don’t want to be teaching anything that is wrong. If, however, I am on the right track, encourage me!
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers