Ask OldTimer

Do my children have to be christened to be saved?


The Question:

Someone at work told me that the reasons I am having problems with my children and my life is because we are not christened... I didn't christen my kids ...what does that mean... is there any no hope for us?


The Answer:

For it is by grace you are saved through faith, NOT of works lest any man should boast. Ephesians 3:8
 
It's a common human desire to get favor and recognition for hard work, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn't lead to pride and hurting others. But as far as our salvation goes, "all our righteousness (good deeds) is as filthy rags" compared to the goodness and holiness of God. Even when we do good, evil is often present with us, as in the form of a wrong motivation. Plus how many truly good deeds would it take to cancel out the bad ones we do?
 
To take an extreme example, consider Hitler, an evil, demonized man if there ever was one, responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews by most estimations. Well, suppose before he died that he was sorry for what he did. How many good deeds would it take to wipe out all his evil ones? If he lived for 5,000 years and only did good things, would that wipe out the bad things he did? Of course not.
 
Added to that is the fact that we often justify the bad things we do and try to turn them into good or at least "OK" things. We aren't really capable of judging what's good or bad really.
 
OK, so neither of us is as remotely bad as Hitler, but if you've ever hurt anyone, accidentally or on purpose, you know it's almost impossible to "make up" for it. And every time we think or do bad things, it hurts God and falls short of the standard of HIS goodness and holiness. "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". And the penalty for sin is death, period.
 
Even if WE could live 5,000 years and only do good deeds and think good thoughts, we still are guilty of the wrong we did before that. Our bad thoughts and deeds create a debt or a penalty that we need to pay to clear ourselves before God. But it's a debt that we don't have any way to pay.
 
God loves us. He knows we are under the penalty of death, not only for what Adam did in Eden, but for thoughts and deeds WE ourselves have done. He also knows we can't pay the debt. But what grace means is that He loves us so much He paid the debt for us through Jesus on the cross. He died in our place so we could live forever.
 
So we are saved, delivered, our debts paid, our eternal life purchased, we become God's children by faith in God's grace, His unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor and mercy towards us - shown in the death of Jesus on the cross.
 
It would be an insult to God to try to add our pitiful few cents to the price of Jesus' blood, wouldn't it? But being human, we still try. I know you've run into the attitude that "God helps those who help themselves" - but in the area of grace, that is false. You might say "God helps those who KNOW they CANNOT help themselves" - that's why the worst of sinners are the best candidates for grace. They KNOW they screw up on their own, they KNOW they can't perform enough good deeds to overcome the bad ones, they KNOW that they need Jesus to make it, every day, every hour, every second. They utterly FALL on God's grace, and have full dependence and reliance upon HIM and HIM alone.
 
So what has this to do with christening or any other religious observance? There may be valid reasons to engage in these practices, but assurance of salvation is NOT one of them. We are NOT saved by WORKS - Works includes anything we do or think that we hope will earn us God's approval, whether christening, going to church, reading God's Word, doing good deeds, praying, etc. Now those things are GOOD, don't get me wrong, BUT they can never earn you salvation.
 
Your children may have turned out different if they had been christened, if they had been raised in church, if your husband had been a godly man, if your parents and family had tried to live for the Lord ... but even in homes like these, some kids rebel and do worse than yours may have done. There are no guarantees - each person has to make his or her own choice to follow God or not.
 
I think the hardest part about being a parent is watching your kids make stupid mistakes, a lot of times the same dumb things you did and have warned them about, and watching them stumble and fall. It's hard for God to watch us do the same as well, especially since through His grace, He's provided a way for us to live above all this. His patience with us is unreal and His love for us without limits. IF we just trust in His grace and love, if we hold fast to our full reliance and faith in Jesus, if we trust in God's grace through faith and NOT our works, then we can live in peace and without guilt.
 
Back to the christening issue, what is it, who does it, should you do it now? etc. Not all churches do christening. My understanding of it (since we don't do it, I could be wrong) is that it is baptizing a baby into the Church, and usually announcing that child's name for the first time. People that do this believe it somehow "saves" the baby - but again, no work of the flesh done by the parent or the child or a priest has the power to save them - only faith in Jesus can do that.
 
Our church has an optional ceremony called "dedication" where the parents bring their child to the front of the church, the pastor says a few comments, and prays for the child. He also asks the family and the congregation if they are willing to help nurture the child for Christ. But we don't believe that "saves" the child - we know when he reaches the age when he understands about his sin and need for Jesus, he will have to make that decision himself.
Jesus is the key, loving Jesus, trusting Jesus, understanding that He has already paid the debt for you - He has already taken your place on the cross, He has already opened the way to Heaven for you - just rest in Him. The more time you spend with Him in prayer - just talking to Jesus - the more peace you'll receive.
 
Where do good deeds fit in then? Surely we shouldn't go around doing bad things after we receive Jesus, should we? No, but the motivation for doing good things is different - you do them out of gratitude to God, not as payment for you salvation. And when we do mess up, God is there, ready and willing to forgive and get us back on track.
 
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9

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