Study 6 WINNING THE CHILDREN
WINNING THE LOST TO THE SAVIOUR
by Francis Dixon
While it is important for every Christian to be familiar with this teaching, the theme is particularly applicable to parents, Sunday School teachers, day school teachers and all who have the care of children. Our attitude to children should be that of our Lord who said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).
What do we mean by ‘winning the children’? We mean bringing them to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; not to know Him only as teacher, guide, friend…but as personal Saviour and Lord.
Dr R.A. Torrey used to say, ‘No other form of Christian work brings such immediate, large and lasting results as work for the conversion of children.’ Read 2 Kings 4:18-37; Matthew 18:1-14, and notice the following vital points.
1. Children NEED to be won.
Children need to be converted (Matthew 18:3); born again (John 3:3); saved (Matthew 18:11). Some say children do not need to be converted, but God’s Word tells us they are born in sin (Psalm 51:5), and our Lord Jesus said: (1) Children are astray (Matthew 18:11 – and compare Luke 19:10); and (2) Children are in danger of perishing (Matthew 18:14 – and compare 2 Peter 3:9). Yes, they need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation – compare Matthew 18:6; John 3:16.
2. Children MAY be won.
From Matthew 18:6, “little ones who believe in me”, we learn that even children can believe on the Lord Jesus. C.H. Spurgeon said, ‘The capacity for believing lies more in the children than in the adult.’ The Puritan, Jonathan Edwards, was saved at 7; Isaac Watts was saved at 9; and Fanny Crosby was saved at 11! The vast majority of Christians are converted under the age of 21.
3. Children are EASILY won.
It is easier to win a child than an adult, for the child is more readily influenced in the right way and has fewer prejudices to overcome. As we get older life becomes complicated and it is harder (humanly speaking) to come to Christ. Matthew 18:6 implies that children are more likely to believe than adults.
4. Children won are won for their WHOLE LIVES.
If a man of 70 is converted, his soul is saved but most of his life is lost, whereas if a child of 10 is converted, his soul is saved and his life too. In each case the value of the soul is the same, but the influence of the life is very different.
5. Children are OURS to win.
If we do not win them, who will? Parents should never rely upon Sunday School teachers to win their children to Christ; they should accept the responsibility of their children’s spiritual welfare and should do all in their power, wisely and lovingly, to win their little ones to the Lord.
6. Children are ours to win NOW.
There is an urgency about this task, and our attitude should be – John 9:4! (1) ‘Now’ is God’s time (2 Corinthians 6:2); (2) ‘Now’ is God’s command (Ecclesiastes 12:1); (3) Now is certain; ‘tomorrow’ is uncertain (Proverbs 27:1).
7. Children WILL BE WON.
This is very solemn: every child will be ‘taken captive’ – either by the Lord or by the Enemy of souls – compare Luke 5:10 with 2 Timothy 2:26.
What, then, are the qualifications for winning the children? They are indicated in 2 Kings 4:18-37:
- We must be like Elisha and not like Gehazi.
Elisha was the true servant, the man of God (verse 21), whereas Gehazi is a type of a mere formalist (verse 31). If we would win others we must first be won ourselves. An unconverted parent or teacher is not qualified to lead a child to Christ or, for that matter, to lead anyone to Him.
- We must recognise the true condition of the child.
Gehazi said the child was asleep and only needed to be awakened (verse 31); whereas it is stated that the child was dead (verse 32). Look up Romans 5:12, and compare Ephesians 2:1.
- We must shut the door and pray.
See verse 33 – and look up Matthew 6:6. What a reward to see our children coming to the Lord and accepting Him as Saviour, and growing up to follow and serve Him! Could there be a greater reward? Look up Proverbs 31:28.
- We must gain personal contact with the child we would win.
Note verse 34 – which suggests we need sympathy, adaptability, tact and contact. How necessary, therefore, that our mouth, eyes and hands should be clean! Look up Isaiah 52:11.
- We must have a concern and an earnest desire to win them.
Verse 34 reminds us that to win a soul is no easy matter. It is the prayer of a righteous man which is powerful and effective – James 5:16.
- We must look to God to perform the miracle, and we must exercise much patience and perseverance.
Picture the scene in verse 35. See the burdened prophet pacing the room and looking to the Lord to answer his prayer; and see what Psalm 62:5 says!
- We must not give up until the child sneezes and opens his eyes.
Look at verse 35 – what a thrilling, worthwhile, glorious moment!