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by Jeanette Lockerbie

Can a child understand the gospel? When does such understanding come? At what age is a "little one" accountable to God?

Some groups, believing that a child is too young to know about such things, have legislated a particular chronological age. Thereby, they deprive many a boy or girl in his early school grades of the joy of knowing the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, of trusting Him.

I once asked a seven year old girl in our church, "What difference does it make to you that you are a Christian?" With simple clarity she explained, "Well, for one thing, Mommy prays with me just before I leave for school every morning. Then when I'm in class or on the playground, if something isn't right, 1 can just pray to Jesus. 1 feel good because I know Jesus loves me and He can take care of me."

Pretty solid theology for a second grader!

This is the heritage of the believing child: knowing that the Lord is there to guide him, taking his problems to God in prayer, secure in the knowledge that he belongs to the Lord who is always there to care for him Was there ever a time when this comfort was more needed — with conditions as they are in our society?

While the Bible is not specific as to the exact age at which a child can believe in Jesus, the fact that he can is authenticated by our Lord Himself: "He called a little child to Him" and described the child as "one of these lit­tle ones who believe in Me" (Matthew IX:2,6).

Was the Lord forever settling the question as to whether we should strive to present the gospel to young children with a view to having them trust Christ as I heir Savior while they arc still in tin- lender, believing years' Was Jesus.

for all time, setting His divine seal upon the evangelism of children'' Yes, He was. Why then should anyone doubt the urgency or question the wisdom of sharing the gospel with young children?

Another question which it seems foolish for Christians to debate (for there is no room for doubting tiie answer) is, "Are non-believing children lost?" Again, we need only refer to the words of Jesus (Matthew 18:14):

. it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven (hat. one of these little ones should perish.

So you see, there is such a possibili­ty.

Unquestionably, it is likewise not the will of any believing parent that his child should be lost. Since we cannot know how long we will be permitted to be with our children or they with us, it is the part of wisdom to take the earliest opportunity to teach them the simple truths of the Bible "which are able to make them wise unto salva­tion" (II Timothy 3:15).


Not the years and months he has liv­ed, but rather the atmosphere and en­vironment in his home are the factors that usually determine the response in a young heart. The child who has been taught to lisp among his first spoken words, "Jesus loves me," will early ex­hibit a God-consciousness. The expec­tation would then be that this child, when the gospel is presented to him as a four or five year old, will respond by opening his heart to the Savior.

Conversely, the child whose "diet" has not included Bible stories and hymns*, who has not heard his parents speak lovingly and reverently of God and of Jesus in the course of everyday living, cannot be expected to believe. No wonder the Apostle Paul questions, "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?"

The   burden   is   on   the   parents.

Rather   than   haggling,   as   some  do,

over   the   exact   "age   of  account-

| ability." mothers and lathers would do

well   to   think   of  their  own   rcspon-

l( uniintmJ rrt rtwe 10'

| that the age of accountability begins very early in life).The age of accountability? How much is pre-determined by the parents' sense of responsibility?We can never unequivocally say
when a child reaches the age of ac­
countability. But that he needs to be
saved, there is no doubt. And the
younger the child is when he accepts
Christ, the more problems he sidesteps
and the longer he has to live for the
Lord. These are motivating issues in
leading children to Christ — even
though we cannot pinpoint their age of
accountability.                                         QMrs. Lockerbie is an   author and the former   editor fbefore her retirement} of Psychology For Living. |

When is a Child Accountable to God?

sibility and the wonderful opportunity that is theirs in leading their child to Christ. The time for considering this step is when the child shows signs of comprehension in other areas.

One clue which psychologists give us about the readiness of children to un­derstand clearly is their reading age. Learning to read is a complex task. What actually happen* is this: a child looks at a page with many black marks and he must translate all of these marks into a language and mean­ing.

It is generally agreed that the age of five or six is the period in the develop­ment of a human being when he is able to tackle and be successful at decipher­ing print on a page. If a child is mature enough at five or six to learn to read, he is certainly old enough to under­stand that he is a sinner, and that God loves him and wants to save him.

Trusting God is not foreign or strange to human beings. God made us, and He made us (as Dr. Narramore often says) "with believe boxes in­side." So it is natural for children to believe.

It is a paradox of our times that while parents may boast of the near-genius quality of their child, they will stoutly maintain that "he's too young to understand" spiritual truth. Ac­cording to these people, the child is in­telligent, apt to learn, is able to absorb what he's seeing and hearing, and to comprehend it — as long as it's a secular input, whether from TV, radio, books, or from his own observation. But to expect this same youngster to comprehend that Jesus loves him and has made a way for him to go to heaven — well, that's something different. Adults often doubt a child's ability to understand the supernatural when actually it is a very simple con­cept for him to accept. Besides, he's been   watching  Star Trek   and  Star

Anyone can devise a plan by which good people may go to heaven   Only God can devise a plan whereby sinners, who are His enemies, can go to heaven. l.cmi^ Sprrry Chafer

Wars and many other displays of science fiction, so what's so hard to believe about the resurrection or the Second Coming of Christ?

"Don't burden children with such serious thoughts," or "There's lots of time when they're older." How often we hear this kind of fallacious rationalization.

By contrast, how commendable is the practice of some parents who make spiritual training on the child's level a regular and important part of their child-rearing. And this has never been easier than it is now with the abundant variety of attractive Bible story books, films, records and children's versions of the Bible in our Christian book stores. (It seems the publishers believe

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Truly, the life-style of a schoolteacher has changed radically in the last 50 or 60 years. For example, a 1915 teachers' magazine listed the following rules of conduct for teachers of that day:

—You will not marry during the term of your con­tract.

—You are not to keep company with men.

—You must be home between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless attending a school function.

—You may not loiter downtown in any of the ice cream stores,

—You may not travel beyond the city limits unless you have the permission of the chairman of the board.


—You may not ride in a carriage or automobile with any man unless he is your father or brother.

—You may not smoke cigarettes.

—You may not dress in bright colors.


—You may under no circumstances dye your hair.

—You must wear at least two petticoats.


—Your dresses must not be any shorter than two in­ches above the ankle.

—To keep the schoolroom neat and clean, you must: sweep the floor at least once daily: scrub the floor at least once a week with hot, soapy water; clean the blackboards at least once a day; and start the fire at 7 a in  so the room will be warm by H a m.

-Buckcve Farm News

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