This one came up because my son took a test last week at his school in which one of the questions was: “How are we saved?” The possible answers were “by being good,” something that my wife could not remember (she was proctoring the test), and “by asking Jesus into our hearts.”
This last choice was supposed to be the “right” answer. But notice, I put the word “right” in quotations. It is not the right answer. We are not saved by asking Jesus into our hearts. That would make our salvation a work and not by faith alone in Christ alone. This goes against the very doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. We are saved by believing in Christ for salvation, and not “asking Him into our hearts.” We are not saved by walking an aisle, saying a prayer or being baptized. All those things are works of what we would do in order to justify ourselves before God. Those things would give us the opportunity to say to God, “But look here, I walked the aisle, I was baptized, I said the prayer! You MUST let me into your heaven.”
Sadly, to such that would respond that way, He responds by saying “Depart, for I never knew you!” (Matthew 7:21).
True salvation comes to those who God causes to be born again and then they believe in Christ for salvation, yet even the faith that these who are born again demonstrate is a gift from Him. We can claim nothing in the process. All the glory goes to Him and Him alone. So to say we are saved by “doing” something so that we may boast, is contrary to the gospel itself.
What is the right answer? It is very simple, to believe in Him for salvation alone. I know that we want to add to the gospel, but we must not. For the moment we do, is the moment we take the gospel and destroy it with our own works. We must resist the temptation to add to it and make it “easier” for children to understand. By taking such a step, we are actually condemning our children instead of helping them. This is why what we teach them is so very important. This is also why I believe the church is losing so many of our children. We teach them works theology and then they never truly get saved and leave the church.
The gospel demands that we not teach such, especially when it comes to our children. How then do we get them saved? We don’t. We must trust in God’s Spirit to move in them and continue to teach them the truth of the gospel, Jesus came to save sinners, believe in Him for your salvation. Teach and preach the truth and let the Spirit of God do the saving.