As a parent, I know what it is like to be burdened over the salvation of my children. I pray regularly for the children in my family and church whether children or adults. For anyone I know who is not a disciple of Christ, my hope continually comes from the doctrines of sovereign grace.
Before you stop reading please allow me to explain that I hold dearly to two coinciding truths. When it comes to salvation, humans are entirely responsible before God for their sin and to respond in faith to the good news of Jesus. Alongside this, I firmly hold to the fact that Scriptures consistently teach that salvation is a work of God and we are completely reliant upon God’s grace in Christ for the remission of our sin. While as a human I cannot reconcile human responsibility and sovereign grace, I am completely reliant on the manifold wisdom of God and bow to his glorious mystery. The reality of both God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are best explained by simply reading chapters nine and ten of Romans side by side.
Sometimes in our theological differences we can become more agitated when we apply our own biases to the situations of those we love most. A father who vehemently disagrees with the doctrines of sovereign grace in salvation may find great agitation at the thought that his son or daughter may not be elect. Before I say anything further let me say that my response in this situation is not to come out with guns blazing and correct the theological biases of a heart broken father. I am deeply saddened by any child walking outside the grace of God and truly burdened to pray with every parent about the salvation of their child. I desperately desire opportunities to put the gospel before that child with much yearning for them to know Christ.
Did you notice that I said we must both pray, relying on God’s work, and proclaim as we appeal to the responsibility of this child? Whether we acknowledge it or not, in practice, both sides of the theological divide live out both truths of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility as we pray and proclaim.
Paul constantly appeals to the fact that any work of humans is meaningless in salvation. Our works only merit us an eternal hell. He consistently points to our need for God’s grace working regeneration in a cold dead heart to come to new life in Christ. A great example of all of this is in Titus 3:3-7. “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
When you read statements like this from Paul, you never find human initiative in salvation. It is always a work of God - a work of grace. What you do find is immense reason to hope. When mankind is disobedient and slaves to our own will, God is all-powerful and his goodness and loving kindness are able to work miraculous regeneration in our life. He alone, through the power of the Spirit and the work of Christ on the cross justifies us by grace and adopts us into his family. Because God is a God who saves and has omnipotence over every human heart my hope is not in the fallible ability to reason in a child, but in the complete sovereign will of God in Christ.
If you are a parent who is crying in pain for the salvation of your child, I suppose I just want you to know that I want to appeal to the strongest possible hope for your child. I don’t want to hope in a less than omnipotent ability in humans but in the complete and sovereign saving power of God. Please know, I cannot possibly pray in hope relying on anything less than infinite power and wisdom to bring your child home. God and God alone is my hope for your child. I pray with you. I yearn with you for the Lord to save.