Defence of the Glad Tidings – Do our Children really know the Gospel?

A couple of Lord’s Days ago, my wife and I were at the house of Christian friends.  Their grandchildren were there, and we sang a few children’s hymns.  Of course, one was that perennial favourite, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’.  When they sang those words: ‘If I love Him when I die, He will take me home on high’, I thought ‘Wow! Are we teaching our children THAT?

Of course I would not be so narrow minded to stop children singing that hymn.  If at a tender age, our young children can speak of Jesus’ love – that’s good.  If they believe it from their hearts – that’s better.  Nor do I expect them to be judicious as to the words.  It’s taken me many years to think about them.  Indeed, the thoughts knowing the Lord’s love, of believing the Bible, and trusting Him for everything, are good.

I note the verse containing these words was not in the original poem by Anna Warner.  I am not sure whether they were in hymn lyrics by William Bradbury, there appears to be many versions.  So it is clear that many have been concerned as to the implied doctrine in this and other children’s favourites, and have sought to modify the words.

Of course we know that our salvation is not conditional on our loving Him at the moment of death.  The Lord’s work is a completed work: by accepting the Lord Jesus as my Saviour – He having died for my sins, I am saved for both time and eternity.

But I look back to my childhood in the 1950’s, and think: ‘Did I see Christianity – and more specifically the Christian meetings I attended, as a sphere of love and grace, or as a religion where I outwardly tried to keep to a level of conduct, making me believe that I was a better Christian than others?  At the same time did I have a knowledge of the Lord Jesus as my Saviour?  Was I saved?’  The answers to these were clear to me now.  I thought myself better; I did not know if I was saved or not (and I was worried about that), and I saw Christianity as a series of rules protecting me from a world which was going to be judged.  My attitude was not one of repentance. I could talk about having a personal link with the Lord, but I don’t think I really had one.  No doubt I had attended many good preachings, but the message did not sink in.  Of course God was gracious.  But I am sure I was well into my 20’s before I really had peace, the assurance of salvation and of the indwelling Spirit of God. I don’t think my experience was untypical.

Here is a challenge for Christian parents, and those with influence in local gatherings.  Do we really ensure that our young people understand the gospel of God’s grace.  Of course a young person has to learn things by experience.  But what are they getting from what they hear – and sing?

Some hymns do convey the true gospel message, for example, one that is a favourite amongst children in the company we meet with is:children-singing

Christ is the Saviour of sinners,
Christ is the Saviour for me;
Long I was chained in sin’s darkness,
Now by His grace I am free.

     Saviour of sinners,
     Saviour of sinners like me,
     Giving Himself as a ransom –
     This is the Saviour for me.
Now I can say I am pardoned,
Happy and justified, free,
Saved by my blessed Redeemer –
This is the Saviour for me.
Just as I was He received me,
Seeking from judgment to flee;
Now there is no condemnation –
This is the Saviour for me.
Loved with a love that’s unchanging,
Blessed with all blessings so free,
How shall I tell out His praises!
This is the Saviour for me.
Soon shall the glory be dawning,
Then, when His face I shall see,
Sing, O my soul, in thy gladness,
This is the Saviour for me!

Dr Heyman Wreford (1850-1934)


Little Flock Hymn Book (1951(102), 1962(122), 1973(122)).



Author: Sosthenes

Once the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth Then a co-writer of a letter by Paul - just a brother - no longer an official Now a blogger seeking to serve the Lord by posting some words that the Lord has given His Church.

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