A couple weeks ago, I posted some thoughts about how we bring the gospel to children of the church while avoiding both revivalism and hyper-covenantalism. This has spurred good conversations with families and teenagers in our church as we encourage them to consider making their own profession of faith and coming to the Lord's Table. But some of our covenant youth worry that they don't "have a testimony," that without the personal history of a conversion event, they're somehow lacking something necessary. In that context, a friend reminded me of a great passage from J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism. I offer it here as further encouragement for parents and churches to raise their children in the faith. The normal, quiet conversions of most covenant children should be a matter of celebration, not concern.
At the beginning of every Christian life there stands, not a process, but a definite act of God. That does not mean that every Christian can tell exactly at what moment he was justified and born again. Some Christians, indeed, are really able to give day and hour of their conversion. It is a grievous sin to ridicule the experience of such men. Sometimes, indeed, they are inclined to ignore the steps in the providence of God which prepared for the great change. But they are right on the main point. They know that when on such and such a day they kneeled in prayer they were still in their sins, and when they rose from their knees they were children of God never to be separated from Him. Such experience is a very holy thing. But on the other hand it is a mistake to demand that it should be universal. There are Christians who can give day and hour of their conversion, but the great majority do not know exactly at what moment they were saved. The effects of the act are plain, but the act itself was done in the quietness of God. Such, very often, is the experience of children brought up by Christian parents. It is not necessary that all should pass through agonies of soul before being saved; there are those to whom faith comes peacefully and easily through the nurture of Christian homes.
(Christianity and Liberalism, 119)
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