A few years ago, I became a Christian. My elderly parents have attended church since they were children. Yet I recently discovered they don't believe in the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the return of Christ, or the gift of God's grace through faith. As I understand it, that means they're not really Christians. I'm worried about their eternal salvation. What can I do?
—Dave S, via e-mail
Dave, a lot of people—especially in your parents' generation—were raised to believe that being a good person and going to church makes you a Christian. But as someone once observed, "Sitting in a garage doesn't make you a car!" Being a Christian is not about what you do or where you go: it's about who you know. A Christian is a disciple or follower of Jesus Christ—one who believes that Jesus is who He said He is: the Son of God and the hope of our salvation (John 3:16, Rom. 10:9).
You're probably already doing the most important thing you can do—praying fervently. Look for opportunities to talk with your parents about what God has done in your heart and life. Ask them questions about what they believe and why. (They may never have given it much thought.) Gently share the Scriptures with them. Show them what the Bible actually says, as opposed to what they may have thought or heard. It sounds like you may need to start with reasons to trust in the accuracy and authority of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16). Introduce them to a Christian radio station, where they can hear familiar old hymns and good, solid Bible teaching. See if they'd be willing, on occasion, to join you in attending services or Bible studies at your church.
Be encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul in Acts 16:31: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." Don't give up—there's still hope. There's still time. Countless people have made their peace with God with their dying breath. You're never too old to be born again!
Christin Ditchfield is the host of the syndicated radio program Take It to Heart, and the author of A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia (Crossway).
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian magazine.
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