I remember the little boy who grew up spending the night at my house… playing baseball with my son… attending church where I was the pastor. I remember talking with him at length when he asked about being saved. As best I could discern at the time, he believed Christ for salvation. I baptized him and celebrated with his mom and dad.
Now he is 21 years old and a hard-core militant atheist. The things he writes about God, Christianity, and religion in general are filled with anger, hate, and insults. The words he uses to describe Christians are the most base and offensive you can imagine. When I read anything by this young man I grieve for him (And his parents… I can’t imagine their heart ache).
What happened? What changed (If anything)? Where did I go wrong (I think I may know)?
First, it is obvious this young man is not saved… regardless of what he said/prayed/did when he was younger as per 1 Jn 2:22-23. It is not that the young man lost his salvation… he was never saved to begin with. During my 20+ years in the ministry I have found that discerning a genuine conversion is not always easy… especially in young people. In my mind and belief, the best proof of a genuine conversion is continuance in the faith with increasing holiness. Otherwise salvation is seriously in doubt.
As for what changed? Nothing. All that happened was that he answered questions correctly… said a prayer… and got wet while calling it baptism. Jesus described this kind of encounter with faith in Him in Matthew. My best guess is that he didn’t have a sound faith lived out for him by others.
What did I do wrong? I should have told the parents that it was best to wait rather than immediately affirming his conversion. After all… there is no harm is waiting until the fruit is present before baptizing anyone… this is because baptism doesn’t save, but confirms salvation. Much more can be written on this point, I may do that tomorrow…
Anyway… I’m praying for a young self-professed atheist to be saved. For God to break into his life and convert him. For God to do what he will never do by himself. If you would, pray the same… God knows who he is.