It’s amazing how many lessons we can learn from the life of King David. The biblical record of his experiences relates to the real-life issues we face every day, such as trust and trials, faith and failure, leadership and love.
But there’s one aspect of David’s life we don’t often consider with an important effect on many of us—the faith of his children. As Christian parents, we have no deeper desire than for our children to know Jesus Christ, to have their eternal security in Him, and to live out His plan for their lives. However, our godly desires don’t always lead to their godly decisions.
So, as parents, are we responsible for our children’s salvation?
Faith in Christ: Each Individual’s Responsibility
God described David as “a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22). However, David’s children didn’t follow in his footsteps. Their hearts were far from God. Scripture records many of their serious sins, including rape (Amnon), murder (Absalom), pagan worship (Solomon), and rebellion against their father’s kingship (Absalom and Adonijah).
True saving faith is a personal decision for each and every person.
David’s parental experience, along with our own experience, reveals that children don’t automatically follow their parents’ godly examples and that biblical parenting doesn’t guarantee children’s faithfulness. Why? Because true saving faith is a personal decision for each and every person.
The Bible clearly teaches that faith in Christ is the responsibility of “whoever” believes. John 3:16, perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible, says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus repeats this individual invitation and responsibility to believe several times (3:18; 3:36; 5:24).
Many heartbroken parents have had to watch their children live far from God and reject this invitation to personally believe in Jesus Christ.
Godly Guidance: Each Parent’s Responsibility
So how should we respond as parents? Maybe you are a parent of young children. How can you best parent and prepare your children to make wise decisions when they reach the age of responsibility and choice?
God has entrusted some responsibilities to parents in guiding and giving children every opportunity to seek their own salvation in Christ.
Let me encourage you with three parenting priorities.
1. Pass On
As parents, we may not be responsible for our children’s salvation, but we are responsible to raise and lead them in the ways of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 commands, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
As parents, we may not be responsible for our children’s salvation, but we are responsible to raise and lead them in the ways of the Lord.
Out of love, we need to do everything we can to teach our children God’s Word and immerse them into the community of a good church where they can be equipped and encouraged in true faith.
But faith is not just taught—it’s caught! This means our children need to witness us living consistent lives of real faith in Christ. Our children watch us as parents more than anyone. And we need to show them a faith worthy of admiration and imitation—just as the apostle Paul presented his life as an example for others to imitate (2 Thessalonians 3:6–15).
Parents, do all you can to pass on to your children a life of faith in the Lord and surround them with those who will influence them in the Word and ways of God.
Life is not linear. It has more surprises than certainties. That’s why a parent’s greatest attribute is perseverance. Why? Because you will make mistakes. Your children will make mistakes. Circumstances will set you back. But you cannot give up!
Romans 5:3–4 highlights the immense value of perseverance: “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Our heavenly Father is the perfect example of perseverant parenting. Despite our consistent inconsistencies as His children, He continues to:
• Stay by our side: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
• Welcome us back after we stray: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
• Forgive us when we disobey: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
• Seek our good in all things: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
• Sympathize with our weakness: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
• Show compassion in our times of struggle: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
We can emulate our heavenly Father’s example in our parenting.
Persevere in your parenting. Don’t give up on yourself or your children—for God hasn’t finished yet! “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Above all, we need to pray earnestly for our children.
Ephesians 6:10–20 warns us that our struggles in life aren’t just of human origin, but we are engaged in a spiritual battle with forces seeking to destroy our families. An essential weapon in fighting this war is prayer, as we should be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (v. 18).
Prayer also enables us as parents to stay strong and not succumb to stress: “The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5–7).
Parents, you aren’t responsible for your children’s salvation. Each and every person needs to make a personal decision to trust in Christ and receive forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God.
However, if you pass on, persevere, and pray, then you will provide your children every opportunity to know the Lord, witness the reality of His presence, and trust in Him for their own salvation.