Is there hope for a child who turns away from Christ as a college student?
THOMAS: Yes, of course Scripture provides hope for anyone who turns away from Christ. There is always the possibility of repentance—even deathbed repentance. The dying thief, pastorally, is an important example that even on one’s deathbed one can turn and embrace Christ. Of course, one doesn’t want to use that as a ploy not to believe in Jesus at an early age.
As a Presbyterian, I would also draw comfort from the view of the covenant that our children are in covenant. Therefore, even though they may drift and wander and rebel and become prodigals in a season of life, we can still pray for the fulfillment of God’s covenant, which indicates that our children are in covenant and that God desires the salvation of our covenant children.
There are many parents whose souls are in great distress over their children, and those two things are great comforts. Never give up hope and never give up praying for your prodigal sons and daughters.
SPROUL: Let me add that a true Christian is certainly capable of a serious and radical fall, but not of a full and final fall. Those who are true believers and who turn away will someday, before they die, be brought to repentance and redeemed. We have full confidence in the perseverance of the saints in that regard.
The other side is that there is a very dangerous situation in the church where there’s a tendency for people to believe that all you have to do to be saved is make a profession of faith. A profession of faith, however, has never justified anybody. We know that there are people who profess faith but don’t possess it and never had it. It’s very possible for people who have made a profession of faith that was not authentic to fall away fully and finally. The basic question, however, has already been answered: don’t give up hope if your children have a college crisis. Wait until they grow up a little bit.
This is a transcript of Derek Thomas’s and R.C. Sproul’s answers from our Theology in Dialogue event and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.