I’ve grown up in a Christian household. My parents are devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and I have been raised knowing that Jesus was the Savior. When I was a toddler, I quickly became familiar with all the “right answers," such as “Jesus lives in my heart”, “God loves me”, “the Bible is God’s Word”, and “Jesus died on the cross for me”. I went to church every Sunday, read my Bible, and prayed before every meal and before bed. In this environment, I never doubted that I was a Christian.
When I was five years old, my dad asked me if I would go to heaven when I died. I replied that I would, and then I recited all my reasons. I had a seemingly endless list. My reasons ranged from: “Mommy and Daddy are going to heaven” to “Jesus loves me”. After some prodding, I even went so far as to say, “Jesus died on the cross.” But I did not understand the gospel at all. I knew that Jesus’ death was central to Christianity, and I knew that it played some part in salvation. But I had no understanding of why
He died. I did not grasp the words of Isaiah 53:5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
My understanding of my own sin was shallow. Oh, I knew that when I was mean to my baby sister, it was wrong. In fact, I was so sensitive to my sin that Mom could simply look at me, and I would fall to the ground, weeping in repentance. However, that did not happen very often, and for the most part, I considered myself a well-behaved child. Even back then, my main area of sin was not open defiance or disobedience; it was far more subtle. My main sins were of my heart. By the time I was about five, I was wise enough to know that I would be punished and humiliated if I threw a tantrum- so instead, I gave angry glares and thought spitefully about my parents or sister. As long as I refrained myself from openly doing something bad, I thought that I had suceeded.
After listening to all my reasons why I would be let into heaven, my dad began to explain to me the gospel message: I was a sinner, and the punishment that I deserved was hell. But God, in His mercy, had provided a solution for my problem, and that solution was Jesus Christ. Since the punishment for sin is death, Jesus bore my sins on the cross. He took the punishment that was due me, and made a way for me to have a relationship with God! And Jesus didn’t stay dead- He rose again on the third day, and is now seated at the right hand of God. If I repented from my sins, and put my faith in Jesus Christ’s death and ressurection, I would be saved.
Although five years old sounds very young to be saved, I believe that the Holy Spirit opened the ears of my heart while my Dad was explaining the gospel to me. Suddenly, I understood what I had never understood before, though I’d heard it before so many times. I realized with clarity that I needed a Savior. I was repentant, and I truly desired to become right with God. My dad led me in prayer, and I was led to the Lord that day.