Can a child understand the Gospel and not know the exact meaning of everlasting life or the word saved? Jesus said that unless adults become as little children, they cannot be saved, so the obvious answer is yes.
The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins and rising again on the third day. Children sometimes struggle with the meaning of specific words. Some children may use phrases like, “Jesus is inside of me,” or “He is in there” while pointing at their heart. As adults, we cannot expect a child to use all the verbiage or grammar we use to explain salvation. There are some folks that expect a child to know every doctrine of the Bible before they can be allowed to know Christ as their Saviour. In Romans 10:13 the Bible says, “ For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord…” If we were expected to understand every word in the Bible then none of us would be saved.
An adult can easily understand the meaning of many words in the Bible and may also expect a child to automatically understand. Children, howeve, normally think in pictures. Many times when leading a child to Christ it is wise to use an object or picture to explain a word. The word saved may not make a lot of sense to a small child but illustrating it through a picture may help them understand a very important Bible word. They may not exactly understand the meaning of everlasting life, but using a picture may help them understand that we are saved forever.
There are children that the Holy Spirit of God is convicting about salvation and we need to make sure as adults that we are not standing in the way of a child knowing Jesus as his Saviour. We need to make sure we are not expecting them to know the exact terminology, but we also need to make sure they are ready to be saved. A children’s worker or parent never wants to give a child a false hope. Remember questions stimulate and probe the heart and mind. Ask the child questions about what they have learned in class or at home through personal or family devotions. You might be surprised how a little child answers. Sometimes they answer in a way that convicts us.
Dealing with children is not something we should fear but favor. The Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry many times referred to the faith of a child or used a child as an illustration. Children can and will show great faith in the Lord. When those big words come along and a child looks at you like you are from planet Mars, take time to explain to them what that word means. It may take a small illustration, prop or a picture for them to understand. God is ready to save every child that desires to put his faith in Him, but make sure that we are not expecting the BIG words to come from little people before we allow them to trust Christ as their Saviour. I am glad God kept salvation simple for us to understand and I am sure you are glad too.