Can children be saved? They can and they must, but we often think that their faith will be weaker than an adult's faith. The exact opposite is true. Jesus tells us that our faith should be like that of a little child's.
I dare say that in my observations of truly born again children, their faith is often much stronger than that of adults. The power, urgency, and depth of the prayers of my ten year old daughter humble me.
That being said, we must be extremely careful in accepting the profession of faith for a child. A child can mimmick words very well, but God requires both faith and repentance from the very core of their being for salvation. In other words, there must be regeneration. Without it, we can mistake superficial knowlege with true conversion. This rang true as I read the following blog article by Shannon Popkin:
Cade: "Yea, like when I scratched Cole last night."
Me: "What is God's punishment for sin?"
Cade: "He says we have to die. Like, in hell."
Me: "How can you be saved from your sin?"
Cade: "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Hey, Mommy. You know what would be really great? Like, you know what would be really, really cool??"
Cade: "If we could have, like a million billion boxes of macaroni and cheese in our cupboard! Wouldn't that be awesome??"
I have friends who would argue that Cade is saved. And this conversation does give evidence of faith and belief, but there's an ingredient missing: repentance. Cade has all the information, but he has not repented of loving other things more than Christ. Cade would say he loves Jesus, but if he had to choose between Jesus and mac-n-cheese, it would be a toss up. As his parents, we will keep pointing out Christ's value and beauty to Cade, but it will ultimately be the Holy Spirit who allows him to see.
May we have the faith and patience to wait on God to bring about true conversion in our children. Simply by assuring our children that they are saved when they lack the evidence of true repentance does not make them saved. If they are to be saved, God must save and regenerate them. When a child is saved, there will be no doubt about it. "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).