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Appointment with Eternity #5

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This is another reason why I try to ask the million-dollar question everyday, either with words or Gospel tracts. Here it is: “If you died today, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” Yes, even kids need to know. (See article below.)

Is there an “Age of Accountability” for kids? Is it proper to witness to children?

Some Christians believe in an “age of accountability.” This is supposed to be some God-determined age where God holds people responsible for their sins.

My question: Where is this in Scripture and what exactly is that age? If it can’t be conclusively determined that there is a specific age, should we not tell everyone, regardless of how young, that they will also be held accountable for the things done while in the body (using discretion and age-appropriate language, of course)?

My daughter D.D. really started to understand Christ’s suffering on the cross in a new way after watching the end of the DVD, “The Gospel of John.” She said that she didn’t want to go to Hell, so we talked to her about sin, repentance, righteousness and Judgment—and this was when she was only seven-years-old. Though she asked Jesus to forgive her at age three, we aren’t taking any chances; we will continue to bring up our children in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Jonathan Edwards was serious about converting children at an early age. In Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell by John H. Gerstner, I read this:

If the best doctrine to present to sinners is Hell, the best time is childhood [according to Edwards]. The number of special meetings for children that Edwards held, as well as the diligent attention he gave to the salvation of his own family, shows his persuasion of this point.

His approach to the children was basically the same as the approach to their parents. They too were in danger of judgment and must learn to free the wrath that is to come upon them as well as upon older sinners. They were “young serpents” who had not yet learned to bite, but were full of poison. They were no different in nature from their parents. They too were “children of the devil.” Neither can they “bear hell among the devils,” and they must beware of this dread judgment to which they are exposed.

“Supposing, children,” he exhorts. “you could now hear the cries of other wicked children that are gone to hell—Come therefore hearken to me—If you won’t hearken but will go to hell…”

“Many persons,” he warns the young people, “never get rid of the guilt of the sins of their youth, but it attends them to their graves and goes with them into eternity.

“So that you get nothing by spending your youth in sin, but are great losers for the present besides the danger that you incur of having your souls full of the sins of your youth when you die and then lying down with [them] in the grave and going with you to God’s judgment seat and into eternity.”

***Read about what happened at our church when I preached Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” last summer.***

12 Comments

  1. So Children below the age of 3 that perish are destined for Hell, that’s a lottery I wouldn’t want to win. Can you imagine what it would be like for a toddler to suffer eternal hellfire because of its ignorance of repentance and Jesus, that would be sad indeed. From what I’ve gathered from some of the posts here, ignorance is no excuse for sin or not accepting Christ, those unlucky infants will face judgement and be found guilty of not accepting Jesus as their lord and savior.

  2. The bottom line is both authors admit that all they have is speculation. Speculation about a very important issue. The authors don’t want to say babies go to hell, they really don’t because it goes against every bit of human nature to want to protect the young and ensure the survival of the next generation, how do you justify them going to heaven? God has wiped out many many people in the past, from the elderly to children for not believing in him. He specifically murdered every first born child of Egypt, and, on the flip side, also spared the life of Lot, a ‘godly man’ who thought it moral to offer up his only daughters to an angry mob to rape.

    You’re talking about the same God who would condemn a Jewish child, lets say age 7 or 8 who perished as a result of horrible, inhuman, medical experimentation during the Holocaust, who might have stolen a few scraps of food in order to survive, or told a few lies to some guards in order that some family member’s life might be spared from the firing squad, all because he sinned against the 10 commandments and didn’t accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

    Why would a God, who made death and suffering possible, (unless you want to argue that death was a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, thus claiming Adam and Eve’s sin was powerful enough to completely change the natural world and reality as we know it, thus making them mightier than God) and has clearly shown his wrath on more than one occasion, excuse ignorance in infants if he is as inflexible as you believe he is? If all babies are born with original sin, making every human on Earth a sinner by default, and ignorance of Jesus or God excuses you of this and gets you into heaven, then every non-believer, who has never been exposed to Jesus or his teachings, gets into heaven automatically.

    According to your belief in ‘Absolute Moral Law’ its either one way or another, black or white, you can’t have it both ways despite the human sense of compassion that tries to rationalize a compromise of some sort. Either ignorance excuses you of sin, or it doesn’t, because that’s the only thing that separates those children from adults, especially if you believe that we are all born with original sin. Babies have no excuse if God is as inflexible to judging sinners as you believe him to be.

  3. Real answer: children are more trusting and ignorant. So they’ll be more receptive. Get them young and as young as possible.

  4. The “Jury is still out” for me on this, but I don’t see how people can be ‘dogmatic’ about something that is nowhere in scripture.

    I sort of like what Hank Hanegraaf, the “Bible Answer Man” says: “If there is an ‘Age of Accountability,” then the greatest evangelistic program EVER would be to just kill babies – then they just go to heaven, because they haven’t reached the so-called “Age of Accountability”

  5. This is a fantastic example of an issue Christians can’t agree on.

  6. That’s right Steve we don’t know, we can strive to be better people, we can mentally have a one way conversation with God or Jesus, say we will strive to do better, but we falter. Even men of God like Ted Haggard and Reverend Gary Aldridge couldn’t stop sinning despite being born again, in the case of the latter, he died in a way that any Christian could only call depraved the victim of self inflicted asphyxiation to say the least. He committed suicide by his own actions, but he was a man of God, will he be judged a sinner and condemned to Hell? He didn’t have a chance to repent before death, presumably, and I doubt his mind was on his own personal salvation when he blacked out.

    Or will God see that despite the Reverend’s faults and his suicide, he tried to do right in his life or what he perceived to be good, and judge him fit to enter heaven? Or does acceptance of Jesus Christ as your savior shield you from all sin, clearly Aldridge was backsliding behind close doors, and broke the commandment of Thou Shall Not Kill. If Moral law is absolute he is in Hell right now, any good works he has done in the past are useless because he sinned and died before asking for forgiveness. What are your thoughts on this Steve?

  7. A loving God would not ever send anyone to hell, period. Infinite punishment for a finite crime is not justice, no matter how you want to spin it. We as a society know that it is the morally correct thing to do to respect people’s right to choose any religion or none at all, and I am happy we have grown past the codes of those of millennia past. God is loving, and therefore He can respect us even more (not less) than a society made of mere humans, which thankfully has come to realize that no one deserves torture over their religion or lack thereof. God is perfect, and therefore does even better that this. Therefore no one goes to hell, ever.

    Some apologists try to claim that we shouldn’t try to use this type of reasoning because we have no way of knowing that our (human) moral codes are correct. But the Euthyphro dilemma knocks this idea down right at the start.

  8. The innocence of a child

    What does the Bible teach about the innocence of a child. How long is a child innocent in the eyes of God? What is a child’s age of accountability? Does the language of the Bible speak of such topic? Yes.

    Anyone who studies God’s Word knows that every human being born on the face of the Earth is born with an Adamic Nature. A child is born “polluted” with sin.

    Ps 51:5…Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me
    Ps 58:3..The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

    A child (polluted with sin) is not not accountable for inherited sin. Here’s why. The Bible says…Sin is not imputed where there is no law.

    Rom 5:13…sin is not imputed when there is no law.

    In other words a child is not a violator of the law of God if there is no knowledge of the Law. The law of God is what brings the knowledge of sin. Since a child in infancy has no knowledge of God or of sin, there is therefore no accountability to God due to a lack of knowledge.

    Rom 3:20…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    In a child’s case (when in infancy) there is no knowledge of God or of sin. This substantiates the fact that a child is born with a sinful nature but not accountable for inherited sin. Why? God doesn’t automatically hold a child accountable for something Adam did. Is a child tainted with sin? Yes.

    Rom 5:19…For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners,

    Is this child accountable? No. Not until this child has an accountability to God. Accountability to God does not come by age. Accountability to God comes by knowledge of God. Innocence is lost when guilt is found. Guilt comes from recognition of the presence of God. An example of guilt is when Adam and Eve covered themselves with the fig leaf. Innocence was lost and guilt was found.

    Paul made and unusual statement in Romans 7 that he was alive once without the Law. Paul was referring to his infancy.

    Rom 7:9…For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

    When Paul came to an age of accountability God was revealed through the Law and Commandments. When Paul learned the Law (God’s Commandments) sin revived and he died. The Law was spiritual. The acts of sin were revealed. When knowledge of the Law came “separation” from God (death) was revealed. Similar to the example of Adam and Eve.

    The language of the Bible teaches that a child’s innocence is granted by God due to a lack of knowledge. Innocence automatically and spiritually keeps a child connected with God until guilt comes. Innocence is lost when guilt is acknowledged through “enlightenment” to God. This accountability comes as God is revealed to the human soul and thus retained in the human conscience.

    Jesus Christ restores innocence to the human conscience and to the human soul. Men today are enlightened to God’s Law through the preaching of the Gospel message. The power of the Gospel removes guilt from the human conscience and restores innocence to the human soul. Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ who saves our souls and offers us forgiveness for our sins from the cross at Calvary.

    Sincerely,
    Rick Roehm

    lazerick@cinci.rr.com
    http://churchesontrial.blogspot.com/

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