Thursday, July 21, 2011

Answering questions about childhood and salvation - Part One

Main Point of This Blog: To give an overview of what the scriptures have to say concerning the nature of children as it pertains to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The following concepts will aid us in this study: The Age of Accountability, How sin operates in the life of a child, The nature of the human soul, What the Bible teaches about children in salvation and why the teaching of “the age of accountability” is crucial to Christianity.

1. Understanding the Age of Accountability
Foundational Texts for Understanding the Age of Accountability
Being that a child is spiritually dead at birth, it is clear that the reason they sin is because they are sinners (Ephesians 2:1-5; Romans 3:10-21).  However, the Bible is also clear that for the first several years of life, until a child reaches the point where they can discern the consequences of their rebellion, they will not be subject to the penalties of the law, even though they are declared guilty by the law (Ten Commandments).  David in the Old Testament comments following the death of his infant son in 2 Samuel 12:23: “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but He shall not return to me.”  Jesus comments in Mark 10:14 “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

2. How sin operates in the life of a child
Pastor and Bible Teacher John MacArthur remarks in a sermon on Mark 10: “Children in the age of innocence function in a special dimension of God’s grace.”  In other words, though children are guilty sinners before Holy God at birth, young children are not able to see their activities as somehow offending Holy God.   Young children, like adults, have the law of God written on their hearts (Romans 2:15).  However they are not developmentally or emotionally able to “connect-the-dots” between the commands of that law and the offense against God for its disregard. 
 God withholds the penalty of the Divine law (punishment in hell) from young children.  Romans 1:20 tells us that: “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”  Being that a child cannot fully link together the implications of rebellion against such understanding, nor can the young even exercise such understanding, we can only conclude that young children are exonerated from the due penalty of their inherited sin.

Why it is children can exhibit remarkable insights
Though a child is spiritually dead, we do know that children still possess the remarkable ability to produce spiritual insights.  Psalm 8:2 states: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies that though mightiest still the enemy and avenger”.   How do young children accomplish this?  It is in their unique function before the age of accountability that God illuminates them in the realm of their soul.  To better understand what the soul is and how a child’s spiritual condition operates in their soul will be the focus of the next blog. 

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