"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Saturday, November 19, 2016
No, Children Are Sinners, Too
I have written before on the doctrine of some, asserting an "age of accountability," but it is bears addressing again. It seems to be so commonplace as to be taken for granted, even in the face of Scriptures to the contrary.
In Isaiah 48:6-8, that prophet tells us, "From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known. They are created now, not long ago;before today you have never heard of them,lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’ You have never heard, you have never known,from of old your ear has not been opened. For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,and that from before birth you were called a rebel." In this passage, God is speaking. He has just rebuked unbelieving Israel, because she had ignored the warnings of judgment given them down through their history (see, for example, Deuteronomy 28:15-68). He tells them, If what I have told you before hasn't affected you, well, here's some new stuff to scare you straight. The part on which I want to focus is the final clause of verse 8: "From before birth you were called a rebel." I don't if it shocked Israel, but I know it will be news to many American Christians. i have heard it said many times that a child cannot commit sin, because he doesn't have an understanding of right and wrong. But what does God say? That even the preborn child is waving his fist in the face of God! This is not the only place where Scripture says this. In Psalm 51:5, King David said of himself, "in sin did my mother conceive me." Not just from birth, but from conception! And in Psalm 58:3, the same writer says, "The wicked are estranged from the womb;they go astray from birth, speaking lies." There is no concept here of innocent children! rather, both Isaiah and David tell us that the smallest child, apart from regeneration in Jesus Christ, is a spitting viper of sin (Psalm 58:4)! By this truth, I am not suggesting the opposite extreme, that the child is without hope of eternal life. After all, John the Baptist was regenerate in the womb (Luke 1:44). This is why the writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith X:3 wrote, "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word." They were concerned for parents of children who died, or were somehow incapacitated from hearing the Gospel? Were those children lost to perdition? No, the divines answered, not out of their imaginations, but because of the promises of God's word!
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43