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!

1 comment:

Rick Brownell said...

Doesn't it seem more reasonable based on the verses you site above your final quote fro the WCF, that the WCF may have overstepped their boundaries by declaring that "elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated?" I know this is a popular notion, (Spurgeon is often quoted to back this position), but I don't think it follows rationally, especially in light of the verses you site. Then of course there is Ps. 135:8, where the WCF would have to concede that the Lord killed the firstborn of Egypt in judgment, yet relinquished that by immediately saving them from his judgment. All children in infancy are "incapacitated from hearing the Gospel." But that doesn't prevent the Lord from dealing with the unbelief of adults who neither heard or believed.