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Suffer the Children: Part II - Pete Garcia -
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Cor. 13:11-12
In continuing this oft debated topic of both the age of accountability and whether children are left behind at the Rapture, I think it warrants mentioning again, that these are my opinions, formed by making a logical assumption from what I know of Scriptures in their totality. So we are picking up on where we left off last week, which is a list of the things we can derive from Scripture. One thing I would add to make sure I’m not leaving anything out, is that in certain translations, 2 Kings 2:24 shows Elisha pronouncing a curse upon ‘children’. Actually, the word children is ‘yeled’, and can mean anything from child, to youth or young man (thinking 16-19 years old), but again, in context, it makes sense when in the surrounding passages, they are identified as ‘youths’. So we continue…
Don’t confuse what I am explaining. Hell is REAL. Many, many, many people will be there for all eternity. Neither am I arguing for purgatory, or annihilationism (that after a certain time, people’s eternal souls will cease to exist) or any other variation on what Scripture clearly teaches. Hell was created for Satan and his angels, and it is a place of eternal separation from God. God is omnipotent, and knows the end from the beginning, (Isaiah 46:9-10), so He already knows what people will decide, but allows them the free-will to make said decision.
But I also believe that because He is long suffering, that He makes every attempt to bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Himself, and uses whatever tools and people to influence said person for however long He deems necessary. At a certain point, a person who continues to refuse the drawing of the Holy Spirit, hardens there heart to the point of no return, and it is my understanding, that God then gives them over to their base-nature. But even then, there are those salvation stories of men and women who spent a life-time in some abhorrent lifestyle that God was still able to redeem.
So, the point of all my rambling is, that given what we know from God via the Holy Bible, is that He is merciful, just, and longsuffering. Was Christ's sacrifice of Himself on the cross, sufficient enough to pay the penalty for all mankind, even though we were enemies to the cross before that? Absolutely yes.
For those who reject that payment and die in their sins, and their eternal fate is sealed. For those who are not able to either understand or make that decision, I believe God is still able and willing, and His sacrifice still sufficient enough to cover. Do I know what age that is? No, but God does, and I trust His judgment far more than my own. Now, add in the very real, doctrinal position of Christ’s ‘catching up’ of those to heaven before the period of time known as ‘Daniel’s 70th Week’ occurs. If a young child/infant is born just prior to the beginning of that time period, and they by no means reach the age of accountability before that seven year period ends, do they then remain left behind to experience the full wrath of God for something they have no control over? Put another way, what comfort is 1 Thess. 4:13-18 to the believer, only to know that at the Rapture, our children are left behind to fend for themselves, in the worst period of human history? How is that comforting?
If God is able to cover a child’s eternal destination until they are able to come to that understanding on their own, I think He is also able to deliver them from what is coming on the earth. After all, didn’t He say that we would have to become like them, in order to enter into the Kingdom? (Matt. 18:3)
I made a profession of faith when I was six years old at a church in Madisonville, Texas. I still remember the general experience, but don’t remember the specifics. But honestly, I don’t think I fully understood what I was doing. I only felt compelled to go forward and I knew I wanted Jesus, but I didn’t know what it meant. And many Christian families, have children who believe in Jesus Christ, because that is what is discussed and taught in both the home and from the churches they attend. But children of non-believing parents, grow up not knowing anything about Christ. Also children of other faiths, grow up in Muslim or Hindu homes, only knowing what they’ve been taught.
A person isn’t saved by what they were raised, or what church they attended, salvation is a uniquely personal decision. And that decision has to be given in the parameters as defined in Scripture. A person doesn’t have to fully understand the nature of God, or of salvation, to be saved. The thief on the Cross didn’t know anything more than that they were guilty and Jesus was innocent when he asked Jesus to ‘remember him when He enters into His kingdom’…and Christ told him…
“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:41-43)
I’m not saying that children can’t be saved under the age of accountability…because they can. I’m also not saying that children can’t come to a knowledge of knowing beyond just right and wrong, but also understanding consequences for their actions at a younger age. All people mature at different rates. What I am saying is that people who are trying to be dogmatic in this issue, err to assume God’s righteousness trumps all His other attributes. ALL of His attributes are perfect, and they all form to shape God’s total nature, which overwhelmingly (from what we know of Him from Scripture) resides in His mercy, or all of creation would have ceased to exist at the fall of Adam. So while we see through the mirror dimly, and we don’t understand all of what God has intended, let’s not besmirch the character of God by being dogmatic about things we can’t, or have no right to be dogmatic over. I have total faith in God’s ability to be God, and to do what is right, each and every time.
Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. Matthew 19:13-15