“a child of five can as truly be saved and regenerated as an adult” Charles H. Spurgeon
At what age does an infant or child become accountable to God? Scripture does not identify an exact age. Would a child be saved if he or she died? When talking about this topic my knee jerk answer would always be yes. In essence, seems that heaven should be granted for children. God in his mercy and love could not possibly hold them accountable. Can this be backed with scripture?
The doctrine of total depravity is the belief that human nature is corrupt and sinful due to the fall. If you want a clear depiction of the human condition just tell a toddler no. Seems a bit harsh but it is true. We have all seen it in the grocery store, a parent desperately trying to calm a child down after they were denied a box of animal crackers. David (the Psalmist) affirms this in Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought fourth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” as well in Psalm 58:3 “The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray from birth, speaking lies”. Think about the language being used in these passages. David is essentially saying our ways are not of righteousness but of unrighteousness right out of the womb. Doesn’t exactly make a great case for children.
“environment shapes what is already present (sin)” Matt Chandler
Level Of Accountability
Age is often an emphasis when trying to determine when a child can make conscious decisions about God. More importantly when a child can truly understand sin and when they are actively rebelling against God. So rather then getting all bent out of shape about pin pointing a certain age. Let’s all just come to terms with scripture not giving an age, but rather consider the evidence that a certain level is more plausible. Since it is true that children simply do not know good from evil (Deuteronomy 1:39), it is my opinion that until they start questioning real moral issues, they are not actively rebelling against God. When a child indeed starts to ask deep questions, it should be taken seriously.
But wait a minute; you might say. Doesn’t scripture clearly teach that no man is without excuse? (Romans 1:20) If you read a little further, you will see language like “they” and “them” and when you pair it with what scripture is saying. It would indicate that those things are not clearly perceived to a infant who doesn’t even make it outside the mothers womb. Hint: they have not even seen the outside world.
“The root of sin is the failure to value God above all things, so that he is not honored and praised as he should be. Human beings are foolish, not in the sense that they are intellectually deficient but in their rejection of God’s Lordship over their lives. They knew God not in the saving sense, but they knew of his existence and attributes” ESV Study Bible
We are talking about some pretty heavy stuff in this particular passage. Concepts in which a child just simply cannot comprehend. If you have a small child and you attempt to use highly complicated language to give them direction. You may be looking at a blank face riddled with confusion.
Another important aspect to consider when talking about children and eternity. Is talking about those who have the mindset of a child but in an adult body. I would not hesitate for a second to place them in this category of having an excuse.
God Allows Child Death to Happen
All throughout the Old Testament, we are faced with God laying his hand of judgment on entire cities. In most cases not sparing children. I mean we are talking children and those who were with child. This seems like a pretty harsh thing to do, until we remember that none are innocent and in some cases it happens where babies and children are used as sacrifices.
You can go on any Atheist page and find things like “why would such a loving God commit such atrocities”. Short answer being, he is God and we are not. This seems to be one of the more uncomfortable topics as a Christian but we must face it because… you know it’s in the Bible. Non the less, it is important to know that children who have died, even at the hand of God are in heaven. That shouldn’t be a stumbling block for anyone, much less a Christian.
However, in God’s grace and love he saves those children who have been taken. It is simply in God’s character to allow those who couldn’t think for themselves to be granted heaven immediately.
Every Nation, Every Tribe, Every Language
Scripture says that a great multitude from every nation will be before Lamb, clothed in white, with palm branches in their hands (Revelation 7:9). One thing to consider with that. the Gospel hasn’t even been proclaimed in every nation, every tribe, or every language. I would be compelled to believe that it has part to do with those children in said nations and tribes who have died went straight to heaven.
One of the most convincing arguments is when David had an affair with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). When Bathsheba revealed that she was pregnant with David’s son (v.5). He then tried to cover up the incident by sending her husband Uriah to the front lines in battle (v.15) with the intention to kill him in battle. In chapter 12 a prophet by the name of Nathan is sent to David with a message. The message is meant to show David the great sin he committed and in return cause him to repent. So when he came to true repentance, the sin was forgiven.
However, scripture says that the Lord had afflicted the child and David went into a state of fasting and mourning over the child. When the child had passed, and he saw his servants speaking with each other he knew what had happened. He then got up and ate. This confused the servants and then he spoke this line “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12: 22-23
Some commentators believe that he simply meant he will go to the grave with him. I don’t buy that even a little. To me that doesn’t even seem worth mentioning. So what? your mortal body will be next to your sons mortal body. Since David knows he is going to heaven, it makes much more sense that what he meant was that he will one day be reunited with his son in eternity.
Which is absolutely the hope in which people who have lost a child can have. Those who have had an abortion (assuming they repent of that sin) can hold fast to the thought of them being able to see that baby.
So are children accountable to God? My conclusion would be until they reach a certain cognitive ability that is clearly evident, no they are not. Their certainly is not a set age in which they become accountable.
” Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Our key responsibility as those who know Jesus Christ to be our one true King is to diligently pray for our young ones and be the example.