THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF UNBORN, INFANTS, AND YOUNG CHILDREN

What is the spiritual condition of the unborn, infants, and young children?  Some believe that because the unborn have  never  sinned they will be granted salvation and that infants and  very young children who die are granted salvation, because they  could not possibly understand what sin is. Others suggest that before  a  certain age, children are not held accountable for sin. The major problem with  these beliefs  and assumptions is that no  one  can  find scriptural conformation to support them.

Some  point to Matthew 18:3-6 and Mark 10:13-16, which  say  that one  must become as a little child to enter the Kingdom  of  God. Therefore,  infants and young children are granted  salvation by virtue of their youth. Notice what Jesus really said:

"And he said, Truly I say to you, Unless you convert, and  become as the little children, in no way can you enter into the Kingdom of  God. Therefore, whosoever will humble himself as this  little child,  this  one  is  the greater  in  the Kingdom  of Heaven" (Matt.18:3-4 Para.).

Jesus did not say that little children will enter the Kingdom  of God  nor did he imply they are granted salvation. In this  example, Jesus noted two things that are necessary in order to  enter the Kingdom of God. First, a person must be converted. Second,  a person must become child-like in humility. It is very clear  that Jesus was merely using young children as an example of the  attitudes and attributes a person should have if they expect to enter the Kingdom of God.

The Age of Accountability

The age a person must be before they are spiritually  accountable is  impossible for humans to establish with  certainty,  because this is God the Father's decision and it is predicated on belief, understanding,  and  repentance. All three of  these  are  mental conditions and are prerequisites to conversion and baptism.  All three  are  dependent on each  other.  For  a person  to have belief, there must be some understanding of  what is to be believed.

Jesus  says repent and believe the Gospel: "Now that  after  John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the  gospel of the kingdom of God. And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom  of God is at hand: repent you, and believe  the  gospel" (Mark 1:14-15 Para.). To repent, a person must have an understanding of  what  to repent (literally, re-think) and what the gospel (good news)  of the Kingdom is. Notice Acts 16:31-33 and Acts  8:27-38. In  both scriptures the people spoken of understood the  circumstances  surrounding Jesus and what he preached. Therefore, they were able to make their decisions based on the facts presented.

A major prerequisite for baptism is repentance: "Then Peter  said to  them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the  name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV). But, repent of what? Be sorry  for  what? Desire to change what? In order  to  repent,  a person must first understand something about the plan of God.

It is quite evident that a person cannot have the kind of belief, understanding, and repentance necessary for baptism unless he  or she  is  old enough to have developed the mental capacity  to make intelligent decisions based on  the  information presented.  It  is also evident that infants and young  children have not developed the life experience and emotional stability to make  and  stand behind decisions of the magnitude that  must  be made before and after baptism. All of the scriptural examples show  only adults (including young adults) being baptized.  There are no examples of infants or young children being converted.

The  setting  of a minimum age requirement for conversion  is  an impossibility because of the differences in the speed with which each  individual  grows into mental and emotional  maturity.  The ability to make decisions concerning conversion depends  entirely on a person's maturity level, understanding of the gospel,  and desire to follow God's way of life. (See Luke 3:8)

Common  sense dictates that the unborn, the infant, and  young children, have not had the time or the life experience  necessary to understand the requirements of salvation.  They  are certainly  not  able to understand the  awesome  implications  or responsibilities  of making a covenant with God. Therefore,   the spiritual condition of the unborn, the infant, and young children is the same as any unconverted person who has never had the opportunity for salvation.

God  will only grant immortality and eternal life after a  person goes through the process of conversion. The unborn, the infant,  and young  children  who die before the return of  Christ  will  be resurrected in the resurrection of "The Rest of the Dead".  Those who remain alive at his coming will live into the first  thousand years of Christ's reign and have their opportunity for salvation at that time.             

By B.L Cocherell, file b7w15