What about those who die before the age of accountability
By: The John Ankerberg Show
| The media player is loading…
|If God exists, why is there evil in the world? What is evil? Where did evil come from? Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all evil? How can physical evils such as earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer be explained? Is there a good reason for the existence of hell on which even some atheists would agree? What about those who have never heard the Gospel?
Copyright: 2003, Number of Programs: 8, Cat. No. EVL
Keywords: Salvation, Death of infants, Age of Accountability, Isaiah 7:15, John 9:1-41, Romans 1:19, Romans 2:12-15, Luke 18:16
- Ankerberg: We need to answer the question that many people have, “What about those who die before the age of accountability?” What is that all about for people who aren’t familiar with that language?
- Geisler: Well, first of all, there is an age of accountability. If you’re not old enough to knowingly sin, you’re not old enough to savingly believe. And if you’re not old enough to knowingly sin, you’re not old enough to suffer the consequences of that. God is just. I think the age of accountability is spoken of in the Bible in several places. One in Deuteronomy, one in Isaiah 7:15 which say the same thing: “Before the child was old enough to know good from evil.” Clearly it talks about an age before people were morally aware.
- The Bible also speaks of David’s baby dying, and he said, “The baby is not going to come back to me, I’m going to go be with the baby.” [2 Sam. 12] And we know David was going to Heaven – Psalm 16 talks about the resurrection and being in God’s presence.
- So, there are children who died before the age of accountability. Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” [Luke 18:16] God is just and Jesus said in John 9, if you didn’t have the light, you wouldn’t be guilty. But now that you have the light, you are guilty. So this is a general principle. It’s just. God’s justice, in general, all show that.
- The question is, what is that age? And I think it varies somewhere between, say, four and twelve. If you have a lot of light, if you come into a Christian home, Christian context, you have a lot of light, I think it brings it on earlier. The very fact that many children make decisions for Christ when they’re four or five; most of ours did. I had a son, for example, who is in the ministry today who came to me when he was four. I was shaving, and he said, “Daddy, I want to know how to go to Heaven.” And so I sat down there on the edge of the bathtub with him and led him to Christ. And afterwards I wanted to see if he was really sincere and so I said to him, “Did you accept Jesus in your heart?” and he said, “Yes.” And I said, “Well, how do you know?” to test him. He said, “Well, I accepted Jesus in my heart and…” – if he had finished the sentence it would have been fine, “and He came in.” But he didn’t. He said, “I accepted Jesus in my heart and when I get to heaven, I’m going to give Him a great big hug and kiss.”
- So, I mean, children can and do become saved. But you can’t become “saved” if you’re not “lost.” So I’d say, four years of age, and in the heathen lands where there is not much light, it might go as long as twelve. Sometime in there when you become conscious of a God [Rom. 1:19; Rom. 2:12-15], and you become conscious of the fact that you are not responding to what He wants to do in your life, you’re morally accountable.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I can remember the first time I went to Ethiopia. The missionaries took me out to a spot. They said people have never heard the gospel in this area, and I thought, “What would it be like to preach to those people?” Okay? I thought, “Is it a blank slate?” And I found out that what Romans was talking about, that from the creation they understand about the Creator and His power, okay. They were more sensitive to that I felt than I was at that point. They knew about the Creator, they just didn’t know how to come into a relationship with Him. But I was amazed how sensitive these people that had never heard – how sensitive they were to that.
- Geisler: There is an African who has done a scholarly study on it. His name is Mbiti. It’s on the African tribal religions. And he has shown that in all of the preliterate – we used to call them “pagans,” now “preliterate” – in all the preliterate religions, there is a consciousness of this high God or sky God. They don’t worship him because their sins have separated them. They’re interested in getting the demons off their neck, you know. But they believe in one God; He created everything else, so they know He is there.