What Scripture says, and doesn't say
From: Rev. Adam Burge
Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church
From observation of recent postings to this column, we might very well call "A Matter of Faith" "A Matter of Opinion." Often this space is used to spout ignorance, idiosyncrasies, misunderstandings, and misapplications of Scripture. If one writes for this column claiming to speak in God's behalf, he/she must realize the seriousness of this undertaking. IfΒ we believe that Scripture teaches something, then we must support that belief with Scripture.
Let us address the real issue at hand, and that is that we must all give an account of ourselves to God, our Creator and Redeemer. Let us consider His right to judge us. First, He is our Creator (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). As Creator, He has the right of ownership and is sovereign over us. Second, He is also the Lawgiver (Exodus 20:1ff). As our Creator, He has the right to govern our actions. Sin is defined as being "the transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). This phrase is all one Greek word (anomia) and means "a violation of the law." Sin, therefore is a failure to do anything that God commands us to do. A multitude of verses throughout both the Old and New Testaments clearly demonstrates the inability of all to keep the law (I Kings 8:6; II Chronicles 6:36; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Romans 3:23, to name a few). Third, He is our Judge. Scripture speaks of two judgments, one of which every person who has ever lived will face. All Christians will stand before God at the Judgment Seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10). If one is to read the context of this verse, he will clearly see that the basis for this judgment is the acceptability of one's works on God's behalf and for His glory. Those things which were done on God's behalf and for His glory will be found to be good. Those done for self-glory will be found to be "bad." The Greek word is kakos, and means intrinsically "worthless." The unsaved, those who have rejected Christ's offer of forgiveness from their sins, will stand before the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Two books will be opened at this judgment. The first book is a record of all sins ever committed by that person. He or she will have no defense, as all of their offenses will be read as evidence of their guilt. The second is the Book of Life. This book records every person who has accepted Christ as Savior. Those who have rejected Christ will be cast into the lake of fire where they will suffer for all of eternity. Regardless of what one calls himself, it is his relationship with Christ, and not his denomination that will secure him a place in Heaven.
We must tread carefully when speaking about the age of accountability and where a child goes at death. We do not want to add additional grief to those who have tragically lost a loved one, nor do we want to give a false hope. Scripture does not speak of an age of accountability. Instead we are told that all men are sinners from birth. David teaches this truth most clearly: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalm 51:5). David does not mean by this that his conception was the result of an immoral relationship, but that from conception he was a sinner. While it may sound heartless to speak of an "innocent" child as being a sinner, understanding one's innate sinfulness is necessary for forgiveness to be granted. Man is not inherently good as many would have us to believe.
Concerning the age at which one becomes accountable to God, there are at least two other points that we must consider regarding this matter. The first is that children have not actively rebelled against God prior to birth. The Apostle Paul makes this argument in Romans 9 concerning why God chose one of Isaac's twin sons over the other to be the one through whom the nation of Israel would emerge. It was God's sovereign right to do so and His decision had nothing to do with their actions. At the point in which God chose the younger son rather than the older, neither one had done anything good to earn God's favor or bad to earn God's censure. Might we make the argument then that a child who dies or is murdered prior to birth has done nothing to merit either salvation or eternal damnation?
The second point is this: how can a child who is unable to reason stand before God and give an account of his actions? All people will stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of themselves to God (Romans 14:10-12). The word "account" which is used in verse 12 has the meaning of "reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension, computation." While we do not know the full extent of the cognitive abilities of unborn and infant children, we may safely say that they have not developed to the point of purposely rebelling against their Creator, Lawgiver, and Judge.
We must, then, conclude that there is no real Scriptural support as to where a child or even an adult who is unable to understand his sinfulness and need to repent goes at death. Our only solace in this matter is to say with Abraham, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25).
Why Satan loves gardening
From: Bill Steidtmann
In my previous letter to this column, the final paragraph was an extremely brief analysis of how the Age of Accountability doctrine comes into being, tracing it back to the source. We can think of it like a tree, of which Jesus reminds us: You will know a tree by it's fruit. We looked at the fruit of Age of Accountability and discovered that if this doctrine were true then the two best things that could happen to any human being would be to be born dead or mentally handicapped. Stinking rotten fruit that concludes with death.
The Seed & Root - Rather than trace it backwards like I did previously, let's go forward starting with the seed. Like most seeds it is very small compared to the monstrous thing it produces. It is a little Greek word (along with it's equivalent and similarly sized Hebrew word), that makes up the tiniest fraction of the content of the Bible, but when mistranslated sets in motion a disastrous chain of cause and effect, changing the message of the Bible, and more significantly, changing our perception of the very nature and character of God Himself. This little Greek word is "aion" (and the Hebrew "olam"), and shows up in almost every context in which "hell" is mentioned in the Bible. If we translate "aion" using English words like "eternal", "everlasting", or "forever", then Hell is eternal. But if we translate it correctly, using the English word "age", then "hell" is not eternal, but is only for an "age" or two.
The Trunk - Thus our little aion mistranslation seed sprouts and becomes the root, and out of the ground of misunderstanding springs a massive trunk, a tree that we can call: The Belief in an Eternal Hell. This belief underlies most of modern Christianity to the point that (Rom 6:23a) "the wages of sin is death" has now become "the wages of sin is eternal life in hell", where those who end up there suffer everything except death. If in fact the wages of sin is eternal hell, then Jesus Christ has not yet paid for your sins, because 3 hours on a cross, or even 3 days in a grave, is not an eternity in Hell, therefore the wage has not been paid, and you will need to find a better more hell enduring savior, who goes there and never comes back. That this doctrine demands the Resurrection be canceled comes as no surprise to me.
The Branches - Making Jesus Christ null and void is what this antichrist tree is all about, and it has at least two major branches, along with a third which, for lack of better names, we can call: the Free Will branch, the Sovereign Sadist branch, and the Ritual Magic branch. All are wrong, all are ugly, and all are beliefs that I used to hold at various points in my life - but no longer do, thank God. If we follow along the Free Will branch the argument goes something like this: Since God is a God of love, He would never willfully send anyone to Hell, therefore He offers salvation to all mankind, but leaves the free will decision, whether to accept the offer or not, up to each individual. Thus the term "Decision Theology", and the phrase "make a decision for Christ", and Billy Graham's very own publication "Decision" magazine. Notice how the lie always has a nice shiny look to it, a kind of noble quality that silences any who dare to question it: "Since God is a God of love..." Who would dare question that? Yet it is a bit ironic, and absolutely stunning, that just one little verse from the Bible is all it takes to bring Decision Theology crashing to the ground: John 1:13 (KJV) "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The key words here being "nor of the will of man". Sorry Billy, but God wants the credit here, so your will accounts for nothing.
The Fruit - And so we come to (one of) the fruit of this Decision Theology branch: Age of Accountability. We can't expect children and mentally handicapped people to make decisions, right? Who would dare to question that? Again, all wrapped in white and shiny noble goodness, hiding behind little children and the mentally handicapped, a veritable human body shield, lest it be discovered for what it really is. Am I saying that these innocent little ones are going to Hell? I don't even believe in a traditional Hell, so that must not be what I'm saying, right?
The Truth - God will save every man, woman, and child that ever existed, or ever will exist, through Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. That includes you, dear reader. That's the Good News.