Is The Age of Accountability Biblical?
Is The Age of Accountability Biblical?
by Tony Warren
The age of accountability is one of the many misleading terms that are often used in Christian circles. Most would agree that it basically means, “a person who is young enough that he is not yet able to understand fully the results of his actions.” It is theorized by some that these children are not held accountable for the things that they do that are against God’s law. For example, a six year old child that might hit his sister over the head with a toy block in anger. Theoretically, this child is not held accountable by God because he had not yet reached an age where he was able to fully understand what he was doing. The problem with this theory is that it is based upon logical processes of the fallen human nature, and is a perverse twisting of God’s law for the sake of what seems right in our own eyes. There is nothing in God’s law that declares anyone must fully understand sin, before it is actually accounted as sin. On the contrary, this doctrine is both un-biblical and self serving, for it presupposes unrighteously that sin must first be recognized as sin before it is actually accountable. But nothing in scripture supports such a thesis.
Another theory is that all children are automatically guaranteed salvation because God loves children. The texts most often quoted are verses such as Matthew 19:19, Mark 10:14 or Luke 18:16, where Jesus says things like “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” But this is a misunderstanding of this application, for Jesus is merely using children as an illustration of the Christian, as he is a child of God. He is making the analogy of how the believers are to be humble “as children.” Jesus taught that we are to walk meekly, accepting and receiving the word of our father as children do with their earthly fathers. This has nothing to do with children being righteous or being without sin, which is actually a heretical teaching. For all professing Christians should know inherently that there are none who are without sin. Only God is without sin, and those who are regenerated in Him, washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. These alone are automatically guaranteed Salvation.
While these doctrines of accountability may serve to comfort bereaved parents who have lost children, either through accidents, murder, miscarriage, abortion, or sickness, it is not a Biblically validated view and is contrary to all that God has declared of sin and all those who commit it. The plain truth is, this theory is simply a natural humanistic response in sentimentality that is closely related to man thinking more of himself than is justified. i.e., we naturally all want to think nice things about children. But sentimentality does not govern how we are to understand God’s word, it is the word itself that does that. And God doesn’t share the popular Church opinion that a child’s sins are unaccountable because of their age.
- “Even a Child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”
This is just one of the scriptures that knocks down any concept of children’s works being pure because of an age of accountability doctrine. The fact that this verse says explicitly that a child’s doing can be impure, is a testimony in itself against the doctrine of children being righteous or sinless. They can’t be known by their doings if all children’s doings are pure or right. They obviously are not all pure in God’s eyes.
The emotional argument (the one used by most people) in support of the age of accountability is that, “it just simply has to be true in order to keep God fair.” In many cases they don’t even realize that they are telling God what has to be fair and what cannot be fair. That’s like the pot telling the potter what is right and wrong in it’s construction. The assumption that small children cannot be held accountable for sinning because they are not mature enough to understanding what they do is secular reasoning. And the assumption is indeed the problem. When man does not spiritually acknowledge God’s word as authority, then they are standing upon their own understanding rather than following and trusting God. Do we go our own way, or let God direct our steps?
- “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
- In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
We don’t have to make up rules to keep God righteous, we have to but trust in the Lord at all times. When we go our own way, we are dealing in emotionalism, humanism, and feelings. We are directing our own paths, rather than having our understanding directed by authority of scripture. God says that children are neither pure, nor righteous, nor good, nor unaccountable. The problem is not that this is not clear in scripture, the problem is man’s natural tendency to notreceive it. Except God purge our sin from us, we remain unsaved and carry it until death. By the same token, if God purge it from us, we shall never see death.
- “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
- Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
- Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
We can clearly see sin in children of every age if we dare look close enough. In some cases we think it’s cute, or euphamistically call it mischievous, or we call it being strong willed or some other label to avoid the truth. But if even finite sinful humans like ourselves can see sin in children, think what a Holy Sinless God sees. If we looked at children honestly, we would see that they are simply small adults, sinning in every way just as you and I do. Any serious (read, honest) attempt to actually determine the age of wilful sin would automatically drive that age downward until it reached birth. At which point, we would then be in agreement with God’s word. Selah!
- “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
- Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;
- Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.
That is God’s word confirming the age that God sees sin in Children, and when He holds them accountable for it. And what is God’s judgment? Scripture declares, “Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth.” Isn’t it amazing how God doesn’t see children as most of the Church today sees them. We need to understand that to a righteous God, our sinfulness makes us comparable to poisonous vipers. And whether we are a small viper (snake) or a large viper, we are still vipers. Children are neither born righteous, nor is their unrighteousness considered unaccountable.
1st Corinthians 7:14
- “For the Unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the Husband: else were your children unclean, but now are they Holy.”
How can children be unholy except that they are unsaved? I challenge you to ask yourself honestly with no preconceived ideas about the answer, “If God saved all children, would God’s word say that there were some who were unclean?” Again, the only honest answer is no.
These are the types of questions those who fall prey to this doctrine called the ‘age of accountability’ toss out the window or trample under foot. Children are not automatically Holy, Set Apart, nor Justified. And verses like these prove it to any objective and faithful Bible student. But if we’re indoctrinated by Church leaders to believe that all children are saved regardless of what God says about sin, then no manner of logic, reason, or biblical evidence is likely to change that. Only a conscience grounded in Christ will receive the truth. While a seared conscience will not receive the testimony of scripture. On the contrary, a proud enmity will exist against it.
Another theory is that since 1st John 3:4 tells us that sin is the transgression of the law, and without knowledge of the law there is no sin, that when the Bible says that Adam had no knowledge of good and evil prior to his fall, he had no accountability. Therefore they surmise that man was separated from his God by the Knowledge of Good and Evil, just as Adam was. Their understanding being that where there is no such knowledge of the law, innocence exists, and there can be no separation between God and man regardless of the nature received from Adam’s fall. However, this is a false premise. If Adam and eve had no knowledge of good and evil (making them unaccountable), then they would not have been accountable for eating from the tree of knowledge when they were commanded not to. So how do we reconcile this seeming contradiction? The truth is found in man being made in the image of God so that he had an inherent knowledge of good and evil, and that is why God held Adam and Eve accountable. Adam did not sin before he ate from the tree, but he most certainly had knowledge of good and evil, but not the experiential knowledge of good and evil which his disobedience gave him. Very much like someone saying that he knew his wife, meaning intellectually. And someone saying he Knew his wife, meaning physical union. In the same way, when Adam ate of the tree, for the first time he then ‘knew’ good and evil because he physically knew or experienced evil. He understood before that he shouldn’t disobey God and eat of this tree because God commanded him not to, but after he ate, He then knew good and evil on another level. One is a knowledge of what is good and evil, and the other is knowing good and evil eperientially. Which is also illustrated in Adam and Eve not knowing their nakedness as it signified sinfulness, until after they disobeyed. In other words, before he ate of the tree, they were naked and not ashamed to be that way because they had not experienced sin, and in this way had no sinful thoughts about their nakedness. After they ate, they gained knowledge of sin through their disobedience and thus saw themselves in their nakedness. Thus rose pride (sin) and self respect that they wanted to cover up. A whole new knowledge which they obtained ‘through’ disobedience. And God uses this as a spiritual example of how all men stand naked in their sin (children included) and how we all must be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. This was represented by the first sacrifice, the skins for Adam and Eve to be clothed with. We too, when we gain knowledge of good and evil, see ourselves as naked before God in our sin, and recognize our need for a covering (Revelation 3:18).
Moreover, this teaching that ‘we must know the law first, or we have no sin,’ leaves us with the obvious question, “if we had never read a Bible to know the law (as some in foreign countries), would that then mean that we could murder someone and not be accountable because there was no knowledge of law?” Immediately we understand this is untenable. Therefore, by mere logic and consistency of scripture we must conclude that written or spoken law given by God, is on top of the law which we are born with and which is within us. That is the reason all (regardless of reading or hearing the law) still stand accountable. Because we were created in the likeness (image) of God that we have no excuse.
- “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
- Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
- For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
In other words, man doesn’t have to have the law in order to be held accountable by God for sins (ala Adam). He is without excuse standing before God on judgment day. Again, PROOF that the written law didn’t have to be given for man to be held accountable, and that Adam and Eve were accountable before the fall. So this idea of non-accountability based upon that theory has no basis in biblical truth. That which may be known of God is manifest (made known) in us, that not one of us have any excuse for sin, whether we have heard the written or spoken law or not.
I’ve given this example before, but any mother who is honest with herself can tell you that their babies sometimes test them “knowing” that what they’re doing is wrong (sin), and then turning to look at the mother to see what her reaction will be. That (whether we like to believe it or not) is the ability to both understand what’s forbidden, and to willfully do it anyway. ..in a word, sin! They have knowledge of Good and evil. But even when we rationalize away evil by claiming it’s not evil, we still are held accountable. There is no escape clause.
Another passage where some attempt to make children unaccountable is Deuteronomy 1:39. There God declared that the little ones and the children of the people that came out of Egypt had no “Knowledge of Good and Evil.” But careful examination will show that this defense is without merit and will not stand in the light of God’s word.
- “Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.”
God is saying that they had no knowledge of the “sins of their fathers,” meaning they had no part in the previous rebellions. He is not saying that they had no understanding of what was evil. The same principle is at work here, as in the Garden. Experiential knowledge in sin where they had not been the ones sinning this sin, or KNOWING that way of their fathers in that sinfulness. It quite obviously does not mean they did not know of the sin of their fathers, or that they didn’t commit any sin, or that they didn’t know what sin was, or that God gave them Canaan because they were somehow sinless. In other passages God clearly says they “were sinful,” and He gave them the land notbecause of their righteousness, but because of the wickedness of the Canaanites. That whole idea of a lack of knowledge of sin here means they were sinless is without any solid foundation considering the “whole” of scripture. It would make a mockery of God’s word if we were to believe and apply such passages out of context.
The problem of course is that same old thing, which is almost as old as dirt. Man is “selective” in what scriptures he wants to receive as the truth, and which ones he wants to ignore. The Bible says there are none that does good, and that there are none who are righteous, no not one. But some men choose to believe ‘as if’ these scriptures do not exist. If we do this, then any person can make the Bible say anything that they want it to. Because we cannot have “none” righteous, and also have “some” righteous. It makes no sense. The difference between being the faithful Christian, and the mere professing Christian, is that some take the Bible seriously, and thus take into consideration all of scripture. Children are not, and never have been, born righteous or held unaccountable as if they were.
- “And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.”
If there were but 10 righteous children found here in Sodom, God who cannot lie, would not have destroyed that city. But God did destroy Sodom, didn’t he? Children and all. Meaning the theory of righteous children, merely by being children, is quite nonsensical. Unless we choose to ignore God in favor of our own selective scriptures and humanistic reasoning. Then we can form any doctrine we want. Again, consider the witness of 2nd Kings 2:
2nd Kings 2:23-24
- “And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
- And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”
Did the Lord really love these little children so much that He had the man of God curse them “In His Name,” and sent two bears out of the woods to tear them to pieces? That would be ludicrous! Again, this whole idea is founded upon sentimentality and worldly scholasticism. It is a bankrupt doctrine void of any semblance of scriptural continuity or harmony. For it is self evident that it would be a twisted man made doctrine where a good God sends bears to tear apart “righteous children.” The faithful believer of the word is left to ask, what nonsense is this about the children being unaccountable? they were destroyed right along with the adults, because there were not even 10 who God considered justified. To say anything different makes no sense.
Some agree it makes no sense, but they honestly cannot understand what is written in Romans chapter 7 about Paul being alive without the law.
- “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”
But Paul is not talking about when he was a baby, but before He became a Christian. He says he was alive without [choris], which a Greek word which means ‘apart’ from the law. In other words, being separated where he had no understanding of the law. He doesn’t mean He didn’t have the law (he most certainly did), but that he was separated from it experientially. And when the command of God came, sin revived. In other words, he was then brought close to the law and sin came alive so that he now had knowledge of it and recognized it as sin.He died in that he is no more ‘apart’ from the law, but dead with Christ that the law and sin is made manifest or known to him. In other words, by the law he now sees, he now recognizes sin, for sin. Read on:
- “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
- Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.”
That by the commandment, he might ‘recognize sin’ as sinful, which he didn’t do before, when he was alive apart from the law. ..being deceived. Not that his sin wasn’t sin before, but that he didn’t KNOW it before, being apart from the law. It is the law that shined the light upon his sin, working death in Him, to his good.
It all depends on how we understand being ‘apart’ from the law. If we define it as only the written law, then the passage I quoted before (Romans 1:18-20) again makes no sense. Because there we understand that man is going to be judged by God’s law, him having never read that law. You see the point here? He doesn’t need to have read God’s word written in the Bible to be judged by God’s word. A more open and shut case, I cannot imagine. God’s law extends beyond a baby or man having to physically hear it or read it. It’s made known to us because we were created in the image of God, and although the unsaved no longer conform to that image, these are still truths they know instinctively through creation. They have inherent knowledge of good and evil, that there is now no excuse for their lawlessness.
As for whether God will, or will not save any particular child, I trust God will bring to faith all for whom He has died, and whom He has chosen to bring to faith. He is fully able to do so, and who those are is not our business. It is God’s Sovereign right to decide, not ours! And being God, He may in fact choose to save some, many or maybe even all children who die in infancy. But it’s His call, based upon nothing but his unmerited favor. Not our humanistic sense or sensibilities in thinking children are righteous and can’t have sin unto death. God knows what we do not know. A child who will be wicked and unsaved as an adult, was wicked and unsaved as a child. Because you cannot go from a saved child, to an unsaved adult. You cannot lose eternal Life, else it’s not eternal. Therefore, if you were saved as a child, you will still be saved as an adult. Likewise, if you are never going to be saved as an adult, you could not have been saved or held unaccountable as a child. That would be confusion and tortuous of scripture. So if this person who will never be saved as an adult, had died as a child, he died unsaved.
And you know, the true Christian should not loose any sleep over children being Saved or not, because we know of a surety that God is “Just and Good” and always does what is righteous and true. We should be satisfied and comfortable in that knowledge. There are many who understand that this is true but who find it hard to take. I don’t think there is one single Christian who finds it easy to take that some children may be under the wrath of God, but we trust that God is sinless, and whatever He does is just and righteous. All we know is that we are to forsake going our own way, and judging by what seems right in our own eyes, and surrender to what God’s word says on the matter. We understand His ways are not our ways. And we are not asked to figure out the unsearchable mysteries of God or the secrets of the universe, but to ‘trust’ and obey His word. We can never go wrong in trusting and obeying authority of scripture. Those who go wrong are those who refuse to receive what God says, and who are always fighting against it. God asks only that we simply forsake our thoughts, for His.
- “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
- For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
- For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
For now we understand as looking through a glass darkly, but God understands all. He is infinite, we are finite. So who are we to argue with Him about his calling cute little babies wicked, and likening them to snakes and little lions? It is His sovereign right to do so, to have mercy on whosoever He chooses, and not to have mercy on whoever He chooses. We cannot pretend to know better than our Lord whom He must save in order to be righteous.
In truth, the age of accountability doctrine is the offspring of the well oiled myth that man must Choose God in order to be saved. This doctrine of course clearly contradicts scripture which says God hath both called, and has chosen us unto Salvation. Unfortunately, some have distorted God’s word and claims that it actually means we must choose Him first. they theorize, then He will choose us. This teaching is that we must first do our part in accepting Christ, and then He will accept us. The free will advocates are fond of saying, “You Choose God and he’ll choose you.” And therein lies the rub. For new born babies and toddlers do not do this (which would make all children unsaved), and so they had to come up with an additional teaching to bridge the gap. Thus, “The age of accountability” was invented to cover those who couldn’t choose. ..otherwise, they would have to drop their, “you must first accept Christ” doctrines and confess in truth that salvation is by Totally by God’s Sovereign good will and pleasure. It is by His choosing, and not by man’s alleged free will.
- “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
- So then it is Not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”.
So then, Salvation is of God’s will, on whosoever He will, not of man’s (supposed) Free Will. Without this “age of accountability,” then many theologians would be forced to believe in God’s Sovereign right to save whoever He chooses (as He said) and not be in obligation to save “whoever chooses Him.” Because let’s be clear about it. If salvation is of man’s free will to choose, then God cannot choose whoever He wants (such as children), he can only choose whoever wants him. Else Salvation is not by man’s free will and their doctrine is proven faulty. They can’t have it both ways and so they teach that children are saved automatically ‘outside of their doctrine of free will’ by this magic wand doctrine called ‘age of accountability.’ They do this even though it is confusion and clearly a contradiction to their own teachings that God ‘doesn’t’ save by His own Sovereign choosing, but by man’s Free will to choose.
..inconsistency is the hallmark of error.
It’s just another dried branch in the disjointed tree called ‘Free will.’ These doctrines notwithstanding, God is sovereign and can save any child, or not save any child, and He does it regardless of age, ethnicity, work, parents, or their level of understanding. Because in true Salvation, God will supply the measure of faith required. Salvation requires the faith of Christ, not our own. Let us take an honest look at the pertinent scriptures dealing with this question. For this popular doctrine has multiple and irreconcilable Problems!
(1.) There is absolutely no Solid Biblical Support for the doctrine!
This is the first and foremost problem with this doctrine. The passages that are frequently used in an attempt to support this view falls miserably short in doing so. This is because it is a doctrine which was first formulated, and then a search was made to try and biblically justify it. t was rewverse enginerred and is a product of Backward Exegesis. Doctrines should originate from the Bible, not from man’s private interpretations.
Another verses often used in justification is 2nd Samuel”
2nd Samuel 12:23.
- “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he shall not return to me.
This verse neither says, nor alludes to the idea that because this was a child it was automatically saved. At best we can conclude that because David was a man of God (a saved man), He believed that God in His sovereignty would save his child also. Or many believe that all David was saying was, “the baby has died, and someday, I will also.” Nothing more earth shattering than a simple statement that he cannot come back to life, but that David shall die as he did. But this is hardly Biblical validation or justification to teach that unsaved parents have any basis for expecting that their children will be saved. Which is not to say their children won’t be, it is to say if they are, it will be by the sovereign right of God to do so in His unmerited mercy, not because of any idea of an age where sin is unaccountable.
If this were true, then what of a mentally impaired man who is over the (supposed) age of accountability, and yet cannot understand fully his actions? Do we make up another humanistic rule and call it the situation of “Mental Non Accountability” to bridge that gap also? In truth, we don’t have to, because if this person will be saved, he will be saved the exact same way a baby will, or you will, or I will. Not by any humanistic thesis, but by God’s sovereign right to have compassion on who-so-ever He will. Be it a baby, a mentally deficient man, or a sinner unworthy to lift up his head.
- “For He saith unto Moses, I will have Mercy on whom I will have Mercy, and I will have Compassion on whom I will have Compassion!
- So then, is is Not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of GOD who showeth Mercy.”
Can’t get any plainer than that. God will not have mercy because someone is below 12 years old, not because someone is 12 years and a day, not because someone is a better speaker, or a better worker in the Church, but for His own sovereign purposes. And that is precisely why a child can be saved, or that a mentally deficient man man can be Saved. Not because of some man made tradition of accountability, but because of God’s sovereign right to Save whoever “He wants” regardless of any merit, work, age, or mental fitness.
(2.) We are all Born in Trespass and sin!
The second problem of the “age of accountability” doctrine is the issue of man’s wickedness. We are all sinful (in violation of God’s laws) and are thus guilty before God. We are born with a nature in which we will sin.
- “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in Sin did my mother conceive me.”
From the time that we are born, we are sinful human beings. Our nature, whether children or older, is to sin because sin was ‘imputed’ to us in the flesh by the fall of Adam. To impute sin in Biblical terms means it was given to us in birth. As another example, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us by Grace. In other words, it was unearned. In this same way, the stain of sin is upon us by birth because of the fall of Adam, so that we all will end up sinning. We are in a real sense, in bondage or slavery to sin. The judgment of which is not a wink, but Death!
- “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,
- (for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not Imputed when there is no law.”
The only way that man could escape this imputed sin which brings death, is through Christ. It cannot be escaped through non-accountability (we are all accountable), it cannot be escaped by good works (there is none good), it cannot be escaped by obedience (we have all transgressed the law) the righteous judgement of God can only be escaped in Christ.
1st Corinthians 15:21-22
- “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
- For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
Since this is undoubtedly true, then from the womb, we are all sinners. Those people who say babies don’t have any sin are lacking knowledge of God’s laws and truths. Since there are no exceptions to God’s law, “the wages of sin is death,” there can be no (theorized) non-accountability clause. Unlike the laws of men, the laws of God don’t bend. There is none righteous God says, no not one! He didn’t say that there are none righteous except babies. Those are the thoughts of men, not of God! There is none righteous, and that includes children (despite what some may claim). Romans 5:12 says: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” It doesn’t say “all except for children,” it says all.
When God said in Genesis 18 that if there were 10 righteous people in Sodom, He wouldn’t destroy them, some professing Christians obviously think God was lying, because they insist the children there had to be righteous in God’s eyes! Not so! They were burned in the city right along with the older people (revisionist accounting notwithstanding). God saved only Lot and his two daughters whom ‘He had chosen’ to Save. None of the rest were righteous in God’s sight! Did God say get the Children out before I rain fire and brimstone, or did God bring out Lot and his house only? The truth is, over 99 percent of the scriptures has to be either ignored, wrested, or tossed aside, in order to hold to the doctrine that Children are somehow automatically accounted righteous before God.
- “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a Woman?”
Answer? ..Only in Christ. Not by being young, but by being chosen from the foundation of the world, born of God, justified in Christ. Because man is born of a Woman, he has the stain of Adam’s original sin, and cannot be pure. It is obvious not just from this verse, but all verses of scripture that the children are sinful in God’s sight. In other verses God calls them liars and snakes. The Problem with some Christians today is that they insist on trying to make God in their image, instead of receiving the God of the Bible in His own image. They expect God’s ways to be our ways, when God’s ways are so far above ours that we can’t get a handle on it. And so we start formulating doctrines of our own, and assigning them to God. But these postulations will not stand.
(3.) Accountability! (God’s law Requires Judgment for Sins)
The third problem is accountability! We are all accountable for our sins, and there are no exceptions made by God. None! Man can make all the exceptions that he wants, but in the end, it means nothing! Anyone who sins is accountable for that sin, except Christ be their propitiation.
- “Behold, all Souls are Mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine: the Soul that sinneth, it shall Die!”
There is no exceptions made. Even a sin in ignorance is a sin. It too must be atoned for. It is not cast aside as some unaccountable sin. sin is sin, and must be atoned for.
- And the Priest shall make atonement for the Soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the lord, to make atonement for him. and it shall be forgiven him.”
There is no, “sin in ignorance that is unaccountable.” It must be atoned for just as any other sin no matter if it is in ignorance or not. Just as our legal system would say today, “ignorance of the law is no excuse“, likewise, ignorance of God’s law is no excuse! Mercifully, we have Christ our high Priest today who atones for all our sins, whether sins in ignorance or known sins. Those who claim that sins of ignorance in a baby are unaccountable, don’t really understand God’s righteousness or law at all.
It’s curious how the proponents of age of accountability make different rules for people at different times in their life. While on the one hand they claim you must accept Christ in order to be Saved, on the other hand they do a 180 degree turn and say, but some don’t need to do so, depending on their age. But how accepting Christ can be both a “requirement” for Salvation, and yet not be required for Salvation, is a mystery which they cannot coherently explain. This is the disjointed nature of their teaching.” If judgment is required for sin (and it is) then nothing short of judgment will do. And if newborns cannot accept christ, and yet are Saved from their sins, then either accepting Christ is ‘a doctrine of men and was never a requirement for Salvation’ in the first place, or it is required and newborn babies are never Saved. There is no other option! Praise God, it was never a requirement, God has the Sovereign right to have Mercy and compassion on whoever he wants, regardless if they can’t talk, or can’t walk, or can’t understand. Accepting has nothing to do with it! For God doesn’t ask children, He chooses them. God’s law requires judgment for sin, so babies who are Saved have had their sins forgiven just as we do. Not by being good, not by accepting, but by God’s Sovereign Grace! ..Unmerited favor!
(4.) The way of Salvation!
Knowing that God’s law requires judgment, we know that Salvation of all people must be by Christ! Therefore, the fourth problem of this age of accountability doctrine is the inconsistency in the way Salvation is obtained. We’re all Saved the same way, and yet this doctrines purports that children are Saved a different way. That’s Ludicrous! They are not Saved by Age, by understanding, by comprehension, or by being born without sin, they are Saved just as God says. By Grace, through faith, a gift of God! A unmerited gift! It was not by works or non works, but by Grace! Not by being born, but by being born of God! No one gets Saved, but through Christ! And since newborn babies cannot “accept” by their free will, the Father must (as with us all) not only call, but choose, sanctify, and justify, making righteous! All by his sovereign good will and pleasure (as he said), not our own.
- “for by Grace are ye Saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God:
- not of works, lest any man should boast.”
So either God gave that baby the faith, or that baby is never going to be Saved. But one thing is for sure, a newborn baby cannot have that faith of it’s ‘own free will’ as some misguided souls teach. It is all of God, whether we understand it or not. The same as with everyone who becomes Saved. We simply cannot have two different methods of Salvation.
- “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting Life.”
So how would a pre born or newborn baby “believe” or “have faith?” This is the inconsistency of obtaining salvation by ‘age of accountability’ standards rather than by Biblical standards. One has got to be wrong. And so again, we know conclusively that there is no requirement to (by free will) accept or (by free will) have faith or (by free will) believe, because that would exclude all newborns. But the truth is much more biblical. And that is that like with Lazarus, God not only called him from the dead, He gave him the ability to respond and the legs to get up from the grave and the strength to come forth. Lazarus didn’t have any ability to come of his own free will. He was dead! Likewise all unsaved (Children and older) are dead in trespass and sins. We are raised up not by free will, but by the will of God in Christ, according to God’s election. He Called, He Chose, He drew, He Sanctified, He Justified, He Glorified. We can but give thanks and Glory to Him.
(5.) Baby Security means Adult Security!
The fifth problem of the doctrine of “age of accountability,” is this idea that all babies are Saved. If that were indeed the case (which of course it isn’t) then All grown people would be Saved, because there is no loss of everlasting Life once one gets it (else it is Salvation based on continued merit). You see, this is the impossibility of this doctrine and how it is incompatible with eternal security or being sealed unto the day of redemption by the Spirit. If all babies were Saved, then when they grow up, they are still Saved, which means there are no unsaved people in the entire world since all were once babies. Did God give these babies the everlasting waters of Salvation that He says we’ll never thirst again, and then they reach the age of 12, and all of a sudden it’s all just a lie and they thirst again because they are now not Saved? That’s the ridiculousness of this doctrine, and the twisted logic of this plan. And if you think that is ridiculous, if all babies are redeemed, that means they become unredeemed, and then some become redeemed again later on in life. Like Alice in wonderland, it just keeps getting curious-er and curious-er.
Some try and circumvent scripture by saying, Child Salvation only lasts until they reach a certain age or accountability, and then their Salvation simply disappears? God’s Word doesn’t teach about vanishing Salvation at age 4, 7, or 12. God’s Word says He is both the author (starter) and finisher of our faith! God’s Word says he is always with us and will never leave us! God’s word speaks of eternal life, not temporary life dependant on our works or age. God says no one can pluck them out of His hand. What do we then retort? That this is all wrong?
- “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
Do we say, “that’s not true what God says about them never perishing, and having eternal life?” Does never perish now change to, “Oops, they just might?” If all children were indeed under God’s Salvation, then they would never perish and have everlasting life, and no one could pluck them out of God’s hand. And that would mean every man woman and child in the world (we were all once children) are Saved, and will never perish. Again, the foolishness of the doctrine of age of accountability.
In all points, the doctrine of the age of accountability is both inconsistent with everything that the Bible has to say about man and his fallen state, and incompatible with God’s sovereign right, and lawfulness of Saving by Grace. We are all accountable by birth not by age. And if some were not accountable, then none would be accountable. For our God is a righteous God whose idea of Righteousness is far above that of man’s perceptions. Notice in Ephesians 2:3:
“We . . . were by nature the children of wrath.”
That scriptures tells us that ‘by nature’ we are children under God’s Wrath. We were always accountable for sin and therefore condemned. Moreover, another thing that should not be lost in the shuffle is divine election.
- “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil..”
In Romans chapter 9:8-16 Rebecca had twins in her womb. And though the children had not yet been born, “having done neither good or evil,” God called saying which one would be chosen. As it is written in verse 13,(Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated) And in verse 15 it says as God had said unto Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. In verse 16 it says So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. Shall we argue with God saying it is unrighteous of you to call Esau hated even before he was born? God forbid!
Yes, I believe there is accountability. But that means that we are all held accountable, bar none. It is not for us to question or judge the Maker of us all about what seems righteous to us. Is there unrighteousness with God? God Forbid! Therefore, God has the Sovereign right to Save whosoever He will regardless of who, what age, how, what they did or didn’t do, or their understanding level. That is indeed what Sovereignty means!
Yes, there is an age of accountability. The Biblical age of accountability is CONCEPTION. Sure, many can and do disagree with this, but they do not have any Bible verses to back up their belief that a person has to be old enough to realize that he is a sinner or be able to understand God’s Salvation before he has real sin! The fact is, there is one way of salvation, one name whereby we must be Saved, and one Salvation plan for all. Whether Jew or Greek, Baby or Elder, Man or Woman, White or Black, we are all Saved by grace through the faith of Christ! The new popular doctrines are nothing more than excuses to hold onto modern tired doctrines like “we must accept Christ” and “we must choose him” and “we must have free will” and “we must sign the check” we, we, we, we! If they would take their eyes off “we,” and put them on the Lord, they would see the truth. But this is the, “I want some credit of my own salvation, generation.” And in order to have that credit or boasting for coming when those other sinners didn’t, they must have a doctrine of they, of themselves, of freely accepting Christ. Which of course then means that a new doctrine must be invented for babies who can’t accept Christ, in order to hold onto these unbiblical doctrines. ..Else the children must be Saved by Grace Alone. Sola Gratia!
Copyright 1998 Tony Warren
For other studies free for the Receiving, Visit our web Site
The Mountain Retreat! http://www.mountainretreatorg.net
Feel free to duplicate, display or distribute this publication to anyone who would like a copy, as long as the above copyright notice remains intact and there are no changes made to the article. This publication can be distributed only in it’s original form, unedited, and without cost.
Christ Died For The Ungodly
by Horatius Bonar
The divine testimony concerning man is, that he is a sinner. God bears witness against him, not for him; and testifies that "there is none righteous, no, not one"; that there is "none that doeth good"; none "that understandeth"; none that even seeks after God, and, still more, none that loves Him (Psa. 14:1-3; Rom. 3:10-12). God speaks of man kindly, but severely; as one yearning over a lost child, yet as one who will make no terms with sin, and will "by no means clear the guilty." <continued>
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.