Home > amillennialism, C. H. Spurgeon, doctrines, John MacArthur > The Salvation of Infants That Die: Scriptural Evidences

The Salvation of Infants That Die: Scriptural Evidences


Nearly a year and a half ago I first blogged on the doctrine of the salvation of infants who die.  I had only recently considered this, a new subject to me, and now after further thought feel even more certain, from a scriptural basis, concerning the matter.  I also see a great contrast between those who understand the mercy of God displayed here, versus those who lack such understanding of God’s character.

Here, in summary, are several scriptural evidences:

1.  The case of David’s infant son that died, versus Absalom’s death — I first heard this from MacArthur, but recently learned that Spurgeon also noted this contrast.  MacArthur expanded a few sentences on the point, but perhaps he originally learned of this example from Spurgeon’s sermon.

2.  The frequent mentions in the gospels, that you must be like little children in order to see the kingdom of God.  The statement is a comparison, that the believer must be “like” little children — but the thing being compared to must agree for the comparison to make any sense.  If little children are only awful sinners that will only go to hell unless they grow up and receive Jesus, then why make a comparison between believers and “little children”?

3. The nature of the Great White Throne judgment:  those at the judgment are judged according to their works, and they understand why they are sentenced; infants would not understand why they are in hell and suffering torment.

4.  Ezekiel 16:20-21 is an interesting account that Spurgeon noted.  The Israelites had been sacrificing their infant children to the pagan god Moloch, and God speaks of those dead infant children as “My children,” saying “you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?”  This one I find especially compelling — for God, throughout the Bible, clearly distinguishes between the wicked and righteous, even among the people of Israel.  If these children were merely “baby snakes” that must go to hell for their infant-sinfulness, then why does God refer to these now deceased infants as His children?

5.  We know that God is capable of putting His spirit (new birth, regeneration) into even young children, even in those still in the womb as in the case of John the Baptist.

6.  The vast number of saved souls in heaven, as described in Revelation, at least implies the salvation of many more people than can be accounted for from just the known adult believers throughout world history and even the Church Age.  Spurgeon often noted this, including in his sermon about the salvation of infants that die.

While this doctrine is admittedly one of the “lesser points,” still the root of it points to one’s conception of God, one’s understanding of how we are truly saved (by God alone, nothing on our part) and of God’s mercy.  Consider Spurgeon’s very strong words to those who would charge Calvinists as ascribing such cruelty to God:

As for modern Calvinists, I know of no exception, but we all hope and believe that all persons dying in infancy are elect. Dr. Gill, who has been looked upon in late times as being a very standard of Calvinism, not to say of ultra-Calvinism, himself never hints for a moment the supposition that any infant has perished. He affirms of it that it is a dark and mysterious subject but that it is his belief and he thinks he has Scripture to warrant it, that they who have fallen asleep in infancy have not perished, but have been numbered with the chosen of God and so have entered into eternal rest.

We have never taught the contrary and when the charge is brought, I repudiate it and say, “You may have said so, we never did and you know we never did. If you dare to repeat the slander again, let the lie stand in scarlet on your very cheek if you are capable of a blush.” We have never dreamed of such a thing. With very few and rare exceptions, so rare that I never heard of them except from the lips of slanderers, we have never imagined that infants dying as infants have perished—but we have believed that they enter into the Paradise of God.

It seems that many of today’s Reformed-Calvinist believers have forgotten many basic things of their forefathers, including a full understanding of God’s sovereignty in election along with His mercy.  For instance, a certain pastor I’ve mentioned before (messed up theology in many areas), when asked about the salvation of babies who die, cited the then-recent case of the woman who killed her five young children because she believed that babies would go to heaven if they die.  He added that, if that’s true (what the crazy woman believed) then “the sooner the better” and we should go out and kill all babies so as to guarantee their ticket to heaven.   Here I can only think of Paul’s words in Romans — “God forbid!” in the King James language, or “By no means!” — in response to a similar careless attitude that we should just sin all the more so that grace will abound more.

In my original post on this, I noted a correlation between this topic (salvation for infants that die) and understanding of a future salvation for Israel, and listed several names under each category.  I now can add several more names, to only confirm that correlation:  Hyper-calvinist John Gill, as well as S. Lewis Johnson and J.C. Ryle, who understood the salvation of both groups.

On the other hand, today’s amillennialists with no future for Israel, seem to have an especially hard time with the issue of God’s sovereignty in election (kind of like Arminian free-will thought), which touches on both matters.  They somehow still only want God’s election for themselves:  Gentile adults of every race who come to awareness of their own need for God and receive Christ.  But (for them) somehow it’s not fair that infants and young children automatically “get a free ticket” or that descendants of Israel (and again, not every single one of them, but a large number of them as scripture clearly teaches) automatically get special favor.

Perhaps some amillennialists out there — those who see no future salvation, much less a kingdom for Israel — do hold to the salvation of those who die before the age of accountability.  I haven’t met any, but certainly welcome them — but the two issues do seem to correlate.

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