BACK TO INDEX

Children

            Christians are sometimes called children or little children. Consider John 13:33 and JND note. However, one is not thinking of what persons are as followers of Christ, but simply those who are young in years. Scripture has something to say about them.

            One has already written about the unborn and made it clear that an unborn child does not become a living soul until it is born and has breathed (Genesis 2:7). Until then a child is part of its mother and is affected by what affects her (Luke 1:44). Christ said of Judas that it would have been good if he had not been born (Mark 14:21). He did not say it would have been good if he had not been conceived. Aborting an unborn child is a form of mutilation which is wrong (Consider Leviticus 19:27/28 & 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1 and 1 Kings 18:28), unless necessary to save the life of the mother (Consider Matthew 5:29/30 and Mark 9:43-48). If an unborn child were a person with a never dying soul one could not kill the child to save the life of its mother, anymore than one could kill the mother to save the life of the unborn child. The idea that an unborn child is a person is the teaching of the Church of Rome and all Christendom is leavened with it. It plays into the hands of infidels who will say rightly that some fertilised eggs in the womb only live a few hours. Would such be raised from the dead and be subject to judgment?

            However, one is thinking now of children, such as have not yet become adults (Consider Genesis 38:11 & 14). When a child is twelve it has usually reached the threshold of its adult life. At one time it was the age when it could get married in the United Kingdom. The age of twelve is significant as Christ was that age at the time of the incident recorded in Luke 2:41-52.

            It is often said that all children that have not reached an age of responsibility (often defined as twelve years old or when conscience begins to work) go to be with Christ if they die. Some may go to the other extreme of saying that all children who die in infancy without being baptised go to hell. These last make a lot of infant baptism. However, if the first position is correct it would be well if all children died in infancy, then no one would be lost! The question is: “What does Scripture teach?” “When do the wicked go astray?” Psalm 58:3 is clear that the wicked go astray from the womb; they err as soon as they are born, speaking lies. Note that it is from the womb and not in the womb. Not so long ago I read of a scientific study that showed that a baby of six months can deceive. Perhaps some can do it earlier than that. Elsewhere we are told that even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right (Proverbs 20:11). The point is whether there is something that is good towards God in the child (1 Kings 14:13). In a very young child only God may know that. If there is such then it must be God that has put it there. In the New Testament we are told that no one can come to Christ except the Father who sent Christ draw them (John 6:44). The point is that there must be a work of God, though we are not to look for that in ourselves.

            It is remarkable that Scripture speaks often of believing in Christ rather than in the blood. There is only one passage that actually speaks of “faith in his blood” and that is Romans 3:25. The knowledge that Christ’s blood has atoned for sin meets the need of a guilty conscience. However, children may believe in Christ even though they haven’t yet reached an age when they can understand their need as sinners. Christ speaks of little ones believing in Him (Matthew 18:6 and Mark 9:42). Christ blessed little children (Mark 10:13-16). We can hardly say he blessed those that were going to be lost eternally. The JND note says ‘blesses them abundantly’. It is a case of Christ responding to the concern of those who brought the children to Jesus as he on several occasions did. Consider Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56), Lazarus (John 11:1-4) and those who let the paralytic man down through the roof (Mark 2:1-12).

            Teaching our children is right. It is what is involved in bringing them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Teaching may be done by the father, but could also be done by the mother (Proverbs 1:8 & 31:1). There must be what is positive and encouraging as well as teaching of a warning nature (Proverbs 1:8-19). Children need to be taught to be wise and not simply to follow legal rules. Proverbs says a lot about this. Legal rules can often be circumvented. The atmosphere in the home should be conducive to good behaviour and so on. As children grow up, would it be advisable for a white boy to marry a black girl or vice versa? It is not a sin to do so, but it might not be wise. We must consider what is wise and foolish as well as what is right and wrong. There are actions that may not be wise, though they are not evil (Ephesians 5:15-17).

            Lastly one would mention that while on the one hand God must work in children’s hearts, that is, they must be born of God (John 1:13), there is our side of the matter as considered in the last paragraph. We cannot do what God alone can, but we should do what we can. What we cannot do we can pray to God about, as Paul did in Ephesians 3:14-21. However, there is what we can do, such as teach our children the sacred letters, so that they know them as Timothy did (2 Timothy 3:15); no doubt they were taught him by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).

___________________________________________________________________________

December 2011