Friday, May 31, 2013

Safe...(Do all Babies Go to Heaven) Part VI


Why Do Babies Die?

Part VI – What happens to them? 



I left our last post with this paragraph: 

Granted, there are some who say that all babies who die automatically go to heaven because God sovereignly chooses to extend His special grace to them. There is no doubt that God who is in fact sovereign can do just that. I, for one will not argue for a minute that God cannot do what He wants, especially in this situation. The question is does He?  Really, I think the question is does He need to? 

I began this series first of all by recounting a conversation a friend had with me a week ago today. In the midst of our conversation my friend opined that she did not believe that babies sin, nor have a sin nature. She also proffered her conviction that each and every baby that dies must so straight to heaven. She is convinced that God could not, and therefore would not, condemn a baby to hell or to punishment. 

Second, I shared with you my dilemma. This discussion affects me in two major ways, first, as a theologian and second, as a pastor. I am committed to the accurate handling – interpreting – the Scriptures. The Scriptures are replete with imperatives and admonitions to study, understand, and obey Scripture. Doctrine, biblical doctrine based on sound exegesis and not personal preference or whimsical opinions is absolutely necessary in order to fully know, honor, worship, and obey our heavenly Father. 

However, as a pastor, counselor, and comforter I must be able to answer the tough questions of life. Among those “tough questions” is the question, “What happened to my baby,” or “Where is my baby now?” Parents who suffer miscarriages, experience the horror of crib death, and/or lose a child of any age are desperate for answers. 

Let me say first of all that the Bible is absolutely silent on this question. There is no “book,” chapter, or verse (s) that reveal the mind of God on this subject.  As a result there is an inordinate amount of speculation regarding this question. I will grant or allow that much of the speculation goes to the purpose of comforting and consoling grieving parents. 

Second, I believe that a possible reason that both God and the Scriptures are silent on this topic is due to God in His infinite wisdom providing a means of trusting Him. I mean that God is first worthy of our trust and secondly engineers various means to encourage that trust. It is often in our darkest hours that we must trust God to be what He has revealed Himself to be. 

God is love. God is wise. God is gentle. God is a benefactor. God is merciful and gracious. God is just. God is holy. God is righteous. We must trust God that He will never do anything to hurt us, harm us, or hinder us. Everything that God does or even permits is for a divine reason or purpose. Many of these reasons and/or purposes are often known only to Him. 

I can only comfort a grieving parent to trust God to always do what is right, what is just, what is loving, what is merciful, and what is holy. God will never violate or act contrary to His character. Therefore, all things do work together for the good in your life. (Romans 8:29) Don’t reject them, even the death of a baby. In some way, some form, some fashion God will make that tragedy work for your good and His glory. 

Now back to my question. Let’s get down to some real nitty-gritty, shall we? I have probably lost you and most if not all of my readership any ways, so let me step on one more landmine. Danger, Danger Will Robinson! Go ahead send those cards and letters. 

There is no doubt that God who is in fact sovereign can do just that. I, for one will not argue for a minute that God cannot do what He wants, especially in this situation. The question is does He?  Really, I think the question is does He need to? 

First, God does exactly what he pleases and he doesn’t bother to ask our opinion - “…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph 1:11b, KJV) 

Second, I do believe that God will always do what is right, just, holy, and merciful. 

God does not have to save anyone at all. He is under no obligation to save anyone from the human race. He said to Adam, “…for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:17, NKJV)  

God also said, “The soul who sins shall die.” (Eze 18:3, NKJV). 

Adam sinned and the entire human race (as previously discussed) died, including all babies. As a result, God does not have to save any human being. 

Secondly, in order to magnify or demonstrate His character/nature, God chose to provide salvation for some members of the human race. Prior to God creating the heavens and the earth, God determined to save some, God provided a means by which to save those whom He determined to save, and God put into action his plan. 

All whom God has appointed, ordained, or chosen to be the recipient of eternal life will be saved.  Since God does the redeeming based on the atoning work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, all whom He has chosen will be saved. None will be lost.  This includes the most recent and microscopic fertilized embryo, or aborted, or miscarried, or stillborn, or crib death, or otherwise death of infants.  

I can find no passage in the Bible, either in the Old Testament or New Testament that states that every conceived embryo goes to heaven immediately upon death. (We will talk about David’s experience in a separate post.) The scripture is silent. 

I confess I find it mind-boggling and beyond comprehension to conclude that God must save every baby conceived. After all, every baby sinned. By the way, let us make it very clear, human beings do not sin because they have a sin nature. Human beings have a sin nature because they are sinners. As a matter of fact Paul made it clear in Romans chapter five (5) that Adam’s sin made or constituted every human being a sinner. Human beings were made to be sinners and as a result, sinners now have a sinful nature or bent to sin. (Romans 5:18, NKJV)

Mind you, I am not opposed nor would I oppose God if He chose to save every conceived embryo from the beginning of creation. I just can’t fathom nor find Scriptural evidence that every conception that ends in death guarantees as MacArthur put it, “Instant heaven.” Based on what? That babies haven’t sinned? That can’t be, Paul proved they sinned in Adam and are guilty of sin even though they were never born.  

Sin is a very serious thing. It is more serious than we could ever imagine this side of our own glorification. How serious is sin? 

First, Genesis 6-8 gives us details of the great universal flood perpetrated on the earth by God. God drowned every living thing except Noah and his family – and of course the animals which were brought on the ark. God hated sin so much that he drowned men, women, teens, toddlers, and infants and destroyed them. He saved eight souls out of the world’s population. God is not so much about saving human beings as He is in exonerating His offended character and nature.  

Second, God burned up the cities on the plains in Abraham and Lot’s day, including Sodom and Gomorrah. God burned alive men, women, children, teens, and babies in those cities saving only Lot and his two daughters. God again showed his hatred for sin in the deaths of everyone in those cities. 

Third, God showed again His hatred in the most horrific and unimaginable manner by killing His own Son. He made His Son who had never known sin to be sin in order to save those whom He had determined to save. God hurled the full force of His wrath and fury against His Son, punishing Him in our place for our sins and exacting the penalty for sin, which was death.  

God created the wicked for judgment and God created some to be the recipients of the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not have to save anyone nor provide a means of escape for anyone including babies. 

There is no doubt from Scripture that God loves children. Jesus loved children and often made time for them even when the disciples were irritated by them. God has even determined horrific punishment for those who harm children. God has been a “Father” to the orphans in many cases.

But God is not obligated by us, by age, or by His nature or character to provide a means of salvation to anyone. However, if in His own counsel He is pleased to do so, glory and praise to God. I cannot find evidence that God has revealed that “program” to us. 

As food for thought, which I WILL NOT explain nor defend in this post, but if God has determined to save every conceived embryo that dies, then why are we so opposed to abortion? If an aborted baby, as MacArthur stated it has, “Instant heaven,” and every aborted baby avoids a possible life of crime, prison, drug addiction, alcoholism, rape, murder, torture, deformity, rejection, ridicule, bullying, taxes, and the American political system, why oppose abortion? 

I AM NOT FOR NOR DO I SUPPORT ABORTION. I am just wondering about the seeming incongruity. 

Let me conclude my thoughts about the conversation I had with my friend, what I think the Scriptures say, and finally, for what it is worth, what I think. I don’t believe my “opinion” is greater or superior to Scripture. My conclusions come after years of intense, heart-wrenching study, theological emphasis, and pastoral ministry. My conclusions are as follows: 

First, the Scripture is silent on this topic. We are left in the dark. I think this is to invoke absolute trust in God. God wants us to put our complete trust and faith in Him because of who and what He is. He is worthy of or trust.  

We must trust God to do what is in accordance with His character and nature and not our sense of fairness or fair-play. Our values and measurements of what is right and wrong or just, are not the standards by which God works out His own counsel. His entire character and nature works in perfect harmony to accomplish His purposes. Don’t make Scripture say what it does not say in order to assuage conscience, guilt, or theological supposition. 

Second, I believe based on what I have come to learn of God’s character and nature that God will do what is right in all things. God will be merciful, just, holy, righteous, kind, loving, and wise in everything including the deaths of infants. God will always do what is right – again, not based on your definition of right or upon your standards. God’s ways are not our ways. God is God, and we are not! 

Third, I believe those whom God has chosen to be the recipients of the atoning work of Christ on Calvary’s cross will be saved. God has planned their salvation, provided a certain sacrifice for their salvation, sent the Holy Spirit to sovereignly apply that work to those whom He has chosen, and God will preserve those whom He has chosen. None of the elect, infant or adult will be lost. God can apply the work of Christ to the heart or soul of an infant in the womb by the work of the Holy Spirit as well as He can to an elderly individual moments away from death. 

Fourth, because of God’s character/and nature and because of what has been revealed in Scripture, I do not find proof or evidence that God has to save anyone or everyone. I do not find evidence or proof that God has to save infants or babies that have died. No one deserves to be saved. Even beautiful, tiny, adorable, precious little babies deserve to be saved. They are sinners who sinned in Adam incurring the penalty for sin (death) and the wrath of God. It is only by God’s indescribable and unfathomable grace that any are saved. 

Fifth, as a pastor, I will always offer the comfort of the grace of God which is sufficient for any and all things, tragic or otherwise painful. I will encourage anyone including grieving parents to cast their grief and pain on God and trust Him to always do the right thing. I will always direct their hearts, their attention, and even their hurt to God. He is the only one who can heal and mend a heart that has been so devastated by the death of a baby, whether in the womb or after delivery. I will never offer platitudes or false opinions in an attempt to ease the pain and suffering. 

As a pastor, I don’t know what happens to every baby that dies; only God knows.  I know God will always do right regardless of what I think He should do or could have done. I trust God and so should you. 

Sixth, as a theologian, I long for a neat box, with a grand ribbon to neatly wrap up this question with solid “proof-texts.” Alas, I don’t have such a box or ribbon. As a student of theology I can only say, I am in the dark.  

However, as a theologian, I know that I can see the light of the stars in the most clearest and brightest fashion possible when I am at the bottom of the deepest and darkest well. As a theologian, as well as a pastor I can only trust God in the darkest of night. 

Seventh, let God be God!  

There you have it. I don’t know if I will ever “post” on conversations with my friends. This was one was of great importance. No, I am not ignoring the only possible reference to this discussion. I am not going to go into David’s experience at this time because of time, space, and the fact that this discussion has emotionally and spiritually exhausted me. Suffice it to say that within its context it does not settle the question either way. One day, I will “pick up my pen” through the tap, tap, tap of this key board and exegete the death of David’s son and the declaration of David.


The End

13 comments:

Cathy M. said...

Well, now that you've finally come to your conclusion, I will add my thoughts.

True, God is not obligated to save anyone. All born in Adam die because of sin. Also true, the Bible doen't explicitly say, "all babies/ children receive salvation."

But...

Your question about "why oppose abortion" is just nonsense. It's as silly as questioning evangelism because of election. There is no "incongruity" in obedience regardless of the outcomes.

Also, you've drawn a conclusion after affirming the Bible's silence. [I confess I find it mind-boggling and beyond comprehension to conclude that God must save every baby conceived.] So, here's my conclusion from the same silence:

For his own reasons, God didn't explicitly tell us "all babies go to heaven." Undoubtedly, many babies have perished at the hands of people using this sort of rationale. So, since there is no explicit answer, let's see if there are any implicit clues to God's heart on the matter of children.

If a child were consigned to hell, his torment would include whatever is meant by the Lake of Fire. Is there a scripture which tells us God's thoughts about children being cast into a fire? Jeremiah 32:35

Is there a scripture which hints at God's opinion of destroying children with the wicked? Jonah 4:11

Is there anywhere in scripture that indicates God's unique affection for children? Matthew 19:14

And then there is the matter of David's son, (for which you seem to have a ready answer.)

My conclusion, like yours, is drawn from silence. However, I see enough implicit information from which to draw a different conclusion. Based on ALL of God's attributes, and what I see implied in scripture, I think it's more plausible that all children will be counted among God's elect.

Now, for an actual incongruity...

In the past, you've made some negative comments about Child Evangelism Fellowship here. If you want to be consistent, you need to rethink your position of evangelizing children, brother.

Gregg Metcalf said...

I know this is a tough subject. Please make sure you don't misunderstand me, I am definitely opposed to abortion, I would never advocate it. It was simply a way to make a point. Don't get me wrong, I love babies - but it is amazing that God saves anyone. No one deserves to be saved. What an amazing God we have, and what amazing grace we experience.



Jeremiah 32:5 directs our attention to the fact that the offering of babies as sacrifices is an abomination to God. If God were to all any baby to enter to hell, it would not be an abomination, since that is the penalty for sin. The abomination was not the manner, although it was dispicable and unthinkable, of the offering, but the murder of the children by offering them for sacrifices.



Jonah 4:11? Not sure how this enters into the argument. God can have pity on one city while He destroyed another. As a matter of fact during the tribulation 2/3 of the earth and its population will be destroyed.



I am aware that God has a love for children or affection. He has a love for all of his creation, even fallen man whom He still has condemned, judged, a dammed people to an eternal punishment in hell. He doesn't take pleasure in their death, but having an affection does not over rule his other attributes.



I will one day deal with David's experience. I am just not sure that this reference and context gives us the right to make a bold, blanket declaration that as MacArthur said guarantees, "Instant heaven." Maybe it does, I am just not convinced by the statement.



I am well aware I am in the minority here. I don't take, by the way any pleasure in concluding that I don't know for sure and that I believe the Scripture to be silent. As a father, grandfather, uncle and human being I am appalled by the fact that anybody is going to suffer in hell. My mind cannot wrap around that concept. However, as a theologian and pastor, I must be able to go to Scripture and be able to say, "Thus says the Lord."



I know you and a good many come to a different conclusion. I was asked and put on the spot and engaged in a conversation. I hope we can agree to disagree and remain brothers and sisters in Christ. I have no problem with the Reformers position, Spurgeon's, and MacArthurs if it is right. I hope they are right and I am wrong, I just don't know based on what I know at this time.



For the record, I am opposed to most child evangelism. I don't think young children and understand the consequences of sin, condemnation, judgment and the need for repentance. I think most children will answer the question do you want to go to heaven readily. They want to please, they want to be part of the group, they are easily led. I think we teach our children about God and His ways allowing the Spirit of God to apply the work of Christ to their heart as He determines when He determines, not to push, force, manipulate children into making a decision.



So, yes, I am not a fan of CEF or child evanelism. I believe many "rededications" are first time conversions. I think many SS classes, VBS, Youth Groups, Camps and Churches are filled with a multitude of adults who made decisions as kids who are not born again.



Sunday, I told my pastor I was almost not going to conclude this series and just end it. I know it is not easy or popular. But I decided to finsih. I have not had time to respond to your comment yesterday and my heart does go out to you. I am sorry for your loss. I cling to the hope that God will always do what is just, loving, kind, wise and merciful in every situation.

Cathy M. said...

O.k. I'm just not going to let it go yet...

First of all, I know you are not in favor of anything harmful or cruel to anyone, especially children. I know you have given this topic a lot of thought and believe you have a biblical foothold for your conclusions. But, since neither position is explicitly upheld, why would you choose to incline toward children suffering eternal judgement?

In the Jonah reference; people who don't know their right had from their left are generally children. I KNOW I'm not interpreting those scriptures in context. I'm just drawing a few reasonable inferences about God's attitude toward children based on those passages. Coupled with the FACT that he is kind, gracious, merciful and good. I'm inclined to trust in his loving kindness with regards to little children.

Yes, the vast majority of all human beings will receive justice, not mercy. Yes, everything that God ordains is good. Yes, the great flood probably wiped out billions of men, women and children. Yes, people who never hear the gospel will die in their sins and be judged. BUT, Jesus never said, "Let the pagan-indigenous-people-groups come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." My point is that the weight of scripture is more inclined to a merciful disposition toward children rather than eternal wrath.

Finally, just because some people do evangelism poorly is no reason to stop evangelizing adults or children. Sometimes the seed falls on poor ground; does that mean we stop scattering seeds? Brother, you just can't say in one breath, "children are in peril" then in the next say "I don't believe in evangelizing children!"

Love your blog, brother... you know, we were bound to disagree on something eventually. I'm O.k. with agreeing to disagree, as long as you know that means I think you're wrong. (ha ha) :-)

Gregg Metcalf said...

I have no problem with you or anyone thinking or really being convicted that I am wrong. I hope I am wrong. All I am really saying is I don't know due to not having sufficient information. I am not a genius, I am a mere human with major flaws. The two things I know for sure, is one, I have been wrong in the past, and two, I will be wrong again in the future.



As far as not wanting to come down on the side of mercy, it is not a question of siding with mercy or opposing mercy. It merely is a question, indicative of the gift of teaching given by the HS to want to properly, not emotionally, handle the word of God. I guess I am just OK with not being able to solve every question if there is no apparent answer. For the record, on Spiritual gift tests, I have always ranked extremely high in the teaching catagories and extremely low in the mercy catagories. God gave me a wife whose gift is mercy which helps to balance me out.



I just think this is a question of accuracy rather than mercy. Yes, yes, yes, I believe I must be merciful in accuracy! However, having said that, I guess, having come to know God's character/nature (as humanly as possible) I just don't have a problem with God being God and doing whatever He wants, either way. Whom am I to question God or make him like me? I don't want to learn like Job that God is God and does whatever He wills. I just believe that whatever God does is right because God can only do what is right.



I am not advocating stopping evangelism towards adults, or even teens. I am opposed to the methods I have seen first hand for forty years and I just think we do more harm than good in pushing for decisions.



One must be very careful when dealing with children otherwide one can do one of three things:



1. Actually and wonderfuly lead a child to Christ. (Of course this is the desired goal and I think some, a very minute few children are saved)



The majority of children fall into these two catagories:



2. Make little Pharisees out of children. Our children are taugt to perform for rewards. They are not usually taught to "minster" to the glory of God. They memorize Scripture for prizes, cookies, praise, etc. They "sing" for applause, parental praise, congregational praise, prizes and etc. If we are not careful we, without being aware of it, make pharisees (hypocrites) out of our children by teaching them to perform at an early age. We develop little leagalists.



3. Innoculate them from ever wanting to know God. We have a tendency to force kids into performance, attendance, activities, and etc and call it "in the nurture and admonition" of the Lord. Especially the "don't drink, dance, chew or go with girls who chew crowd."


YVONNE LEWIS: said...

As someone who have lost three babies through miscarriages, I would like to think when my dear departed husband got to heaven they were there waiting for home. call me sentimental but that;s me.
Thanks for the series Gregg.
Yvonne.

Eddie Eddings said...

Brother Gregg,
Great discussion here. I have to side with Spurgeon and MacArthur on this one. One of the verses that weighs in on this subject is Revelation 5:9:

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

Tribes come and go. Some can be wiped out by other tribes before they a father can become a great-grandfather.
The point is, how could God populate Heaven with people from EVERY tribe, unless the babies were part of the Elect?

Love you, brother. Leaving Kuwait for the States for a 3 month vacation.

Gregg Metcalf said...

@ Eddie - Thanks. It is quite a subject and series. No problem, I realize almost all will side with the Reformers, Spurgeon, and MacArthur, you are in good company. In fairness to Scripture however, I do not think you reference in Revelation has any relevance. Perry Mason would say it is irrelevant, immaterial, and incompetent. (Incompetent in the court sense of not being able to develop a valid pint from it.

Think about it, there are no tribes, tongues, peoples, groups, or etc, with all adults. Babies presupposes adults.Besides, I think some babies are the elect I just don't have a place to go in Scripture to "prove" that all babies are elect.

Eddie Eddings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gregg Metcalf said...

Eddie - thanks for continuing the discussion, I truly appreciate it. I have no doubt that our sovereign God has elected some from every tribe.
I just don't see from Scripture every baby from every tribe as the elect. But again, the Scripture is silent.

Eddie Eddings said...

I deleted my comment to add a little more. When I returned, you had already answered. You're fast.

Below is the updated comment:

Gregg, my fault. I was too hasty with my explanation. Let me slow down while Perry Mason leaves to celebrate his victory.

Back to Revelation 5:9:

"And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,"

Ransoming people from every nation is a no-brainer. Even Perry Mason (who has now in his limo on the way to Fat Sam's) would agree with that.

Same for every language and people...(I like Colombo better).

But, "tribe" is a group of related families who share the same beliefs, language, culture, etc.

Many tribes are now extinct having never heard the Gospel. These tribes may have killed their firstborn if it was a female or if born with defects. (a common practice among primitive people)

Many Native American tribes were wiped out by diseases and other tribes before Mr. White Eyes ever stepped foot on shore.

So, when the Scripture says that Jesus ransomed, with His blood, people from every tribe. It would have to be babies. Because God doesn't save "people of a tribe" by visions, dreams or second chances.

I hope that is a better explanation than the previous one.

By the way, did you know Perry was a Mason?

Gregg Metcalf said...

Yes, I knew Perry was a Mason. Tragic huh? :)

I am going to do an exegetical study of your reference in Rev.

I have no problem with some babies being elect from any tribe. You seem to be missing that. I am only saying I can't find Scriptural support to say that EVERY baby is elect.

Susan said...

Hi Gregg,

My husband and I have had this discussion before, and we came to the same understanding as you, that we cannot say God WOULD save every child under some "age of accountability"(which we could not find in the scriptures).

Like you, we find that many beliefs people want to believe come out of sentimentality, emotions, not truth or hard evidence. The ones we can lock down with scriptural evidence usually turn out to be incorrect.

Standing for what is right and correct usually makes one unpopular. Crowds followed Jesus until He chided with them that they only came for bread and fishes and to see a miracle. When He told them the truth, MANY LEFT. Often if we find ourselves on the "popular side" we probably are on the wrong side.

That doesn't make God unmerciful...if He only saved one person out of the billions that have lived on earth, that is one person more than deserved it. He makes all the decisions, and the decisions He makes are right as well as merciful.

Gregg Metcalf said...

Thank you. I am pleased to learn I am not the only one who thinks this way after carefully studying Scripture.