Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Question and Answer: About infant death and unreached people groups

Q: What happens to babies when they die? Also, what about remote tribes who've never heard of Jesus?

Response:

"instant heaven" - John MacArthur

In 2 Samuel 12:16-23 David, upon learning that his infant son had died, ceased his fasting and mourning and began praising the Lord. He said that mourning wouldn't bring back his child. No prayers were going to alter that and he knew that one day he would once again be with his son.

He obviously knew that God, being just, would parson his son's sins. Now, are children born sinful? sure they are... Psalm 58:3 'Even from birth the wicked go astray...' However God is just, Genesis 18:25 '...will not the Judge of all the earth deal justly.'

It means that as they grow, when given the chance to choose to sin or not. They will, as we all do, choose to sin. They are born with that sin tainted heart that is bent towards evil until God gives them a new heart.

For whatever reason, and we can't even begin to speculate on the why here... but for whatever reason God has chosen for some children to die before what is commonly referred to as the age of accountability. It is that age when we are not just able to discern between right and wrong but able to understand that our sin has offended a Holy God and His justice demands our eternal punishment.

My kids understand some right and wrong but only because we've taught them what is right and wrong. They know about God and sin, but neither are old enough to have put those two things together. The same principle would apply to someone born with a mental handicap. They may grow to an age where normally they could respond to God's call of Salvation, but because of some debilitation from birth they are never able to comprehend. God is just, loving, and merciful and to punish them would be unjust, so teaches Scripture, and so we can say with some authority and assurance that for those it is instant heaven.

The fact though that God is merciful to them should in no way exonnerate us as parents from teaching them the things of God and pointing them towards Him their whole life. Some parents have told me that they aren't worried about stressing Biblical truth to their children until they surpass the age of accountability when there will be danger for them at judgment if they die.

That is absurd for two reasons. 1.) We have no clue what age a person is able to respond. I could guess at it just based on mental understanding and such. But I have no clue. That age is probably different for everyone. God knows when He will draw them to Him and we'd be well advised not to step in and take His role on that one.

2.) If we don't show them the value of Jesus from birth, they'll be less likely to see His value later in life. It can't be some cute trite thing that doesn't matter much. It must be taught and explained from birth on through! What a privilege that we get to do that!

About those who are in some remote tribe and have never heard of Jesus? No one will go to hell because they haven't heard of Jesus Christ. The unregenerate sinner will go to hell for murder either literally or merely of the heart, rape, adultery (literal or not), lust, theft, lying, blaspheming, idolatry, etc. Sin is not failing to hear the gospel. Sin is the transgression of the law. Ephesians 2; 1 John 3:4.

Sin is the problem, Christ is the answer. Now, what about those in remote tribes who die and have never heard of Jesus or seen a Bible or anything... what about them? Well if they have never responded to their conscience and sought out the Creator (God) having turned from their sin and trusted in Christ they will go to hell. Ignorance of the law is not the same as lack of understanding.

God has revealed Himself to all of creation. Even the remotest tribes of people. Psalm 19:1 - the heavens declare the glory of God.

Also, we are all born with a conscience.

Romans 2:14-15

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, (NASB)

God has programmed every individual to know that certain things are right and certain things are wrong regardless of whether the laws are put into legislation by human governments.

The existence of these moral laws points man to a Moral Lawgiver that transcends (or is over and above) human governments and man made laws.

Both testimony of creation and conscience fall under the heading of: General Revelation. General revelation refers to God's revelation that reaches

--all people

--of all times

--in every culture

All throughout the Bible Scripture teaches that if someone seeks after God then He will not hide Himself (Jeremiah 29:13). God ordains who will and will not be saved and so for those who are among those remote tribes that God has chosen to save He will draw them to Him and they will respond to the Holy Spirit's conviction on their conscience. God will do it by a dream or a vision or He'll send them a Bible or a missionary or something. But the remote nature of their location cannot negate God's ability to draw them to Him. All Creation bows before Him. If He is going to save them, He'll make a way when to us there may seem to be no way.

Now, does that excuse us from ministering to those folks? Absolutely not. It could be that we are to be the missionaries to that tribe and we are the vessel God will use to speak to them. Or our money is the money God will use to fund the Bibles sent to them and pay the workers to teach them. Or maybe God will call one of us to find such a tribe and place organize a Bible drive effort missions effort to get the Word to them in their language. Who knows... If we are truly concerned about those groups then lets pray harder for them and do something about them.

Typically, some of these tribes will respond to their conscience that there is something out there bigger than them... a god of some kind. But rather than seeking Him they build up an alter to the false god they create for their culture. You see it ALL throughout history. Typically they end up worshiping an element of nature or some fictitious being that controls nature.

If they err in that way, their first clue that they still haven't found the true God should be in the fact that they are having to climb on top of their idol that they have constructed and clean the bird droppings and other debris from it! ha

Also keep in mind that we are all descendants of Adam and then Noah after the flood... so at some point in all our ancestry the truth of God has been spoken to us. Noah was a preacher of righteousness. So they've heard... how far down the line it went before getting lost and distorted or which ancestor abandoned the faith... who knows...

God has revealed Himself in numerous ways to every man and woman who has ever lived. Those who die in their sins did not do so because they never heard... they did so because they never responded.

Hope that helps...

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