An Email About Romans 5, Part 3 (The Age of Accountability)

Dan wrote a passionate comment, questioning where the conditionalism theory might take us in terms of infants and others who are not morally accountable. I recommend that you read it.

I thank Dan for it, because he’s pushed me to dig deeper.

Dan,

Every position has its difficulties. Consider the traditional view. A child who dies before the age of accountability goes to heaven to live with God forever. However, if the child dies the day after attaining the age of accountability, having committed but a single sin, without having found Jesus, the child suffers eternal conscious torment. That’s a truly awful doctrine.

Moreover, under the traditional view, if the child is old enough to be baptized, he’s old enough to be accountable. And that means some children are baptized too young for the baptism to count and that some young children in Christian families die after the age of accountability but before baptism.

While the traditional teaching gives comfort to those whose very young children have died, it gives very little comfort to those whose children died when they were old enough to have possibly attained the age of accountability. And the traditional doctrine is very, very vague about just when a child becomes accountable.

And, worse yet, some (not nearly all) Calvinists reject the age of accountability entirely as a purely Arminian doctrine, and declare that infants who are not among the elect die and suffer eternal conscious torment, whereas infants who die and are among the elect enjoy eternity in heaven. John Piper’s version of Calvinism, however, teaches an age of accountability.

And so the traditional views have very little to commend them when it comes to the fate of children.

Possible conditionalist positions on the age of accountability

As to the conditionalist position, I can’t find where Edward Fudge has addressed the age of accountability question directly, but I can imagine three possible outcomes within the conditionalist school of thought —

1. Children who die before reaching the age of accountability do not spend eternity in heaven but suffer no punishment at all. They cease to exist. If they’ve reached the age of accountability and haven’t been saved, they are accountable and are punished with whatever blows are just.

2. Children who die before reaching the age of accountability spend eternity in heaven. If they’ve reached age of accountability, they are accountable and are punished with whatever blows are just. Children who die shortly after attaining the age of accountability suffer very few blows, but are denied eternity with Jesus.

3. Children who are born within the covenant community who die before reaching the age of accountability spend eternity in heaven. They are like the children of the Israelites, born into the covenant community but, once they reach the age of accountability, become capable of abandoning the community, being cut off, and suffering just punishment. Those children who die outside the covenant community before the age of accountability die without punishment but don’t enter the kingdom.

I honestly don’t know which one is correct or whether the answer is even revealed. I can see arguments for all three. But some arguments seem better than others to me. And I think working through the arguments can shed a lot of light on the subject.

Arguments pro and con

1. In support of 1 is the fact that one can only enter a kingdom by submitting to the king or being born in the kingdom (see 3). There is no promise of the kingdom to children. Moreover, the scriptures repeatedly teach that one can find salvation only by faith in Jesus. A very young child is incapable faith.

(John 3:18 ESV)  18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

On the other hand, one could argue that the scriptures insisting on faith are speaking only of those who are accountable, supported by —

(Mar 10:14-15 ESV)  14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

David said after the death of his son at age 8 days —

(2Sa 12:22-23 ESV) 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’  23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

“I shall go to him” is taken by many as looking forward to heaven, not merely the grave. David was speaking of hope, not despair. After all, this is the moment when he ended his fast and stopped mourning.

And, of course, Adam and Eve weren’t saved by faith but by their non-accountability due to their ignorance — until they violated the one law they were accountable for.

2. In support of 2 is the fact that Adam and Eve existed pre-Fall in a deathless state. Paul makes this quite clear in Roman 5. Because they were innocent in their ignorance of God’s will, they would never die — which surely means they would have enjoyed everlasting life with God, as eternal death only entered the world after they sinned.

(Rom 5:12-13 ESV) 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned — 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

“Where there is no law” includes “where the law is not known.” After all, the point of Genesis 2 is that there were indeed laws beyond “don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” but they weren’t known to Adam and Eve and so they weren’t accountable for those laws. Else, there’d have been no knowledge of good and evil to gain!

3. The covenant argument is familiar territory in many denominations that teach various variations on the theme. The idea is that the church is like Israel in the desert — a typology that permeates the New Testament. If the church is like ancient Israel, then its children are saved by virtue of the covenant relationship of their family, unless the children reach the age of accountability and choose to rebel against God.

(Heb 3:13-18 ESV) 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.  15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”  16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?  17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?  18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient?

It’s not a point I can find squarely in the New Testament, but the comparison of the church to Israel in the wilderness shows up throughout the New Testament.

Going even deeper: What is the age of accountability?

One of the classic arguments against the age of accountability is that it’s just not found in the Bible. However, that’s not entirely true —

(Num 32:11-12 ESV) 11 ‘Surely none of the men who came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, because they have not wholly followed me,  12 none except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the LORD.’

(Num 14:28-31 ESV)  28 Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you:  29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me,  30 not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.  31 But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected.

(Deu 1:39 ESV)  39 And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

The Torah plainly teaches that God treated only those Israelites 20 years old and older as accountable, but those 19 and younger as having “no knowledge of good or evil.” And they were allowed to enter the Promised Land, whereas all Israelites 20 years old and older when they refused to enter the Promised Land the first time (when the spies scouted out the land) died in the desert for their lack of faith and rebellion.

Now, you can’t help but notice the parallel of “knowledge of good and evil” in Deu 1:39 with Gen 2:17, 3:5, and 3:22. God seems to be clearly comparing the non-accountability of the children of the Israelites to the innocence of Adam and Eve before the Fall.

Isaiah contains a passage that also bears on the question —

(Isa 7:15-16 ESV) 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.  16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.

It’s not clear how old the boy was when the prophecy was fulfilled, but certainly the passage says that there is an age before which a child doesn’t know how to refuse evil and choose good.

Therefore, the concept of an age of accountability is certainly in the scriptures, and in Deuteronomy, it’s closely associated with Adam and Eve before they sinned. Amazingly enough, it’s age 20, which seems too old, at first glance.

Could 20 be right?

Interestingly, modern science has shown that the human brain doesn’t mature until around age 20, and until then, the brain is not fully equipped to weigh rewards and punishments sensibly. (It’s a well-sourced article.) There’s also this article in the Harvard Magazine. Most importantly, Bill Cosby agrees.

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You see, I think Isaiah has it right. It’s not so much about knowing right and wrong. Three-year old children often know enough to very intentionally disobey their parents! Rather, they don’t know “how to refuse the evil and choose the good.” And if that’s the standard, age 20 isn’t all that crazy.

Now, while we can imagine God being lenient to teenagers, we all know people who were baptized well before age 12, and the baptism seems to have “taken” — they act very much like saved people, filled with the Spirit.

You see, being accountable and being capable of saving faith are two different things, and there’s a lot of appeal to the idea that there may be several years of overlap, during which a child is not accountable but capable of coming to saving faith. After all, if accountability and the ability to have faith occur at the same moment, then no one could be saved without first being damned — unless they happen to be baptized at the very moment of accountability.

I rather like the idea that the time frames overlap. It’s much more like the God who is revealed in Jesus than the traditional teaching.

Conclusion

Quite clearly, I find myself in disagreement with the traditional eternal conscious torment viewpoint. And while I don’t pretend to know all the answers, I know that whatever the outcome is, it’s no worse than just. God does not unfairly punish people. And I am entirely content to let God do the judging.

It’s hard to be dogmatic. Of the three positions suggested, 1 appears to be the weakest to me, because of the counter arguments found in the Torah and Isaiah, especially the parallel between Deuteronomy 1:39 and the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the Garden. I’m not entirely comfortable insisting on age 20 as the age of accountability, but neither can I build a strong case against it. At least I think we can all take comfort in the notion that the age of accountability is likely older than traditionally insisted.

However, all cases of a child being deemed non-accountable speak of a child who is part of the covenant community. While these passages seem to contradict 1, they don’t directly speak to the salvation of those who die before the age of accountability outside the covenant community, that is, outside a Christian home. Therefore, 3 is not as crazy at it might at first seem.

Having said that, my instinct is that, of the three positions, 1 is the least likely to be true. And I realize that’s not perfectly consistent with my previous post, but that’s why there’s a comment feature on the blog — so the readers can straighten me out. I’m always glad when that happens.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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62 Responses to An Email About Romans 5, Part 3 (The Age of Accountability)

  1. Price says:

    Jay, good comparative analysis… sometimes our theology looks pretty good on paper but when one puts skin and bones on, it changes the appearance..Hard for me to consider a JUST God punishing some child forever… Just can’t be.

    I think of little Samuel who God called to in the middle of the night. Surely, God is working in the lives of us all, even the little ones, as any loving Father would do. He made us, He understands us, He cares for us and knows that we are but dust… And even with full faculty and soundness of mind, we as adults can’t do it right all the time, if at all..So, He has to continually provide for us and save us… by His Grace through Faith..

    I think God created us to love on us and bring us into His presence…not to punish us for things we can barely understand. To take a message to the world that they should love a God who would torture a nitwit teenager in fire forever is to paint our Father as something that He is not. To respect and love God doesn’t require one to be terrified of Him…does it ?

  2. Alan says:

    Where God has not specifically revealed what he will do, he can do whatever he wants. And one day we will all see that he has done the right thing.

  3. Dan says:

    Jay, thanks for your thoughts. As a young man one has ideas about what it will be like to be a father; the things you’d like to teach your children and the kind of people you would like to see them become. When those ideas change into a different reality of living with a brain damaged child it causes one to wonder about many things. I do not think God punished me or my son. I do think what happened was one of the consequences of the fall of mankind. And I believe that in every situation, no matter how sad or tragic, there is a way to handle it to become a better person, a person of greater compassion and understanding. —– and not just for me, but for my son and all with whom we come in contact.

    In many ways my son has taught me the meaning of faith. He has complete faith and trust in his mother and I that we will always be there and always do the right thing for him (even though we cannot possibly merit that kind of trust.). I have learned more about faith from him than almost anyone. And I have tried to place myself in the position to have that kind of faith in God. At this point in my life I trust that whatever the details of conditionalism or eternity may be that God will allow me to see my son whole of body and mind. I cannot say what scripture proves it, only that God’s perfect love makes it possible. Dan

  4. laymond says:

    Dan made this comment. “My stumbling block, which is to me a huge mountain which I cannot climb over, is the concept that babies, children, and the mentally challenged would be eternally destroyed.”
    And then asked this question.
    “why would we believe that God, who has far more compassion and love, would do such a thing?”

    Maybe because there is a record of God doing just that thing, destroying those who are less than perfect.
    Gen 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
    Can you imagine the scene, even God thought it was so horriable, that he decided that “fire” would be a less violent way to clense the earth.
    Maybe, just maybe God places obediance above love. “you may not love me but you will respect me” .
    It was made by God for God, God comes first, you would do well to remember that. So you will have to make up your mind wheather it is better to worship a God who drownds the inocent, or burns them.Unless you believe there were no children, crippled, or mentaly ill at the flood. We don’t know why, we just know he did .

  5. Price says:

    I can’t equate death with eternal torment…One is temporary. A child being killed isn’t so bad if they spend eternity with God… A child being tormented forever isn’t loving and there isn’t any way that the same God that would offer Jesus as a sacrifice would torment a child….

    Jay, have you ever discussed Anninias and Sapphira’s eternal destination ?? Yes, they were punished right there on the spot but do you believe Grace saved them ?

  6. JMF says:

    (happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there)

    Price — same with Uzzah.

    Jay — a few thoughts:

    1) Your thinking on all of this seems quite systematic for you, as though we should/need to be able to thread the needle on all of this and make it fit.

    2) For me, the thing that your propositions don’t seem to take into consideration is our metaphor God as a parent. If we are to trust that metaphor, then we cannot accept a proposition that ends with God doing something that a parent would see as evil. And no, I don’t think “the flood” argument works here. Just like Uzzah — being killed by God and damned by God are two very different things.

    3) I’d imagine this very discussion is at the core of most atheism. I truly appreciated reading Dan’s reply yesterday…and my guess is that if he attended a church that offered the possibility that children/disabled would be damned, that atheism would be around the corner for him, too (if that was accepted evangelical thought).

    Any line of thought that causes people to leave God/not believe in God/think God is evil/distrust God has a problem with formula somewhere.

    It seems we try and figure out things that are likely too big for us. Like this issue. Calvinism vs. Arminianism. End of days.

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    I don’t think we have enough information to know the fate of Ananias and Sapphira. We do know that God sometimes takes a life without imposing gehenna — David’s first born son of Bathsheba being one example. God took the baby’s life, but surely didn’t send the baby to eternal torment.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JMF,

    I certainly agree that it’s far from likely that Uzzah was damned for touching the ark. David accepts the blame — concluding that God was teaching David a lesson.

    (1Ch 15:11-13 ESV) 11 Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, 12 and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. 13 Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JMF,

    I’m not following you. Atheists would have no problem with the notion that death is the end of existence. The common criticism of Christianity is the unfairness of everlasting conscious torment, a doctrine that I reject.

  10. JMF says:

    Jay —

    …The idea that a loving, just, fair God would send a child or disabled person to a second death is only a fraction better than eternal conscious torment.

    …And then we get into scales of mental disability, etc.

    …The idea that God, who is in control of all, couldn’t/didn’t/wouldn’t create a scenario where rain forest tribesmen are able to ascend to faith in Jesus.

    Those are all unattractive images of God. So we say: tough luck? Because that is indeed what it is. Bad luck that I was born in the middle of the rainforest. Or mentally challenged. Bad luck that I died when I was 5.

    No, I can’t win my argument with the use of scripture, other than to say that God is just — the most just parent of all time. And through that lens, I think that gives me an idea of God’s endgame.

    Like I said before, we are asking the wrong question if the answer keeps coming back that God MUST end up doing something patently unfair like damning a child…or even killing them a second time with minimal stripes. That would seem to violate our must fundamental answer to the question: Who is God?

  11. laymond says:

    JMF, said “And no, I don’t think “the flood” argument works here “.

    Gen 6:5 ¶ And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

    So JMF, God said all humans are to evil to live on earth, so I will kill all of them and take them to heaven with me.
    Do you really think that is what happened.?

  12. Price says:

    @ Jay…re: Anninias and Saph… Couldn’t argue the point that we would probably need to know a little more about them…but the answer to the question might be in what do we know about Jesus… How one answers the question of their eternal destination says a lot about one’s view of Grace…. IMHO..

  13. Price says:

    Laymond…on what basis would God imprison a child to eternal torment…A CHILD… How many children do you think are truly evil when they can barely know right from wrong… Are you seriously arguing that God, who “is Love” believes it is just to torture children ?? The adults I could probably agree were evil according to their own conscience or whatever communication God had given people prior to Moses but not the kids… Come on… How does that stack up to allowing some conditional grace for Cain who murdered Able ?? I’m not buying it….

  14. laymond says:

    Price, I don’t see where it is said that God is going to torture anyone for eternity, I believe the second death is spoken of, but I highly doubt that applies to children and those who are nod responsable.
    I believe Mat 5:3 speaks of these people and it says they are saved. I believe the bible says some will be punished forever, but that does not (in my opinion) mean they will be burned continually for time eternal. It means they will never have the chance to live again. Price maybe it would help if you re-read my comment.

  15. JMF says:

    Laymond–

    So you are proposing that Gen.6:5 suggests that the infants were evil, and thus damned?

  16. JMF says:

    BTW Jay,

    Alexander made a very interesting comment under “part 2” of this series. He suggests that the ECF’s believed Jesus went to hell (or something like that) and preached to the imprisoned (I believe that is in Peter). So I guess that is a 4th option to your original question.

  17. laymond says:

    JMF, I am not suggesting anything, show me where any one was saved that wasn’t on that boat. or where any souls were raptured/spared, and you have an arguement.
    If you can’t do that, then you are making up your own story.
    What I am saying is today is a different time, with a different judge.

  18. Price says:

    Laymond, I believe that the confusion, at least for me, lies in what I believe you are saying. It seems to me that you are saying that the people who died in the flood (physical death) were also damned for all of eternity (spiritual death)…If that is so, then you must, unless there is some sort of exclusion, include the infants and children in that damnation whatever type of damnation that would be.

    What I was trying to point out is that there are consequences to actions but, those consequences, even if they result in physical death, do not necessarily result in spiritual death. I believe two examples of that would be Anninias and Sapphira and Uzzah which another brought up. And, I do not believe that children, or as someone pointed out the mentally challenged, are judged to a standard of adult competence and thus punished if not a believer… If you agree with this it was not clear by your posts or perhaps I’m a little dense.

  19. laymond says:

    JMF,
    NIV – Gen 19:24 – Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the LORD out of the heavens.
    NIV – Gen 19:25 – Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.
    (show me where it said, except women and children, including babies)

    NIV – Exd 12:12 – “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD.

    NIV – 1Sa 15:3 – Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy* everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’?”
    (show me where it said exclude infants)

    It seems your history of the old testament is lacking in authenticity.

  20. laymond says:

    Price, I believe you are confusing the old testament with the new.

    NIV – Gen 3:22 – And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

    Can you show me in the old testament, where God changed his mind. What was the Good News Jesus brought.

  21. guy says:

    Jay,

    Years ago i was listening to an audio course from some reformed theological seminary, and the guy teaching the course (i could dig it up and find it if you like) argued that when anyone dies in infancy, that alone proves they were part of the elect. And i remember he claimed that other historical reformed leaders agreed.

    You don’t really say anything about it, but i remember growing up a great many people who talked about the traditional view of hell still acknowledged differing acuteness of punishment. i just mean to say, i never thought the traditional view committed a person to saying that eternal conscious torment is precisely the same experience for each inhabitant of hell.

    –guy

  22. Alabama John says:

    It stands to reason that if the less you know, the easier the punishment, then the flip side is the more you know and understand the more the punishment or reward. So many believe this about the reward, but, not the punishment.

    These unbelievable short years on earth actions or beliefs? For all eternity?

    I’m surprised no one has brought up reincarnation.

  23. Alabama John says:

    The age of accountability is not a time, but an understanding a judgment based on either in ability or availability. To be anything else would not be just and we all know and should ultimately believe above all else that God is just.

    Easy to forget we have a loving God and all of this on earth is for us, not to make us hate Him but to love Him as He loves us.

    Insert that God loves me factor in decisions on this and all matters and the answer usually becomes more clear and easier.

    Now, if you only want to fear God and figure He is playing a sadistic game in which practically all that ever lived on earth are going to suffer for eternity except a very few, like you and me. That is probably one out of multiple billions of humans that have and still do live on this earth. Includes even those in the church of Christ on either side of us????Those who believe like this sure put a different spin on WORSHIPPING God doesn’t it!
    Is that the God you want to spend all eternity with?
    Well in that belief, it does beat being tortured for eternity but that’s about all.

    I’ll take to loving God any day!

  24. Price says:

    Laymond, I certainly may be confused about who gets to go to heaven…but please tell me where Enoch and Elijah ended up and that will help me out some… And while you’re at it, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Samuel, David….

  25. Kirk says:

    I always found it interesting that Jesus wasn’t baptized, nor did He begin His ministry, until He was 30 years old. I have a very difficult time accepting that the age of accountability would extend that long into one’s life, though. At the least, I believe it says something about the maturity level and, perhaps, even the effectiveness required of those in ministry.

  26. Price says:

    Jay…Kirk’s comment caused me to wonder if there were any ceremonial activities that Jesus DID participate in that were required of young Jewish lads and young adults…other than circumcision… purification rights, ????

  27. laymond says:

    Price as for what happened.

    Act 2:29 Men [and] brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
    Act 2:34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
    (so evidently David is still in the grave)
    1Sa 28:3 ¶ Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city.
    1Sa 28:14 And he said unto her, What form [is] he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he [is] covered with a mantle.
    1Sa 28:15 ¶ And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?
    (so evidently Samuel is still in the grave)

    I believe it is said that Moses died and was buried in the desert.

    Enoch is included by Paul (in Hebrews 11) among the fathers who obtained a good report through faith; but “ALL these, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise” (Heb. 11:39). What promise? The “hope of eternal life,
    You have been told that Elijah went to heaven. Yet over 900 years after Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind Jesus Himself said. “NO MAN ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man!” (John 3:13.)
    NIV – Hbr 11:39 – These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.
    NIV – Hbr 11:40 – God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfec

  28. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JMF,

    There are countless versions of this theory. One is that Jesus only preached to those lost before the Flood. Some hold that Jesus only preached to the Old Testament saints. Some hold that he gave all those lost before his death a second chance. Others argue that he gives a second chance to all the damned. Some build a case for universalism on this theory.

    I’m not persuaded by any of these theories. I don’t see how any of these theories fit with the rest of the scriptures. Maybe some day I’ll work through the arguments.

  29. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy,

    I’m not familiar with the argument that all infants who die in infancy are elect, although I see where John Piper, a highly influential Calvinist, teaches an age of accountability, which seems entirely inconsistent with much of Calvinism to me.

    I recently read in Fudge’s Consumed by Fire that some who hold to perpetual conscious torment agree that there are degrees of torment. I have trouble with the idea, myself, because forever is forever, whether it’s burning sulfur or Chinese water torture. More importantly, either way, you’re outside the presence of God — and that, to me, is the essence of gehenna.

    I can see degrees of how long someone might be separated from God before being destroyed. I have trouble imagining degrees of perpetual separation.

  30. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Kirk,

    Luke tells us that Jesus was 30.

    (Luk 3:23 ESV) 23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,

    He doesn’t give a reason, but there are some interesting speculations —

    (Gen 41:46 ESV) 46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.

    (Num 4:46-48 ESV) 46 All those who were listed of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the chiefs of Israel listed, by their clans and their fathers’ houses, 47 from thirty years old up to fifty years old, everyone who could come to do the service of ministry and the service of bearing burdens in the tent of meeting, 48 those listed were 8,580.

    (2Sa 5:4 ESV) 4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.

    Thus, some conclude that Jesus had to be 30 to undertake his priestly duties as Messiah, or that he had to be 30 to ascend to the throne of David.

    Ray Vander Laan argues that rabbi could not teach “with authority” until he was age 30, according to the Mishnah. http://www.followtherabbi.com/Brix?pageID=2753

    For a rabbi to teach “with authority” was to have been commissioned by two other rabbis with authority to create new teachings rather than following the teachings of his own rabbi. Thus, when people were surprised that Jesus taught “with authority,” it was because he brought new teachings rather than repeating the teachings of Hallel, etc. It wasn’t just that he had confidence. http://www.followtherabbi.com/Brix?pageID=2087

    30 was the youngest at which a rabbi could have authority, but it was extraordinarily rare for a rabbi to be given authority at such a young age.

  31. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Price,

    We just don’t know much about Jesus’ youth, but we do know from the Gospels that he participate in the Jewish rituals of the day — Passover, the Feast of Booths, etc. He wore tassels. He did not honor the oral law, but he seems to have scrupulously obeyed the Torah.

  32. Price says:

    Laymond…where did God take Enoch ??

    Your interpretation may be correct…but wouldn’t that require that the story of the rich man and Lazarus to be a complete fabrication ??

    II Kings 2:11 Says that Elijah was taken up to heaven by a whirlwind… Is that just the sky ?? Where did he go from there?

    Is it possible that, in context, that Jesus meant that no human had ON HIS OWN ascended into heaven ?? He was speaking to Nicodemus when Nicodemus asked Him how a man could ON HIS OWN enter into the womb to be born again…

    One last question…the Promise is for Eternal Life…Is it possible that someone could enter into the presence of God or be separated from God waiting on the Final Judgement ??

    Obviously, something changed for Moses and Elijah at the ascension of Jesus for they were not dead but very present… The final judgement has not yet come and they are no longer dead…Where are they ??

  33. laymond says:

    Price lets look at what happened to Enoch. It says Enoch was translated , We know that don’t necessarly mean he was taken to heaven, because the same is said of Christians, who are not dead, nor in heaven.
    Col 1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:
    methist?mi g3179, translated —to transpose, transfer, remove from one place to another

    Gen 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he [was] not; for God took him.
    (notice this does not say he did not die, but if you pay close attention, Paul said he did die)

    Hbr 11:5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (it seems to me here Paul is speaking of the second death)
    metatith?mi g3346, translated —to transpose (two things, one of which is put in place of the other)
    metathesis g3331, translation— transfer: from one place to another

    NIV – Hbr 11:13 – All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
    “All these people were still living by faith when they died.” who died all these people including ,Abel, Enoch,Noah,Abraham,Jacob,Joseph,Moses,
    Hbr 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets: (they all died according to Paul)

    I will get to the ascention later.

  34. guy says:

    Jay,

    So i did the very-little-effort dig and didn’t find it. i remember it was an audio course, and it was hosted on monergism.com but i didn’t see it on there this time. i used to go there frequently when i was doing a lot of reading in presuppositional apologetics. Anyway, that’s where the reformed guy argued that kids dying in infancy proves they’re elect.

    About degrees: i suppose i can see some incommensurability worries, but barring that, i don’t see why degrees are a problem. Would i rather go for an eternity without tea or sushi or an eternity with a hungry, vicious predator hunting me? Length has nothing to do with it, those two just aren’t the same punishment to me. If you could quantify each instance on a time line by the acuteness of torment, then surely you could show that not all eternal punishments are the same severity for the same reason you can show not all infinities are equal in length.

    –guy

  35. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy,

    I understand your theory, but you see, that’s not quite how I see hell. At its essence, I think hell is separation from God.

    (2Th 1:9-10 ESV) 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

    You see, I think one reason our present existence isn’t already hell is that God is present. He’s not as present as he will be when we are in his immediate presence in the New Heavens and New Earth, but he’s somewhat present. If God were to abandon the earth entirely, it would be hell.

    And to that extent, hell can’t differ by degrees of intensity. If God is entirely absent, that portion of the damned’s punishment is invariable. They only way he could lessen the pain of punishment would be to be partly present — if only to stay Satan’s hand. And yet the text says the damned will be apart from his presence — unlike the ways things are here.

    I think it makes sense. It’s not so much that God tortures his enemies as he withdraws from them, leaving them in a Godless existence, which truly would be hell — a pain we cannot imagine because God has never been entirely apart from us.

    (Alexander, if God truly forsook Jesus on the cross, then Jesus suffered “hell” because he suffered separation from God — not because he went to a place of suffering but because God left him.)

  36. guy says:

    Jay,

    You wrote:
    “And to that extent, hell can’t differ by degrees of intensity.”

    Not sure how to square this with the claim you made a few posts ago that Satan and his minions do suffer everlasting conscious torment. Is God present for them? Are they conscious yet shut out from the presence of God? If the former, then what?–the fate of the damned is worse than that of Satan and his cohorts? (And ihave no idea how to reconcile any of that with Matt 25:41.) If the latter, then surely there can be differing conscious experiences of God’s absence.

    –guy

  37. JMF says:

    Jay —

    I’ve always thought the same thing about Jesus and hell:(my God, why forsake me?) was Jesus outside of the presence of God.

    Until recently I heard it argued that Jesus — the great rabbi — was actually quoting Psalm 22, and his pupils would have begun quoting with him.

    Both are very interesting points to consider.

  38. laymond says:

    Price,The main message we should get here is from God, not the fact that Moses and Elias appeared in a vision.
    Seems Peter missed the point as well.
    Mat 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
    Mat 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
    Mat 17:6 And when the disciples heard [it], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
    (seems they got the point when God intrupted Peter to give him the message)

    Mat 17:9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.
    (Jesus was showing them what was to happen, that is what a vision does, look back at the visions described in the bible, they were of the future)

    horama
    a sight divinely granted in an ecstasy or in a sleep, a vision

    The only ascention was when they climbed the mountain.They did not go to where Moses and Elias were, because they were dead, but they will be raised just as we will, to come before Jesus.
    No Price they did not have to be raised from death to appear in the vision.

  39. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy,

    Without being dogmatic on the subject, it seems to me that punishment can more likely vary by degrees in terms of duration rather than intensity. “More blows” and “fewer blows” is not about how hard the blows are but how many blows there are. Satan and his angels could suffer blows in perpetuity (Edward Fudge disagrees with me on this and I’ve not gotten to that section in his book yet) whereas the damned mortals would suffer finite blows in differing number.

    I find this thought consistent with the notion that hell is separation from God — held by many conservative scholars, not to diminish the pain of hell at all but to explain it.

    I readily admit that I might be taking Jesus’ metaphor too literally, and I’m not sure it matters all that much. The ultimate conclusion is that God will punish finite beings justly, and finite beings suffer finite punishment.

  40. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    JMF,

    I think it’s certainly true that Jesus was quoting the Psalm, which conservative Jews recite even today when they are near death. But I’m confident the reason the Bible records the saying is because of how descriptive it is of Jesus’ situation. God really did forsake him. The Psalm is prophetic.

  41. guy says:

    That’s fine–but i understood you to be making a point about being shut out from the presence of God. You’ve at least said previously that Satan and company suffer something different from lost humans. If Satan et al are able to suffer blows in perpetuity, then either (1) Being shut out from the presence of God does not imply going out of existence, or (2) Satan et al are not shut out of God’s presence, while lost human beings are. The first means there’s no necessary connection between loss of God’s presence and finite punishment. The second is just puzzling to make sense of. If being shut out of God’s presence is the “real” punishment, then it seems lost humans are punished more severely than Satan.

    And again, Jesus says in Matthew 25 that lost humans end up in the very place constructed for the sake of the devil and his angels. Yet somehow their punishments are meant to differ?

    –guy

  42. JMF says:

    Jay —

    Wow. Thanks for that. Never considered that he Psalm could be prophetic. Very cool.

  43. abasnar says:

    (Alexander, if God truly forsook Jesus on the cross, then Jesus suffered “hell” because he suffered separation from God — not because he went to a place of suffering but because God left him.)

    That’s wrong logic, Jay: To say hell is “separation from God” only takes one aspect of hell. You cannot come from the other end and say, whenever a person experiences “separation from God” he is in (or going through) hell.

    Hell has some specifcs:
    a) The decision where we end up does not take place at our pysical death, but after the resurrection when we face the throne of God to be judged
    b) Hell is described as a lake of fire

    Christ’s Death on the Cross does not even remotely fit to these specifics. His prayer is a recitation of Psalm 22, showing the fulfillment of it’s prophecies.

    Neither in Psalm 22 nor on the cross the separation from God was final or absolute, because Christ
    a) Prayed to God
    b) Commended His spirit into the hands of God
    c) Expected to go to paradise (which the ECF equated with Abraham’s Bosom from Luke 16)

    Alexander

  44. Laura says:

    Thank you for talking about this subject. Not being raised in the traditional Churches of Christ as my parents were “self-taught” and home grown, seeing children being baptized is deeply disturbing to me. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, so it stands to reason that for one to be baptized they must be lost, as you have stated. The problem I see is in our view of God; is he just? Our government does not condemn 12 year old children to life in prison or the death penalty. The legal age of accountability is 18. The law sees kids under 18 as incapable of fully understanding the consequence of their behavior. If a judge ruled that a twelve year old be put in prison for life with adults, we would most likely be horrified. Why? Because it’s a child!! As Jesus stated, if we want what is good for our kids, and yet are sinners, how much more does God want, for he is righteous. No where in scripture is someone preemptively saved because baptism is for the forgiveness of sins. I believe those who baptize children do it out of fear not faith. My opinion, of course.

  45. guestfortruth says:

    Jay,

    God and his word of God never change! we human have the tendency to change what God has spoken in the past.
    I was adressing the question of Laura. Why this guestfortruth, on June 23rd, 2011 at 11:39 am Said: Your comment is awaiting moderation. ? that is what God’s word teach and we need to abide to it!

  46. guestfortruth says:

    Laura,
    The age of accountability is not an specific age, Is when the child distinguish between right and wrong (Deut. 1:39) and they feel the need of salvation understanding that what they are doing is for forgiveness of sin. We don’t know what is going on in the life of a kid but their mentality mature earlier or not. Jesus is clear with his teaching about it. if we want to be in the kingdom of God, we have the example of the kids. Mat. 10:14-15 ” 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” In Matthew 18:3 Jesus put the example to us saying “ and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” The inspired apostle Paul take the example of the children in 1 Cor. 14:20 saying ”Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” He knew that some children don’t distinguish between right and wrong. As you mentioned “ the problem I see is our view of God; is he just? Sure, he is as mention in Deut. 32:3-5 “ For I proclaim the name of the LORD: Ascribe greatness to our God. 4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. 5 “They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish: A perverse and crooked generation. Unfortunately in this time the faith has been weakness by seen the God as all Love and his inspired book as a love letter ignoring that also he is consuming fire. Heb. 12: 28-29 “ Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.” The faith of our parents was built in the rock (Jesus the incarnate word) and the modernistic view of God is founded in the sand. Luke 7:24-26. “24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Many of our contemporary today has forgotten and has been involve with the philosophy of TEOLOGY that started 100 years later after the death of the last apostle John and stablished by Pantaenus in Alexandria. And today plus the influence of many philosophies from different periods of human history, which the inspired apostles warning us in the inspired text. The Inspired text in the teaching about God as a father applied to every century and not change in Hebrews 12: 3-11 “3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
    “ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”[a]
    7 If[b] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
    Many Christians parents relied in the bible teacher to teach the way of the Lord totheir children and they do good work , but the responsibility is from the parent the teaching the Lord way as commanded in Prov. 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

  47. Alabama John says:

    The devils walk among us here on earth unawares seeing who they can …..

    Seems they would be pretty conspicuous and easy to pick out if in torment or on fire.

    Separation from God is their lot and interestingly chosen by them to follow the devil and leave God.. What a recruiter the devil is!

  48. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guy,

    I’m sorry that I’m not able to communicate what I want to say. I’ll try again.

    I’ve only stated that the punishment of Satan and is angels will be perpetual whereas the punishment of condemned humans will be finite. Both will be outside the presence of God.

    And, of course, since Edward Fudge disagrees with me on the duration of Satan’s punishment, I’m going to restudy that one.

  49. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,

    I rest my case on —

    (Isa 53:5 ESV) But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

    (1Pe 2:24 ESV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

    The doctrine of substitionary atonement is that Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserve. It’s pretty orthodox doctrine. What punishment do we deserve?

  50. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laura,

    Thanks. You make a good point. Civil law treats teenagers as much less accountable than adults. And yet we imagine that God will damn an unbaptized 13-year old to everlasting torture.

  51. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Guestfortruth,

    My spam software sometimes blocks lengthy posts. I’ll usually retrieve them from the spam filter in the evening after I return home from work. There’s no need to double post a comment or ask why the post was blocked. I don’t make that decision and I’ll get it posted as soon as I have time.

  52. Alabama John says:

    Dianne Sawyer tonight showed a map of a jungle where today 63 different tribes of people live that have no contact with each other or the outside world.
    In every case they have chosen to stay as they are.
    They are so happy and carefree.
    Doesn’t what we have been discussing about “before the gospel”, apply to them, their ancestors and children?
    Same with ours.
    The world is not yet as educated as we here in what we call the modern world think.
    A spirit was placed by God in every man born. We who were born where the Bible is preached and available could of been born where it is not heard of or at a time where 90% of the world couldn’t read.
    All that is taken into consideration by God in judging us all.

  53. Dan says:

    As for the remark, “why has thou forsaken me?” …. I heard one teacher put it this way…. Imagine that you are the parent witnessing the death of your child. Might not it be so horrible that the parent would turn away or cover his face? God the Father was witnessing not just the death of Jesus but seeing Him sagging on the cross with all of the cruel, evil, and filthy sins of the world laid upon His soul. Every evil thing ever done was placed upon the only sinless human ever to live and He bare the guilt of it. Could it be the sight was so unbearable to God that He had to momentarily turn his back upon the scene? And at that moment Jesus felt the loss and uttered those words. The words were both true and the fulfillment of prophecy. Dan

  54. guestfortruth says:

    Alabama John,
    The time of ignorance has been overlooked, Now we have the Gospel, if they reject the Gospel on this times. You know what is their fate because they choose don’t to obey the gospel ( perfect law) of Christ . But their ancestor before the Gospel was given they were not amenable to the Law and the gospel,as you read in Romans 2:14 “14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,” because they did not have special revelation.
    Nowadays, everybody is amenable to the gospel as mention by the apostle paul in Romans 2:16 “16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”.

  55. abasnar says:

    (Isa 53:5 ESV) But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

    (1Pe 2:24 ESV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

    The doctrine of substitionary atonement is that Jesus suffered the punishment that we deserve. It’s pretty orthodox doctrine. What punishment do we deserve?

    There are two stages of punishment:

    a) A sinner must die

    therefore Adam and eve were separated from the treee of life and … died

    b) There is a resurrection of the dead and judgment

    Therefore all will be raised again to life, and there are tqo distinct destinies for the rightous and the lost

    The question – which is not answered by the texts you quoted – is whether th lost are raised to mortality again or to immortality / eternal punishment.

    Alexander

  56. Alabama John says:

    guestfortruth

    If you didn’t or don’t have the gospel, you factually didn’t or don’t have it. That will always be so, Romans 2:14 applies, there is no time frame. Same with not physically or mentally able to have it, no difference.

    Can you imagine God dividing those innocent unknowing souls into two groups based on a date, one before the date to heaven and the other from exact circumstances but a day later to hell.

    How many times I’ve heard preached all those are lost who through the ages of time up to today and in the future that haven’t had the opportunity of knowing of the gospel were lost.

    That is just not so.

    There but for the grace of God goes all of us.

    The question that begs to be answered is: Why were WE chosen for our spirits to be born in the body of a human in a Christian Nation and by far most others in an area where the Bible is or was unknown? (Notice I didn’t say God was unknown) Why were our souls so blessed and by far most others not?

  57. guestfortruth says:

    Alabama John,

    1. Alabama John said “Romans 2:14 applies, there is no time frame” Are you saying this because those 63 different tribes on earth today? When I read this “In every case they have chosen to stay as they are. Even the most remote place with a population of 40 persons in Antarctica where the food supply get there every 6 months by boat they have at least a radio to listen new, gospel preachers. Have you head about the providence of God. The case of Cornelius was a “special providence” because he even was a gentile was praying and living a righteousness life almost like believer asking for salvation. Remember what the lord said in John 9:31 “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.” If someone in those tribes is looking for salvation God will provide the ways. As mention in Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Who is looking will find salvation. Because the beginning is to have faith in him. They have their opportunity to hear the Gospel by TV or radio and God said in Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” God bless those who knows how to read, but also those whom hear the word of God and Keep it living according to his will. They might look
    They are so happy and carefree but God put us with a purpose in this world as mention in Acts 17:26-27 “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;” In the same letter of Romans chapter 1:19-21 explain about the situation about those who live under the Christian age and they have not heard the Gospel . Romans 1:19-21 says “19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” God give opportunities to everybody to be save and let the human being choose. Alabama John said “Can you imagine God dividing those innocent unknowing souls into two groups based on a date, one before the date to heaven and the other from exact circumstances but a day later to hell. Do you believe that God will be able to do that? Jesus is the judge this time. He will judge with righteously.

  58. Alabama John says:

    questfortruth

    In all likelihood if you had been born in a Muslim country and of that blood and religion you would be a Muslim, I know I would be as the teaching of our lineage would be what I would believe. I wouldn’t even look at any other. That is the way most humans are, even Christians, some, but few exceptions throughout time. Ask how many have studied all the other religions to check if their Christian one is the right one. Works both ways!

    I am not limiting to those 63 tribes, but to all our ancestors from all the different nations, unless you are Jewish.
    I even include Goliath.
    If all anyone has to do after Christ was crucified is ask and seek to obtain the truth, everyone should be a member of the true, real, non divisive church of Christ shouldn’t they? There wouldn’t be any other denominations much less thousands.
    Many will be surprised on judgment day to see far more than they anticipated and taught being judged positively.
    The Pharisees were sure exclusionary and were judged wanting and apart from Jesus who said He never knew them for being so.
    I’d rather be judged for including too many rather than excluding too many.

  59. guestfortruth says:

    Alabama John,

    Your example of being born in a Muslim country is not the exception for the power of God and his providence , we can not say that just because they were born in that environment they will be judge by the Koran? Do you know the Origen of that false religion of Muslimism? The teaching of Mohammed contradict the biblical teaching and Allah is not our God, but the pagan god of the moon?. If you want know how to have a dialogue with a Muslim I recommend you this Christian Magazine called Think edited by Focus press this is the link http://www.focuspress.org/files/908/File/Think_April_2011.pdf
    compare some teaching about Koran and the Bible. I know that human stubbornness always play a role in our decisions in life as you mentioned. But that does not change the truth of God about the final judgment. As mentioned in the inspired word of God at 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Your cultural bias has conditioned you to believe in Universalism? I hope not because that is not what the word of God teach. Alabama John the reality is that few are going to be save as Jesus teach in Matthews 7:13-14 “13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. “ Our righteous God let us to choose in this life. When Jesus was teaching in this earth several people asking about the end of times and he always told them worry about yourselves ! “ Don’t worry about the end of the world! ” worry about your condition with God or without God. The Lord Jesus is clear when he teach about the few. As mentioned in Matthews 7:21-23 “21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ This not just applied for denominations, but also for those members of the body (church) of Christ that are not living according to the will of God. If we accept the theory of Jay, about being save according to live in community as theory #3 and will be save automatically because we have been born in a Christian family that make us save, that is the modern mentality today (cultural bias). Some because were born in a “Christian Home” but not subject to the will of God are they save ? of course not, because salvation is an individual matter. As mentioned in the book of Ezekiel 18:20 “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

  60. Alabama John says:

    Quesfortruth,

    Think seriously if I am right and far more than you expect happily greet you in heaven will you be happy or disappointed?

    I’ve asked that many times and disappointed with God is the usual, sometimes somewhat disguised honest answer.

    Its our choice of how we live and associate with others. What a life to think our God who IS love will have all the peoples we have loved burning in hell.
    Makes for a difficult funeral.

    I’ve heard preachers stand in front of caskets and say: Nothing we can do for him, he’s burning in hell, but here’s an invitation to those of you here, etc.
    Never understood why their butt wasn’t whipped right then, but, that’s another story.

    I know and have lived it and its a lonely life to worry everyday and minute if you are going to be one of the few. I think Matt 7:13-14 is the favorite verses.

    Many I’ve seen leave the church of Christ because of that “only us, or more common, only me” teaching.

    Hope you really look at God and His love and not just the proof text verses I and so many leaving the conservative churches and its teaching know so well.

    God bless you and look for me there, I’ll be looking for you!

  61. guestfortruth says:

    Alabama John,

    Brother, Alabama Is not up to me, Is up to God, God has spoken and left us his testimony written in the sacred text and we don’t have excuse of ignorancetoday. And I would like to think that you are one of the few because you are making the effort to keep God’s commandments with all your heart, , with all your soul, and with all your mind. ( Mt. 22:37) . No just your heart, because our heart (Jeremiah 17: 9 ) ”emotions” has the tendency to guide us to love the world more than the heavenly things (1 Jn.2:15). I am not saying don’t share the love of God to those who does not know God yet. I would love to see you in Hades (Abraham’s bosom) if the lord has not come yet. Id the Lord Jesus comes today you are ready to be transformed from this corruptible body to an incorruptible body (1 Corinthians 15:52-54 ) , But to be there , we need to be faithful to the Lord as in our earthly marriage because in this tabernacle (Body) our spirit and our body are fighting for our destiny of our soul in eternity as the apostle Paul said “14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” Romans 7:14-17. This show the spiritual battle of the apostle Paul every day in his earthly life . I put my life everyday in the hand of God because I am not able to direct my own steps (Jer.10:23-24). The inspired writer of Hebrews compare our Christian life as a Race “1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:1-3. Alabama sure God is love, but his love is not a filial love or Eros Love. Is agape. The highest Love ever show for mankind and he wants his followers to practice the Agape Love and is a command for every Christian husband in the world (Ephesians 5:25,Col. 3:19)because with that Love we are nothing, sometime our earthly heart make us believe things that are not in the spoken word of God and make us accept our experience as the rule in our life and God wants us abide to his word that is the only way that God communicate with us this day. Our Lord is Love but he is also consuming fire (Heb.12:28-29 ). “28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.” This is a truth that we can not deny his righteous character (Deut.32:4) . God love us better than our earthly parents for that reason he correct us as mention in the book of Hebrews 12:4- 11 “4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
    Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
    And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Can you deny that God give us the opportunity in this life to choose eternal life in heaven or eternal death in hell? God does not want any body to be lost but he told clearly in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Hebrews 9:27 “27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” here is talking about the Trichotomy of Man separation of “spirit, soul, and body”. God put eternity in our heart as mentioned by the wise Salomon in Eccl. 3:9-15 . “9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that whatever God does,
    It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it (His Word). God does it, that men should fear before Him (reverence him). 15 That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been; And God requires an account of what is past. Our Lord God is righteous as foretold by the psalmist in Psalm 7:8-10 “8 The LORD shall judge the peoples;
    Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, And according to my integrity within me.
    9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, But establish the just; For the righteous God tests the hearts and minds. 10 My defense is of God, Who saves the upright in heart.” People will end up in Hell not because they loved sin, but because they didn’t love God. “IF YE LOVE ME, KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS” (John 14:15;cf 21,23-24).

  62. guestfortruth says:

    mistypo ” because with that Love we are nothing” The rigth typo is ” because without that Love we are nothing”

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