Friday, 2/21/20 – Question: “Age of Accountability”?

Is an “age of accountability” in the Bible?

baby in white onesie

Where in the Bible do we find evidence of an “age of accountability” and what happens to babies and very young children who die before they can understand salvation?

First of all, it is important to understand that the time a child becomes personally responsible before God varies from child to child. There is no uniform “age” when this happens, and only God knows the heart and mind of an individual. But God is just, and when that point is reached the child is responsible.

photo of toddler running on grass

As John MacArthur put it, “God knows when each soul is accountable. God knows when real rejection has taken place; when the love of sin exists in the heart. When enmity with God is conscious and willful. God alone knows when that occurs.”

The Jews believed this time was reached somewhere around age twelve, possibly because we see Jesus at age twelve “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46). But I believe it happens long before this.

Perhaps the clearest indication that this moment exists is found in Isaiah’s prophecy regarding the coming Messiah, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14) The following two verses are seldom read but both indicate a point at which a child becomes accountable knowing right from wrong.

“He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste.” (vs.15,16).

Do babies who die go to heaven? I believe they do. When David’s infant son died David said,

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the Lord may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” (2 Sam. 12:22-23).

David knew the infant’s soul was safe in the arms of God.

girls on desk looking at notebook

There is also evidence in scripture that with greater understanding comes greater accountability. In Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus denounces the cities in which He had done many mighty works. The suggestion is that because they had witnessed greater evidences of His divinity they were all the more accountable for their rejection of Him.

Similarly Paul writes in Romans 1:18–20 about the accountability the unrighteous have before God because of their knowledge of God in creation,

“…For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

Finally, James warns “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3:1).

close up of paper against black background

From these and other scriptures it is clear that the greater one’s understanding of the gospel, the greater one’s accountability before God to respond to it. Conversely then, the less one’s understanding, the less one’s accountability.

In the case of the infant, the mentally challenged, the unborn or the ignorant God is gracious. Their souls are secure in Him.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

 

Tuesday, 2/18/20 – Pressing on…

Me, Myself & I agree… I am my own divinity!

autumn season under a sunny day

Adam and Eve tried to avoid God by hiding in the woods (Gen. 3:8). The wandering Hebrews tried to replace God by making an idol (Exod. 32:2-4). The Corinthians began to deviate from God by following personages (1 Cor. 1:12; 3:4). Some even opted to make sacrifices to demons (1 Cor. 10:20-22). And, as we have been warned, in these last days many will seek to avoid God by becoming a lover of “self,” a lover of personal pleasures, more than a lover of God. (2 Tim. 3:1-4)

photo of woman doing meditation

New Age thinking says that beyond the “self” there is a “higher self,” a godlike extension of the worldly self. They say that by a relationship with the higher self, you will become able to make your desires become reality… your own little reality.

Love of self will ultimately lead to this. Once we turn our gaze inward we will begin to assess reality only from within that very small, personal world. Scripture is very clear about those who choose this path: “When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Cor. 10:12b). When a person becomes “self”-focussed they begin to set their own rules (see Judg. 21:25). They begin to make their own ‘truth.’

woman wearing brown summer hat

“Personal truth”… “Higher self”… all of this leads only to one thing: A belief that one is one’s own “god.” Me, myself, and I – one’s own little trinity… divinity.

Now a person caught in the trap of such selfism may not see this at all. When the only pictures you take are “selfies” you will never discover among them an image of God. When you fill your library only with books you have written you will never encounter the true Word of God.

Many religions and philosophies touch on the idea of inward journey. But God will not be found within us. We can try to avoid Him by looking away, looking to demons, looking at others, or looking within but it is not until we look up and acknowledge Him as Lord, not ourselves, that we will find Truth.

And, as Jesus taught, “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor John’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 16 message.

Monday, 2/17/20 – Pressing on…

Worms!

20200216_185826Dirofilaria immitis are parasitic roundworms. They are very tiny, like threads and get into their hosts through mosquito bites. Once in, they squirm their way about and work themselves into the heart and lungs causing dirofilariasis. Usually they infect dogs, but can also work themselves into cats, wolves, coyotes, jackals, foxes, ferrets, bears, seals, sea lions and sometimes humans. Dirofilaria immitis is commonly called “heartworm” as adult heartworms may migrate to the heart and pulmonary artery. Untreated it will lead to death, due to congestive heart failure.

man old depressed headache

Just the thought of insidious little worms subtly creeping about inside is most assuredly unsettling. Imagine how you might feel coming home with such a diagnosis! I’m sure it would keep you up at night imagining or perhaps actually feeling these things squirming about through their tissues! Ugh!

But this is exactly the sort of disgusting thing that happens to a soul spiritually if one allows the toxic saliva of self-love to enter them and the lifeblood of God’s Love (Agapé) to be sucked from them. Self-love worms its way deeper end deeper into the tissue of the heart. It paralyzes the flow of Agapé and the heart begins to harden… to grow cold… to die!

doctors doing operation

But there is a cure! There is a Great Physician equipped to handle this emergency. But I warn you it will require surgery. You will need to surrender yourself completely to His knife. In dogs, Dirofilaria immitis brings cough, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss, and finally death. In humans the best strategy is to guard against the disease. Spiritually, we must be diligent to guard our hearts against infection by an increasingly self-loving society. The warning is at once ancient, and current, and prophetic…

“My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Prov. 4:20-23)

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor John’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 16 message.

Friday, 2/14/20 – Friday Tough Question

Is “…if it be Your will” a prayer escape clause?

man tattooed praying

I know just what this questioner means. I’ve heard some Christians call this prayer add-on a “faith destroying phrase,” a face-saving “escape clause” in case God doesn’t come through. Talk like this arouses a righteous anger in me because it sidesteps the sovereignty of God! It places our understanding, our will, our plans in place of God’s.

James gives us stern warning against this,

Listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes… Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 3:13-14; 4:15)

brown and green grass field during sunset

To pray otherwise is to pray presumptuously. Perhaps God’s plan for an individual includes a period of suffering in order to teach some lesson. Praying this be removed would be to pray against God’s purposes which He has not revealed to us. Or, consider the farmer praying for rain while the teacher planning a class picnic prays for sunshine. Neither has the right to tempt God by demanding their preferred outcome.

But there are occasions where prayer with great assurance and boldness is appropriate. Where the will of God is clearly known we need not, indeed ought not, pray with the caveat “…if it be Your will.”

Clearly, we need not pray “Lord, forgive my sins, if it is Your will,” or, “Father, lead us not into temptation, if You so desire.” On these God’s will is already clear to us!

Likewise, we can pray assuredly when we pray according to what God has clearly promised to all believers. Consider this prayer of Paul’s,

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:16-19)

smiling girl holding gray rabbit

Paul does not add any phrase asking if these requests be God’s will. God has already spoken His will through Christ, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48), or as the Amplified puts it, “…be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Interestingly this question tags on well to our discussion earlier this week about approaching God in humility yet coming “boldly to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Like a child we may ask our parent/s humbly for a special privilege, yet demand boldly that which had previously been promised.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Thursday, 2/13/20 – Discipleship – Freedom

Freedom!

adult background beach blue

When Jesus gave the great pronouncement, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” many who heard took His words as an insult. They said, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?

orange fish in ocean

Try to tell a fish that you can make it fly and the swimming fish will think you’re crazy! “I’m flying already,” it thinks, so oblivious it is of its environment in relation to the world above. The fish thinks that what it sees is everything. It does not believe in water. It believes it is flying.

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin…. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” (see John 8:31-33, 34, 36)

“I can quit anytime I want,” boasts the alcoholic. “I just don’t want to right now.” And so says the addict, the workaholic, gambler, rager, materialist, proud-hearted, bigot, thief, abuser, smoker, cultist, hoarder, backbiter, liar, kleptomaniac, money lover, fame seeker, egoist, coveter… and on…

Paul testified this:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:11-13).

blonde hair blur daylight environment

The Christian finds that Christ fills all those empty corners of body, mind, soul and spirit. C.S. Lewis writes, “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” (Weight of Glory.) Augustine of Hippo summarises, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Our hearts are driven to worship and if they do not choose Christ they choose something hollow, they cannot surrender it because the vacuum must be filled with something. That “something” is Christ. Embracing that Truth frees us from all lies. He frees us from sins, from their hold on us, and from their penalty against us. He frees us to experience fulfillment in Him in this life and grants us fulfillment in Him through eternity.

silhouette of people by the seashore

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

Press on…

achievement confident free freedom

  • Are you interested in being discipled one-on-one in the fundamentals of new life in Christ?
  • Are you struggling with hurts or habits? Celebrate Recovery may be for you!
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Use the Contact page and we’ll get you started.

Tuesday, 2/4/20 – Pressing on…

Rest stop…

close up photography of sleeping tabby cat

This past Sunday Pastor Andrew spoke to us of the “Rest” that awaits each believer. This word “Rest” is interesting. The author of Hebrews uses the term Κατάπαυσις [katapausis], meaning “a putting to rest, a calming of the winds, a resting place.” In its metaphoric sense the word refers to “the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended.” (Thayer).

20200203_072834In English, it’s meaning stems back to the nugget idea of “ceasing from action,” of being stationary, immobile.

The word also has a continuative aspect to it… a “keeping on” idea. E.g. “rest assured” meaning continue to be assured, or as we sing at Christmas, “God rest ye merry,” which means to continue in your merriness of spirit.

Then we have compound words such as head-rest, arm-rest, leg-rest, foot-rest, bed-rest, even un-rest. Seems we’ve invented terms for resting our bodies head-to-toe, completely, or not at all. What restless grammarians!

photography of a persons hand with stop signage

After we rest, we may say we feel “restored.” We are made to stop if we are “arrested.” And it’s a medical emergency if we experience “cardiac arrest!”

Most of the time when we are “resting” we are doing (or I suppose not doing) it upon something. I suppose an astronaut might “rest” just floating about in his space capsule, but most of us need something to “rest upon,” something to support us while we stop moving. What do you rest upon?

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28-29, NKJV)

The Christian ought, in all things, rest upon Christ.

As one “yoked” with Christ, the Christian must pace himself with Christ, one step at a time, matching stride for stride… looking down the path to the point He looks upon… not pulling ahead, not dragging behind, not veering to the left or right. This is the best way to keep the yoke comfortable, to plod on with peace.

What are you resting upon as you plod? Is it Christ, the Rock, the Cornerstone? Are you “yoked” with Him. If so, are you comfortable about your neck? Don’t tug at the yoke, don’t become “stiff-necked” or “hard-hearted.” At the end of the plowing a great Rest awaits!

20200119_082748More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 2 message.

Monday, 2/3/20 – Pressing on…

Floodgates and Heavens

silhouette and grayscale photography of man standing under the rain

This past Sunday our worship team launched our service with the praiseful song “Open up the Heavens” in which the chorus shouts

Open up the Heavens / We want to see You
Open up the floodgates / A mighty river
Flowing from Your heart / Filling every part of our praise!

The song is a prayer, inviting the Spirit of God to both descend from above and erupt from within, and there is precedent for this entreaty…

abstract bubble clean clear

The prophet Isaiah cried, “…let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit…” (Isa. 45:8). Ezekiel explained, “the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” (Ezek. 1:1). To the faithful tither God tosses the challenge “…test Me now in this… if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Mal. 3:10)

selective focus photo of obalte green leafed plants during rain

Jesus assured “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38). As he was being stoned to his death Stephen testified “I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56). And Peter “saw the sky opened up…“ as God affirmed to him His plan to extend salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 10:11).

But water cannot drench where it is prevented by an umbrella. It cannot quench where the bottle is corked.

photo of person holding an umbrella

Just one year after my birth the classic musical/romantic comedy “Singin’ in the Rain” came to theatres. An iconic scene from the movie features director, choreographer and dancer Gene Kelly gleefully singing and dancing in a downpour. He’s carrying an umbrella, but it remains closed for the most part. He’s getting drenched, but he doesn’t mind at all. At one point he even stands beneath a gushing downspout!  — Check out the scene here .

Pastor Andrew’s message Sunday morning warned us against the dangers of a “hardened” heart… a heart that has become slow to obey, then stiffened by self-will, no longer pliable clay but dry, cracking, brittle.

silhouette of woman under rain

The only hope for softening a substance like that is a good, long soaking… a drenching and absorbing.

This week, let’s keep singing… pleading… “Open up the Heavens… open up the floodgates…” but let us ensure no umbrellas are up, no hearts are closed.

It’s a wonderful thing the Lord seeks to do in us… in you. And it’s a wonderful rest He offers. But more about that tomorrow…

More tomorrow…

To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Feb. 2 message.