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Pagans and Babies

12/03/2020

Pagans and Babies

In this study we will look at two really difficult issues that Christians have to face, that we may be questioned about. We have been talking about heaven and hell, and we know that when we die we will go to one or the other.  Believers who rest in Christ’s finished work on the cross, with humble repentance and faith will most surely go to heaven.  Those who reject the Cross, who live outside of a covenant relationship with God will die and face judgement for their unpardonable sins, and will not be able (or willing) to enter the blinding holiness of their Creator, but will be lost forever in the lake of fire, suffering eternal punishment.  It is a stark contrast.  But it’s not that simple is it?   

 

1 What about the Pagans who have never heard the Gospel?  Amos 3:1-2 Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” 

How could a good God cast countless millions of innocent people into hell when he has never allowed them the opportunity to hear the Gospel or be saved?  Think about this clearly… 

  • Is there such a thing as an INNOCENT pagan? If God casts anyone into hell it is for a reason – for the fact that they have sinned, grievously and egregiously before God.  Romans 1 deals with this.  Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 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.  Even those who have never heard the gospel are without excuse for they should know from creation that there is a God who created it.  Have you heard of ‘William Paley’s Teleological Argument four the Existence of God?’  Paley was an English Theologian who lived 1743 to 1805.  He wrote a book called ‘Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity.’  Catchy title!   It’s not as complicated as it sounds.  Paley’s argument was that if a man was walking across a field and he stubbed his tow on a rock, he’d just think, ‘there’s a rock!  he wouldn’t wonder who put it there!  But if he walked a few more yards and came upon a watch lying on the ground, he would remark upon it – would maybe pick it up, would wonder how it got there and who owns it.  If he were to open up the back of the watch and look inside he would be able to establish the fact that something so precise and intricate would require a watchmaker.  It is evident that there is a watchmaker because there is a watch.  Similarly, argued Paley, it is evident that there is a Creator from the simple fact that there is a creation!  Even the pagans should be able to work that out, but they don’t. Not because they are stupid, but because , in their sinful hearts, they don’t want to!   In fact none of us deserve to be saved, we are all sinners, and it is only through an act of the mercy of God that any of us are saved.   
  • Will these pagan suffer as much as people who have heard?  In fact this forces us to consider another question altogether – one that arose in discussion just a few weeks ago.  The degree of light that a person has received in this life, seems to have a bearing on the degree of punishment they endure in eternity.  Do some comparative work… 
    • Covenant-breakers.  Those who have been born into Christian homes for example… Leviticus 26:28. then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.  
    • Pagans.   Luke 12:47-48 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. 
    • Christ rejectors.  Hebrews 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
    • There are other verses too.  Matthew 11:20-24, Luke 10:12-15, Luke 23:34, 11:31-32, Acts  3:17,   1 Timothy 1:13. They add up to an understanding that the degree of light a person has received will make a difference.  
  • What do we conclude? The God who is just will do justly, and while he must punish sin, he will mete out eternal punishment in a fair and equitable way. Psalm 98:8-9   Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord For He is coming to judge the earth With righteousness He shall judge the world, and the peoples with equity. 

 

2 What about Babies who have Died in Infancy?   Now this is a really thorny issue.  Let’s read the words of Jesus…
Matthew 18:10 Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”  

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Matthew 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray.  Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.   

Luke 18:16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  

Ive been to lots of funerals for little babies, and at every one there’s been questions, “how did this happen?” and “why did this happen?”   If you have read my little booklet on ‘Purgatory’ you will know that the Catholic church until recently believed that unbaptised babies who die go to a place called ‘Limbo.’. See the section on LIMBO for more information.  But… 

  • Remember that LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION. In the womb, God KONOWS babies and cares for them.  He forms them and loved them and cares for them.  They are his special creation, just as much as any other child would be.  As Jesus himself said in the reading that I shared earlier: “It is not the will of your  Father that one of these little ones should perish.”   And, as promised to us by God through the prophet Isaiah, there will come a time when there is a new heaven and a new earth – a time when never again will there be in it an infant who dies, or an old man who does not live out his.  But this is not yet that time. 
  • Remember that when a baby dies, even in the womb, WE WILL MEET THAT CHILD AGAIN!  When David lost a child at birth, he wept.  But he made a startling statement which God has preserved for us as part of his word, for our help and for our comfort.  2 Samuel 12:17-2318 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 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.” In that simple statement is David’s confidence that his son had gone to be with God, had gone to heaven, and that one day they would be reunited in God’s presence. 
  • Babies are NOT INNOCENT!  But there is something else that we learn about babies in God’s Word, and it helps to clarify this matter.  We are taught that in the womb, we inherit Adam’s sin, for we are told that we are born in sin, and shapen in iniquity. David wrote, Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. We are all the inheritors of Adam’s sin and guilt – even little babies.  So how then can we, how then can David, be so sure that our babies are in heaven?  Because of Jesus!  Because of His atoning death on the Cross. Because He said “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.   And we simply take Him at His word.  So we have confidence in Christ that a wee baby who dies is with the Lord. In heaven because of what Jesus did on the cross for them, and for us..
     

In both of these difficult subjects we can find ourselves in agreement with words of F W Faber, who wrote, For the love of God is broader, than the measure of man’s mind, and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind! 

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