I am impressed to write some of my thoughts on infant salvation, or redemption. Many Baptists in this part of the country seem to believe that all those who die in infancy are the Lord’s people, or the elect of God; and that the non-elect cannot die in infancy, but all live to maturity. I am not able to harmonize this idea with the scriptures or my experience. I cannot figure this idea or theory out without basing the salvation of the Lord’s peopled on conditions.
If God did choose, elect, and create His people in Christ Jesus His Son before the world was, and left the remainder of the human race to perish in their sins, then the eternal destiny of both was fixed before they were formed of the dust of the ground; and what difference would it make at what age they died; just how much more helpless is the infant in saving himself than a man one hundred years old? Neither can do anything in the way of inducing God to give him eternal life: the infant knows just as much about God and spiritual things as a dead sinner does at one hundred years old. The old man is just as much dependent on God to regenerate him and bring him to spiritual birth as the infant is; and the infant is no better in its fallen human nature than the adult: both are of the same nature. The young lion seems very innocent in its infant stage, but as soon as it is developed, it is as vicious as its parents.
It is natural for us to love our little ones – and right that we should, but it is a natural love. The natural love will fade away with age and die with the natural body, but the spiritual love is a different love: it is of God and shall never die. Far be it from me to point out any infant or adult and say that he is bound for destruction, or everlasting punishment; not even one who may be said to be the meanest man in the world. Neither would I say positively that one who may be said to be the best man in the world, was sure for heaven; for that I do not know. I am glad to leave all with God, for that is His business, and He will take care of it.
If the non-elect cannot die while in infancy, then there would necessarily have to be a time set before which they cannot die. The world says at twelve years; and if so, then conditionalists have it, and they would be right in setting a time limit. Then all would be the Lord’s people until they passed the limit, and came to accountability, as the world claims they do.
I think that Christ’s words are being misinterpreted where He says, “And they brought little children to Him, that He should touch them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” We notice that Christ did not say that they were the kingdom of God, but such were of the kingdom of God. We think He was speaking in the way of comparison, as God’s spiritual children are all little children; and as the natural child is wholly dependent on its natural parent for its life, support, care and sustenance, so are the little children of God.
I think by examining Christ’s words closely, we will see more plainly just what He meant. The above scripture is recorded in Mark 10:13-15. Matthew, in recording Christ’s words on the subject says, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and sat him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whosoever shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me. But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he was drowned in the depth of the sea” Matt. 18:1-6. Notice that He brings it down to the little ones which believe in Him. He uses the natural child in a way of comparison, saying, As a little child; except ye be converted and become as dependent on your heavenly Father for His grace to save and preserve you, as this little child is on its natural father, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Mark says, “And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when He had taken him in His arms, He said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children (notice that He says, one of such) in My name, receiveth Me: and whosoever shall receive Me, receiveth not Me, but Him that sent Me.”
Paul says, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men” 1 Cor. 14:20. We pray that we might be kept as humble and dependent as a little child is on its parents, yet be given the understanding of men. This is the lesson which Christ, as we think, meant to teach His disciples. To take it otherwise, I cannot see how it would harmonize with so many other scriptures. When we put an application on any portion of scripture which would make it conflict with plain declaration of scriptures, we evidently are putting a wrong application on it.
Let us see how it would compare with other scriptures, to say all those who die in infancy are the Lord’s people. First, we will quote the words of David in the Psalms; in speaking of the wicked, or the ungodly, he says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” Notice how he says this: “The wicked,” which implies there are others which are not the wicked under consideration, which we will see by quoting further, “The poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear: which will not harken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely. Break their teeth, 0 God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, 0 Lord. Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces. As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked” Psa. 58:3-10.
So it is plain that David was talking about the non-elect, the worldly wicked, his enemies. And when Christ told those unbelieving Jews that they were of their father the devil, and the lust of their father they would do, he being a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth because there was no truth in him, and when he speaks of a lie, he speaks of his own, for he was a liar and the father of lies, would you not suppose that these unbelieving Jews were the children of the devil when they were born, and if they should die while in natural infancy, would they still not be the children of the devil? Pray tell me where is the scripture that tells us that they cannot die in infancy as well as the elect children of God?
We will ask again, where is the scripture that teaches that God only allows His chosen people to die in infancy, while He allows the wicked, or non-elect, to live to maturity? Would He not be having respect to persons in nature? But, no, they have things in common: He sends the rain on the just and the unjust alike; and they suffer alike in nature; they die alike at all ages. When God was ready to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham inquired of the Lord, “Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? The Lord assured him He would not destroy the city for the sake of the righteous. The angel took Lot and his wife and two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city, saying, “I cannot do anything till thou be come thither.” And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and destroyed the cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of those cities. He assured Abraham He would not destroy the righteous with the wicked, so evidently those infants were not righteous.
Also, when the death angel entered every house of the Egyptians and took the first born, many of whom were undoubtedly infants, it was indicative of their destruction; while the passing over of Israel meant her salvation, and their deliverance from bondage. When Joshua led them into their promised land, the Lord gave commandment to destroy everything in the land, both man and beast, young and old, except Rahab and her family, she being saved we are told by faith. Could we think that the Lord would destroy His elect with them that believe not?
I believe that every one who was chosen in Christ Jesus before the world was, will be born again before they leave this world; because God has only one way of saving His people. He does not save the infant because it is innocent, and the adult by the birth of the spirit, for Christ says, Except a man (and that means every man, woman and child, for they are all man) be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. So, He says, “Marvel not that I said unto you, ye must be born again,” without exception of age, station or time. While the infant is not able to demonstrate the spiritual birth, yet we believe it takes place in every one of the Lord’s choice before it leaves this world. No doubt many are born of the Holy Spirit while yet in their mother’s womb. John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb; and the Lord said unto Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee, and before thou cameth forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee and ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”; and Isaiah says, “Listen, 0 Isles, unto me, and harken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb: from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name”; and the angel said in speaking to Zacharias regarding John the Baptist’s birth, that he should be filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb. It is not by any acts which we have committed individually which have brought us under sin and condemnation and death, but we are born under sin and brought forth in iniquity. We were just as much dead in sin when we were born into this world, as we were when we grew up. It was the sin of the one man Adam that brought sin and death on all his posterity; and it was by the obedience of One, even Jesus Christ, the Lord, that many are made righteous – righteousness imputed upon them, they have none of themselves. Nature has nothing to do with the work of the Holy Spirit of God. I have been accused by some that I believe there will be infants in hell not a span long, but this is a misrepresentation, for all will be of the same stature, and all the same age: nature will not be there – it will cease with the death of the body, and the body will be raised a spiritual body with no nature or natural qualities about it. My earthly father will not be my father there; neither my mother nor my children. This relationship is of the earth; while the spiritual relationship is not of the earth but from above, and shall never die or fade away but it everlasting as God is.
I would like to relate some of my early experience, which seems to date back as far as I can remember. The fear of God was always present with me even in my childhood days. I believed there was some Supreme Ruler of all things to whom I must give an account for my every evil act, and that my very life depended on Him. I was continually saying in my mind secretly, Lord have mercy on me. I was considered a very moral boy, and would often hear of the neighbors saying that Hi Rogers was a mighty good boy. It would humiliate me and make me ashamed; and I would say to myself: You do not know me as I do – you cannot see what is within me, as I felt to be the most wretched being in the world.
Will come to a close now. Would appreciate it if some of the editors would write on the subject and give their understand, for the subject is an important one. If I am wrong in my ideas on it, I would like to find it out. I have thought good brethren who hold different ideas are sincere, but probably have not searched the scriptures closely on the subject, and probably believe as they do more by tradition than anything else. I do not wish to wound anyone’s feelings, and it does not affect my fellowship for them.
May the Lord give us light and guide us in all truth, is my sincere prayer.
H. L. ROGERS