Why Do People Suck? Part Three

Posted: November 13, 2008 in Uncategorized

Are infants guilty before they commit actual sins? Is there an “age of accountability”? Dr. Grudem points out in his Systematic Theology that it is impossible to find such an “age of accountability” in Scripture. 

“But then what do we say about infants who die before they are old enough to understand and believe the gospel? Can they be saved?” 

Professor Grudem writes, “Here we must say that if such infants are saved, it cannot be on their own merits, or on the basis of their own righteousness or innocence, but it must be entirely on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work and regeneration by the work of the Holy Spirit within them.”  See 1 Tim. 2:5 and John 3:3.

Sound harsh? Dr. Grudem goes on to state, “it certainly is possible for God to bring regeneration (that is, new spiritual life) to an infant even before he or she is born.  This was true of John the Baptist for the angel Gabriel, before John was born, said, “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).   Thus, God can (and I would add, probably does) save infants.  Even Professor Grudem notes that this is difficult to comprehend. In the end, we must simply trust in God’s just judgment.

“Are there degrees of sin?” Yes and no.

Any sin renders us guilty before God and, again, because God is the greatest good and sin is a direct offense against Him then any sin is the greatest evil imaginable and, therefore, justice demands the ultimate punishment (hell) for that offense (Gal. 3:10; James 2:10-11). Yet, we also know that some sins are worse than others as far as their impact on our daily lives, relationships, etc.  The Bible actually affirms “levels of sin” in several different passages (for example, see John 19:11; Ezek. 8:6, 13, 15) as well as lesser and greater commandments (Matt. 5:19; 23:23).

“What happens when Christians sin?” Simply put, we our forgiven for “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).”  Yet, when Christians sin, as Grudem notes, “our fellowship with God is disrupted and our Christian life is damaged.” 

“What is the unpardonable sin?”  (Matt. 12:31-32; Mark 3:29-30; Luke 12:10; etc.)  Grudem argues from the full context of these passages that this sin is not simply unbelief or rejection of Christ but one that includes “(1) a clear knowledge of who Christ is and the power of the Holy Spirit working through him, (2) a willful rejection of the facts about Christ that his opponents knew to be true, and (3) slanderously attributing the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ to the power of Satan.”  Take a look at Hebrews 6 and see if his explanation fits.  It seems to, but he admits that it does not fit 1 John 5:16-17 where he believes the inspired author is speaking of persistent sin that leads to death.

Tomorrow we hit covenant.  Until then, grace and peace to you all.

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