Deu. 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” God has not revealed everything there is unto us. He has kept some things secret from us.
Sometimes we want to know more than what is revealed. For instance, we may want to know if some relative’s or friend’s name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. However, this is kept secret from us. We sometimes can see the evidences of God’s calling in peoples lives and can conclude that they are of God’s elect. But even here we don’t have perfect knowledge.
When God has kept things secret from us, no amount of searching or seeking is going to open it to us.
Some men are now saying that all who die in infancy are of God’s elect. It is not my desire or effort to try to prove or disprove this supposition that all who die in infancy are of God’s elect. The supposition may be true or it may not be true. I submit that only God knows the answer to that, and that he hasn’t revealed it unto us in his word.
Most who have gone about to try to prove all who die in infancy are of the elect have used either faulty logic or else misapplied a few verses of scripture. One such verse that is misapplied is II Sam. 12:23 where David said concerning the infant child born of his and Bathsheba’s adultery who died, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” It is argued that this statement proves that all who die in infancy go to heaven. The fact is, however, that David could have had reference to either heaven or the grave. It just isn’t clear. Secondly even if David’s reference is to heaven it doesn’t prove that every infant child who dies is heaven bound. It would only prove that this specific infant child was heaven bound. The context seems to suggest that David had reference to the grave or death and not heaven. As a matter of fact heaven is not even mentioned or otherwise alluded to in the context.
Another verse used to try to prove the salvation of all who die in infancy is found in Matt. 19:13-15, “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.” Lk. 18:17 adds further, “Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.” The vast majority of times the phrases “kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God’ are used they have reference to the church kingdom and not to the glory world. The above passage is talking about the church. The lesson is that unless we humble ourselves with a child-like humility and trust in God we cannot enter into God’s church kingdom. If this has reference to the glory world then attaining the glory world is dependent on man’s efforts and humility. Then we Old Baptists would be wrong about eternal salvation being by grace alone thru the atoning blood of Christ.
The third verse of scripture which is most frequently used to try to establish that all who die in infancy are of the elect of God is found in Job 21:7, “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea are mighty in power.” The supposition is that the word, “old,” means come to a state of rational maturity and does not mean old age. However, the word, “old,” is translated from the Hebrew, “athaq,” meaning wax old, aged, to wear out.” This raises a question, “Just how old is old?” The idea is put forth that before a person reaches a certain age, if he dies, then he must be of the elect. This type of faulty thinking leads into the false “age of accountability theory.” Recently one man put forth the idea that the wicked are not passively condemned, but are condemned because of their active works of sin. Secondly he said that infants are not capable of committing a willful act of wickedness. However, when such statements are brought to the light of truth they are found to be false.
According to Rom. 5:16, “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences to justification.” Thus by Adam’s one sin judgment to condemnation came upon all of mankind including all infants. Paul also states in Rom. 3:9 that “we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles , that they are all under sin.” Thus all Jews and all Gentiles are under the law of sin and death before God. Rom. 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: (all mankind-VJ) that every mouth may be stopped, all the world (all mankind) may become guilty before God.” Thus all mankind was condemned because of the sin of Adam. The wicked are condemned passively!
Furthermore, the idea that infants are not capable of willful acts of wickedness is simply laughable and certainly contrary to the scriptures. A person would have to be highly unobservant of infants to think they are incapable of willful acts of wickedness. I have seen young infants defiantly disobey their parents; also in fits of rage bite, kick, claw, hit, and scratch other infants and adults; scream bloody murder when they don’t get their way; and tell many lies. The scripture says that the wicked “go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” The same man who said that an infant cannot commit a willful act of wickedness also said that they cannot literally speak a lie. Well the scripture says that the infant speaks lies from birth and this man says that they cannot speak lies. I will believe God and not man.
Another man put forth the idea that God elects people by categories. He said that God elected all Jews as a category and that he elected those who die as infants as a category. First, he is wrong about all Jews being of the elect for Rom. 9:6 says, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children.” Thus not all Israel are of the elect of God. In addition, I know of no verse of scripture that even hints that God elected anyone by category.
In conclusion, I don’t know if all who die in infancy are of the elect of God or not. However, I am convinced that such cannot be proven from the scriptures. Furthermore the elders I came up under never taught such a principle neither have I read where our forefathers held to such a principle. The secret things belong unto God.
Elder Vernon Johnson