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Chapter 67


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Chapter 67

  1. 1. Geisler, Norman Vol. 3 Systematic Theology II Chapter 67 “The Results of Salvation (Infants and Heathen)”
  2. 2. Salvation includes three spectacular events: 1. The official victory over sin by the Cross; 2. The practical victory over sin within believers; 3. The final victory over sin at the Second Coming.
  3. 3. All humans, saved and unsaved, will be resurrected (cf. Dan. 12:1-3; Jn. 5:28-29; Rev. 20:1-3) Geisler argues that the condemnation of the lost is just because all have heard the gospel and have had an opportunity to respond. Geisler is in error here. Jesus said the gospel would be taken to all nations, implying that it had not been, and in fact, has not yet reached all peoples. So condemnation is not based on the people’s refusal to accept the gospel, condemnation is based on the fact that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and there is none righteous, no not one. All are worthy of condemnation, but by God’s grace some have heard the gospel and those who receive grace by faith are delivered from condemnation.
  4. 4. Geisler is correct on the next two points: The Condemnation of the Lost is Final— Hebrews 9:27 teaches that every person “is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” (cf. also Lk. 16:26 and Rev. 22:11). The Condemnation of the Lost is Eternal— The eventual state of the wicked is not only final, but it is also everlasting (see Matt. 25:32-34, 41; 2 Thess. 1:7-9)
  5. 5. As Geisler says, “The eternal status of infants has always been a thorny issue in orthodox Christian theology.” They are conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5) and “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), and faith is the condition for receiving salvation (Jn. 3:16-18).
  6. 6. The Sacramentalist view holds that God only saves infants who have been baptized because the sacraments are efficacious and baptism is necessary for salvation. However, in that baptism is a “work” and we are not saved by works (Rom. 4:5; Eph. 2:8- 9; Titus 3:5-7) baptism does not save anyone, including infants. If only baptized infants are saved, then God is viewed as cruel and unjust for condemning infants who are not baptized.
  7. 7. The Elect-Infant View (God Saves Only Elect Infants) This position assets that the only deceased babies who go to heaven are the ones who are elect. They argue that since the entire human race has sinned in Adam (Rom. 5:12), the infants who are not of the elect, will go to hell. Some of the elect die in infancy and go to heaven, while others grow to become adults. Geisler argues that this view denies universally accessible salvation. Christ died for all. God desires that all be saved (2 Pet. 3:9). This view does severe damage to God’s attributes of justice and mercy.
  8. 8. The Foreknown-Infant View (God Saves Those Infants That Would have believed) This position assets that since God is omniscient He knows which infant, if he or she had lived, would have believed and as such He will save only those infants and those who would not have believed will not be saved from eternal torment. One main problem (and there are many) is the question of how someone can be saved by “potential faith.” It also brings into question the justice of punishing infants who have never actually sinned.
  9. 9. All-Infant Salvation Views: God Elects All Infants and Saves them 1. All who die before the age of accountability are incapable of moral good or evil. 2. God will only punish people (in the next life) on the basis of evils they have committed in this life; 3. All who die before the age of accountability, then, will not be punished in the next life (that is they will be saved); 4. Arminians, however, hold that faith is necessary condition for salvation; 5. Those who die before the age of accountability cannot believe (that is, have faith); 6. Hence, according to Arminian doctrine, no one dying before the age of accountability can be saved; 7. Calvinism teaches that God can regenerate people without their consent (faith); 8. Consequently, only a Calvinist can consistently maintain that all who die before the age of accountability will be saved
  10. 10. All-Infant Salvation Views: God Elects All Infants and Saves them Problem with this view. The one main problem is that there is nothing in the Bible that specifically mentions an “age of accountability.” Second, it suggests salvation apart from faith. In Nash’s own view of limited atonement he has no reliable reason to believe that God’s election is any broader among infants than it is among adults. If Christ only saves some adults, as extreme Calvinists argue, then why should we assume that He died for all infants?
  11. 11. All-Infant Salvation Views: God Saves All Infants Because They Cannot Believe Basically, this view is that God could not hold anyone accountable for not believing if they do not have the capacity to believe. This would violate God’s justice. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mk. 10:14). Lacking an delimiter, it suggests that all children are included. David in Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God having created him in his mother’s womb and being written in “your [God’s] book” (v. 16). (cf. also Isa. 7:15; Deut. 1:39)
  12. 12. All-Infant Salvation Views: God Saves All Infants Because They Cannot Believe Critics of this view argue that it tends toward universalism and ignores or denies the fact of total depravity and inherent sin. Further it eliminates the faith as an absolutely necessary salvific condition in this life. The merit of this view is that it both satisfies God’s justice and magnifies His omnivbenevolence. It also has some biblical justification.
  13. 13. The Limbo-Infant View This view offers a third view to eternal salvation or eternal punishment. It is limbo. Some Roman Catholic theologians have posited limbo for babies who die unbaptized. However, even proponents of this view find it difficult to defend. There is nothing in Scripture to support it. If it existed, wouldn’t God do the same for people who have never heard the gospel? What is the nature of limbo? Eternal separation from God is one of the torments of hell. Ceasing to exist is annihilation.
  14. 14. The Evangelized-After-Death View This position contends that infants will mature after death (perhaps immediately) and will then be given an opportunity to believe. Those who believe will be saved, those who do not, will be lost. 1. People are condemned to hell for their own willful sin; 2. Jesus died for all people, including young children who die; 3. All people receive sufficient grace for salvation; 4. The act of faith is necessary for salvation.
  15. 15. The Evangelized-After-Death View There is no Scriptural support for the position that infants will mature after death, though this is not an uncommon belief, i.e., that in the glorified body small children who have believed will grow up in heaven. Second, even if they do grow up, there is no evidence that they will then be evangelized. Scripture plainly teaches that there is no hope for salvation beyond the grave.
  16. 16. What are we to conclude? None of the views are without their difficulties. Geisler states that there are three crucial factors in determining which of these positions are correct: 1.Is faith an absolute condition for salvation? 2.Does God always offer everyone the opportunity to believe? 3.Is inherited depravity alone sufficient for condemnation?
  17. 17. The General-Revelation View (Heathen Can Be Saved Through God’s Creation) Those who believe today’s non-evangelized can be saved apart from hearing the gospel reason from the following: The Love and Justice of God. Arguing from God’s attributes it is argued that it would be both unloving and unjust to condemn people who never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. There are Scriptures (e.g., Ps. 19:1-4) that appear to suggest that creation itself, through general revelation, one can believe in God. However, Paul references this very passage (Ps. 19) in saying that no one can hear without a preacher (i.e., special revelation—Rom. 10:18).
  18. 18. The General-Revelation View (Heathen Can Be Saved Through God’s Creation) All evangelicals believe that Christ’s death and resurrection (the fact of His finished work) are necessary for anyone’s salvation. However, those who maintain that salvation can be obtained through general revelation insist that it is not necessary to know about what Christ has done. Accordingly, all verses indicating that Christ’s death and resurrection are soteriologically necessary are taken to refer to the fact of Christ’s sacrifice rather than to explicit knowledge of that truth. ~Geisler
  19. 19. The Special-Revelation View (Salvation Comes Only Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ) The standard orthodox position down through the centuries—held by Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and their followers—is that, in this age, salvation is not possible apart form knowledge of and believe in the death and resurrection of Christ. This position seems to call into question God’s justice and omnibenevolence. Nonetheless, there are several biblical passages pointing in this direction. ~Geisler
  20. 20. The Special-Revelation View (Salvation Comes Only Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ) Biblical support: John 3:36—“whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” John 3:18— “whoever does not believe stand condemned” John 8:24—”If you do not believe that I am . . . You will indeed die in your sins” John 10:1, 9, 11, 14—“the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate . . .is a thief and a robber . . . I am the gate” Romans 10:13-14 Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? An how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
  21. 21. The Special-Revelation View (Salvation Comes Only Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ) The argument from the special-revelation view is that all humanity had inherited sin and only through belief in through knowledge of the gospel can one be saved. As Paul indicates, they cannot believe if they have not heard. General revelation declares that there is a Creator, a God, but it does not reveal the plan of salvation, which is why evangelism and missions is so important. The argument that it is unjust or unloving of God to judge those who have never heard the gospel is an argument made from a faulty premise, namely, that somehow people merit grace. Grace by definition, is unmerited. It is grace that anyone hears and believes. The justice is that everyone goes to hell, because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Grace and mercy is revealed in those who hear and believe.