Note: In my June 4th Extreme Sunday School lesson I discussed choices regarding spiritual authority. The two primary options I laid out are Sola Scripture (Scripture Alone) and Something + Scripture. You may want to review that lesson and the ‘mind map’ that I created because this post builds on that foundation.
Two of my VERY close friends in ministry and DEAR Christian brothers disagree with my interpretation of scripture as it pertains to the concept of the ‘Age of Accountability’. Not too long ago I made the statement in my Bible class that there are no verses in the Bible that teach the age of accountability. These dear brothers challenged me to look further on the subject and provided me with an with article from a website called gotquestions.org which outlines their belief on the subject. Click Here to Read the Article.
In the spirit of Christian accountability and comradery which teaches us that “iron sharpens iron” (Prov 27:17) to “test everything and hold on to the good”(1 Thess 5:21) and to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1 ), I provide this critique to the gotquestions.org article. I welcome similar critiques and feedback from my Christian brothers and sisters who visit this site.
To begin, I’ve taken the primary truth statements made in the gotquestions.org article and analyzed them based upon whether they were Biblical, Extra Biblical, or Contrary to Scripture / Pure Speculation.
The graphic below shows the results of this analysis.
First off, let me commend the author of this article for affirming the fact that scripture teaches that all humans, including infants are born with Adam’s imputed sin and are guilty before God. The author is to be commended for not making the claim that baby’s go to heaven because they are innocent. Scripture clearly teaches that they are not innocent. In fact, I completely agree with the article until the LAST sentence of the second paragraph that states, “salvation is an individual choice”. It is this claim which causes the article to completely wonder off the ‘Biblical Reservation”.
Scripture does not teach “salvation is an individual choice”. Before you start gathering the wood to burn me at the stake, please consider these passages. I’ve added some questions after each passage to help focus your thoughts on what each says on the matter.
John 6: 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Question: According to this text, what does it mean when it says, “unless the Father who sent me draws him”?
John 6:65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”
Question: According to this text, what does it mean when it says, “unless the Father has enabled him”?
John 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Question: This text clearly says that it is not “of a human decision”, who then is the one who is making the decision?
Heb. 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith
Question: As the author of this blog post I can rightfully say that I’ve created this post. According to this text, who is the ‘creator’ of our faith? Is it us or is it Jesus?
Eph. 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
Question: according to this text, did we choose to be in Christ or did He choose us to be in Him?
2 Thess 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
Question: According to this text, who chose us to be saved? Ourselves, or God?
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Question 1: What is the gift of God according to this text?
Question 2: Whose workmanship are we?
Rom 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Question: does faith come from within ourselves according to this text, or does it come from outside of us through the hearing of the word of Christ?
Note, these scriptures make it clear that saving faith does not have its origin within man, nor upon his ‘ability to believe’. Instead, these passages all agree that it is God who chooses us, draws us, enables us, and gives us faith as a gift.
The final nail in the coffin regarding this notion that ‘salvation is an individual choice’ comes from Romans 8:5-8 which states, “5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
If salvation is an ‘individual choice’ then all we would have to do is choose God then we’d be saved. Yet this is the very thing that this passage says that we cannot do. Sinners cannot submit to God’s law nor please God.
An Appeal to Jewish Customs?
Jewish customs are NOT authoritative in forming Christian theology and doctrine. It is important to note that there are NO scriptures that teach that there is an ‘age of accountability’. The author of the article tacitly admits this fact by having to make an ‘illegal’ appeal to extra-Biblical sources such as Jewish customs in order to build his case. I admit that appeals to extra-Biblical sources such as science, archaeology, and history can be very useful in shedding light on the scriptures. However, they can NEVER be used as THE source for Christian doctrine and teaching. The author of this article is appealing to Jewish Customs as a ‘primary source’ for his doctrine of the ‘Age of Accountability’. Therefore, this appeal is to be rejected.
From this point the author takes us into a deep and almost meaningless fog of pure speculation about the actual age of accountability. The end result is that there is no definitive age of accountability. Instead, he teaches that it is a ‘relative age’ that differs from child to child. Note that the author again is not appealing to scripture. This appeal is to reason and ‘personal experience’ based upon the non-Biblical teaching that a person passes the age of accountability once they are capable of ‘making a faith decision’. Let me remind the reader that, scripture teaches that no one, regardless of their age, is capable of making a ‘faith decision’ for God. Instead, faith is a gift from God.
I admit that many dear Christian brothers and sisters believe in the ‘Age of Accountability’. This teaching is very popular in many of our contemporary American churches. However, I am convinced that this belief is not based upon scripture and even contradicts clear Biblical teaching. What say you?