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Please explain Luke 18:15-17.

Luke 18:15-17 - Do children/infants have automatic entrance to the kingdom of God if they died without an understanding of the gospel?

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Luke 18:15,16 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

Of such is the kingdom of God - This should not be taken to indicate that those who die in childhood will enter the kingdom of God.

Rather it should be understood as:
(1)Of these children some would respond to the gospel when they were older. (2)That adults who were as teachable as little children would respond.

Number (2) is borne out by verse 17.

17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

Matthew records that we have to become like little children and humble ourselves to be teachable.

Matthew 18:3 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.

Further, that the humblest will be the greatest.

Matthew 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

To enter the Kingdom of God we have to believe, repent, be baptised and live a newness of life.

Peter at Pentecost makes clear that the promise was for that generation and their children, but on the basis of repentance and baptism which could not be applied to their children until they were old enough to understand,

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Children lack the necessary understanding which underpins belief and cannot fulfil the requirements listed above.

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

In the same way that newborn babies desire their mother’s milk, believers are to desire the rudiments of the word of God in order to grow.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

When we die, whether adults or children, we go to the grave.

Death is like sleep, when we are dead we know nothing.

No part of us has a conscious existence after death.

Solomon with his God-given wisdom writes:

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

David, who had the Holy Spirit writes:

Psalms 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

The hope of the Gospel is resurrection from the dead to eternal life in the Kingdom of God (also called the kingdom of heaven) upon this earth.

1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead..

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all shall all (‘all’ that are ‘in Christ’ by belief and baptism) be made alive.

The kingdom of God will be established when Christ returns to the earth.

At his return he will raise from the dead those that have been baptised into him.

1Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

The Bible teaches that Belief and Baptism (adult immersion) are both essential for salvation.

The tragedy of this is that those who die before they are old enough to understand and be baptised will not be raised at the return of Christ.

They themselves will not be aware of their situation but their parents and relatives will bear the grief of their loss in this life.

We need to view the situation as Job did in order to get the right perspective.

NIV Job 1:18 While he was still speaking, another also came and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house,

19 "and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell you!"

20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."

If we see our children as a gift from God; we understand that it is God who both gives and takes away life and that he has the right to do as he pleases with both us and our children.

We do not know why some children die, but we do believe that God has total control of both the good and the evil in our lives and works all for the eternal welfare of those who love him.

NIV Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

As far as the kingdom of God is concerned, God has known from before the foundation of the world who will be in his kingdom.

None will be lost, BUT the choice is always God’s.

NIV Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

NIV Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love

5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

NIV Eph 1:11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

The best we can do for our children is to live Godly lives, teach them the truth and take comfort from what Paul says about them being (as a consequence of the way we live) ‘holy’ in the sight of God.

NIV1Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

As Paul says of the Jews:

Romans 11:28 ... as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

The promise we have is that however hard it is to accept the loss of a child in this life, when we attain to the kingdom we will understand it from God’s point of view.

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

We have to leave it in the hands of God, to do with us and our families what he thinks best.


I hope this helps.

Glenn

 
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