The Miracle of Life

Yesterday in our People’s Choice series we dealt with one of the most important social and moral issues of our day, abortion. Here is a helpful little video followed by a resource link to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. You may also want to listen to the sermon on our sermons’ page.

Society for the Protection of Unborn Children:


What happens to children when they die?

What happens to children when they die?Baby

This question was asked in this summer’s People’s Choice summer series and because of space in that series and also because it may be more clearly delivered in type, I address it in this blog.

This is not a question unique to today (though emotionalism and universalism perhaps make it more difficult to address). Infants died in Bible times, pre-modern Britain, and indeed still today. Although infant mortality has decreased, still children die, particularly the unborn (miscarriage, abortion[1], the disposal of embryos in fertility treatments, etc).[2] So long as there are children and so long as there is sin and death this question will be relevant.

Before I begin to give a basic and introductory response, I want to emphasise that I do not embark on seeking to answer this question as if from a distance. My wife and I lost a child through miscarriage and we have had close friends and family members suffer the loss of both unborn and newborn children. Something else that I must stress before I proceed is that this question is often approached through emotionalism. While our affections have a role to play we must submit ourselves to Scripture, conceding that our ways are not God’s ways (Isa 55:8–9). Generally when we are uncomfortable about something in the Bible God is correct and we are wrong. If you proceed in reading this blog please pause, pray and be open to reason [or reasoning] (James 3:17). Christianity is like a train and the order of that train is important. First must come the locomotive, then the car and finally the caboose. Put another way, first must come fact (or the promises and truths of God), then faith (or belief in those) and then feeling. Get the order wrong and the train soon runs off the track. Get the order right and it runs smoothly along.

The question centres around salvation and namely, if the Bible teaches human depravity and the need of salvation (which it clearly does), what about children? It also touches upon our beliefs about what the character of God should be in relation to this question, either leaning toward His love (how could a loving God allow…) or His justice (God is soft on sin if…).

Numerous passages and verses in the Bible teach human depravity, but three are perhaps most pertinent to this subject.[3]

The first is Psalm 51:5 where the Spirit says through David: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. This verse teaches that not only from birth but from conception we are sinners.

The second is Ro 5:12, which addresses why we are born sinners. Here the Spirit says through Paul: Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. This means that because the head of the human race—Adam—sinned, all humans are born sinners (original sin). Not only are we born guilty sinners by nature but we also co-opt into sin through sinful choices throughout our lives.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most challenging, come passages like Deut 20:16–18 and 1 Sam 15:2–3 where the Spirit says the following about the destruction of the Canaanites:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

We must remember that these last passages speak of judgement because of societal sin of a great magnitude (with simply a different means than say Sodom and Gomorrah) and not genocide. Traditionally this total judgment has been understood by Christians as a real event backed up by archaeology, but also as a picture of hell.

If children had no sin, children wouldn’t die. As death is a result of sin generally, children as well as adults tragically die.

In light of these three passages, we return to the question.

There have been at least 7 ways that Christendom has sought to answer this question.

  1. All children go to heaven (universalism: that God ultimately accepts everyone because He is “love”).
    1. This has been the death knell of ‘liberal Christianity.’ The basic teaching of the Bible is that sinners are saved through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Jesus’ death did not save everyone but only made that salvation possible. Jesus died to save those who would believe in Him, He died to save His own (Jn 10:14). The Bible clearly teaches that notall humans are saved.
  2. No children go to heaven.
    1. Based on the above passages and that children cannot believe some do not think any children go to heaven.
  3. Christened children go to heaven (Roman Catholicism).
    1. Roman Catholics believe one is saved by faith+sacraments+works. One of the sacraments is to christen children. In a sacrament the church is seen as having the authority to dispense God’s grace on earth. As such those children who are baptised are saved, hence why Roman Catholics are so quick to want to baptise their children. The clear teaching of the Bible that we are saved by faith and not by works (whether personal or ecclesial [by the church]) discounts this view.
  4. Children who die before the “age of accountability” go to heaven.
    1. Another popular view that seeks to balance accountability for sin and the need for faith in salvation is this one: that children are only subject to the penalty of hell if they reject Christ after some arbitrary or subjective “age of accountability.” If they haven’t reached that age they go to heaven. But what is this age? Is it 4, 6, 8, 12, 20, 40, 80? The Bible doesn’t say, because it doesn’t exist. Anyone who has worked with children knows that children wilfully choose sin from a very early age and should be held accountable much earlier than 18!
  5. In His mercy God applies the meritorious work of Christ to children because He is a God of grace.
    1. In this view children do not exercise normal faith in Christ that is needed by those who can choose, but rather He has mercy upon whom I have mercy (Ro 9:15). While it is true that God has mercy upon whomever He will (in this passage as it relates to election), the consistent teaching of Scripture associates receiving this mercy in faith. The strength of this view is it fights universalism by appealing to the need for the work of Christ. The downside is that nowhere in the Bible is this clearly stated.
  6. Only elect children go to heaven (or children of the elect are saved).
    1. This was the view held by the founders of our chapel. Article 10.3 of our founding confession said this: “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit,[12] who works when, and where, and how He pleases:[13] so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.[14]” (The Scriptural proofs for some of these show that even the most robust theologians need to bend Scripture to address this question). In this view infants who are elect are saved without faith shown on earth[4] according to the mercy of God. A similar view believes children of believing (elect) parents are saved on account of the faith of their parents. This view would account for why not all children (like those of the Amalekites) are saved and why some possibly are, but no one could know who an elect child was or was not, because the elect are normally only justified through faith on earth.
  7. This is a mystery best left to the Lord (my personal view).
    1. I do not stay awake at night wondering about the eternal state of my unborn child. Why? Because I entrust its soul to an all wise, good and sovereign God and accept His will, whatever it may be. While point 6 comes closest to sounding reasonable, I believe that because the Bible does not even remotely touch upon this subject clearly, it therefore must not be a subject God wants us to concern ourselves with, otherwise He would have told us.

There are two things, however, that the Bible does clearly teach: 1) personal comfort grounded in the promises of God (vs. speculation) for those who mourn the loss of a child, and 2) the personal need to respond to the Gospel.

  1. For those who have suffered the loss of a child comfort is available in the face of such loss but it does not come from speculating about your child’s salvation but hoping in the promises of God such as, Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4).
  2. The Lord commands all people everywhere to repent… (Acts 17:30).

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] In 2015 there were 185,824 in England and Wales (

[2] I believe it is possible to differentiate between the immorality of abortion for instance and issues of infant salvation.

[3] Jesus saying, “let the little come to me” has as little to do with salvation as it does baptism, rather Jesus is breaking down barriers in the apostles hearts, because the Gospel was not meant for “us” (the disciples or the Jews) but for them (Jews and Gentiles and all who believe).

[4] This is very similar to forms of universalism where it is believed people will get a second chance before entering heaven to believe (but see Heb 9:27).

Two types of Christians I really respect…part II

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog with this title and now answer the second half of it, another type of Christian I have immense respect for, and for whom we should all unite our prayers.

The unequally yoked after marriage

The Bible envisions the possibility of one person in a marriage becoming a believer, what then?

1 Cor 7:12–16 says (emphasis added):

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy[1] because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean,[2] but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.[3] God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Jesus teaching had not handled the situation of one spouse becoming a believer but Paul here (with inspired authority) applies Jesus’ teaching to this new situation.

I know of a number of women who have come to faith later in life (or “returned to the Lord”) who now find themselves in this tricky situation and the tension that introducing heavenly values into what had been a marriage of worldly standards can produce in a marriage. In spite of these trials the spouse should seek to be gracious so they might be won by their conduct (1 Pet 3:1, though this is given to wives the principle would extend to a husband).

I am also aware of many women whose husbands left them after they became a Christian. One such woman was married for 11 years when she became a Christian and had 3 children. Two years later the husband had enough of her new found faith and gave the ultimatum that it was either himself or Jesus. She choose Jesus and he divorced her.

For women (and men) who find themselves in such situations, let us unite our prayers, asking that the Lord would sustain them in any trial related to their faith but ultimately that the unbelieving spouse might be won over by their good conduct.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Open to Christian influence. This should not be read as “saved.”

[2] Similarly, this should be taken to mean under sound moral and spiritual influence from the believing parent and not “saved.”

[3] Not compelled to seek reconciliation.

Two types of Christians I really respect…

There are two types of Christians that I have immense respect for (and would invite all believers to join with me in prayer and support for such fellow-believers): 1) Christian singles waiting to marry in the Lord, and 2) Christians who are married and find themselves married to unbelievers. This post will address the former.

Christian Singles

I have immense respect for men and women who’d rather wait and obey God’s command to not marry outside the faith, rather than disregard that for expedience (marry “only in the Lord” 1 Cor 7:39). While this could be anyone, because statistically there are more Christian women than men, it usually happens to be young women in their 20s or 30s. Though they may have a great desire to marry, though the social and peer pressure to do so may be enormous, though many seemingly good alternatives may come along among unbelievers and tempt them considerably, they patiently wait upon the Lord, obey His command and submit to His providence (Ps 130:5–6), maintaining their purity. For such people, would you join me in honouring them and praying for them?

Excuses to justify the opposite, however, abound and are rooted in a wilful disregard for what God has said for our benefit.

An excuse such as “I love him” or “no one better has come along” is to fail to recognise that the prudent look for a marriage of both the head and of the heart and trust the Lord until He provides a believing spouse (if that of course is His will). “I can lead him to the Lord” is also naively unrealistic. We by our influence can never convert someone as that is the work of the Holy Spirit. All such excuses recall Satan’s first lie, “did God really say?” All excuses are exposed for what they are—unsubstantiated—and are swept away after the marriage when the reality of being yoke to someone who does not share your values becomes evident and begins to cause endless headaches.

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor 6:14)

This New Testament teaching is deeply rooted in the Old Testament (Dt 7:3–6; Ezra 9; Amos 3:3, Mal 2:10-16; etc).

While forgiveness is surely available for believers who persist and marry a non-believer, they will still face the consequences of their choice. For such people, would you join with me also, praying for the conversion of their unbelieving spouses, and the strength and grace to persevere under such circumstances.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Manning Up

We’ve probably all seen those saddening reports that link absentee fathers to a great many social issues faced in our age. Yet, this issue is simply the root of a far less overt but equally destructive problem in society, that of men not “manning up” to their God given responsibilities and roles. Let’s look back to the Garden of Eden and examine Adam’s prime temptation and failure to better understand this deeper spiritual issue.

We often think it was Eve’s fault for the fall (at least that is one of the traditional views) after all she was the one talking with Satan and she is the one who took the fruit (not the apple!) and ate. But if you look more closely you see this:

“…she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with here, and he ate.” (Gen 3:6b)

Adam’s failure was that he failed to protect his wife Eve from the serpent’s lie by correcting the serpent by quoting what God had actually said (the truth found in Gen 2:16–17. Compare Adam’s failure to address the serpent with how Jesus responded to Satan in His temptation in Mt 4). Instead of “manning up” to his responsibility we actually see that “he ate” as well, becoming complicit in the crime that saw humanity separated from God. Even though Eve’s guilt was primary, part of the reason Paul gives Timothy as to why women should not be teachers over men in the Church (1 Tim 2:14), that Adam was the head over his wife (as Christ is the church, 1 Cor 11:3), that he had greater responsibility as the head of the family and representative of mankind, is the reason why the ultimate reason the Bible gives for this separation is not Eve’s sin but Adam’s, “…sin came into the world through one man…” (Ro 5:12). Adam was doubly guilty.

A man’s prime temptation is to shy away from responsibility; yet he finds his greatest fulfilment in stepping up into that responsibility, whether married or not. (A woman’s prime temptation and fulfilment is something entirely different which time does not allow to be unpacked here). Men are first called to godliness (a calling they share with women, 1 Tim 4:7b, “train yourself in godliness.”). This is something society often considers as weak for men to pursue but is at the very centre of what it means to be a real man like Jesus, to be in fellowship with God. A central part of being a godly man is to take responsibility in life, to not be lazy or to sit back, but to step forward, to do, to lead, not out of compulsion but willingly. When men are willing to be responsible they will step up into their God given roles, both those that Scripture ordains and those that godly wisdom suggests are normative (though not necessarily exclusive) to men.

Men are often portrayed as liking a challenge (I would suggest that this stems from how we were wired by God). Here is a spiritual challenge for men in our generation:

“And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land [said the LORD], that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezk 22:30)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more men chose humility rather than rebellious pride, Christ over Satan, responsibility over inaction or laziness (and men and women of faith prayed to this effect, and (especially godly women) encouraged and facilitated the men they know to the end). This would prove to be one of the greatest transformative forces to redeem the effects of the fall in our broken country and world, if more men would man up and stand in the gap.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris