Infant Faith?

Babe In WombIn discussing abortion and infant death, we invariably come around to asking “What’s going on in the womb?” and “Do babies go to heaven?” While science cannot answer the second question, it can give us some information about the first. Science tells us when the brain is formed, when the heart starts beating, what the baby looks like, and a mother has her own set of experiences to corroborate this (baby’s movement, hiccups, etc).

However, the Bible also informs us of things going on in the womb – things we could not know without Special revelation:

  • The baby is designed by God. (Kind of a no-brainer, but some people need to hear this)
    For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. ()
  • God plays a part in delivering His children, causing them to trust in Him even as newborns.
    Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. ()
  • From birth, God is the God of His children. (Because David is giving this as an answer to “You say you trust in God – let’s see God deliver you now!”, I take this phrase to be a bit more than David simply acknowledging that God is the God of all. He’s describing a special connection to God that his enemies do not have)
    On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. ()
  • One can trust/lean (same concept) on God while still in the womb. This is the essence of faith.
    Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you. ()
  • One can be destined for heaven even as a newborn. (Granted, we have to read a bit into David’s statement here, but he seems genuinely relieved that he will one day see his son, so it’s not a stretch to conclude that this prophet of God knew his son was destined for glory)
    But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” ()
  • One can have the Holy Spirit even while in the womb. Speaking of John the Baptist, the angel said:
    For he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. ()
  • One can be emotional and jump for joy while in the womb. (To jump for joy requires not just emotion, but also the ability to communicate [so as to understand what’s going on] and intellect to recognize and respond to what’s going on)
    For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. ()

We’re not told that the actions of these babies were limited to just these 4 people (David, his son, the Messiah and John the Baptist), and we see nothing in the rest of Scripture to say that these can’t be true for any other child of God. So I don’t think there’s no harm in concluding that the same can be true for any other child of God. In fact, given these verses, I would say that it takes special effort to conclude that these are not true of other babies as well.

While we all appreciate nice things about babies, we want to also bear in mind that the Bible says ‘not so nice’ things about some babies. Many babies were the subject of divine judgment (Noah’s flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, Joshua’s conquest of Canaan), so I think we’d be rushing it a bit if we said that all babies have faith in God. So which babies do have faith in God? The Bible doesn’t say. I’m content to say that it applies at least to elect babies.

Are Babies Elect?

I emphasize ‘elect babies’, because the Bible has some very uncomfortable things to say about babies with regard to the natural man and wicked people. We can’t ignore these passages:

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What is man, that he can be pure? ​​​​​​​Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? ​​​  ()
  • Man who is born of a woman ​​​​​​​is few of days and full of trouble. ​​​ … ​​​​​​​​Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? ​​​​​​​There is not one. ​​​  ()
  • The wicked are estranged from the womb; ​​​​​​​they go astray from birth, speaking lies. ​​​  ( This is essentially the direct opposite of what David says himself/the Messiah in , suggesting that, like adults, babies fall into two camps: elect and not elect)
  • Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, ​​​​​​​and in sin did my mother conceive me. ​​​  ( The natural state of man is to be born in sin. – and the entire chapter – attests to this.)
  • The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, ​​​​​​​to see if there are any who understand, ​​​​​​​who seek after God. ​​​ ​​​​​​​​They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; ​​​​​​​there is none who does good, ​​​​​​​not even one. ​​​  (. Normally, I might question whether “children of man” is intended to refer to infants. But David’s point could have been made without invoking the word “children”. One wonders why he bothered to mention them.)
  • You have never heard, you have never known, ​​​​​​​from of old your ear has not been opened. ​​​​​​​For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously, ​​​​​​​and that from before birth you were called a rebel. ​​​  ()
  • Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten [righteous people] are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”  (. In this scene, Abraham is negotiating with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah. God agrees to spare the cities if He finds 10 righteous people. But one chapter later, we see the Trinity collaborating to rain fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah (). We know that the cities were large enough to warrant foreign invasion by a federation of foreign kings (), so surely it was large enough for there to be were infants around. But because it was destroyed by God, it would seem to me that we need to conclude that God didn’t count the infants as righteous.)
  • O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, ​​​​​​​blessed shall he be who repays you ​​​​​​​with what you have done to us! ​​​ ​​​​​​​​Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones ​​​​​​​and dashes them against the rock! ​​​  (. In this passage, the people of God – by direction of the Holy Spirit – call for God to avenge their blood against their enemies, even to the extent of destroying their infants. This would make no sense if the author/Holy Spirit saw these infants as righteous in God’s eyes.)
  • Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.  ( There are several other passages like this, where the people of God are commanded to destroy wicked people, including their infants. is obeyed in ; , etc)

I can’t say that I find these passages to be cheery, but they’re in the Bible and they’re part of the discussion, so they have to be mentioned.

Ye Have Heard It Said…

There are a number of passages that are typically put forward as arguments for all infants being saved. I don’t find them compelling:

  • He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let him live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.”  ( ) The thinking here is that David was comforted in the fact that he would one day see his infant son. Because David believed his son was heaven-bound, we should think all babies are heaven-bound.
    But this doesn’t follow. David is talking specifically about his own son, not every infant. Additionally, as a prophet of God, it’s not illogical to believe that he received special revelation from God regarding his son. That doesn’t mean every child will share the same fate (as the previous list of passages demonstrate).
  • Your little children, whom you said would be plunder, your sons who don’t know good from evil, will enter there. I will give them the land, and they will take possession of it.  () The thinking here is that since children don’t know good from evil, they’re exempt from the guilt of sin.
    The particular passage is about the Israelites rejecting the command to go into Canaan. Because of their disobedience/disbelief, they were punished by wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Caleb, Joshua and all those under 20 years of age were (eventually) allowed to enter the Promised Land. There are several problems if we try to go this route to support the idea of children going to heaven:
    – This necessitates the concept of an “age of accountability”, a doctrine found nowhere in Scriptures.
    – This passage is about kids under 20. I sincerely hope that no one in their right mind believes that teenagers don’t know good from evil. Furthermore, later in the same book, parents are commanded to stone rebellious children (). Stoning kids who don’t know good from evil?
    – Knowing good from evil is not a sign that one has no sin, it is a sign that one has no knowledge, and that comes with maturity ().  This is true of children and adults.
    – Just because you don’t have knowledge of wrong-doing doesn’t mean you’re not culpable ()
    – What do we do with the plethora of passages where God destroyed children and/or commanded the destruction of children? (Noah’s Flood, Sodom & Gomorrah, Korah’s Rebellion, Joshua’s Conquest of Canaan, etc)
  • For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.   () Some people use this passage to say that since infants (and mentally challenged people, savages in the “deepest, darkest jungles of Africa”, etc) have not seen God’s Word, and could not believe – therefore they are not guilty. However, this passage isn’t talking about believing for salvation. It’s talking about seeing nature and realizing that there is a just God who will judge. As Jesus said in , even if they don’t know, they’re still headed for judgment. Ignorance is no excuse for violating God’s moral law.

Babies In Heaven?

Q: How then does an infant get to heaven?
Seems to me that it’s the same as any adult: by grace through faith (). And that faith comes through hearing, and hearing comes through the Word of God ().

Q: How does an infant hear the Word of God?
My response is actually pretty simple: God can and will communicate through a variety of agents: Adults, children, donkeys, stones, angels and the Holy Spirit. Adults and children are (usually) limited so that they can only speak in their own language, but angels and the Holy Spirit are not. They can communicate in any language – even such that a donkey – and surely a baby – can understand. That sounds incredibly bizarre – but how else do we explain the fact that John the Baptist, while still in the womb, knew that Jesus was near? Someone communicated this information to him – an angel or the Holy Spirit (likely the latter). And that same One who told him that Jesus was near, surely has the ability to explain saving faith to this infant such that the infant can believe .. which is essentially what says.

It’s an unconventional position to take, but I don’t see anything in the Bible that prevents it from being the case. In fact, I actually see a consistent basis for supporting it.

Thoughts?


13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. (ESV)


Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. (ESV)


10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (ESV)


Upon you I have leaned from before my birth;
you are he who took me from my mother’s womb.
My praise is continually of you. (ESV)


23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (ESV)


15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. (ESV)


44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. (ESV)


14 What is man, that he can be pure?
Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous? (ESV)


14:1 “Man who is born of a woman
is few of days and full of trouble.
He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not.
And do you open your eyes on such a one
and bring me into judgment with you?
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
There is not one. (ESV)


The wicked are estranged from the womb;
they go astray from birth, speaking lies. (ESV)


10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (ESV)


Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me. (ESV)


12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. (ESV)


The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one. (ESV)


You have never heard, you have never known,
from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would surely deal treacherously,
and that from before birth you were called a rebel. (ESV)


32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” (ESV)


24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. (ESV)


14:1 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.” (ESV)


O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock! (ESV)


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.’” (ESV)


16 But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded, 18 that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices that they have done for their gods, and so you sin against the Lord your God. (ESV)


17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. 21 Then they devoted all in the city to destruction, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys, with the edge of the sword. (ESV)


17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. (ESV)


22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (ESV)


39 And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. (ESV)


18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. (ESV)


14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (ESV)


47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (ESV)


18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (ESV)


47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (ESV)


For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)


13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (ESV)


Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. (ESV)

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5 comments to Infant Faith?

  • Inborn faith aligns with God’s sovereignty – there is no other biblically defendable explanation for womb-based salvation. The bible says that God elected His own before the foundation of the world, at His good pleasure. Said salvation is not based on hearing the gospel, it’s based on God’s sovereign election. God’s hands are never tied…though this creates head scratching curiosities for interpreting other passages of the bible. Hence, we study to show ourselves approved – it all comes together (and it must) for us to be thoroughly finished.

    The bible reinforces inborn or elected salvation through teaching that there’s not a single contribution we can make to our salvation that’s acceptable to God. The bible continually teaches that savation is by grace alone, through Christ alone, by faith (trust) alone. Works (e.g. words, actions, thoughts), simply anything the human creature could point to that would merit salvation (in their mind) are struck down repeatedly as null and void in God’s view. God chose us, we didn’t choose God (not of our own choosing – nowhere in the bible is the concept that we naturally seek God). The biblical “womb” examples are but a few of the many grace-based illustrations that support said beliefs.

    The question that pops up (though I don’t know if there’s a good answer) is when do His elect become aware that they are saved? Some receive said insight in the womb (so says the bible), others at a very young, others perhaps in the last moments of their lives. This is not an easy one to clearly undestand.

  • admin

    Thanks, TPeters.

    Don’t forget that the response of faith/belief is a condition/requirement for salvation:

    [+]Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (

    30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (ESV)

    )

    [+]Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (

    because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (ESV)

    )

    If we abide till the end, we will be saved. If we wither and do not abide, we will be cut off and thrown to the fire (

    15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

    12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

    18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

    26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (ESV)

    ), a sign that we were never true believers to begin with (

    19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (ESV)

    )

  • After reading your response, I’m inclined not to agree with the aspects you mentioned as conditions for salvation. As evidences for salvation, yes, but as conditions for salvation? No.
    Here’s what I see in the bible regarding our salvation and justification – the trinity plays three roles. 1) God the father purposed the salvation for his elect, at his good pleasure. #1 is an act of grace. 2) Jesus the son secured the salvation of God’s chosen by fully atoning for their sins on the cross with his blood and in doing so fully appeased God’s wrath. 3) The Holy Spirit regenerates the “dead” sinner and not in response to any contribution of “works” or aspect of merit (e.g. words, thoughts, feelings, the sinner’s prayer…anything the individual could point to as “their part” and in doing so create grounds for boasting). By possessing the Holy Spirit, and only by possessing the Holy Spirit is trust or “faith” in Christ enabled. To that point, the source of saving faith in the bible is ALWAYS the result of supernaturally provided faith (it is not inherent to the human creature, at least based on how I interpret the bible).
    The bible says the timing of #1 happened before the foundation of the world. #2 happened at the cross. The timing of #3 is only known by God the father and the Holy Spirit.
    Where I’m heading with all of this – I’m fairly confident that you and I agree on all of the points #1 and #2 above. Where we may not agree appears to be the timing of regeneration. Simply, we don’t know when the Holy Spirit regenerates God the father’s chosen. Obviously this must happen in advance of us demonstrating regeneration by submitting to God’s directives and repenting of our sins, but as to when regeneration actually occurs for anyone, I can’t say. Regeneration proceeds and must proceed any “I’m saved” actions shown by God’s chosen. Until that point we’re dead in our sins and incapable of seeking God (nowhere in the bible is the concept, let alone the teaching that we naturally seek God).
    In

    44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. (ESV)

    , it appears to me that the baby who jumped for joy in the womb was already regenerated. How else would he (i.e. his spirit) have rejoiced in the womb? Another example of spiritual regeneration proceeding human action was the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus was dead, as in “stinking” dead. When Jesus commanded him to come forth, Lazarus was made alive again first, then, came out as commanded. To be clear, Lazarus was not offered the gift of regeneration. Lazarus was simply regenerated as an aspect of God’s grace and Lazarus “will” had nothing to do with it.
    My point – we don’t know the timing of God’s spiritual regeneration in any of us, but we do know that “it” (regeneration that leads to our glorification) happens every time without fail, at the appointed time, for God the father’s chosen. Consequently, I absolutely believe that infants, including unborn infants, can be regenerated prior to leaving their mother’s womb. For most others, it’s probably later in life (only God knows, and that is the point…from my standpoint).

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    In your estimation, is it possible for a person to be regenerated but not believe for some time? For example, do you believe JTBaptist was regenerated in the womb (which I believe was the case), but that he didn’t come to have saving faith / personal belief until some time much later (~12 years old or whatever)?

    I believe the two events are either simultaneous or near-simultaneous: the instant a person is born again, he starts believing. John ch 3 doesn’t give a time reference from the time a person is born again (v8) and the time a person starts believing (v15).

    I also believe the inverse is true: I believe that the instant a person gets a sin nature, he starts sinning (by not loving the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength). Even in the womb.

  • This is a challenging subject to reconcile, at least for me. On one hand I believe in total inability (total depravity), the bible speaks so clearly on this topic. On the other hand, because God’s own are saved by grace and were chosen before the foundation of the world, I also believe that God’s elect can have their lives extinguished as infants and even in the womb. God’s purpose in salvation cannot be thwarted by human inability or earthly calamities. That’s not to say that all infants, either born or unborn, are “saved” or were intended to be saved. Ditto for the many adults who’ve repeated “the sinners prayer”, including those who’ve done miracles in Jesus name and claimed to believe – the sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew makes that quite clear. My point is that salvation is God’s doing, all of it, and his purpose in salvation cannot be thwarted.

    Speaking personally, I was well into my adult years before I realized that I was saved by an act of grace. I have no doubts that the holy spirit was in within me before I realized that I was saved by grace. It was just later in life that I morphed from “milk” to “meat” regarding the word of God. My belief (trust) had nothing to do with me – it had everything to do with God.

    As for sinning, or, being a “sinner”, no one of can reach the goal of not ever sinning in this lifetime, even after regeneration. What we can do is thank God for Jesus’ atoning work on the cross that made us sinless in the eyes of God the father. Unredeemed sinners are the ones bound for hell. Redeemed sinners, God’s elect, those for whom Jesus died, are justified in spite of their (our) sins – now and later…not that any of us are happy that we still do things wrong in God’s eyes.

    So, coming full circle, yes, I do believe that the events of being regenerated and believing can happen at different times. The former MUST happen for salvation. The latter (consciously believing) WILL happen unless that person’s life gets snuffed out before said event. Again, I’m still working my way through all of this…as I keep reading God’s word and realizing how little I truly understand and know 🙂

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