Why Would God Save Infants?
Well-intentioned friends or family members might come to us with words of assurance about a deceased child’s eternal destiny in which they point to the innocence of your child or the fact that your child was baptized. If the Bible assures us that infants and young children are saved, what difference does it make how they are saved? It is crucial that we understand God’s purposes in salvation because these purposes have significant implications not only for how we view our deceased child’s salvation, but also how we view our own.
In his first letter to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul summarizes God’s purposes in saving, for all eternity, through the blood of Jesus Christ. Paul tells the young church in the city of Corinth, “Consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. From him you are in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; in order that, as it is written, Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.
As noted by Pastor John Piper, this passage demonstrates God’s purposes in election are two-fold: (1) to eliminate human pride and (2) to cause us to boast only in God.
John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2000), 137. By taking salvation out of our own hands, none of us could boast in ourselves. By making salvation a power of God, and not a power of humans, we will spend an eternity worshipping God for His goodness, love and mercy towards us, not lauding certain humans for how moral or good they were, or even how intelligent they were in “finding” God. Jesus pointed out that it was in God’s good pleasure to hide the plan of salvation from “the wise and the understanding” and instead reveal it to “little children.” Luke 10:21.
God has ordained the universe in such a manner so as to cause the salvation of certain individuals, including infant children, in order to humiliate human pride and bring glory to God alone. In God’s plan for salvation, as in all His works, God is causing us to boast not in ourselves or any other human but only in God. In studying scripture, we see that God loves to confound human wisdom. God loves to boggle our minds with His plan. God loves, in the words of St. Paul, to chose what is “weak, low and despised” in the world to “shame the strong.”
In the Old Testament, we see that God hand-picked the nation of Israel as the recipient of a special relationship with God. Among all the other people groups of the time, there was nothing unique about the Nation of Israel that caused God to decide to save Israel. Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel, was called by God out of the idolatrous city of Ur. There was nothing noteworthy or unique about Abraham other than God chose him to be the father of a great nation. Similarly, God chose Israel before the creation of the world not because of any unique qualities of the Israelite people, but simply because He chose them.
In Ezekiel 36, God is promising the nation of Israel that it will be saved, but not because of the nation’s good behavior. In fact, God will save the nation in spite of its behavior in order to demonstrate, to all nations, God’s saving power. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.” Ezekiel 36:22-23.
The Apostle Paul tells us in the book of Ephesians that God has chosen his elect from the creation of the world to be the recipients of His grace. He says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6.
If you were to read the obituary section of the local paper, you would read about those aspects of a deceased individual’s life that our society deems valuable. We might learn about the deceased individual’s career, military service, athletic or artistic achievements, country club memberships, travel experiences, and maybe even implicit suggestions about their personal wealth. But with an infant child, the family cannot provide a litany of achievements because life was not long enough to provide the child with the opportunity to succeed in those endeavors that our society views as noteworthy. Our deceased infant or young child has done nothing significant in the eyes of the world to deserve any acclaim.
And yet it is precisely this fact that should give us so much hope that our deceased children are exactly those whom Paul was referring to when he described “things low and despised of the world” and “things that are not.” It is because our children have a short obituary that God is pleased to shower upon them the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Because our children have no reason to boast in themselves, we can all praise God for his mercy and justice in giving the gift of salvation to our children.
Just as our children were saved by grace, so also have we been saved by grace, and therefore have no reason to boast in ourselves. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, it is not because you are “smarter” than everyone else, or simply because you grew up in a certain family. Rather, it is because God, in His mercy, had determined that, before you were born or before you made any decisions on your own, you would be the object of His grace.
By reason of this plan instituted by God, we will eternally worship God. In the book of Revelation, we are told that, in the last days, we will all worship God because salvation is from God, and not from us. Salvation is not found in ourselves or in anyone else. “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:10. Will you join me in praising God for the gift of salvation for your child, apart from no merit on the part of your child? If you have not yet trusted Christ’s work on your own behalf, apart from no merit on your part, will you trust Jesus for your own salvation?
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