"To testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
**PUBLISHED AS A MISSION PROJECT OF PILGRIMS HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH**
January 1, 2004
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In this Issue:
SOVEREIGN GRACE INDEPENDENT BAPTIST SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND THAILAND MISSIONS
WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES: Age of Accountability
SOVEREIGN GRACE INDEPENDENT BAPTIST SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND THAILAND MISSIONS
By Wayne Camp
I have been home almost two months from a very good trip to Thailand. It was a very productive and busy time. For four months Bro. Anond Phoothaptim and I taught from 40 to 50 students (See picture) in the Sovereign Grace Independent Baptist School of Theology. A school day started at 9:00 AM and ended about 4:00 PM each Tuesday through Friday and on nearly every Saturday and Sunday we visited churches or villages to which we had been invited to come and preach.
On Saturdays we would visit one and often two churches or villages and on Sunday one to three churches and I preached. At least once each month we went to and I preached at the menís prison and one time we also went to the womenís prison in Chiang Mai and I preached. On two or three Mondays when we went to Mai Sai so that we could cross into Burma and return and I could renew my visa, we would then travel to a village and I would preach.
We had a total of 51 students in class on the very first day of the year. We averaged about 40 students in attendance throughout the year. We averaged about 40 students in attendance throughout the year. On page three (3) I have included a picture of the students who were present on a day near the end of January to show that we maintained a good percentage of our students throughout the year. I can count at least four students who were absent when the picture was made but who continued with us to the end of the year.
When you are 81 years of age it is sometimes necessary to focus in a little as this dear brother was doing. Our students this year ranged from two who were about 16 years of age and the brother above who was 81 years of age. Though he had been to Bible School in Burma he was very excited about what he was learning in a School that really teaches the Bible.
Bro. Anond tells me that we should expect 65-80 students for the next term. Five brethren want to come from Laos and two or three from Burma. Most, if not all of our students from this past term plan to return and others plan to attend. This increased attendance presents a problem of space. We will need to build at least one more student house, possibly two more. We will have to build a school building because the chapel we used this past two terms is simply not large enough to handle the student body.
Students: Picture Taken Near the End of January 2004
At the present time I have asked Bro. Anond to design a building with two classrooms, a library, a bathroom, and two offices. As soon as he gets this designed and sends it to me, I will go over it and recommend any changes and then get an estimate so that I will be able to inform as many as possible about the cost. One church has already voted to give $1500 toward this project as soon as we are ready to raise the funds. We will certainly appreciate your support in this project.
The work is going well. We continue to get requests from new villages for Bro. Anond to come an preach the word there. At least three such requests came while I was there this past term.
A group of people asked us to come to one village and preach and teach on what we believed. When we went it appeared we had a total of 35 families that were interested in organizing a church. After we taught them what we believe on four different visits the number of families interested dropped to 15 that eventually went into the organization. A number of the others needed rebaptism and did not want to submit to that. (I taught a lesson on Why Re-baptism Is Sometimes Necessary). Bro. Anond now tells me that some of those who opted to not become a part of the church are now attending and are interested in uniting with them. We will see what transpires.
This is the group after one of the Sunday services. We met in this house of one of the members in all but one of the meetings. It is amazing to me how God is blessing this work.
In another picture we are in the Sunday morning service on the day we agreed to buy a piece of land.
We wanted to buy a piece of land so that these folks could build themselves a building. The week before we went there on Sunday for two of the services and to look at some land, the Beverly Manor Baptist Church, Washington, Illinois, and Pastor Mike McCoskey sent an offering for the purchase of land. It was just in time and in almost the exact amount needed to purchase the land for the building. We were able to buy five rai (2 1/2 rai equals on acre) in a good location and fairly level. We paid 30,000 bahts for this land (approximately $875)
This is one shot of the land but it does not show the entire acreage.
Two of our churches have merged recently. This was set in motion while I was still over there. Both churches were young and were meeting on property belonging to Thai people for whom they worked. The pastors were having difficulties with the owners because they were trying to come to school and were not working regularly. We were able to purchase land for them in a central location so they have merged.
Here is one congregation that went into the merged congregation. The pastor of this group is the second man from the right. Bro. Anond, Bro. Bill Lee, and I are on the and back row.
Here I am pictured with the other congregation that went into the merger. We had just completed a Saturday afternoon service with this congregation. The Brother in a red shirt on the back is the pastor of this group. He and the other pastor are sharing duties at the present time.
On one Monday when we traveled to Mai Sai to renew my visa for another month, on our way back to Chiang Mai we visited a village to which we had been invited. During the time I was there we made three visits to this village to preach and teach. In the picture below I am preaching sitting on a mattress.
The group in the next two pictures was at the first service we held in this village.
No church has been established in this village yet but I feel certain one will be soon. There were two of our students who came from this village. Those of this group who are saved are Baptists and were very receptive to the preaching on what we believe. I trust God will soon bring to fruition the work we have done in this village.
I also preached in a nearby village one time. If a church is organized in this area the people from both villages will be able to attend in one place.
Below is a picture of some of those present when I preached in the village that was close by.
You can see what kind of light we had for this service. There were little tin cans that had wicks in them and some kind of fuel, probably something like kerosene. When we started this service I was able to get a little light on my Bible and notes by sitting in the door of an adjoining room. The light was shining through the bamboo strips that were on the wall. However, by the time the service ended it was totally dark outside and these were the only lights we had. The house was wired for electricity but the transmission lines to the village were still under construction.
The Hill Tribes Children's Center is still doing well. We have 60 children in the home now. Pictured in the opposite column is Bro. Daniel, Bro. Anond's brother who works full time in the work and helps Bro. Anond with the day-to-day operation of the center. The children are the Junior High children whom Daniel was about to take to some kind of after school function when I took this picture.
Below the children are seen as they have their regular Friday night worship service at the center.
All continues to go well in the prison ministry. As we travel from village to village, we meet people who were saved in the prison ministry who are now members of one of the churches. The group below went to the prison for a service. The man standing to my left is a high ranking official at the prison. He is a Christian. The girl on my right is Tip. She was saved in prison.
Pictured here are our students on the last day of classes in February. I could not find this in the several hundred pictures I have from this year until after the report was written and I wanted to include it here. As you can see we still had a good student body after four months. If you look carefully you will find me in the picture. I am seated near the center.
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WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES
Age of Accountability
By Dr. Jarrel E. Huffman
(Now with the Lord)
Premise: WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES. Truth never runs up a blind alley, seeking a way out. Error, however, continually runs up dead-end streets, and then concocts an imaginary way out.
Were the Bible correctly interpreted, there would never have arisen the need of "an age of accountability." Someone asks, "Why?" The answer: Simply because the Scriptures are as silent as the tomb on the subject of an "age" in which children become accountable to God for their sins.
Someone has defined the habitual liar as the fellow who would rather go around the block to tell a lie, than cross the street to tell the truth. Theologically, liars weave a doctrine of respectability by employing specious reasoning and subterfuge. The line of TRUTH is a straight line; the meanderings of ERROR lead into confusion and tradition, and in reality, circumvent the issue.
Remember the premise: WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES. When theologians, preachers, and commentators begin their reasonings on the wrong foot, the road is always rocky; when they "assume" an emotional feeling to be truth, nothing lies ahead but disaster.
For example, let us give the normal "reasoning" regarding the so-called "age of accountability." First, man is not completely depraved, and especially is this true of infants. And if man is depraved, his "will" is free. Second, God is not completely sovereign, especially over the "will" of man. God has no right and exercises no right in choosing any one person over the other in salvation (discounting eternal, personal election). Third, Christ enters the picture to die for alI the sins of every man, because (they say) that God loves everybody the same. Fourth, the preacher takes the pulpit, the auithor takes his penóboth to proclaim universal atonement" side-by-side with "man's free will."
The inevitable result of this humanistic thinking can be summed up in the following: God saves, but with the help, or least the "go-ahead" from the creature.
And so, of necessity, there has arisen the doctrine of "THE AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY." Back to the PREMISE: "WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES."
1. The Definition of Terms.
Simply put, "age" in this thesis refers to some supposed date in which a person (infant) "comes of age." That is, the word refers to a time (arbitrary) that an infant or young person becomes accountable to God. One might ask, "Is this age "one," "two," "five," "eight," "twelve" "fourteen," or beyond? Could it possibly be that an adult (in age) dies without becoming accountable to God? Are the heathen really lost without the gospel? Do many adults die in innocency? These questions may appear to be simple or redundant. Yet, the masses are in confusion in this area, and, as the confessions and catechisms reveal, most have undertaken to correct the matter--wrongly.
Accountability is responsibility. Responsibility is duty. In other words, accountability is what mankind "snould" or "ought" (is obligated) to do. People are not born in a neutral gear; they are born in "reverse"--by nature, practice, and choice to do everything contrary to God and hol iness .
Man (mankind) was made in the "image" and "likeness" of God (Genesis 1:26,27; 2:7). This "likeness" refers not to anything material or physical, for God is pure "Spirit" ~John 4:24). Rather, "likeness" refers to a~XORAL likeness. Mari , being a "moral " creature, possesses PERSONALITY. Personality involves the following (which lesser creatures do not possess): (1) Intellect (the soul knowing); (2) Emotion (the soul feeling); and (3) Will (the soul choosing). These THREE things constitute man both a MORAL and RESPONSIBLE creature.
God's image in fallen man is marred, but not destroyed or lost (Romans 1:18-21). Hence, in our society, many guilty criminals claim "not guilty by reason of insanity." Sins of ignorance are one thing, as the Scriptures testify; willful sins are something else altogether. In either case, under LAW, an atonement had to be made.
DOES THIS NOT IN ITSELF INDICATE ACCOUNTABILITY?
Sin to be sure is insanity, but the claim of insanity due to the fall of Adam (and our connection to him) is not an excuse for sin.
C. Age of Accountability-
This is the crux of the discussion before us. Is there an age of accountability this side of conception and birth? Just exactly where and when do human beings (mankind) become accountable to God for their person and actions? Can we just set aside the subject with diffidence, and act as though nothing important is under discussion? I think not.
Briefly put, those who teach and hold to "an age of accountability," say the following: (1) All men are born depraved and sinful, but that infants are safe sinners, and on reaching a certain age (of accountability), become lost sinners. or some Arminians, as the so-called "Churches of Christ," reject adamantly the teaching of total depravity (Note: this is pure Arminianism, for these people see the problems with the prior view); (2) All men, on reaching a certain age , have to make a choice--either to receive Christ or to reject Christ. If one receives Christ, he becomes a saved sinner; if he rejects Christ, he is reckoned a lost sinner.
Hence, proponents of the "age of accountability" have three kinds or classes of sinners--safe (infants before the age of accountability is reached), saved (children or adults who have accepted Christ at or after the age of accountability), and lost (children or adults who choose to reject Christ at or after this stated, or supposed, age).
Thus, these reasoners have invented, pure and simple, without one whit of Scriptural evidence, AN AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY. The truth of the matter is that AGE (as man views the situation) HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH BEING LOST OR BEING SAVED!
Back to the premise: WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES. And the religious world has invented many doctrines, and has promoted many practices totally void of a "thus saith the Lord." Once "total depravity" is rejected, a Pandora's box is opened for every foul and hateful doctrine and practice. And this very thing the Arminian world has done. When this occurs, God becomes something less than absolutely sovereign, sin ceases to be less than ruination, and man becomes the helper or aid in his own salvation.
II. Different View Related to the Subject.
A. The Classic Arminian View
This group, consistently with their theological stance, rejects total, inherent depravity. In this group are those known as "Campbellites," or by their designation, "The Churches of Christ." If there is no total depravity, then man's will is free. Consequently, all babies and infants are born in innocency. There is, therefore, NO NEED to baptize, christen, or assign qod-fathers or god-mothers to help.
B. The Neo-Arminian View
This should be called the "inconsistent" view, as inconsistency a-bounds throughout the major premises in soteriology, ham hamartiology, Christology, and anthropology.
Why is this view said to be "inconsistent?" First, these recognize "total depravity" in their confessions and creeds, but deny such in real practice and careful exegesis. To this group belong many who fly under the "Baptist" flag, many Protestants, especially those of the Holiness persuasion, etc. Second, these teach salvation to be by grace. The practice, however, in many cases, is something less . Rejecting the "baptismal salvation" of those in #A, these teach there is no need of baptizing infants (which is theologically correct). Third, these wrongly, but of necessity, INVENT AN AGE OF ACCOUNTABILITY.
C. The Regular Protestant View
To this group belong the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and others. While some of these are classified "high church" and the others "low church," that point is of no consequence in this present study.
How do those in this group approach the "age of accountability"? First, most, if not all, of them admit "Adamic sin," and along with this the need of regeneration. For this reason, those within this group BAPTIZE INFANTS. Their usual practice is this: baptize the infant; catechize the child; and confirm the young person at age twelve.
While this whole system is built on falsehood, there is a certain consistency in the matter. They admit that man is born in depravity; hence, he needs to be saved; thus, we will baptize the infant, because there is danger if death comes.
D. The Catholic View
The Catholic view, in reference to the "age of accountability," is very similar to that of the Protestants. In fact, the Protestants got their doctrine and practice, in this area, from Catholicism.
Catholics are thorough Arminians, yet they recognize that infants have sin to some degree, and that this must be dealt with. As the Protestants, Catholics baptize, catechize, and confirm.
Catholics, however, are a little more precise in the matter of baptizing infants. Believing in both a. purgatory and a limbo, they go to extremes in baptismal regeneration. When needed, they baptize the mother's stomach of those who might be born dead. History records the degree to which men will go to defend a wrong doctrine.
E. The Bible View
First, the Bible everywhere declares all men to be accountable for all of their actions (Gal. 6:7-9). Were man not a moral creature, this statement would not be true. Man, however, being made in "the image of God" is accountable for his deeds. Try as hard as he may, appeal to insanity as loudly as he may, attempt to shift the blame to others or environment, man remains accountable to God and His law, no matter what men and their courts declare.
Second, the Bible links all mankind to one ancestor--Adam (Romans 5:12). In Adam all died; in Adam aII transgressed; in Adam all fell away from God and became enemies and rebels. There is not only a "natural" headship, but a "federal" headship as well. That is, physically all go back to one origin (natural headship); spiritually, all are born depraved (federal headship).
Third, the Scriptures declare that man is a sinner from the womb (Psalm 51:5; 58:3). These Scriptures reckon man a sinner from birth. If so, there can be no "later age of accountability." Man does not BECOME accountable by doing or not doing; he IS a sinner from birth--before he can do any act. The Arminian view at this point--that one must be brought to a decision--is without Biblical foundation.
III. RELATED DOCTRINES ON THE SUBJECT.
Again, the PREMISE: WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES. While all. would probably admit the truth of the statement, many are blinded by tradition, as were the Pharisees in Jesus' day 'Matthew 23).
The false doctrine of an "age of accountability" spawns other false doctrines. At the same time, such a doctrine stands opposed to clear Bible teachings.
A. Infant Baptism
Catholicism and the vast majority of the Protestants practice "infant baptism." Scripturally, such is not "baptism," for the Bible nowhere authorizes infants as proper subjects of baptism.
The reason for this ancient. and unscriptural practice should be evident to the careful Bible student. When anyone recognizes Adamic sin and the imputation of this sin to the human race, all are reckoned "lost" and in need of a Savior. Hence, the quicker you "save" men the better, according to this system of theology.
B. Baptismal Regeneration
This evil doctrine is a heathen practice that crept into apostate Christianity centuries ago. Simply stated, baptismal regeneration is the doctrine that "baptism" regenerates. Catholicism clearly states that "baptism is the new birth." Protestants, for the most part, back away from this drastic statement, and assert that "baptism is a means of grace." There is no essential difference, except in terminology. Most all groups who believe in "baptismal regeneration," practice "infant baptism." The so-called "Churches of Christ," do not. For them, the reasoning seems consistent: they reject total hereditary depravity.
This doctrine, simply stated, is that though man is depraved, his will remains free; thus, man is able to act spiritually in the matter of salvation.
First, the "will" of man, being a part of his moral makeup, can be no more free than any other part. It is foolishness to assume that man is totally depraved, and then declare that the will escaped the blight of depravity.
Second, man, though fallen, remains a "free agent." That is, he does what is natural to his nature. Thus, Pharaoh freely persecuted the Israelites in Egypt, though God had raised him up for this very purpose (Romans 9); Judas Iscariot freely betrayed the Son of God, though the Scriptures had so predicted centuries before.
Depravity does not destroy accountability. Fallen man maintains a will, emotion, and intellect. All are marred by the fall, but not destroyed.
In applying such a doctrine (freewillism) to the subject under consideration, please note the reasoning: infants are safe because they have never decided for or against Christ (never made a choice). Proponents of this heresy suppose, without one iota of Scriptural proof, that no one is lost until he decides to be lost, that is, by willfully denying Christ.
Carrying the matter a step further, these advocate that MAN'S FREE WILL, either apart from the Spirit of God or in conjunction with the Spirit, brings about the NEW BIRTH. This is another subject, but reveals that error in one doctrine demands error in others.
D. Unscriptural Evangelism
Catholics and most Protestants face the issue early: they simply "baptize" the babies. To them, this keeps the baby "safe" until the age of confirmation. Arminian Baptists have the baby "safe" without this baptism. Both positions are wrong.
Believing in the certainty of "an age of accountability," many groups, including some of the "Baptist" persuasion, have invented false methods of evangelism. Believing that "the will of man" brings about the new birth, children are pressured into decisions. This action takes many forms, as the reader is well aware. All kinds of unscriptural tactics are employed to "get decisions for Jesus." Is it any wonder that many churches (by name) have become filled with unregenerate people?
V. CONCLUDING THOUGHTS.
Is there an "age of accountability"? No, not as men assume. All people in Adam are accountable--from the womb.
How, then, are infants saved? First, let. it be stated that God will save His people (Matt. 1:21). Of this, there can be no serious doubt. God.
God will do as He has determined (Eph. I:4; Rom. 8:28-30). Second, the basis by which He, saves them is His divine purpose. Third, the moving cause is grace" (Eph. 2:8,9). Fourth, the ground for this salvation is the shed blood of His Son (I Pet. 1:18, 19; Gal. 3:13). No believer in sovereign grace has any problem with these statements.
But how are infants saved? Must these be brought to a public profession in Christ? Catholics say yes, and employ god-fathers or godmothers to believe and profess for them. Baptists would deny this, and rightly so. But that doesn't answer the question, "How are infants saved?" If they cannot be brought publicly to confess Christ, are they not saved differently from adults?
At this point let us make a critical distinction between two doctrines that are often confused--regeneration and conversion. They are not one and the same doctrine. Regeneration is the sovereign, immediate work of the Holy Spirit on a dead sinner, quickening him (Eph. 2:1 ), and making him a new creation (II Cor. 5:17) . Conversion, on the other hand, is the response of a quickened soul to the gospel message (Acts 16:30,31). Conversion (a turning from sin and a turning to Christ) involves the doctrines of faith and repentance. In regeneration the soul is capacitated to believe and repent; in conversion the soul actively does both.
Bible believers seem to have no trouble with the regeneration and conversion of adults. It is with "babes" or "infants" that questions arise. Can God quicken or regenerate a babe? Certainly, as is the case of John the Baptist (Luke 1:41-44). If God can quicken one babe or infant--inside or outside the womb--it stands to reason that He can quicken all infants if that is His purpose.
The "babe" or "infant" question--relative to accountability and salvation, is an EMOTIONAL one, and few people can face the matter from Scripture, without rationalizing. For instance, statements such as: (1) The innocent child; (2) Jesus loved children; (3) Children cannot hate or reject God; (4) Heaven must be filled with little children, etc. Now, all of these statements must be viewed exactly as they are--from notion. Some of them are true; others could not be proved one way or another.
First, every person who has lived since Adam is a SOUL or LIFE. Humanly speaking, we categorize mankind into groups--babies, infants, young people, adults, and the elderly. While God surely knows the ages of all men, He may well view things quite differently from us humans (unless, of course, there are those among us who are omniscient). Since all fell in Adam (infants and adults alike), then all are SINNERS, as we have attempted to prove. If so, why should God view a sinful baby any differently from a sinful adult? This is not to say that infants have committed as many acts of sin as the adult. This, however, is not. the issue. All have sinned--infants and adults alike--in Adam (Romans 3:23; 5:12).
God has His elect, whom He will save, in every kindred, people, tongue, and nation. No believer in sovereign grace denies this statement.. These elect must have been redeemed by Christ, having been chosen to that end from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).
Why, then, do we spend so much time, as believers in sovereign grace, on the infant question? We recognize age, but does God in like manner do so? Would we demand that ail adults be the elect of God? No, you say. Why, then, must we demand that all infants are the elect of God? Why cannot we just leave the "infant" problem with God? We dare not baptize any before a public profession can be made. We preach the gospel to all men. Many infants grow up under the preaching of the gospel. Must we invent an "age of accountability" to solve tile problem? No! Must we insist that all babies are the elect of God, and are either, therefore, "innocent," "safe," or whatever? As believers in sovereign grace, we realize that God can quicken whom He will and when He will (John 3:7,8; Matthew 11:27).
The duty of churches of the Lord is to preach the gospel, not to give life to any---infants or adults. God is in the Life-giving business, and if we admit that He does this to "all" or "some" infants, then He, didn't need our help in the matter. Why take a different course and, of coarse an EMOTIONAL one. As the Arminian cannot bring himself to say that there are any non-elect people (adults or infants), so many Calvinists cannot bring themselves to admit there are any non-elect infants.
Finally, this article is not written to purposely stir up controversy, but simply to make people think. All of the problems referring to the "infant" question come from faulty reasoning based on faulty theology. And this is not said to condemn anyone's position. Again, consider the following scriptural points: (1) God created all men in Adam--as he stood as the natural head of the human race (Gen. 1:27,27; 2:7). All souls were in the loins of Adam when he sinned; (2) God elected a portion of the human race to enjoy the benefits and blessings of his eternal salvation (Eph. 1:4). These He gave to the Son who redeemed them (John 17:1-26). The Blessed Holy Spirit quickens all of these in His own good time (Eph. 2:1). These covenant dealings are sovereign, free, and sure, as salvation is by free grace (Eph. 2:8,9); (3) God views all of His people as justified through Christ (II Cor. 5:21)--both infants and adults; (4) There is no need to establish any "age of accountability," as all men by nature and birth are accountable; (5) There is no evidence -that any in glory will be infants; rather, they will be mature saints with glorified bodies--AS GOD PLEASES (1 Cor. 15:38). We need to restructure our thinking along this line, and stop considering people (from God's vantage point) as infants or adults. This would prevent the accusations of "infants going to heaven," or "infants going to hell." The truth is this: REGENERATED PEOPLE GO TO HEAVEN; UNREGENERATED PEOPLE GO TO HELL! (6) Since the Bible says very little about the salvation and final destiny OF ANY INFANT, let us leave the matter with God who does all things right (Genesis 18:25). Our ideas, apart from Scripture, may appeal to THE EMOTIONS, but do not settle any doctrinal problem; (7) God alone can save a soul from sin, hell, and death (Jonah 2:9). We know that not all adults (as we view them) are saved (Rev. 20:15). If God has purposed that all infants (as we view them) are His elect, then all will. be in glory (Rom. 8-z28-30); if He has purposed otherwise, ten thousand objections to the contrary will not change His purpose.
WRONG DOCTRINES SPAWN WRONG PRACTICES. This article may be pleasing to you. If so, then you agree with the author. This article may be objectionable to some. If so, that is your privilege, just so long as you take time to think. This article will not settle the "infant" problem, as it has existed for centuries. And it will continue to confuse, so long as we deal with it from the EMOTIONAL aspect rather than from BIBLICAL REVELATION.
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