Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Leaping Babe.... (Luke 1:44)

After posting my previous blog entry, thoughts began racing through my head about all the evil that is personally endured by so many people in this world. It is one thing to have a proper theological understanding of the doctrine of evil, but it is certainly another to actually be touched by the evil that is so rampant in the world today. So...the question I have to pose for this blog entry is this: "Does a proper theological understanding make it easier to endure the evil that may come our way?" And a related question: "does a proper theological understanding help us to minister and comfort one another when evil things come our way?" As J Vernon McGee used to say, how does it work out.."down where the rubber meets the road".

I also understand that there are innumerable personal examples that could be used as illustrations for this subject. So many, even in our midst, have endured unspeakable evils that are part and parcel of our fallen world. Now, we are all either going to or have already faced the evil of the loss of a dear loved one.
(Rom 5:12) (Heb 9:27) All of us are going to die...sooner or later...unless the Lord returns during our lifetime. I quizzed my wife...Is it easier to deal with the loss of a loved one that has lived a full life and has come to the end.."full of years"..compared with the loss of a newborn or a young person who has just begun the journey of life? Hands down the answer was that enduring the loss of a young person would be much, much more difficult than with one who has lived a full life.

You may be asking at this point, where are you going with this blog entry. Especially given the title..where does a leaping babe come into all this discussion? I would tend to think that the process of ministering to someone who has experienced the evils of this world first hand would include a proper theological understanding. I am thinking mainly of those who have had to endure the loss of a young person, perhaps even an infant, perhaps still-born, perhaps even a regretted and forgiven abortion. What does the bible say about those that die in infancy? The believer inevitably wants assurance that their child is with the Lord in heaven"? Where does one get that assurance? We know about I Cor 1:21..." it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." So the question is this: Is God able to save apart from the preaching of the gospel? Most of us know the "Westminster Confession of Faith" teaching on this subject which says, "Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit,[12] who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth:[13] so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.[14]"
(12. Gen. 17:7; Luke 1:15; 18:15-16; Acts 2:39; John 3:3, 5; I John 5:12; 13. John 3:8; 14. John 16:7-8; I John 5:12; Acts 4:12)

This is where the leaping babe comes into the picture. God has given us, in His scriptures, an illustration of infant salvation. I think we can all safely conclude that John the Baptist was one of the elect....and that he was regenerated in infancy, even in the womb. Verse 44 of Luke 1 says.."the babe leaped in my womb for joy". Prior to this in verse 15 it is said, "and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb." Can we not rest assured that this child truly experienced regeneration in the womb? (As a side note, regeneration in the womb..should certainly confirm infant baptism.) Now, I cannot imagine one who leaps for joy when His Savior draws near, (no matter his age or his location) and one who is filled with the Holy Ghost in the womb...NOT being regenerated, made alive spiritually, made a child of the King, called, and justified and eventually glorified. The WCF teaching definitely has this story in mind when the above statement was formulated. (cf WCF ref# 12 above, Luke 1:15) Therefore, I think we can safely conclude that God is certainly able to regenerate, save, and justify one of His elect in the womb. And..this regenerated one is saved forever, he has eternal life, whether this little one dies in infancy or reaches the ripe old age of 96.

The final question: Can believers have a certain hope and confidence that their children who die in infancy are eternally secure? I believe the answer to this question is ...yes! This is what the Reformed confessions, which are based on scripture, teach us. The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine Divine Election and Reprobation - Articles of Faith Article 17: "Since we are to judge of the will of God from His Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they together with the parents are comprehended, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy." (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39; I Cor. 7:14). To God be the glory!

As believers we, with confidence and hope, anticipate that we will one day be reunited with our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and grandchildren who have died in infancy of godly parents.
Meanwhile we will shed the tears, we will be sorrowful, we will cry and feel the pain, we will attempt to comfort one another and....even acknowledge that death is the evil enemy of God (ICor 15:26)... that is until that day when God shall finally and forever.......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. (Rev 21:4)

Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. (Rev 22:20)

No comments: