Home » Nearing Midnight » The Age of Accountability Question

The Age of Accountability Question

Some time ago I received an email in which the correspondent expressed his adamant belief that there is no such thing as the “age of accountability–i.e., he declared that those under such a fictitious age will not automatically be transported into Heaven by Christ’s shout at the time of Rapture.

I replied that he had touched on a topic that is a hot issue with yours truly. On this, I give no quarter, whatsoever. But, through experience in dealing with the issue, I am fully aware that no matter what evidence I offer to the contrary, those who accept 1 Corinthians 7:14 as dealing with children and the Rapture consider it a verse that stands alone as proving their point that only children with at least one saved parent will go to Jesus in the Rapture. And, most won’t change on that.

Here is that Scripture: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”

Even the great Dr. John Walvoord believed this Scripture indicates that only the child below the age of accountability who has at least one “saved” parent will go to Christ when He calls the Church to Himself.

I’m name-dropping, I guess, but I asked my good friend, Dr Walvoord (he wrote  a number of chapters for my books and we were indeed good friends and talked by phone and in person on occasion), if he could give any other Scriptures that backed up the contention that this verse indicated as he believed.

He thought for a moment and shook his head no. “No, I can’t,” he said somberly.

I no longer debate the matter when given a contrary opinion, but respond one time and one only.

This is a salvation matter between Jesus Christ and the child (an eternal matter–not a matter dealing with physical life and death). It is not a matter of earthly relationship (child to parent) and religion (to church affiliation) or morality (to personal conduct).

Children who have died physically and children who will be taken in the Rapture have in common the fact that they were/will be instantly with the Lord. This is because they are seen in God’s merciful economy as innocents, considering the factors as dealt with in this treatment of the subject.

Most importantly, it is an INDIVIDUAL matter–God dealing one on one, not collectively or corporately with the salvation issue.

Acceptance of Christ is based upon a decision to accept or reject. If a person doesn’t have–and has never had–the ability to accept or reject because he or she doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand, they cannot accept or reject.

The Bible says that those who know to do good and do it not–to them it is sin. Conversely, I believe that the whole body of Scripture  presents the case that if one doesn’t know they are lost because of sin, they are not condemned. But, when maturity that brings understanding comes (and the Holy Spirit draws them, convicting them of sin), they must accept God’s offer of reconciliation.

The very character of God, as  presented throughout the entire Word of God, is at stake. All in Christ will go at the Rapture. Paul says “all will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” What does this mean–“all” that are “in” Christ? It refers to the fact that all who are redeemed by the shed blood of Christ are a part of the Body of Christ–the Church.  The child–even though born into sin because of Adam’s disobedience–is “in” Christ before he/she is able to comprehend God’s salvation provision. None who are in Christ will have to face the wrath of God during the coming Tribulation (Daniel’s seventieth week).

One area of Scripture regarding the wrath of God that addresses the position of all in Christ–thus the Rapture–is found here in 1 Thessalonians: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (2 Thessalonians 5:9-10). During this Age of Grace (Church Age), all who are born and have not reached the age of understanding–thus accountability–will go to Christ when they die. This is totally in keeping with God’s character, again, as plainly laid out in God’s holy love letter to mankind.

All of the children who have died–before maturing to the point of being able to make decisions regarding salvation–are now with Christ. To God’s holy praise, that includes every one of the millions upon millions of babies this evil world system has aborted and continues to murder. This number of “innocents” includes every child who has been slain in wars throughout history or who have died due to other causes.

The Scripture that talks about the name being blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life deals with this, I’m convinced. The names of all who are born are in that book, I believe. Once the child reaches the age he/she realizes Christ is the way to salvation, but rejects God’s way (John 14:6) have their names blotted out. They are written back in when salvation does occur in the only way God prescribes.

And, I’m convinced that not one child born after the Rapture into that horrendous, seven-year era will ever reach that age. Thus, all children born following that event will go to be with the Lord–either upon their deaths, or during the sheep/goats judgments following the triumphant return of the Lord Jesus. As a matter of fact, read Jesus’ words here: “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” (Matthew 24:19).

Jesus is talking here about the Tribulation era–the last seven years of human history before His Second Advent. The Lord mentions two age classifications: 1) children who are in the womb, and 2) those who are so young that they are still at the mothers’ breasts.

There is no mention even of toddlers–i.e., these children have been conceived or born during the Tribulation period. And Jesus is talking here about halfway through the seven-year period.

All children below the age of being able to make decisions on the salvation matter will go to be with Jesus–I have absolutely no doubt, after studying the matter for forty-plus years.

I respect thoughts and beliefs of others on the matter. But as ol’ Dr. J. Vernon McGee used to say with a chuckle, “You have room to disagree, but if you want to be right, I’m sure you’ll want to come along with me.”  ( I say this, even though Dr. McGee, like Dr. Walvoord, most likely held to the generally accepted seminary line that 1 Corinthians 7:14 indicates contrary to my position. I don’t recall Dr. McGee’s belief on this issue.)

We will see the truth of it when we stand before Christ. I believe that time is not far distant.


  1. hawk2017 says:

    Reblogged this on Logos Speaks and commented:
    I have believed this for years. Our God answers to no one. He IS Love.:)

  2. hawk2017 says:

    Thank your, Love in our Christ Jesus who said, do not deny the children to come to Me, for this is the Kingdom of Heaven.( My paraphrase) We must be innocent as a child.:))

  3. Good comments Terry.That’s why as a Kiwi I personally believe that the three year old tragically taken in the recent Christchurch Mosque massacre is with Jesus Christ in Heaven.

  4. Darrell Creamer says:

    Is 2 Sam 12:23 a further indicator that the unaccountable will be taken up in the rapture. I believe David thought so. “But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

    Have a blessed day/shalom

  5. michaelwilson777 says:

    I don’t believe for one millisecond that God would
    send children to hell. If one can’t understand the
    concept of sin, how could one understand the need
    for salvation through Jesus Christ.
    Romans 6:23 (KJV)
    23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God
    is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Romans 7:9 (KJV)
    9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the
    commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

    Paul at one point was not held accountable for sin,
    when sin revived, he was then held accountable.
    Paul died spiritually, and had to be reborn. John 3:3.
    The children born during the tribulation I believe, will
    not be mature enough to understand the salvation
    concept. Therefore the children of the tribulation shall
    all be saved.
    What a time to be born, an absolute shocker, thank
    God there is a happy ending for all of them!

    Thanks Terry.

  6. DevRefresh says:

    In general I agree, but Psalms seems to speak of some opposite to John the Baptist.

    “The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭58:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    John, of course:

    But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”
    ‭‭Luke‬ ‭1:13-15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

  7. Carol Cole says:

    Hi Terry, I have to be honest in saying that your article was lost, on my feeble mind. Seriously, I was just simply lost ! I ended up not understanding what YOU believe, and I ended up not understanding what Dr. Walvoord believes !

    But, in very simplistic terms, I know what……I……..believe. And can I give a verse to back up my belief ? Nope. It is just MY belief.

    Which is……..phooey on whether one parent is saved or not. God will take each child individually as the MATURITY of that child to understand Who Christ is, and what and why He died for him/her. If his parents were not Christians and he just didn’t have the opportunity to understand………as a child of parents who are believers, would………….I believe God will take him to heaven.

    But, those are MY thoughts. And who gives a “ rats behind “ about MY thoughts ! 😇😇😇😇

    Watchman, Carol Cole Atlanta

  8. Michael says:

    Amen Terry and to all the comments above. The Bible does mention that there is an age a child reaches when they know good from evil. The applicability of the passage to an Age of Accountability may be debated by those who believe in infant baptism because of Original Sin…or whatever. It is in the context of Messianic Prophecy. Isa. 7:14-16. I realize this does not bear directly upon the question at hand, but it does state that there is a time when a child can know good from evil. Personally, I do not believe hell was created for anyone but the devil and his angels. I cannot conceive of a Father in heaven who loves children as One who would cast babies into hell.

    • Ed Wood says:

      I used to belong to a denomination which practiced infant baptism (the Episcopal Church). Long story short, I left it over ten years ago when I perceived its liberal component taking over and it began adopting doctrine contrary to Scripture as I understand it. I stuck it out for a few years until it was clear that it was only getting worse and I was wasting my time staying in what I believe had become an apostate church. Just wanted to give you a little background here.

      As regarding infant baptism, for many denominations that practice this, there is also a time when a person so baptized can decide to become confirmed. This is a time when a person gives a public reaffirmation of his or her vows to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. In essence, it is a completion of the baptism.

      I don’t have a real problem with this and it is possible that infant baptism occurred in Acts 16:14-15 and 1 Corinthians 1:16 where whole households are mentioned being water baptized, though it is not directly expressed.

      As far as original sin goes, I personally doubt water baptism washes this away. If it did, wouldn’t those who received it never sin again? No, I believe that ever since the Fall we have all been infected with the terminal disease we know as sin. The only way we are saved from ultimate death and hell from this inherited sickness is to accept the Jesus of the Bible and what he did for us. Getting water baptized or taking communion, though I see them as aids in our faith walk, don’t save us in an of themselves – only faith in Jesus Christ does. Any denomination which says these sacraments are necessary for salvation, I think, are in error. Paul said:

      Ephesians {2:8} For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not
      of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: {2:9} Not of works, lest any man should boast.

      That seems pretty clear to me!

      Of course, I am not an expert, but I hope this short discourse is helpful.

      God bless.

      Ed Wood

  9. Michael says:

    One more comment from the AYBD: “The term bḥr was used of human decisions within the moral and religious discourse of ancient Israel as well. Isaiah describes a child’s attaining the age of discretion as learning to “refuse the evil and choose the good” (Isa 7:15–16).

    Dale Patrick, “Election: Old Testament,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 436.

  10. Ed Wood says:

    I think you’re absolutely right, Terry. My view is simply that God does not rip anyone off. To do so would mean he is unjust, which his very nature makes impossible.

    To me, this means that to be lost is for someone who has been informed about Jesus and his atoning sacrifice of himself for all those who believe in him to actively reject this offer of salvation. Before the age of accountability, children would not have met that requirement, nor would those with a profound mental impairment.

    For people who lived before Jesus, we have evidence that those who believed in God according to the knowledge available to them in their respective times are already in heaven:

    Matthew {8:11} And I* say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. *Jesus.

    As far as whether a child’s salvation depends on whehter he or she has believing or unbelieving parents, we have:

    Deuteronomy {24:16} The fathers shall not be put to death for the
    children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

    Though this is not a direct statement as to how God would deal with a child of unbelieving parents, it would seem that the principle here is pretty clear that each individual is judged solely on their own actions, not those of a parent. It therefore follows that a child before the age of accountability would not be held responsible even if he had the most wicked, unbelieving parents on Earth.

    Again, all this goes to show that God is just!

  11. Mary says:

    Amen, I agree!

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