age of accountability

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by belvedere, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. belvedere

    belvedere
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    I recently was blessed to have my young daughter ask some questions about salvation. Later, it got me thinking about the whole concept of "age of accountability". I've always been taught AOA, but when I've been thinking about it recently, something about it bothers me. I'm going to try to put it into words, so bear with me!

    In my mind, I've been comparing AOA to the "lose your salvation" concept. In other words, the idea that someone could die today and go to heaven, but because of something that happens between today and tomorrow, if they died tomorrow, they would not go to heaven. I know the two (AOA and losing salvation) are not exactly the same thing, but that's the best way I can explain what's been bothering me about it. I hope I haven't been too confusing!

    I hope someone with more knowledge can give me some insight on this. I'm just trying to learn. Thanks in advance for your replies.
     
  2. Allan

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    Hello brother :)
    Not exactly sure why you are comparing these two issues. One is an untrue opinion relating to salvation the other is a biblical concept of revealed truth.

    1. One group will say there is no age of accountabiltiy ... we all make mistakes at times.

    2. The other group will state that the age of accountability (like myself) is a biblical concept though not explictly set forth in scripture much like infant salvation which also is not explictly set forth.


    However you will find scriptures that do speak not so much as to a 'specific' age but to a time in every persons life when God reveals His truth to them. That truth is not like some parents try to teach their children (ex doing bad things = sin and doing good things = ?? ) I brought this up in our Sunday school class about term good and bad are perceptions those things acceptable to the one we wish to please. Thus God's terms for good and bad are righteousness and sin.

    All children must understand sin according to its nature and offence to God not mom and dad because then the child will use their parents standard to determine what is sin and not Gods. Part of understanding Salvation is understanding you have 'sinned' against a 'Holy' God and are deserving of hell. Thus also an understanding this aspect as well is needed, indeed necessary that it might be a "Good News to the one whos eyes have been opened.

    There are various verses in scripture which convey this concept.
    For example - Christ illistrates according to John, that accountability is determined when one has an understanding of sin:
    or
    Another verse is when King Davids child dies, David knows that when he dies he will be with his child. David also knew that when he died he would be with the Lord ..."I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever".

    Jesus also talks about allowing the 'Children to come to him for such is the kingdom of heaven". Though it is a direct refernce to humilty and faith (notice all have it :) ) and thus the example for adults to be like those children and have trust/faith, it is also an interesting reference regarding the acceptance of them all for "of such is the kingdom of heaven". Apparently heaven is made up of such and gives much credence to Davids proclaimation and actions at the death of his son.

    Does this mean children do not have sin - by no means. But they are not held accountable as of yet for them (John 9:41) but as one with no sin.

    The age is different for each person not so much so because they can or can't understand it (though it is a factor in relation to the rational mind) it falls specifically as to when God reveals truth that goes deeper than mans perspective of good and bad.
     
    #2 Allan, Jun 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2008
  3. Jon-Marc

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    There is NO particular "age" of accountability. It depends on the individual and their knowledge of the word. A child raised in a Christian home and hearing the word of God on a regular basis will come to the realization that "I need to be saved" a lot sooner than a child raised in an atheist home where the name of God and Jesus Christ are constantly used as profanity or never mentioned.

    Since Jesus said on the cross "It is finished", there is nothing more to do for our salvation except to ask for it. That's why God said in Ephesians 2:8 that it is a FREE GIFT, and in verse 9 that it is NOT by works. God doesn't want us standing around in heaven boasting, "Yeah, God wasn't able to save me on His own, but fortunately I was good enough and did enough great works that He recognized my righteousness and let me into heaven. I was a lot better person than most of the ones I knew, which would explain why I don't see them here."

    Instead of standing around bragging about our sex-ploits with the women as men do here on earth, we would be bragging on our goodness. I don't know about anyone else, but I will be praising God for HIS goodness, grace, and mercy in saving me. Besides, we're told in Isa. 64.6 that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Can we expect God to accept FILTHY RAGS as payment for sin?
     
  4. Salty

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    Lets take the AOA a bit further. Is it possible for a person (say someone severely mentally retarded) never to attain the AOA?

    Suppose a 2 year old goes into a coma and remains for say, 15 years and then dies, without coming to. Who he be considered to have the AOA?

    Other thoughts.

    Salty
     
  5. belvedere

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    Just a poor choice of words. It's a weakness: when I put my thoughts into words, sometimes things aren't "translated" properly!

    Let me try again. It's not that I set out to compare these two issues. It's that when I was trying to explain what was bothering me about AOA, that's the closest thing I could think of to compare it to.

    I'll try to explain my thoughts better. The AOA, though different for each individual, is a definite point in that person's life, yes? OK, so for the sake of discussion, let's use Little Johnny as an example, and let's say he reaches his AOA right now. Let's also say that at this point, he doesn't accept Christ. So, if Johnny had died yesterday, he'd have gone to be with the Lord, but if he dies tonight, he'd go to hell. Let's "zoom in" a little more. If he'd died an hour ago: heaven. If he dies an hour from now: hell. Can you see why it brings to mind losing one's salvation?

    I'm not saying AOA is wrong, nor am I saying it is not supported scripturally. I'm just saying this bothers me about it.

    Thanks for the reply, Allan, and looking forward to more of your thoughts on the topic.
     
    #5 belvedere, Jun 26, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 26, 2008
  6. Allan

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    I think you are confusing the AoA with salvation. Just because a person comes 'of age' (so to speak) does not mean that is the point they will or will not be saved. I came to such a time in my early teens (about 11 or 12) but was not saved until I was 17.

    The AoA concept is not about when a person 'could be' saved but when they come to that understanding of sin and righteousness before God. Don't confuse the AoA with that point of salvation because the AoA is speaking only about when we come to His understanding of sin.

    I might still not be answering your question because I'm still not exactly sure how you're seeing things - :laugh:

    Maybe I'll give you call tonight to get a better understanding of your meaning.
     
  7. Allan

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    The answer lies not in their 'age' but their understanding.
    So in answer to your questions - "Yes" to the first question
    and "No" to the second.

    The 'age' aspect is a refenence not to a specific age but a time in a persons life when they come to an understanding - thus that time in a persons life is designated by the general term 'age'.
     
  8. belvedere

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    So what would have happened if you'd died at age 15? If your AoA was 11 or 12, then by definition, you were accountable (responsible) for your sin at age 15, correct? Yet, at age 15, you had not yet accepted Christ as Savior.
     
  9. Jarthur001

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    what is AOA?

    Yes I know all will say the age ranges all over the place. That is not what I'm asking.

    What is AOA. What does it mean?
     
  10. Jarthur001

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    Sorry...i didn't see this.

    understanding of what?
     
  11. Allan

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    IF I would have died I would have gone to hell.

    Now we must understand that it is at the rejection of truth we 'are' damned but no man knows when that point is, only that God reveals truth till there comes a point "He gives them over". (Rom 1:(18-32),2; 2 Thes 2:10-12)

    We see in many passages of scripture (like the ones above) where a choice is made to accept or reject and this can only be done if and when a person understands that which God has revealed. The truth revealed is not the gospel only but even the aspects of God. The rejection of any God revealed truth is still in part a rejection of both Him and His gospel since all truth is based in Him and the gospel founded through Him. It is God however who knows when a person has rejected fully but we are to continue to give that opportunity over and over again to those who are perishing.
     
  12. Allan

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    Specifically it depends on the truth God has revealed to them but the concept typically is used in reference to the culmination of knowledge when a person knows that sin is more than just a bad thing and that it is done against God.
    This is done because we do not know how much a person has been revealed nor when any revealation has been given only that in relation to salvation there must be a basic understanding of sin, righteousness, and God.
    Take Rom 1:18-32 as just one example.

    Here we see that God uses even nature to reveal to man various spiritual truths that are only known when God reveals them to man. And in fact it states that it is not nature through natural means that imparts this knowledge but that "God shewed it to them" or better "revealed it to them" (vs 19 )

    Then you also have the other verses I have given earlier.
     
  13. Jarthur001

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    Allan,

    I understand you have children. I raised 3 girls and I have been around countless kids as they begin life. I watch them sin and know they are sinning at a very early age.

    Like, have you seen a child that is just starting to walk have their hand slapped for reaching out to touch a glass vase? This is no sin is it?

    But when it clearly is a defiant will seen in the young child even at the age of 1, is when 30 min later they reach for the same glass vase and stop just before touching it............and look around to see who is looking.........and maybe even look at you to see if you are looking...and then touch it anyway.

    When they stopped just before they touched the vase, that told me they understood. I have had them stop..........and then just very lightly touch the vase and try to run away...for they remember they just got their hands slapped. They understood right and wrong.

    Is this AOA?
     
  14. Allan

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    Children.. me? :laugh: I have 4 and one more on the way :)

    But to answer your last question - No.

    It is their perception of right and wrong 'according to you' but you do not set nor define the standard for what 'sin' is (I know you know this part I'm just stating in generality).

    The AoA is an understanding of right/righteousness and wrong/sin according to God's standard not mans and that it is against God not man.
    Also it is something that God must reveal in or to them as Rom 1:19 establishes
     
    #14 Allan, Jun 26, 2008
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  15. Jarthur001

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    My children are all but gone from my house now. My youngest girl will be an Sr at BJU this coming year, Lord willing. They have been to many mission trips around the world. They have told young men and ladies as old as 18 or 19 about a God they had never heard of before.

    For these 18 and 19 year olds, being this is the 1st time they heard about God, is this the very earliest they could possibly inter into the AOA?

    If this be true, are all other actions of this person before this time not sin no matter if it against Gods will or Gods Law or not?

    In other words, one place two of my girls went to share the gospel was full of crack houses and prostitution rings. Some of these that lived this life, my girls shared the gospel with, something they had never heard before. Does this mean that the life these 18 and 19 year olds lived was not in sin for they did not know Gods standard?
     
  16. Allan

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    You know that the above is not my argument.
    James we have been through this a number of times and you know my position (maybe you have forgotten), regardless, if you go back and read what I wrote you would know the answer to your question is again 'no'.
     
  17. Jarthur001

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    Allan,

    I have not forgot that we have been though this before. I still have not got the end answer.

    All that I have asked is fair to ask.

    This is what we know so far in this study..

    AOA does not depend on age.
    AOA depends on understanding.
    Even more...AOA depends on understanding wrong/sin according to God's standard.

    If a man does not know Gods standard of sin is it still sin?

    If the answer is no then what must one understand to bring on AOA?
     
  18. Allan

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    I did not state it was not fair to ask, it is just that you keeping asking the same things and you will still get the same answers. Just because you don't like the answer does not make it an unanswered question.

    And two other points are also listed amoung my previous posts that answer both of your last two questions.
    And since you already know my answers, I find it a rather belaboring excersize to answer you again and again regardomg the same questions.
     
  19. Outsider

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    Hi all,

    I do not believe that AoA is a specific age and I am not sure that it is completely an understanding, although an understanding is the way it is most commonly described.
    I agree with brother Allan and believe he used good text in why the doctrine is an acceptable and correct doctrine (John 9:41, John 15:22).

    The way I see it in scripture, is that when the Word speaks to someone, it correctly pronounces them guilty. When God speaks to a person's heart, they will understand. They may not believe it, but that is another discussion. But when God speaks to a person, they have come to the knowledge and understanding of what they have done (Sin against the Holy and Righteous God).

    If a person dies and goes to hell, it is because of their sin and not anothers. The Bible teaches that when someone dies and goes to eternal torment, it was because they died in "Their sin" (John 8:24), not Adam's. We are born with Adam's sin nature but not the penalty it carries. We must not forget that Jesus is "The Savior of all men, specially of those that believe" (1 Tim 4:10).
    Consider this:
    When Israel was sentenced to wonder in the wilderness until all those 20 years of age and up died, are we to believe that all those that were 19 years old did not understand what was going on? I am not sure of this at that time, but what I can find, boys were considered men at age 13.

    The fact is, according to God, they didn't have the knowledge.

    Deut 1:39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

    Now, it is a fair assumption to think that a 19 year old possessed the understanding to know between good and evil, but in that day and at that time, God declared them innocent. So, if God said they were not guilty... then they were not guilty.

    I have two small children and yes, they sin. It is in their nature to sin. It is my job to correct them and teach them properly. I also find it hard to believe that at this point in time that my 3 year old has the ability to believe and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not think she (or any 3 year old) has the capability to feel remorse and need to repent because they have sinned against God. The reason is because they have sinned, but not against God.

    I hope this helps you understand why I believe AoA is a true and acceptable doctrine.
     
  20. Outsider

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    Congrats!!! I pray all goes well!!!
     

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