Crucifix or Cross?

16 May

Have you ever wondered why, as a general rule, Protestants display an empty cross rather than a crucifix (a cross with Christ’s body nailed to it) as the Roman Catholics? It has to do with theology. Both believe in the real death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but Protestants insist on representing the Christian faith to the point of its furthest fulfillment.*

Yes, it is necessary to remember and believe in Christ’s voluntary, substitutionary suffering and death on the cross; the climax of his passion is crucial to salvation. It is, however, also necessary to declare his resurrection. Salvation would be powerless and incomplete if Christ remained on the cross or in the grave. The cross alone was insufficient to save sinners in the sense that it cannot be separated from the necessity of Christ’s resurrection. Without it, sin would remain upon God’s people and there would be no salvation (1 Cor. 15:12-19, esp. 17-19). Eternity depends on a living Saviour.

Since we worship and serve a risen, victorious, reigning Saviour and Lord, Protestants refuse to picture Christ’s work in suspended animation in his state of suffering. They worship the King who conquered the curse of the cross.

*There are other reasons for the difference too, e.g. the Roman Church’s stress on the Mass, some Protestants’ understanding of the 2nd Commandment, etc.



11 Jan

Scripture makes it clear that singleness is not inferior to marriage (1 Corinthians 7:7-9). In fact, Paul wants to stress it in the passage referenced. Both marriage and singleness contain blessings and struggles unique to their station. Both are gifts from the Lord when viewed by faith in Jesus Christ. Both may be temporary or long-term. Both find their perfect example in Jesus Christ who was single all his earthly life and remained holy and pure, yet will be wed to his Bride (the Church) for eternity in perfect holiness, faithfulness, and love.

SINGLES: Are you taking advantage of the blessings of singleness, even if you are eager to be married someday? Are you living in purity and holiness unto the Lord? Are you looking to Christ for your example and strength? Do you recognize that singleness (temporary or long-term) is not a lesser existence? Are you glorifying God with your single life?

MARRIEDS: Are you taking advantage of the blessings of marriage? Are you living in purity and holiness unto the Lord? Are you careful not to neglect the responsibilities that are necessary to the married and/or parenting life? Are you looking to Christ as your perfect example and strength? Are you welcoming of singles and acknowledging them as whole persons? Are you glorifying God with your married life?

Morality and Genetic Testing

16 Aug
Genetic testing is not the moral problem. The moral problem lies with the purpose of some genetic testing, the recommendation or pressure by some to kill an unborn child based on testing results, and the actual killing of a child based on genetic testing.
There are genetic tests that can be used to help fix problems in utero, which means that genetic testing is not the moral problem. You might be able to make a case for genetic testing that helps prepare the parents to care for their child. I say might, because if the test will not change the outcome but you are sticking a needle into the womb unnecessarily, you are already putting the baby at risk.
Any test used to meet a termination deadline (abortion), where it is okay to kill a child before a certain age but a crime after, is morally wrong. Any test used to decide to kill your child because it will make your parenting life easier is morally wrong and the most selfish act on the planet. Any test used to argue that ending a life under the guise of reducing suffering is morally wrong.
There are different levels of suffering, but hardship is hard. Trials and suffering are a part life that we do not and should not always control. Trials are events that often make us stronger, that teach us to sacrifice for others, that reveal blessings unknown, and that teach us to love greater and strive harder. Elimination of hardship for the child or the parent when it means killing a person is a great evil. Life is a gift. Life is precious. Each person is made in the image of God and to be cared for.
Quoting the article: “We don’t look at abortion as murder…We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication…preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder—that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.”
And sometimes people call a decision grey to ease their conscience when it is more black and white than they want to admit. “We look at it as a thing ended.” Well, that “thing” is a living human being (aka. a person). The purposeful, unnecessary ending of a human life is murder. And if it was not bad enough, this is not arguing for what will be complications, but what “may have [been]”. So in many cases, it is the murder of a living human being—an unborn child—for a possibility of hardship. “We don’t look at abortion as murder.” That is just what it is. That is more black and white than grey. It is the darkness of sin.
The CBS piece does not come out and make a moral statement on Iceland’s practice, but the tone of the social media post ( intimates Iceland is on the cutting edge and doing the world a service by aborting children with Down’s: “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.” If that was not their intention, then the media needs to be more careful with their words. It is also untrue. Since the cause(s) of Trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome) is/are unknown, they are not on pace to eliminate the condition or prevent it from reoccurring. They are on pace to eliminate all people with Down’s Syndrome before they can be born. This is why people are crying eugenics because that is what this is—the killing of those with actual or potential, so-called undesirable traits or lives.
It is interesting that I have never heard or read of a parent of a child with Down’s wishing they had done away with him or her. Sure there are struggles, but what I see and hear are parents who are incredibly blessed by their son or daughter with Down’s. I see overwhelming joy in the faces and hearts of those with Down’s. They often seem to live life with greater joy than those without Down’s. Those with Down’s are a blessing to our societies, and their lives are precious, just as precious as yours.

Be Lowly

7 Aug

“and [Jesus] said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3‭-‬4 ASV).

Humility is a necessary part of being a Christian. We cannot repent of sin unless we know we are lowly (humble) sinners. We cannot pray unless we know we serve a God greater than ourselves. We cannot read and submit to God’s life-giving Word unless we humbly know our need for God’s truth. We cannot understand grace unless we know we don’t deserve it. As a child is lowly, depending on parents for daily food, love, protection, shelter, comfort, correction, teaching, and mercy, so too the Christian must depend on the heavenly Father for daily care, nourishment, mercy, and love.

Are you trying to live for yourself and/or by yourself? Are you trying to cling to the idea that you are autonomous and self-sufficient? This describes those who are perishing apart from Christ. It is the humble, lowly child that is the picture of those who enter God’s Kingdom.

Ask yourself: where do I need to be humbled? Where am I depending on myself?

Do you have trouble reading the Bible?

17 Jul

Do you feQuestions signpost in the skyel lost in the Bible’s pages? Do you find it hard to understand the general flow and sequence of events? Do you often wonder what one story has to do with the big picture? Here are two common reasons for the trouble you are having and two simple solutions to help you grow in your understanding of God’s Word and, hopefully, in your relationship with Jesus Christ.


Whether baseball or biology, math or mechanics, relationships or a RubixTM cube, the more time we spend engaging something, the better we understand and appreciate it. If you want to understand the Bible, then you must spend time in its pages. Read it. Think about it. Meditate on it. Talk about it. Ask about it. Learn about it. How much time are you spending with God in his Word? …with God’s gift that reveals his nature, heart, his Son Jesus, and his will for you?

Scripture unmasks the problems in the world and in our souls as well as the solutions to them. Scripture is a treasure to be mined (Psa. 119:72).  Do you treat God’s Holy Word as a treasured gift or as an inconvenient duty? Do you see it as drawing you nearer to Christ, revealing your sin, offering hope (Psa. 119:43, 49), peace (Psa. 119:165), comfort (Psa. 119:76, 81), and the power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), or do you see it as a few nice stories with a lot of stuff in between? Do you recognize that Scripture is God’s own Word of unerring truth (Psa. 119:142, 151) and purity (Psa. 119:140) sufficient for your life (2 Tim. 3:16–17), or do you treat it like any other book that can be set aside, neglected, and only casually considered?

We would better understand God’s Word if we treated it the way it is meant to be treated, as special, holy, divine, profitable, and sufficient—if we treated it as the treasure it is, praying and cultivating a hunger and love for it daily. Many know the large, complex worlds and details of Halo, Minecraft, and Call of Duty (popular video games), or the ins-and-outs of the characters in Downtown Abbey or our favorite novel but know little of the world and people of the Bible. This should concern us as Christians. We can all grow in our love and appreciation of God’s Word. Let’s be committed to doing so.


Part of the trouble might be the way you are reading the Bible. Perhaps you know the what (the Bible), the why (growing in relationship and obedience to Christ, for starters), but have not been taught how to read Scripture.

You would not pick up your favorite novel and start in the middle, skip 4/5 of the way through, go back to the first page, turn to the end, then read a paragraph from 1/3 of the way in. You would be confused. You would not know how all those pieces fit in with the big picture. That might work for a cook book, a comic book, or for a math textbook (maybe), but not for a story. Yet, that is the way many read the Bible, treating it as a list of platitudes or quotations randomly assembled.

The Bible is unique. It is the Word of the one, triune God breathed out (2 Tim 3:16) through roughly 40 different human authors as the Holy Spirit moved them (2 Pet. 1:21; Heb. 1:1–2).  It is composed of 66 different books made up of 1189 chapters. It has sections that can, on some levels, stand alone as general principles of wisdom, e.g. much of Proverbs, and others that unfold and depend more heavily on their narrative style, e.g. Genesis and Exodus. How are we then to read the Bible?

First, we need to recognize that like a novel, the Bible is ultimately one grand story being told by God from Genesis to Revelation. It speaks of who God is, how he created all things, how creation was corrupted by sin, how God redeems a people for himself, how he restores creation, and how he deals with evil and sin, all the while pointing to Jesus Christ. It is okay to skip around the Bible to focus more deeply on particular sections, events, or truths, but if you do not understand the overall story and flow of the Bible, skipping around will leave you in the mist. In other words, without understanding where and why a part fits into the whole, your understanding of that smaller section will be limited and perhaps even wrong.

If you want to better understand the Bible, read or listen through the Bible at a quicker pace to get the big picture. Sound too daunting? Do you know that there are 1,084,170 words in the Harry Potter series and only 788,258 in the Bible? It is doable. And I recommend an easier and clearer way for just getting the big picture. Read or listen to the books of the Bible that focus on the overall narrative: Genesis—Esther, Luke, Acts, and Revelation). If you are a visual person, follow up with some timelines that highlight the major events in the big redemptive story of the Bible (search the web for “Bible Timeline” and you’ll have plenty to choose from). Then go back and make sure you do not skip any portions of God’s Word; they all speak of Christ, and they are all precious. No part of God’s Word is to be ignored (including the genealogies). This will help you better understand the Mosaic Law. This will help you understand the Prophets writing before and after the people go into exile. This will help you understand what the wisdom and poetical books are referring to. This will help you understand how the New Testament Epistles fit in the big story.

Understanding the big picture of the Bible is key to being able to better understand and enjoy God’s Word. There are two main ways to read the Bible: quicker and in larger swaths to get the overall story, and slower and in smaller pieces to dig deep into the truths. I encourage you to be in the habit of both; the first is crucial for understanding the second, and the second is necessary for better understanding the first.

If you have a hard time understanding the Bible, committing to these two, simple solutions will go a long way: (1) spend more time in God’s Word recognizing it for the treasure it is, and (2) make sure you understand the grand narrative of the Bible without neglecting any portion of Scripture.

What Happens to Those Who Die in Infancy?

7 Jul

There are few situations that have the potential to cause as much pain as the death of a child. When a young one dies, not only parents, but siblings and others who have a close bond with the child can suffer post-traumatic stress, deep depression, and other forms of emotional, psychological, or even physical pain. The overwhelming grief can put strain on marriages and other relationships. It can test one’s faith and affect one’s work. It can alter the parents’ plans on trying for more children. No single situation can represent the myriad of painful effects such a death can leave. But there is hope with the support of loved ones, the ministry of the Church, the comfort of Scripture, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. There can be peace and growth when faced with such trials.

When faced with this devastating situation, the question arises for the Christian: “What happens to those who die in infancy? Is my child in heaven?” It is true that Scripture speaks to all areas of faith and life, but it does not always speak with equal clarity or detail. Consider the following two examples. Scripture is clear that salvation is only found in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), but there is not an explicit statement in the Bible that says, “God saves all children who die in infancy,” or, “All children who die in infancy are elect.” Even among Reformed Christians there are different understandings and levels of conviction on what Scripture teaches. Because of the different views, the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF)—a Reformed document that summarizes the Bible’s teaching—answers with hopeful vagueness. The WCF states in chapter 10.3 that, “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”[1] The Confession does not state that all infants are elect and saved; neither does it say that some infants are not saved. It acknowledges what is beyond dispute—that every person God elects is saved, young or old. This is a faithful, biblical stance. The Christian could stop here and be at peace, trusting in God’s goodness and his promise to do what is right. Many others believe that there is enough biblical evidence to clarify this further. If Scripture provides more, then it should not be ignored. What follows is a biblical case for what is arguably the view most Reformed Christians (likely most of Christendom) hold, i.e. the conviction that all children who die in infancy are part of God’s elect people and saved by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Before giving evidence for this thesis, some truths must first be declared to keep us from falling into error.


The Bible teaches that even the smallest, frailest, most dependent child still developing in the womb is considered a living person. In context, Scripture even speaks judgment against those who cause the death of one of these unborn children—life for life (Ex. 21:22–25). Since every child in the womb is a living person, each is made in God’s image and must have a home in eternity. The question then remains, what will be that home? Every person must spend the rest of eternity either in the blessed presence of the Lord or in the unfathomable dread of eternal hell. There are only two possibilities.


The doctrine of Original Sin, which is drawn from passages such as Romans 5:10–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 47ff, begins with the notion that God treated the first human being, Adam, as the head, or representative, of all humanity. The way Adam responded to God would have lasting effects on all people. The Bible does not teach that every person was in the garden and plucked the fruit of the tree, submitted to the devil-controlled serpent, and hid in their shame and disobedience. It teaches that the effects of the first sin pass to each member of the human race because Adam was our representative in the first covenant between God and mankind. This principle of headship is also true for all who are represented by Christ in the New Covenant (Rom. 5) where his righteousness becomes our righteousness and we share in his death and resurrection. Headship is not foreign even to us in contemporary America: whole countries can be considered guilty for the actions of their leadership, and when a president or board of a company commits malpractice, the whole corporation can be fined and receive a poor reputation. In both of these situations, all the people participate in the sins of the leadership to some degree and all bear some of the consequences.

While every person did not commit the same sin as Adam, all are found guilty in Adam and all are therefore born into sin, inherit a corrupted nature, are at enmity with God apart from grace, and die (with the exception of Enoch and Elijah). Even a child in the womb carries this dark burden (Psa. 51:5). Like a drop of dye in a bottle of water, once sin entered the human race, it spread to all of mankind (except for Christ Jesus). Given the chance, every person willingly commits sin because of an inherited sinful nature (Eph. 2:3).

By way of review, infants: (1) are precious, living children who bear God’s image (though it is now corrupted); (2) have inherited the guilt and punishment of Adam’s sin prior to willingly committing sin; and (3) like all people, are deserving of divine punishment. Fortunately, we turn to the hope and promise of the Gospel of Grace.


The Bible is clear that salvation from sin and judgment is by God’s grace alone as revealed in passages such as Ephesians 1:3–7:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

or Titus 3:4–7:

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

 Whether adults or children, born or in the womb, there are no other means for people to be saved than by grace alone. Children who die in infancy can only be saved by God’s grace in Christ Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12; c.f. John 14:6).


While Scripture does not explicitly state all children who die in infancy are saved, it does give considerable implicit evidence—enough evidence to convince a great many Christians, Reformed and otherwise, that all these children are saved. Scripture must be the approach because Christians must rely on the truth of Scripture and not empty hopes resulting from painful emotions.

Consider Job 3:16–17, “ Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.” In his desperation, Job says that it would have been better if he had died in the womb, for they (the unborn) are not troubled by the wicked but are at rest. It is unlikely that Job was referring simply to death and the grave, for Job later states that he believes in a Redeemer and in the resurrection of the body (chapter 19). He knows that death is not the end; the grave offers no rest in itself, for the soul lives on. It would seem that Job is confident that the unborn are in a perpetual state of rest and comfort (with the Lord), free from the enemies and troubles of this life and surely then from those in hell.

Notable pastor and teacher, John MacArthur, references King David’s contrasting responses to the death of his first child with Bathsheba and the death of his adult son, Absalom. When the first child died very young, David was at peace because he said that he would “go to him” again someday (2 Sam. 12:19–24). Upon hearing of the death of Absalom, however, David wept bitterly and for a prolonged time (2 Sam. 19:24–20:7). MacArthur argues, “This is the exact opposite. He stopped mourning when the baby died, he started mourning when Absalom died. What’s the difference? He knew the baby was in the presence of the Lord. He knew Absalom was not. In that first son there was hope of a reunion, in the second there was horror. No sorrow for the death of the first, almost unrelieved sorrow in the death of the second.”[2] It seems that both Job and David, men of great faith, believed in the salvation of infants who had died.

Supporters of this view also see Jesus’ words as evidence that all infants who die are saved by grace.  Jesus spoke a lot about children; his disciples were amazed at his love for them. In Mark 10:13–16 is the following account:

And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

 Jesus welcomes the children, calls them to himself (Luke 18:16–17), embraces, lays hands on, blesses, and he says that the kingdom belongs to such as these. When Christ blesses and speaks of the blessed it is significant: the loaves and fishes are multiplied (Mark 6:41; 8:7); the bread and wine are made holy (Mark 14:22); those will be blessed who are faithfully found waiting for his coming (Luke 12); those in the kingdom are blessed (Luke 14:15); the disciples are blessed before Christ ascends into heaven (Luke 24:50–51); those blessed of the Father inherit the Kingdom (Matt. 25); and when speaking of the Kingdom, Jesus blesses children, and says that the Kingdom belongs to such as these (Mark 10).

When Jesus refers to such as these, John Calvin says he refers to the state of the persons that correspond to an infant. This includes not only the child who dies in infancy and has no capacity to believe or not believe, but also to those in a similar state such as the severe mentally deficient.[3] Jesus speaks of little children belonging to the kingdom. This cannot be because they are innocent, for they are guilty in Adam and commit their own sins; it can only be because of God’s grace shown to them.

The basis by which Jesus will judge at his return also lends support to the view that all children who die in infancy are saved by grace. Paul says to the Church at Corinth: “For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). Though it must be stressed that each person is guilty and condemnable in Adam, this verse and others like it have been used to argue that final judgment will not be based upon Original Sin, but that God will judge according to the deeds done in the flesh, i.e. those sins which have been done by the individual. The same could be argued from Revelation 20:11–12, which states,

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (emphasis mine, see also John 3:19; Romans 1:18–20, 2:6; Matt. 16:27).

People are judged for their evil deeds and unbelief but only ever saved by the grace of God who forgives them in Christ Jesus. If children die in the womb, they have not committed any personal sins. By this argumentation, they would be forgiven their guilt in Adam and saved by God’s grace.

What about those who have been born yet are still young (in age or mental capacity)? They would have already sinned individually. Many would say the accounts from Job, 2 Samuel, the Gospels, and Epistles indicate that God shows them grace, forgiving those who do not have the mental capacity to understand. (Although “Age of accountability” is a popular phrase, it is not really appropriate. Mental capability, not age, is the issue and all sins, Original and personal, must be accounted for and either judged or forgiven by grace. David Russell, 19th century Scottish minister, supports this understanding:

The Scriptures, when they distinguish any from the chosen of God, invariably represent them as walking in the ways of sin, as shutting their eyes to the light, as hardening themselves against God, as left by Him to follow their own courses, and as abusing the longsuffering and goodness of God to the hardening of their hearts in unbelief and impenitence. Now…it appears, that whatever He in justice might have done, it is the fixed determination of God, that none of the human race shall be finally condemned by a judicial act of His will, arising simply from the offence of Adam. It follows, then, that all who die in infancy are chosen by Him in Christ, of his rich and his Sovereign grace.[4]

Russell recognizes that God would be perfectly just to judge a person for any and all sin (Original or personal) but understands Scripture to say that, in practice, God determines to judge the individual by personal sins committed—sins committed by one who is capable of sufficiently comprehending revelation in creation and/or Scripture to make decisions based on that information.

Some criticize this view, arguing that if one cannot have faith in Christ, then one must not be saved. This is a very minority view and would rule out all infants and many others with limited mental faculties. They think this compromises Ephesians 2:8: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (emphasis mine). Salvation through faith absolutely applies to all those who are mentally able to believe or not believe. Scripture is written for those who can hear and/or read, as well as understand its words and truths. It is not surprising then that Scripture’s pages are filled with references to faith and unbelief. But “…the cause of…undeserved election is exclusively the good pleasure of God.” (Canons of Dort, Head I, art. 10).[5] The Canons of Dort explain that faith is not a cause but a fruit[6] of grace already working within the elect person.[7]

God’s electing grace can still be present in the womb or in the infant where sufficient faith is not yet mentally possible. A person can only believe or reject something if he or she has the mental capacity to know and understand. This is why Romans 1 includes those who have not even heard of the Gospel:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown [it] to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify [Him] as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools… (Rom. 1:18-22, emphasis mine)

Paul explains that those who have heard the Gospel and rejected it, and those who have only “clearly seen”  in Creation and “suppressed the truth”, are both “without excuse”. In each example, the person is depicted as being able to clearly see (perceive), understand, know, and profess based on that information. It logically follows that those who cannot perceive or understand (e.g. young children who die or severely mentally impaired individuals) have a valid reason (excuse) for not having faith. Their sins still need to be atoned for, but like the believer who is capable of understanding, they are forgiven by God’s grace in Jesus Christ.


Every person is born with a corrupt, sinful nature and, given the chance, will personally sin. All people are guilty and corrupt before the Holy God, but out of his good pleasure and love, God saves many people by pouring out his grace through the person and work of Jesus Christ. All those who are capable of perceiving and truly believe the Gospel are saved. Conversely, all who have been granted the mental capability to see and understand God’s power and nature at work in creation and/or his Word are without excuse for not believing. Those who are not given the mental faculties to perceive and understand God’s revelation (e.g. embryos, young children who die, or those with severe mental inabilities) have a reason for not believing what they are incapable of understanding. God forgives their sin and guilt in Jesus Christ according to his good pleasure and will. This should never make us lazy in teaching biblical truth to any age or ability, for only God knows who his elect are.

As terrible as the death of a child may be to experience, Christians can find hope and healing in the pages of Scripture. Not all Christians believe the Bible provides enough evidence to confidently say that all children who die in infancy are saved, but many do. Either way, the Christian can find comfort in knowing God is good and will do what is right.

For the unbeliever, such a travesty may be the means God uses to help them glimpse their own mortality and awaken them to the urgency of knowing the God who made them. If an unbeliever is devastated by the loss of an infant, the Christian should mourn with the unbeliever over this heart-breaking trauma. The Christian who believes all of these little ones are saved can also offer comfort regarding the child’s eternity, and in time, present Jesus to the unbelieving parent with the Gospel confidence that if that parent repents and believes in Jesus, he or she too will meet their child again. That was David’s joy.

May the Lord give his people clarity to see the truth in his Word, Christ-like hearts to bear the burdens of those who have lost a child, and souls afire for the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus.

*This is a summary of a longer paper written for a course taken at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.


[1] Westminster Confession of Faith,

[2] John MacArthur, “The Salvation of Babies Who Die, Part 2” a sermon. Accessed February 2016,

[3] Stagg, Calvin,Twisse & Edwards on Universal Salvation of Infants, 46, 60–61.

[4] David Russell, Essay on The Salvation of All Dying in Infancy: Including Hints on The Adamic and Christian Dispensations (Edinburgh: Printed for Waugh and Innes; Chalmers & Collins, Glasgow; and Ogle, Duncan & Co. London, 1823), 202–203.

[5] Canons of Dort.

[6] Venema, “The Canons of Dort” in But for the Grace of God, 132.

[7] Venema, “The Canons of Dort” in But for the Grace of God, 150.

Are We to Love Our Great Enemy, Satan?

28 Jun


“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Mark 5:44).

Jesus not only preached these familiar words as part of his Sermon on the Mount to his disciples, but he also modeled them by speaking to, eating with, and even dying for sinners (Rom. 5:8). But is this a universal truth to be applied in all cases? In his explanation of the Parable of the Tares, Jesus tells the disciples that “The enemy who sowed [the tares] is the Devil” (Matt. 13:39a). Simple logic would argue like this: Jesus commands us to love our enemies; Satan is our enemy; therefore, we must love Satan. But is that true? Are we to love our great enemy, Satan?

The problem with the logic above is that it does not take into account the contexts of the passages or the differences between humans and the Devil. When Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, he commands us to do what he himself does, i.e. love the seemingly unlovable. Jesus speaks of loving his Father (John 14:31); he speaks of loving people (John 3:16); nowhere in Scripture does Jesus declare love for Satan. It is also true that Scripture never tells us directly that Jesus hates Satan. What does Scripture teach us about how Jesus views Satan? Is there enough to help us answer the question posed above?

God reveals a lot to us about how he views Satan and how we should also view him. We know that Satan somehow rejected God and his authority in ages past and was forever cast out of God’s loving presence (Rev. 12:7–9). We know that Satan is forever condemned (I Tim. 3:6). We know that hell was prepared for Satan and the other demons (Matt. 25:41). We know that hell is a place void of God’s love and only filled with God’s wrath and judgment (Matt. 8:12; 25:46; 2 Thes. 1:9; Rev. 21:8). Satan and the angels of darkness (demons) have no hope of salvation; they are utterly lost forever. Satan’s future is only sure judgment and torment (Rev. 20:10). He is the epitome of evil as all his names and titles reinforce: Satan “Adversary”, Devil, Deceiver, Tempter, Beelzebub “Lord of the Flies/Dung”, Ruler of Demons,  Enemy, Liar, Father of Lies, Murderer, Belial “Vile”, Abbadon “Destroyer”, Accuser, etc. Truly Satan is the “Evil One” (Matt. 6:13).

Scripture teaches clearly that Satan is nothing but evil and has no hope of restoration, forgiveness, or salvation. He is completely contrary to Jesus Christ and always fighting against the will of God. Christ does not love Satan, and there is no future grace to be shown to him. Yes, we are to love our fellow humans, even our enemies, but we are not to love Satan. We are to hate evil (Psa. 97:10; Prov. 8:13; Amos 5:15), and Satan is the most complete manifestation of evil.

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