Published on November 1st, 2004 | by Tony Felich0
Pastor’s Corner November 2004
The following was published in our monthly newsletter, the Redeemer Report.
“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 have no reason to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy.”
~ Canons of the Synod of Dort (1619)
These well-framed words from the Canons of Dort are comforting for the Redeemer family these days. Two covenant children were called home by their heavenly Father before birth in the past week. There is no human answer for why these things happen, we must rest in the goodness of our God even when we cannot understand events.
There is genuine comfort in the bible’s teaching regarding the salvation of our covenant babies who die in infancy. Consider Jesus’ attitude toward infants who were brought to Him by His followers:
Luke 18:15-16 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.
Furthermore, Paul assures us of the special status owned by the children of believers:
1 Corinthians 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.
B.B. Warfield says it well, “it is the Confessional doctrine of the Reformed churches that all believers’ infants, dying in infancy, are saved.” For the believer, there is definite assurance from God regarding the fate of their children who die in infancy. We are believers by God’s covenant commitment to save a people for Himself through the blood of Jesus, not based on our capacity to understand or choose God. We must flee any doctrine of the primacy of the intellect which would deny that infants have the capacity for relationship with God. Salvation is not based on our ability to understand but rather on God’s sovereign prerogative to save. The primary way God saves is through the covenant community (the Church) made up of covenant families. When a child is conceived in a believer, that child is under God’s covenantal promise to be our God and the God of our children. For all the intense pain we experience when an infant dies, there should be no question about the fate of a believer’s baby- he or she goes to be with their heavenly Father and we will see them one day. Consider a few of the many Psalms that speak of this covenantal reality:
Psalm 22:9-10 But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God.
Psalm 71:6 By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You.
Psalm 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
Let us share together in grieving the great losses of these families. This is a time to mourn. This is a time to weep with those who weep. This is right to do, we are a family. In our grieving together with these dear families, let us not lose hope, for we will fellowship with these covenant children face to face one day. This is also a time to glory in the covenant of grace, ratified by the blood of our Lord Jesus, which is the basis of our salvation- and the salvation of our children.
In the Lamb,
Pastor Tony Felich