A Scriptural Study Newsletter edited by Elder Vernon Johnson

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!




 Secret Things    

Deu. 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”  God has not revealed everything there is unto us.  He has kept some things secret from us.

Sometimes we want to know more than what is revealed.  For instance, we may want to know if some relative’s or friend’s name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.  However, this is kept secret from us.  We sometimes can see the evidences of God’s calling in peoples lives and can conclude that they are of God’s elect.  But even here we don’t have perfect knowledge.

When God has kept things secret from us, no amount of searching or seeking is going to open it to us.

Some men are now saying that all who die in infancy are of God’s elect.  It is not my desire or effort to try to prove or disprove this supposition that all who die in infancy are of God’s elect.  The supposition may be true or it may not be true.  I submit that only God knows the answer to that, and that he hasn’t revealed it unto us in his word.

Most who have gone about to try to prove all who die in infancy are of the elect have used either faulty logic or else misapplied a few verses of scripture.  One such verse that is misapplied is II Sam. 12:23 where David said concerning the infant child born of his and Bathsheba’s adultery who died, “I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”  It is argued that this statement proves that all who die in infancy go to heaven.  The fact is, however, that David could have had reference to either heaven or the grave.  It just isn’t clear.  Secondly even if David’s reference is to heaven it doesn’t prove that every infant child who dies is heaven bound.  It would only prove that this specific infant child was heaven bound.  The context seems to suggest that David had reference to the grave or death and not heaven.  As a matter of fact heaven is not even mentioned or otherwise alluded to in the context.

Another verse used to try to prove the salvation of all who die in infancy is found in Matt. 19:13-15, “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.  And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.”  Lk. 18:17 adds further, “Verily, I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”  The vast majority of times the phrases “kingdom of heaven” or “kingdom of God’ are used they have reference to the church kingdom and not to the glory world.  The above passage is talking about the church.  The lesson is that unless we humble ourselves with a child-like humility and trust in God we cannot enter into God’s church kingdom.  If this has reference to the glory world then attaining the glory world is dependent on man’s efforts and humility.  Then we Old Baptists would be wrong about eternal salvation being by grace alone thru the atoning blood of Christ.

The third verse of scripture which is most frequently used to try to establish that all who die in infancy are of the elect of God is found in Job 21:7, “Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea are mighty in power.”  The supposition is that the word, “old,” means come to a state of rational maturity and does not mean old age.  However, the word, “old,” is translated from the Hebrew, “athaq,” meaning wax old, aged, to wear out.”  This raises a question, “Just how old is old?”  The idea is put forth that before a person reaches a certain age, if he dies, then he must be of the elect.  This type of faulty thinking leads into the false “age of accountability theory.”  Recently one man put forth the idea that the wicked are not passively condemned, but are condemned because of their active works of sin.  Secondly he said that infants are not capable of committing a willful act of wickedness.  However, when such statements are brought to the light of truth they are found to be false.

According to Rom. 5:16, “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences to justification.”  Thus by Adam’s one sin judgment to condemnation came upon all of mankind including all infants.  Paul also states in Rom. 3:9 that “we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles , that they are all under sin.”  Thus all Jews and all Gentiles are under the law of sin and death before God.  Rom. 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: (all mankind-VJ) that every mouth may be stopped, all the world (all mankind) may become guilty before God.”  Thus all mankind was condemned because of the sin of Adam.  The wicked are condemned passively! 

Furthermore, the idea that infants are not capable of willful acts of wickedness is simply laughable and certainly contrary to the scriptures.  A person would have to be highly unobservant of infants to think they are incapable of willful acts of wickedness.  I have seen young infants defiantly disobey their parents; also in fits of rage bite, kick, claw, hit, and scratch other infants and adults; scream bloody murder when they don’t get their way; and tell many lies.  The scripture says that the wicked “go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”  The same man who said that an infant cannot commit a willful act of wickedness also said that they cannot literally speak a lie.  Well the scripture says that the infant speaks lies from birth and this man says that they cannot speak lies.  I will believe God and not man.

Another man put forth the idea that God elects people by categories.  He said that God elected all Jews as a category and that he elected those who die as infants as a category.  First, he is wrong about all Jews being of the elect for Rom. 9:6 says, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children.”  Thus not all Israel are of the elect of God.  In addition, I know of no verse of scripture that even hints that God elected anyone by category.

In conclusion, I don’t know if all who die in infancy are of the elect of God or not.  However, I am convinced that such cannot be proven from the scriptures.  Furthermore the elders I came up under never taught such a principle neither have I read where our forefathers held to such a principle.  The secret things belong unto God. 

Bible Rules For Bible Study

A study of the scriptures is a most noble undertaking. It was said of the Bereans in Acts 17:11, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word will all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." As we begin a study of the scriptures it is important that we know that there are rules or principles the scriptures give us to study by. By using these rules or principles we will come to increase our knowledge of the scriptures and be able to correct any errors in our own knowledge base as well as discuss and reason biblically any differences of understanding we may encounter with our fellow Christian travelers.

The bible sets forth the following rules and principles to study by:

    1. II Tim. 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." This passage teaches us several lessons:

        A. All good works are taught in the scriptures.

        B. The scriptures are a thorough furnisher unto all "good works."

We need not go outside the scripture to be thoroughly furnished in our instruction about any or all good works. In contrast, those things that are taught as good works, but not found in the scriptures are, in fact, "not" good works to be observed by us.

        C. The purpose of the scripture is to mature(perfect) the man of God (those born of God).

        D. All verses and passages of scripture, bothin the old and new testament will fit into one or more of the four listed categories doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. Paul's own writings and the order they are given unto us in the bible illustrate this lesson: Romans is primarily a book of doctrine, I & II Corinthians are primarily books of reproof, Galatians is primarily a book of correction, and Ephesians thru Philemon are primarily books dealing with instruction in righteousness.

        E. Last, but not least, the bible is inspired of God.

    2. John 5:39, the Lord said, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." This verse teaches us:

        A. The old and new testament scriptures are a continual testimony of Jesus.
        B. We are to search the scriptures for that testimony of Jesus.

    3. II Tim. 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." This scripture teaches us: A. Our study is not to approve us before others, but to be approved unto God. As workmen in the kingdom of God, we are to study that we might not be ashamed because of unskillful use of the scriptures.

        B. We must rightly divide the word of truth.  That doesn't say that we are to divide truth from error. For there is no error in God's word. We are to make the proper application of God's word. A text, out of context, is a pretext. Our application of the text must fit the context in which it is written. Furthermore, many subjects have multiple applications. As an example, the subject of justification can be greatly confusing until you realize the bible
teaches three courtrooms. For instance, the bible teaches in the courtroom of glory we are justified by grace thru the shed blood of Jesus. In the courtroom of our minds, we are justified by our faith in the blood of Jesus, and in the courtroom of public opinion we are justified by our works. Until we rightly "divide" the subject of justification we will be in a state of confusion on this or any other subject.

    4. II Pet. 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." Too often people want to put their private interpretations on the scripture. This is often done by going outside the scripture to interpret things in the scripture. If someone goes outside the scripture to interpret the scripture then he has a "private" interpretation. Regardless of the claims of some that they have a special revelation from God, the bible clearly teaches us that their claims are false.

    5. I Cor. 2:13, "Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." This informs us that the Holy Ghost teaches us the understanding of His word by comparing scripture (spiritual things) with scripture. In other words, the scripture, by the unlocking of the Holy Spirit is its own interpreter.

    6. John 10:35, "...and the scripture cannot be broken." Scriptures do not contradict (break) themselves. There cannot be a situation where the scripture teaches one thing and then, elsewhere, teaches something which contradicts the previous scripture. The problem is in our understanding of what is being taught. We should seek to reconcile those scripture which appear to contradict themselves. Often this is done by changing our mind about what the scripture teach. The previous rule of interpreting scripture by using other scripture also applies here.

    7. Isa. 28:9, 10, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? And whom shall he make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line; here a little and there a little." Studying and learning the scriptures is compared to the natural growth process. When we learn the basic precepts, then we build upon those basic precepts. Some precepts cannot be adequately learned until a good foundation has been laid. Furthermore, as in life, we learn   "here a little, there a little." Learning is a lifetime process and our study of the scriptures should be for the rest of our lives. Almost any bible subject is taught throughout the bible (here a little, there a little). Indirectly, this warns us against forming hard concrete opinions based on a single verse of scripture.

    8. Rom. 9:17, "For the scripture saith unto  Pharaoh..." Here Paul equates what God said to what the scripture said. Some have said,  "I pay more attention to the red writing because that is what Jesus said."  All scripture is the word of God. The black writing is just as much the word of God as the red writing.

Primitive Baptist