Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On hope, where it comes from and why we have it

I have been so blessed by the outpouring of support that has come from friends near and far. I was directed to a blog called 4 Day to Eternity, created by a family who lost their son Mason after 4 days with him. As part of their ministry, they send the book Safe in the Arms of God (truth from Heaven about the death of a child) by John MacArthur, to anyone who has lost a baby.
We know of the couple, Chris and Anna, because we briefly went to college together. If I remember right, Chris was a senior my freshman year. The college president happens to be John MacArthur. We were so happy to receive this book, knowing it was full of truths that would take us a long time to discover ourselves.
I think it's natural to wonder what happens to babies that die. I am so thankful for this book, which answers that question with biblical support, something vitally important to us.
We already know that God knows us from the womb. The passage assuring us of that was what we clung to as we waited in the hospital.
"For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made....You saw my unformed substance, in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Ps. 139:13-14, 16
Excerpts from the book:
"You may think you 'made' your baby. Not so. God made your baby and breathed life into him or her. Your child is His creation." 19
"Your child has never been beyond the loving care and concern-or the watchful eye-of the Lord." 22
"He does not allow a conception that is beyond His sovereign plan and purposes." 23
Dr. MacArthur addresses the topic of the sin nature, inherent in all humans because of Adam's original sin. Having this sin nature means that eventually when faced with a choice between right and wrong, we will inevitably pick to do wrong. This begs the question, are babies condemned to hell because they are carriers of the sin nature, despite never having chosen to sin?
Because we are born with a sin nature; "we cannot say that babies who die go to heaven because they are 'sinless.' Rather, babies who die go to heaven because God is gracious." 72
Throughout Scripture, God refers to children as "The innocents." (See Jer. 2:34 and 19:4 for examples). "Though fallen creatures like all Adam's offspring, infants are not culpable in the same sense as those whose sins are will full and premeditated." 35
"The Scripture weighs very heavily toward the fact that innocent children are in heaven, redeemed and dwelling in the presence of God." 41
Though babies do not have the ability to accept Christ, Christ is gracious to accept them. Quoting John Calvin, MacArthur says, "Those little children have not yet any understanding to desire His blessing, but when they are presented to Him, He gently and kindly receives them, and dedicates them to the Father by a solemn act of blessing." 60
"The saving grace given to an infant who as no part whatsoever in his salvation is a perfect example of salvation, which is always wrought sovereignly by God through grace." 77
"If we understand God by His nature as a Savior (see 1 Tim. 1:1; 4:10), is it not the truest expression of God's heart that He chooses to save infants?" 79
I'll end with this:
"Yes, children are in need of a Savior.
"Yes, God has provided a Savior for them, Jesus Christ.
"Yes, all children who die before they reach a state of moral awareness and culpability in which they understand their sin and corruption--so that their sins are deliberate--are graciously saved eternally by God through the work of Jesus Christ. They are counted as elect by sovereign choice because they are innocent of willful sin, rebellion, and unbelief, by which works they would be justly condemned to eternal punishment." 89-90
These are small snippets of the comfort this book, written through searching of the Scriptures, can give. There is so much more, but I'll leave it here.
We know Isaiah is with Christ, free from all the pain and hardship, as well as the sin and temptation of this world. We do not grieve that he is with Christ, we grieve only for ourselves, for our empty arms, for the son we can't know until we are reunited. He has gone ahead of us...but we will be reunited in Perfection.
If you have questions, please let me know, I'll do my best to answer or direct you to someone who can.

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