I have been taught all my life that the age of accountability is different for each person. And that a person reaches the age of accountability as soon as they understand right from wrong, even if they are only 5 years old (or even younger).
The way I have been taught as a Baptist all my life is that if a child as young as 5 (or even 3) understands right from wrong, but they have not received Christ as their Saviour yet, and they die, they will go to Hell.
I was also taught that the rapture was only for those who had made a decision for Christ. So, then all babies would be left behind, when the rapture happened.
The Baptist Belief About the Age of Accountability is Based On:
2 Samuel 12:22-23 “And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
In this passage David’s baby died and was taken to paradise. The baby was not sent to hell, because he was still innocent and was too young to be accountable to God for anything.
I Agree With Other Baptist that this Passage Does Establish an Age of Accountability Doctrine.
Babies are innocent, and if they die they go to heaven.
However, this Passage Does Not Say When a Person Becomes Accountable to God.
It just shows that babies are not accountable to God.
A Few Years Ago I Began to Hear of More and More Parents Becoming Very Worried that the Rapture Would Happen Soon, and their 5, 6, 7 Year Old Kids Would be Left Behind.
This troubled me, because Christians receive a special crown for loving Christ’s appearing. It is our Blessed Hope.
2 Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Titus 2:13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;”
I began to search out exactly what the Bible says about the age of accountability, and what I found out both shocked me and gave me great peace.
Now I want to share this with all Christians everywhere, especially Christian parents, so they can have peace too.
To Begin with, Jesus Said That the Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Children.
Matthew 19:14 “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Furthermore, Paul said in Romans 7:9 “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”
This shows a person is not accountable to God for their sins until they are old enough to be accountable to the law (God’s law).
So, the New Testament does show that there is an age of accountability.
Then I Noticed that in Genesis the Bible Shows That Cain and Able Were Grown When They Brought Their First Offerings to God.
1 “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.”
This shows that Cain was already married by the time he gave his offering. The first couple of verses indicate that Cain and Able were twins. It mentions 1 conception, but then says Eve bare 2 sons.
Therefore, it appears that Cain and Able were both grown and Cain was already married, but Able may not have been married yet.
Furthermore, we know these offerings were meant to be sin offerings, (not tithe offerings as my Dad taught me), because Hebrews 11:4 says they were sacrifices and Able had witness that he was righteous because of his proper sacrifice.
Hebrews 11:4 “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”
A person is never said to be righteous because they give their tithes. A person is only said to be righteous if they have atoned for their sins through a sacrifice, and it must be a proper blood sacrifice. Vegetables are not accepted!
Hebrews 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.“
Today, we must accept Jesus’s sacrifice as the blood atoning sacrifice for our sins for God to call us righteous, back then they had to sacrifice an animal like a lamb, goat, or bull.
This shows that the first 2 children born in the world did not bring an offering to God to atone for their sins until they were adults. Cain and Able had reached adulthood, (Cain was even married already) and the time had come for them to present themselves before God with a proper blood sacrifice to atone for their sins. Able did it right and was accepted of God, Cain refused to do it right and was rejected by God.
Note: I am not saying that children cannot get saved. Jesus said very plainly not to forbid children from getting saved. Children need to get saved once they truly understand salvation in order to preserve them. Jesus said this Himself. I explain all this in great detail later in this post.
Then I Noticed that When God Decided to Destroy Israel in the Wilderness He Set an Age Limit of 20 and Above.
This shows that God does not see a person as an adult until they are 20.
Now, this is according to the Hebrew calendar, so according to our calendar it would be 18 1/2.
Human nature never changes, and even today we know that if the parents are rebellious against an authority, their teenage children will usually stand with them against the same authority.
God decided to destroy all the adults, because they did not want to go into the Promised land, they wanted to return to Egypt, and were actually starting to pick up stones to kill Moses and Aaron. Numbers chapter 14.
You know there were teenagers there also who were picking up stones to try to help their parents kill Moses and Arron. But in this instance, God had mercy and spared the teenagers from death.
Why? Because they were not adults yet. They were not accountable to God for their sins yet.
Then I Found that the Only Time in the Bible Where an Age is Mentioned that Anyone Had to Make an Atonement for Their Souls is the Age of 20 and Above.
11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.
13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.
14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.
15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
This passage in Exodus also shows that people are not accountable to God, nor subject to God’s law, until they are 20 years old. Remember what Paul said in Romans 7:9 “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”
God is a King and a Judge, and the Bible is a Legal Book.
Just like the legal age of accountability in America is 18, and they usually do not prosecute a teenager on the same level as an adult, God is the same way.
The legal age of an adult in God’s eyes is 20, and that is according to the Hebrew calendar, so according to our calendar it would be 18 1/2. America got it pretty close!
Then I Noticed that God Commanded in the Bible for Parents to Take their Drunkard Teenagers Out and Have them Stoned.
18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
God was commanding here to stone teenagers who were drunkards, rebellious towards authority, or glutenous which includes drug addiction, slothfulness, basically the loose party type lifestyle.
It is what we would call a troubled teen today. A teenager who won’t go to school, won’t work, disrespects and disobeys their parents, drinks, does drugs, and lives that kind of an irresponsible lifestyle.
That verse is not speaking of little kids telling their parents “No!” God did not say to take your 5 yr old and have them stoned for telling you “No!” Like I was taught in the Baptist church.
The Bible puts very clear and specific guidelines. The kid must be a rebellious drunk or drug addict, who has no respect for authority, will take no responsibility, and only wants to have a “good time” with no regard for anyone else.
This is clearly talking about rebellious teenagers, not little kids!
Now, The Bible Says that a Teenager Who Lives This Way is to be Put to Death, But it Never Says that An Adult Who Lives This Way Should be Put to Death.
The reason why God commanded that rebellious teenagers be put to death was to save their souls! Because if they reached adulthood at the age of 20 with that rebellious attitude and lifestyle, they would then be accountable to God and would be in danger of Hell.
By ending their life before adulthood it protected them from facing God’s judgment in Hell.
This is why God commanded that teenagers, who lived a rebellious lifestyle like this were put to death, but not adults.
It is already too late to kill an adult who lives like that to save them from hell, because they are already on their way to hell. They have already reached the age of accountability. Their only Hope is to get saved.
So, in both cases it is about God’s mercy on people’s souls. Rebellious teenagers are to be put to death in order to save their soul, because they are not yet accountable to God.
However, rebellious adults (unless they do something specifically worthy of death like murder) are to be allowed to live, in hope that they will get saved, before their sins catch up with them and they end up going to hell.
So, Christians Can Have Peace Concerning Their Children’s Spiritual Protection.
You do not have to worry about whether your little kid truly understands salvation, they are still safe even if they don’t.
Now, Jesus Said Not to Forbid Children to Come to Him.
It is very important that children do get saved, so that way they are saved in innocence and are never in danger of going to Hell.
Jesus Even Said This In Matthew 18:
10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.
11 For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.
14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Notice, it says sheep go astray, not lambs. What Jesus is saying here is do not forbid children to get saved. Children need to get saved so they don’t ever become lost and condemned to hell, when they reach adulthood. (Jesus did command Peter to feed His lambs in John 21:15.)
Matthew 18 also shows that children can get saved because Jesus talks about the 99 sheep that never went astray (meaning: they never became lost and condemned to hell!) Just let that truth sink into your heart for a minute “99 sheep that were never lost and condemned to hell!” This is why children need to get saved! Even though they are protected from hell now, they need to be preserved from hell forever!
Remember Paul said:
Romans 7:9 “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”
So when Paul became an adult without being saved he died (perished) spiritually! Jesus said that it is not the Father’s will for any child to ever die spiritually! This is why He said to allow the children to come to Him and not forbid them from getting saved!
Just because children are not accountable to God for their sins yet does not mean that they cannot or don’t need to get saved. They are still sinners! They just are not condemned to hell yet!
And most children can fully understand salvation between the ages of 7 and 13.
Also, once a person gets saved the Holy Spirit will not allow them to become a drunkard, or a drug addict, or do some other really bad sins (see my post “Sins A Saved Person Cannot Fall Into” at https://shiningthelightministries.com/2021/05/12/sins-a-saved-person-cannot-fall-into/.) Salvation goes a long way to protect children from ruining their lives later on in life. So, if you want to ensure that your child never becomes a drug addict, drunkard, murderer etc. Make sure they get saved, when they do show that they can understand the Gospel, including repentance, and that salvation is a commitment to obeying Christ, not just a head belief concerning the facts about Christ.
You Do Not Want Your Children to Believe in Jesus Like They Believe in Santa Clause!
I fear that many times that is what happens, because parents are so scared their little kids are going to go to Hell or be left behind if the rapture happens, that they push them to say a prayer, and the kids do not truly understand it, and no one realizes that they did not truly get saved until they have already messed up their life as a teenager or even died and went to hell as an adult.
Salvation is not obtained by just believing that Jesus is real. It goes much deeper that that. A person must also truly repent of their sins and make a life long commitment to obeying Christ.
Now once a person is 18 1/2 years old you do not have to wonder if they can understand the Gospel or not, you know they can. Unless they have a mental illness that makes it to where they cannot understand on an adult level. In this case they are still in the state of innocence. God sees them as being legally incompetent, just like our American courts do. And most children can understand salvation between the ages of 7 and 13.
Now, When it Comes to the Rapture, the Bible Shows that the Children of Saved People (Under 18 1/2) Go With Them in the Rapture, Even if the Children Themselves Are Not Saved Yet.
1 Corinthians 7:14 -16″ But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”
The Bible says that the children of saved people are Holy. The word Holy means “set apart.”
So, since all children go to heaven if they die, whether their parents are saved or not, then what would the children of saved people be “set apart” to?
It would have to be the rapture.
Therefore, when the rapture happens all children under 18 1/2, who have at least 1 parent that is saved, will be taken, even if they are not saved themselves yet.
How the False Doctrine of Children Being Accountable to God Affected My Brothers and I.
My parents believed that a child as young as 3 years old could be condemned to hell. And that the rapture was only for people who have made a decision for salvation. So, they believed that all babies would be left behind in the rapture.
My brothers and I all made professions of faith at 3 and 4 years old, because our parents thought we knew right from wrong, and were therefore already condemned to hell.
They were also afraid we would be left behind, if the rapture happened.
However, none of us kids truly understood salvation at those young ages, so none of us actually got saved at that time.
Now, I ended up truly getting saved at the age of 12.
My youngest brother truly got saved at the age of 7.
However, my middle brother did not truly get saved until he was 22 years old (about 4 years after reaching adulthood).
He showed he was having doubts at the age of 16, but Dad blew up at him saying “We are missionaries and were supposed to already be saved!
He finally ended up getting saved at the age of 22 after our Dad left.
My brother is a very disciplined person, so he never got into any really bad sins like drinking or doing drugs, but he still was not saved. Being a good person does not save you. You must believe the Gospel, repent of your sins , and make a lifelong commitment to obeying Christ. My brother was struggling with believing in the resurrection, but God convinced Him and he got saved.
Therefore, the false doctrine of the Baptist that children must get saved or they will go to hell or miss the rapture actually put my brother in danger of going to hell, because he reached adulthood without being saved, after being pressured into making a profession at 4 and then practically being forbidden to get saved at 16 by Dad.
And I believe there are many other people in the same situation.
This Is Why Over 80% of Children Raised In Christian Homes, Become Atheist In College!
This is why the Church Is Losing Their Children!
They are not truly saved! They have never been saved! They were pressured into making a profession as a child, and then looked down on if they ever questioned it!
So, then when they get into college and become exposed to liberal ideologies they end up believing them, because they do not have the Holy Spirit in them.
The Bible Teaches Very Plainly that a Truly Saved Person Cannot Completely Turn Away From God and Become an Atheist.
Psalms 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”
Jesus said that a person who believes in Him is wise, like a man who builds his house on a rock. (Luke 6:48)
A person cannot be saved and an Atheist at the same time. if someone becomes an Atheist, they were never saved!
1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Yes, children need to get saved! Not to immediately protect their souls, but to preserve their souls! So they do not perish (spiritually die)! As Jesus said, it is not the Father’s will for them to perish! Meaning: ending up becoming lost sheep condemned to hell as adults! Jesus said not to despise the little ones (meaning do not forbid them to get saved), because the Father does not want them to become condemned to hell, when they reach adulthood!
And Yes, Children’s ministries (like bus ministries, AWANA, etc), are vital! Not only so that children can get saved in innocence, and never actually be lost and condemned to hell, but so that if both of their parents are lost and the rapture happens, then the saved child will be taken!
But make sure children truly understand salvation. Do not pressure them into making a decision they do not truly understand. And never look down on anyone for doubting their salvation. There is nothing wrong with anyone doubting their salvation and making a new commitment to Christ. God commands all Christians to doubt their salvation and make sure they are in the faith! 2 Corinthians 13:5a “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” If anyone is ever doubting their salvation just explain the Gospel to them again, and then lead them to make a new commitment to Christ. Because we cannot see the person’s heart! We cannot know if they are truly saved! No matter how good of a life they live! Therefore, we have no right to ever tell anyone that they are saved and not to be concerned about it! Convincing someone that they are saved is the Holy Spirit’s job, not ours!
I pray this gives you peace, knowing that your children under the age of 18 1/2 years old will go to heaven if they die, and will be taken in the rapture, even if they have not gotten saved yet. They are protected, and are not accountable to God for their sins yet. However, most children can truly understand salvation by the time they are 13.
And no, your children will not have to make a decision for Christ in the Millennial Reign. There is no biblical support for that. The Bible says very clearly that after death is judgment (Hebrews 9:27). How a person dies is how they spend eternity. If they die in innocence, they spend eternity in innocence in heaven.
Author: Desiree Jordan