All can be saved by Christ’s sacrifice – and God desires that none would perish without salvation (2 Pet 3:9). However, in order to be saved, it requires an individual decision by each person to believe in Christ (John 3:16).
This truth is reinforced in Romans 10:9, 10: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. Christ’s provision of salvation must be believed and received personally and individually by faith. That is why we must share the Good News of the Gospel with others (Rom 10:14; see also John 1:12; 3:16).
GOD’S GRACIOUS PROVISION
Since Christ died for all people everywhere – and since it is necessary to personally receive His salvation- what happens to those who die in infancy?
Those who die before they are mentally able to make a moral choice to either accept or reject Christ’s offer of salvation are covered by Christ’s atoning work at the Cross. The sin of rejecting God and His provision of salvation through Jesus Christ is not possible for an infant or a very young child.
At some point in a child’s mental, emotional and spiritual development, he or she becomes able to make a conscious choice to believe and receive salvation through Christ. Different children may reach this point at different ages.
Therefore, it is very important that churches provide for teaching, ministry to, and even evangelism for children in a language and way they can understand. Children can be saved; they are also capable of worshipping, praying, learning Scripture, and even ministering to others. Each child should certainly be taught how to function as part of a church body and how to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ (Matt 18:1-6; 19:13- 15).
In this matter of salvation for those who are mentally unable to make the decision to receive Christ, let us give thanks that we have a merciful and loving heavenly Father, of Whom we may proclaim, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:25).
5. The Doctrine of the Church
In Matthew 16:16, Peter declares that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responds with, “Blessed are you … And I also say to you that you are Peter [Greek petros, small pebble] and on this rock [Greek petra, bedrock] I will build My Church” (Matt 16:17,18).
With this statement, Jesus proclaims that the Church will be built upon Jesus’ Divine Person – upon the bedrock of Peter’s confession that Jesus is truly the Son of the Living God! The Church will not be built upon any ordinary person or system of church government. The government of the Kingdom of God, which includes the Church, is upon Jesus Christ’s shoulders (Isa 9:6-7; Mark 12:10; 1 Cor 3:11; Eph 1:22; 5:23,24; Col 1:18).