by A.E. Knoch

MANY a mother's heart has been wrung with agony, and many a father's soul has been tortured with distress at the thought of their unbelieving children going into the orthodox hell and judgment and the lake of fire. Instead of fleeing to Him for comfort in their terror, they turn away from Him, because He it is Who threatens and inflicts the cruel suffering which they imagine will be the portion of their beloved offspring. Parents have been taught that they are far more pitiful than God. The false doctrines they have imbibed change God from love to hate, from compassion to fiendish ferocity. Even those who have learned of His love, and have tasted of His grace, are disturbed because no special revelation has been given as to the fate of infants and children. Many still think that hell is unutterable torment for all unbelievers, even the newborn babe, and that judging is an unbearable experience for an innocent child, and that the lake of fire is excruciating and endless torture for an immature minor. All of these seem so much more severe than their deserts that God cannot be loving, or kind, or just, or even tolerable in His treatment of the young who have left this life and their sorrowing parents.

How much Evil do Infants
actually Carry into Effect?

     There is not a word or a letter in Scripture which allows us to draw a line between infants and elders, children and grown ups, minors and mature men or women. In desperation, men have mutilated some passages in order to relieve God of what seems a terrible stain on His character. When Christ says that His disciples must become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, this is no assertion that all children go to heaven. The subject is not the entrance of little children, but of their elders, who must become like them and confide in God as the little ones do in their parents. But there are vast gradations in the great white throne judgment, where all depends on the acts of those who stand before it. The babe, the infant, the child--what have they done that needs correction? The simple fact that they have done so little and are hardly accountable for that, will reduce their judgment to almost nothing compared with that of a confirmed sinner who has lived out his days and piled up a mountain of dark deeds, few of which are free from condemnation.


     Indignation and fury, affliction and distress is not the portion of everyone, but of every human soul effecting evil (Rom.2:9). Death is the portion of all, even infants, no matter how innocent or blameless, whether they have done much evil or none that we can see. But suffering in the judging is their portion only insofar as they actually carry evil into effect. If we did not realize the importance of this point, we would simply say, who do evil. But we all are constantly doing evil, of which we are not even aware. How many of our steps cost the life of one of God's creatures! We leave a path of death and suffering among the lower forms of life as we stalk heedlessly along in the world. The judging here is not concerned with all evil, but with that which is intended. The Greeks called this acting down. We call it acting out. A few passages will help us to grasp this distinction. The seventh chapter of Romans, from the tenth to the twentieth verse, has several occurrences. In Philippians 2:12 we are exhorted to carry our salvation into effect. The passage in Romans 2:9 concerns those of faction, stubborn as to the truth, persuaded to injustice, not those immature infants of whom these things could never be said.

     If parents could view the matter calmly, they would probably choose death rather than life for their infants, so long as they confine their thoughts to the standpoint of suffering alone. The child that grows up, even if it turns out well, will usually have much pain and distress in this life, and besides that, must account for the acts of a lifetime in the judging. The confirmed criminal would have been spared ever so much affliction if he had died as a babe. In view of these facts, there is no cause for dread in the case of the immature. Their acts are comparatively few and innocent, with less of the vice and viciousness of their elders. They are not capable of committing the crimes which they might be guilty of, should they live out their days.


     The first death scene I was called upon to witness, was that of an infant brother, only a few weeks old. I was not yet ten years of age, so it made a lasting impression. From the first the child was not well. Its short span of life was little else than suffering. When the end was near in the middle of the night it was thought well that I should learn more of the sorrows that await us all, so I was roused and sat with my elders to see the final struggles until the breathing ceased and the tiny body was at rest. I shudder when I think of the orthodox fate reserved for this innocent, tortured infant. We are asked to believe that its past sufferings were as nothing compared to the fires of hell and the burning lake, not to mention the judgment. In the past, everything was done to relieve and comfort it and to save its life. If God had wrought a miracle, I am sure He could have kept it from dying. He did not do it. But now, they tell us, He is performing a continuous miracle in order to keep it alive in excruciating torments. Then the length of its life was mercifully short. Now it will be unmercifully long, with neither palliation nor end. Is it not revolting even to read of such malignant malevolence? May God forgive us for even mentioning it!

Our Offspring are Safer in
Christ's Hands than in Ours

     And what does God really do with this brother of mine? I am now sure that my first impression was right. The Scriptures do not contradict the evidence of my senses. My brother is not broiling in "hell." He is not suffering at all, thank God. But he is not an angel. He is not in heaven. These teachings are only the inventions of the church, to cover up and counteract the awfulness of their own doctrines. Like all the dead, he figuratively sleeps, and will continue to do so until the resurrection of judging. Then he will be roused to appear before the great white throne, in order to be prepared, not for eternal torment, but for salvation, justification, vivification, reconciliation. That is the object of this judging. There is no basis in the Scriptures for believing that he will suffer again as much as he has done already. He was far too young to know what was right or wrong. Who would care to say that he actually carried much evil into effect? How would you judge him? I would not trust his case to you or any man. But I have absolute confidence in God, and in His Son, Who will be his Judge.

     Just as there is an interval of more than a thousand years between the death of my brother and the judging, so there will be a much longer time between the judging and the consummation, when he will be saved and reconciled through the sacrifice of Christ. What is done with him during these long periods? Now he is in the sleep of death. And that is what will be his portion once again, in the second death. The first death I witnessed. It was a lengthy painful process. Not so the second. It will be the work of an instant. No suicide could select a surer, more sudden, and less painful passage into the portals of oblivion. To imagine that he will suffer agonies during all this period, which may be thousands of years in length, is not only contrary to God's Word, but to every sane and sober instinct which He has put into men, whether believers or unbelievers. It would be accusing the Judge of all the earth with such a heinous wrong that no one could possibly have any confidence in His justice or His love. It would destroy God. On the contrary, after the judging comes reconciliation, amity, friendship, God All. Then this brother of mine will find his All in God, and the eons, with all their sin and suffering, will be past.

     Although that time is thousands of years hence, most of which I will enjoy in glory with Christ, my brother will miss all this. Eonian salvation is only for the saints. To his consciousness the solemn scene which I witnessed more than half a century ago will be immediately followed by the judging. I doubt if this will be long in his case. Then his next experience will be the perfection of the consummation. In other words, there is nothing between him and the ecstasy of complete harmony with God the Father, except a brief period of preparation. Justice will allow less suffering than he has already endured. But how can we enjoy the bliss of that final elysium unless God, at some time provides for his development into maturity? All of these details would make a ponderous unwieldy volume of our Bible, and they probably lie outside the eons, beyond the boundary of revelation. Once this child is a friend of God, there is no limit to what we may expect, God to do for him. Then our whole family, saints, sinners, and infants, will, with all the rest of the creation, be reunited and reap the blissful harvest of the eons.

     I am completely satisfied and at rest as to the future of my brother. He did not come to know the grace of Christ in this life, but he will meet Him as the Son of God at the great white throne, and receive eternal life through Him at the consummation. In His hands he is safer than in mine!


     It is evident that those who are raised to stand before the great white throne are not roused in power and glory, as we will be at His presence (1 Cor.15:42-44). If they were, they certainly would not be called "the dead." Neither is it likely that they will appear as they were at the moment of death, in case they were unconscious or infirm from disease, so that they could not realize what is going on. Perhaps we have a clue in the case of Lazarus. He became so ill that he died. But when he was raised there was no indication of disease or weakness. He appeared to be in usual health, so that no one seemed to see any remarkable change in him. This shows that he was not vivified, and was still mortal. Yet it also shows that enough vitality is imparted at resurrection to overcome the condition which caused death. Otherwise would each one not expire again as soon as he is roused?

     The men of Nineveh, who will be raised in the judging (Matt.12:41), as well as all the rest before the great white throne, reappear in a state corresponding closely with that which was theirs during life. That is why they are called "the dead" (Rev.20:12). This is a very striking figure of speech, for it is evident that, though they had been literally dead, they are so no longer. But they are mortal in the sense that they can die, for they are due to die again. It is clear that they do not receive a superabundance of life. They are not vivified. Therefore we should not expect much change in those who stand before the great white throne.

     But can you picture to yourself what sort of a consummation it would be if all infants remained as they were, the most helpless of all living things, needing constant care and supervision? Infant mortality has been so high in the history of the race, that we might all be needed as nurses, and the whole earth would become one vast nursery without any hope of a change.

     I expect to have powers and capacities after vivification far beyond those I now possess. Now my faculties are dulled by weakness and weariness, my whole career has been vitiated by mortality. These disabilities will be absent in that day. I now have such a small and decreasing measure of vigor, that it hinders me from becoming an ideal human, and limits me on every side. I find that my vitality ebbs and flows each day. In the morning I can accomplish ever so much more mental work and do it with much less effort than at night, after I have exhausted my daily dole. But in that day it will be inexhaustible. Now I feel like an infant, undeveloped, impotent, despite my maturity and age. Then I will be a man such as I would like to be.

     If adults will be so marvelously changed when vivified, will not infants be much more affected? Their potential powers are not nearly so far developed. Even with the little life that would have been their share, they would have gone on to a slow maturity. Let us suppose that, instead of infirmity and disease stalking their every step, they were endued with life so abundant, so overflowing, that no hindrance could affect them, but, on the contrary, every vital function were enormously intensified. Would they not arrive at maturity in much less time? As it is, both plants and animals develop faster when they have much light. Crops in high latitudes mature quickly when there is almost constant sunshine. So I do not expect to meet my brother as an ailing infant at the consummation, but with vitality so great that his development may be instantaneous, or a time so short that it is not worth reckoning.

     Mothers! Fathers! Our departed dead are in much better hands than ours! He in Whose care they now are is infinitely wiser and kinder and more compassionate than we are! And this is true, whether it concerns believers or unbelievers, babes or mature, whether they enter the judgment or not. He created them for His own glory and this demands that, eventually, He save them, and reconcile them, according to His Word. They have little to lose compared with Him. He will lose His great Name, and will forfeit His fame, if a single one of His creatures is finally lost. More than that, His inspired Word must be fulfilled, to the minutest item. Will He not keep the greatest of all His promises, and, through the sacrifice of His Beloved Son, reconcile every one of His creatures and become their All?

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