Will All Children Be Raptured?

Q. Please consider I Corinthians 7:14 in your discussion of this topic. It seems to indicate here that children belonging to unbelievers are unclean. Children who have a believing parent seem to have a different status than children who don’t. I realize that our salvation is based on what Jesus did, not on what our parents do and that each person is responsible for their own decision to serve or not serve God.

However in a discussion of “innocent” children before the age of accountability, I have this question: Are they saved from the wrath to come, the tribulation? In the Old Testament judgment came upon “unclean” nations and the children were not saved from destruction. (I think they were not judged and sent to hell upon death, but it doesn’t look like God saved them from judgment upon the earth)

I have been a children’s pastor for over twenty years and have worked diligently to bring young ones to the Lord, not knowing when the age of accountability might be for each of them. I can believe that the innocent will not see eternal judgment upon death, but I think that is a separate issue from the issue of being in the rapture. I have always believed that the innocent children of believing parents would go in the rapture, but that the children of unbelievers would probably have to go thru the tribulation. Any thoughts?

A. You’re to be commended for your devotion to the salvation of children when sometimes even their believing parents seem willing to stand by and “let nature take its course.” I’ve always understood 1 Cor. 7:14 to mean that it takes at least one believer to make the marriage, and therefore the couple’s future children, legitimate in God’s sight.

Paul said that he had eternal life before reaching the age of accountability (Romans 7:9), and Jesus said that all children have guardian angels who regularly report to God (Matt. 18:10). I’ve taken this to mean that all children belong to God until they’ve developed the intellectual capacity to understand the spiritual consequences of their decisions. Just like our righteousness is imputed to us solely by faith, theirs is granted because of their intellectual immaturity.

I have trouble using Old Testament references to define the parameters of this issue because while there are a couple of types or models, there never was an Old Testament equivalent to the rapture. Noah and his family were preserved through a world wide judgment, and Lot and his family were escorted out of the immediate vicinity of a local one, but there’s never been a mass departure from the planet by a group whose only qualification has been their faith. This is an event unique to the Church Age.

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