Can you explain free will and the age of accountability?

Hi Pastor Chris, 

We have a small group that meets once a month and we are studying Job. In our discussion came up the following questions:

Is there an age of innocence/accountability (with our understanding that it is around age 7) with kids? Is that biblical?

If a child dies before age 7 (which seems to be what people say is the end of age of innocence and they can make their own decision for Christ) do they automatically go to heaven? 

Where does free will come into play?

What of the Muslim/Jewish, etc. child who has never heard of Jesus? What of them? 

Of course all of the women in this group are moms so this one is very dear to our searching hearts.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer these.


In Christ, 








Wow! You and your group are really digging! Great questions! 

I believe that the age of accountability is not fixed at a certain year. Children mature at different rates. This is true even within the same family. The Jews set a chronological age for the age of accountability, but I disagree. For instance, I have met children as old as 10 or 11 that could not tell me what sin is. I remember two girls in a previous pastorate that were 10 and 11 and they had no clue about right and wrong. I have also met children who had a finely tuned sense of right and wrong as early as 4 or 5. No doubt environment plays an important part here. My rule of thumb is this: if a child is old enough to sin knowingly that child is old enough to believe savingly.

Remember, when Adam and Eve sinned it was a deliberate act of disobedience. God had given them clear instructions and they understood them. They chose to disobey God. 

I always ask a child about sin. I ask them what sin is. That is quite revealing. Then, if they know what sin is, I ask the child if he or she has ever sinned. That is quite revealing, too. If a child admits to having sinned, I ask the child how he or she felt when the sin was done. If they have gotten to this point they will usually tell me that they felt bad when they sinned. If they do not say that they feel bad about the sin, then I know that they are still innocent because that Holy Spirit will make them feel bad about the sin. If they do not feel bad then the Holy Spirit has not yet convicted them and therefore they are innocent. 

Yes, I believe that a child who dies innocently will go to heaven. Such a one has not committed a willful sin. Willful sin is the issue here. All children do childish things. Childishness is not sin. It is when a child deliberately does something that he or she knows is wrong that sin happens. When a child sins deliberately, knowingly, he or she is then accountable. 

When King David had a child that died he said, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23). King David was a believer. We know that David went to heaven after he died. Therefore, the child went to heaven before David. 

As to free will, the same parameters come into play. A child is not accountable for having a free will until he or she knowingly, deliberately, chooses to sin. Ps. 19:13, “Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.”

As to Moslem children (or Hindu, Buddhist, etc.), the same parameters apply. If they are truly innocent (as defined above) and they die, they will go to be with the Lord. If they sin willfully then they are accountable to God the same as anyone else. Many years ago Billy Graham wrote a book titled How to be Born Again. In that book is a story of a man that came to one of Billy’s crusades from far out in the country. (If I remember right it was India.) This man hiked something like 50 miles to attend the crusade. He accepted Christ. He said that he always knew that there was something more. He was never satisfied worshiping trees or his ancestors. The Holy Spirit was at work in his life drawing him to Christ.

God puts a divine spark in every person. He also puts an empty place in every person that only He can fill. Part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to work in the world to empower our witness for Christ. Here is how Jesus spoke of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in John 16:7-8, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilta in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.” The Holy Spirit is called the Counselor in those verses.

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you. They questions you raise are important. Remember, God is full of mercy and grace. He will always do what is right in these cases. He is also omniscient (all-knowing). He knows ahead of time who will respond to Him and who will not. There is mystery here. One thing is for sure, we can trust Him!




Pastor Chris

How did Jesus become God if he was born from mankind?

Pastor Chris, 

Shollom alaikum, my name is Sadam and I am Muslim. I am asking you about Jesus. My question is, I read a bible and I found ,”God is not man and isn’t the son of man”. Then how to Jesus become God because he was born from mankind and is man? Thanks!

~ Sadam






Excellent question! Thank you.


The Bible verse you refer to is Numbers 23:19 which reads, “God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.” This verse uses a metaphor. The online dictionary ( defines a metaphor this way: “a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in ‘A Mighty fortress is our God.'” We would say that God is strong like a fortress; however, He is not a literal fortress in the sense that He is not a building.


Numbers 23:19 uses the negative sense of a metaphor. The verse means that God does not do things like men do things. God does not lie. Men often tell lies. God does not change His mind. Men regularly change their opinions. God is not like a man.


Numbers 23:19 is not a statement about the deity of Jesus. Jesus claimed to be God and others said the same thing about Him. For instance, Jesus referred to Himself with the same words God used to declare His name (“I am”) when He spoke with Moses at the burning bush (see John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14). Jesus also declared, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).


Thomas said he would not believe that Jesus rose from the dead unless he saw the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and put his finger in them. After Jesus died on the cross He came and stood among the disciples several days later. Thomas was there and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Paul wrote about the deity of Jesus in Philippians 2:5-11 and Colossians 2:9. Even Jesus’ enemies said that He claimed to be God (John 10:33).


Consider John 1:1-2, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” Bible scholar Herschel Hobbs says that these verses tell us that Christ is “coeternal, coequal, and coexistent with God.” He goes on to explain that the expression “the Word was with God” means “face-to-face with, equal to.” Hobbs also helps us to understand that the form of the verb “was” carries the meaning “always was.” He then concludes his analysis of the deity of Jesus contained in these two verses by writing, “There never was a time when this was not true.” (see Herschel Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message, Nashville: Convention Press, 1971; p.40)


After reading John 1:1-2 be sure to look at John 1:14, 18 which tells us that the eternal Word became flesh at a point in time. That is what happened when the virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus. This is referred to as the incarnation. The angel Gabriel told Mary what was going to happen, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). It is fascinating to realize that the virgin birth of Christ was prophesied centuries earlier. Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The name Immanuel means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). This virgin born child was called “Mighty God” in Isaiah 9:6.


Jesus is fully God and fully man. There is no one else like Him! “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).


The Bible tells us about God’s love for everyone (John 3:16). It also tells us how God expresses His love to sinful people. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:8-10)


~ Pastor Chris


NOTE: All Bible references in this article are from the New International Version (NIV).

Should Christians read the Qur'an?

Pastor Chris,
I found out that a Christian friend was reading the Qur’an and I was dismayed that a Christian would read teachings such as this. I encouraged this person to stick to God and read the Bible rather than read teachings such as this. Should Christians be reading these false teachings to better know what these other religions are about and maybe to better witness to these folks? Thank you,

Thank you for your question! The Bible speaks to this issue in many places where it warns us against following false religions and the doctrines of demons. 1 Timothy 4:1-2, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” Our enemy, the devil, is always busy. Prowling around like a roaring lion, he is always seeking those whom he might devour (1 Peter 5:8). Deceit is one of the primary ways the devil devours his victims. The devil’s tactic with Adam and Eve was deceit. He deceived them by tempting them to doubt God’s word, thereby influencing them to doubt God Himself.

The Bible says in 2 John 7-11, “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”

A case in point is the nation of Israel itself. Throughout its existence, Israel was warned by God not to involve themselves in the religions and false deities of the nations nearby. They did so and became infected with false worship and false teachings. These actions broke the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-6). God judged them by sending them away into captivity when Assyria defeated the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and then Babylon defeated the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 586-587 B.C.

It is interesting to note how the FBI catches counterfeiters. The FBI has the agents in the counterfeit department study genuine currency. By thoroughly studying genuine currency, they are readily able to spot the false currency. If a person masters the truth that is found in the Bible, he will be able to refute whatever heresy the devil throws at him.

It is not necessarily wrong for someone to learn something about another religion for the purpose of looking for ways to witness to them about the truth of Jesus Christ. Extreme caution must be advised, however, because when you are encountering the devil’s lies there is always the danger of being deceived yourself.

– Pastor Chris