“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” (Luke 18:15–17, NIV84)
“…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” If you read this account in each of the Gospels in which it is recorded, you can’t miss the fact that Jesus implies that children (even babies) believe in Him and are members of the kingdom of God. There is a lot of discussion in Christian circles about what faith is and who can have faith. These discussions have been going on for centuries. From my perspective, Jesus makes it very clear. Anyone can believe in Jesus.
I think we put limitations on who can believe because we tend to tie faith too closely to reason and intellect. Although reason and intellect may play a part in understanding and expressing that faith, we have to be careful not to get to the point where we say that reason, intellect, and faith are interchangeable or that faith requires a certain intellectual ability. We must remember that reason and intellect have been negatively affected by the Fall. We tend to say that babies can’t have faith because they can’t reason the propositional truths about faith. But that is not what faith is. Faith is not like figuring out that 2+2=4. Faith transcends our reason and our intellect. It actually has the ability to transform them. If reason and intellect are the prerequisites for faith, then do mentally disabled or Alzheimer patients have a chance? What about when I am sleeping or under anesthetic? As a pastor I have personally seen faith expressions from people with Alzheimer’s and mental disabilities.
What about some Biblical proof? The Bible says that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit before He was born. He was a believer in Jesus before He came out of Elizabeth’s womb. And we are told in the Gospel of Luke that when Mary (who just conceived Jesus) came to Elizabeth’s house to talk to her, John (6 months in Elizabeth’s womb) leaped because he was in the presence of Jesus. Now there is an expression of faith!
May we see more clearly what faith is and praise God for this amazing divine gift.