Q & A With Sister Swaggart
When the rapture takes place, will young children of unsaved parents be left behind?
Let me begin the answer to this question with some background about the rapture. According to the Word of God, the next event scheduled to take place on the timeline of biblical prophecy is the rapture of the church. It’s important to understand that the words rapture and resurrection refer to the same event: the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to take away His people, His church. When this happens, when the trump of God sounds, every child of God who has ever lived—from the dawn of time until that glorious moment—will be caught away to be with the Lord forever and ever. Praise God!
The apostle Paul explains the rapture this way: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:16-18).
We see here that the criteria for being rapture ready is based on two words: in Christ, which describes any person who is born again—man, woman, boy, or girl.
Whenever we discuss the rapture on Frances & Friends, we receive calls and emails from parents and grandparents who want to know whether or not the young children in their families will go in the rapture. They ask this question regardless of where they themselves stand with the Lord. My question is, why would any parent take such a risk, not only with their own salvation, but also with the souls of children they love?
I can’t tell you how many letters and emails I’ve read from heartbroken grandparents—people who love the Lord—pouring out their worry and concern over grandchildren being raised by parents who have little or no regard for the things of God. This is a serious concern, so let’s take a look at how God views such homes.
In I Corinthians the apostle Paul writes, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (I Cor. 7:14).
The word sanctified in this verse refers to the believing spouse, and it means that even though one partner is unsaved, God still looks at such a marriage as a Christian marriage and their home as a Christian home. This testifies to the great love and mercy of God. However, the salvation of the believing spouse, although sanctifying the home, does not serve as salvation for the unbelieving mate. Each person must make his own decision for Christ.
Regarding children of such a union, where one parent is saved and one is not, Paul assures us that innocent children will not be penalized because of an unsaved parent, but rather blessed by the Lord. Even so, the phrase in this verse referring to children, “but now are they holy,” has nothing to do with the salvation of such children. Upon reaching the age of accountability, every child must give his heart to Christ or else he will be lost.
What is the age of accountability—ten, eleven, twelve years old? We believe it varies with children and the environment in which they are raised. For the child raised in a Christian home and brought up by parents dedicated to the Lord, the age of accountability could be as young as five or six years old. But children raised by parents who don’t know the Lord may need more time and be older. This level of accountability, we believe, is not based on a certain age, but rather on a child’s ability to reason, understand, and grasp those things concerning the Lord. As many of you know, my husband was saved when he was eight years old. At that tender age, the Lord spoke to his heart, he knew it was God, and he obeyed Him. From that moment on, even though he was only a boy, Jimmy believed he was accountable—fully aware of who God was and his need for a Saviour.
We understand that the circumstances surrounding each child are different, so only the Lord can determine at what age a child is accountable, not man.
Now back to the question we are so often asked: when the rapture takes place, will young children of unsaved parents be left behind?
We believe that if one or both parents are saved, then their child or children will go in the rapture. However, if neither parent is saved, then their children who are below the age of accountability will not go in the rapture.
Now that doesn’t mean that after the rapture takes place, children left behind will be eternally lost. Remember, while the rapture removes the church, the Holy Spirit remains; He will still be on earth to convict people of sin. Therefore, following the rapture, as those young children mature and reach the age of accountability, they would still have the opportunity to give their hearts to Christ and be saved.
Some Christians believe that God would never allow young children to miss the rapture just because their parents are unsaved. After all, children are innocent, they insist, and shouldn’t be penalized for the actions or decisions of their parents. And then we have unsaved parents, who make the mistake of thinking that their children are spiritually unaffected by how they live their lives. In response to both of these arguments, I would point all parents back to those living in the days of Noah, just before the flood.
Genesis 6 says, “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Gen. 6:12). Bible scholar Stanley Horton said, “The earth was not only corrupt but people were working at making it more and more corrupt. That, too, will characterize the end of the church age, with people wanting to be open in their sin, wanting sinful lifestyles to be accepted, and encouraging others to partake of their sins.” This sounds exactly like what is playing out in the news today, only with more and more children taking part in transgenderism, homosexuality, negative activism and protest, and they are praised by their parents and the world for doing so.
This is not the will of God. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). It is the will of God for every little child to make heaven and to go in the rapture, which is why it is so important for parents to give their hearts and lives to Christ, and then do as the moms and dads did in this verse: “And they brought young children to Him.” If the spiritual direction of these children is so important to Jesus—and it is—then shouldn’t it be equally important to parents?
One more thing about Noah: his account clearly illustrates the Scripture terms lost and saved. Standing without the door of the ark, Noah was lost—exposed to coming judgment and sure to perish. But standing inside the door, he was saved, sheltered from the coming doom and sure not to perish. To pass from one condition to the other, he had to take but one step—a step into the ark (into Christ)—and he and his family were in immediate safety (George Williams).
For the sake of your children and grandchildren, have you taken this most important step?