Age of Accountability

by Morris D. Norman
via Gospel Power, Vol. 15, No. 42, Oct. 19, 2008.

It has long been a question as to what age our young people ought to become Christians. Should it be as they enter their teens and begin at that early age in their service to Christ, or should they wait until they know a little more and can be more dependable, say their late teens or even early twenties? It would take a wise man to give a precise answer. Perhaps some biblical pictures would help us along this line.

Joseph was about 17 when he was torn from home ties and taken into Egypt as a slave. Was he accountable to God at this age? He thought so. When tempted by Potiphar's wife he said he could not do this wickedness and sin against Jehovah. It is true that this temptation came after he had been in Egypt long enough to have advanced in Potiphar's house but in these years, "The Lord was with him" and "he was a goodly person." By the time he left home his patterns of righteousness were set. With proper training young people are accountable at age 17 to serve God properly.

Josiah was 8 years old when he became king of Judah. At the age of 16 "While he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father" (II Chronicles 34:3). Then, by the time he was twenty he began to rid the land of idol worship. By the age of 26, he was repairing the house of God that had been in disrepair. Of him, from age 8 it was said, "And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left" (II Chronicles 34:2).

Jesus went up to Jerusalem with His parents for the first time at the age of 12. He was lost from His parents for three days. When they found Him He was in the temple conversing with the doctors. All who heard were astonished at His understanding and answers. When asked concerning His whereabouts while lost He said, "Know ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). From then on He advanced in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man. But some would say that Jesus was divine. True! But he was also human, and we are to exemplify what He did in the flesh. If we are to be as He was when He was older, why not when He was younger?

Sometimes we sell our young people short by not expecting of them what they are capable of. And sometimes they use this as an excuse.