Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Happens To Babies Or Infants Who Die?

Do they go to heaven or hell? By way of background, we have to remember that everyone is guilty before God because of the sin we inherited from Adam (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). In fact, there is not a single righteous person (Romans 3:10-11). We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Therefore, everyone is guilty before our Holy and Righteous God no matter how young or how old they may be. Furthermore, belief is a necessary requirement for salvation (John 3:18-19; Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9).

While the Bible does not explicitly say where young children go when they die in infancy, it seems to imply that they do go to heaven. There is no verse in Scripture which states that those unbelievers will go to hell because they were not old enough to believe. Since God is just, it would appear that He would allow these infants to go to heaven.

The only passage in Scripture which explicitly speaks about where babies go who die in infancy is 2 Samuel 12. In the context of this passage, David committed adultery with Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan boldly confronts David about his adultery and tells him that the child that Bathsheba has conceived will die. As a result of the confrontation, David confesses his sin, puts on sackcloth and ashes, fasts, and mourns the fact that he will lose his child. When David receives news that the child has died, he quits mourning, fasting and changes his clothing.

The prophet Nathan comes to David and asks him why he quit mourning the loss of his son. David replies, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.' But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me (2 Samuel 12:22-23)." The text seems to imply that the child went to heaven since David says, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me." We find that elsewhere in scripture it indicates that King David went to heaven (Psalms. 16:10-11; 23:6; Hebrews 11:32). King David was looking forward to the day when he would be able to meet his son in heaven. There is absolutely nothing in this verse that gives any hint that the dead infant son’s soul would go to hell.

Furthermore, Jesus said in Matthew 18:3-5: "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me."

And in Luke 18:16-17, Jesus remarked: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

We have been given a specific example in the Old Testament of an infant who died and would live forever in heaven (2 Samuel 12:22-23). And Jesus Christ Himself, in the New Testament, stated that little children retain the qualities that make a person eligible to inherit the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3-5; Luke 18:16-17). We see then, that infants and small children that die are in a safe state, and will live eternally in heaven.

Scripture may allude to an “age of accountability” in Isaiah 7:15 which speak of a child who "will eat curds and honey at the time he knows enough to refuse evil and choose good." If a child dies before this "time," it would seem that he would go to heaven. Even though the term, ‘age of accountability” is not a biblical term, it basically refers to a time when a child really understands the difference between right and wrong and that he has a choice. At this time, as they are presented with the message of salvation (John 3:16; Romans 10:9, 19), they can make a knowledgeable decision. This age has been traditionally considered to be between 7 and 12 years of age, but it depends on the development of the child; in theory for example, a child with severe developmental problems may never reach the age of accountability. Only God knows the heart and He alone determines who is or is not accountable when it comes to hearing and understanding the Gospel.

Of course as a child grows older and learns more about the Lord, their walk with Him will be more obvious. So prior to the time that they are able to make this choice, God does not lay to their charge what they have no ability to understand. Children are very important to God. It is obvious from the following scriptures that God does not see them as sinful, dreadful, hell-bent beings before they come to an understanding of receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior (Psalm 127:3-5; 147:13; Matthew 7:7-11; 18:1-5, 10; 19:13-15; Mark 10:14-15; I Corinthians 4:14; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21; I Thessalonians 2:7). It is difficult to be dogmatic about this issue, but we can rest in the fact that God is holy, righteous, and just. Therefore, whatever God chooses to do with babies and infants will be best for them.

God shows us throughout scripture and specifically in Deuteronomy 11:19 that it is a parent’s responsibility to train their children – "You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise.” Are you teaching your children and grand-children the ways of the Lord?

So my brothers and sisters in Christ… How is the Holy Spirit directing your thoughts regarding this most hotly and debatable subject? Do all babies who die before or directly after birth or babies that die as a result of abortion go to heaven? Do young children and adults with such severe developmental problems, who will never be able to reason what is right or wrong let alone be able to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior… do they all automatically get a free trip to heaven when they die?

I know that this is a very complex issue; however, we must always remember that we can not, nor will we ever be able to fully understand the providence, mercy, grace and love that our Almighty God has for His greatest creation... Mankind (Isaiah 55:8-9).

I must tell you that I prayed long and hard to our Lord Jesus to give me the wisdom and discernment necessary to come up with an answer to this question: What happens to babies and infants who die before they are mature enough to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ when presented to them.

I would have to say “YES”, that God has made special accommodations for all His little children of the world who by either age or severe developmental problems will never be able to fully understand that they must confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the grave to be saved (Romans 10:9).

There can be only one true answer which has been presented to you by using God's Word to back it up. The biblical answer is that all babies and infants who die before they are mature enough to understand the Gospel or those unborn babies that are aborted are all in the loving arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

--NKJV Holy Bible, Life Application Bible (NIV), and the Nelson Study Bible.
--Defenbaugh, Ronald (2003), “Why I Couldn’t Deconvert,” [On-line].
--Jackson, Wayne (2000), “‘Original Sin’ and a Misapplied Passage,” [On-line].
--Norman Geisler, "Infants, Salvation of," in The Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999, pp. 363-65.


RCUBEs said...

Good morning bro. Lloyd. Wow! You touched a very sensitive issue but very much needed to be understood. I know this will bring comfort to those parents who had lost their babies.

Reading some passages from Romans, one can gather that God revealed Himself to all humanity therefore, denial of His truth and Him as God is a sin for which there is no excuse. That God condemns actions in the flesh as sin. And we have knowledge of that because of our conscience.

James 4:17 says you can be guilty of sin by NOT doing what you know is right.

I could go on and on but based on Scripture and the way it defined sins, I believe that babies and those with severe mental handicaps would not be capable of sin. We have a Judge Who sees sin based on the knowledge of the person. We must remember that we must not take everything in the Bible literally.

Deuteronomy 1:39 - "I will give the land to your INNOCENT children. You were afraid they would be captured, but they will be the ones who occupy it."

Blessings to you and may many find comfort especially those who had lost young, precious children from this post. May God protect you as you share His truth. Glory be to God!

Clint said...

Now we see dimly, as in a mirror, but later face to face.

Zimbabwe said...

Hi, Lloyd :) Very good and actual post. I think that children, who don't have knowledge about sin and don't make the differences between bad and right things - they will in New Jerusalem with us. God is fair - it would be (in my opinion) big cruelty if someone without any knowledge and possibility to know the Truth about sin, Salvation and Jesus had been in hell only because of the lack of possibility. Heartly greetings from snowy Poland.

Carnival said...

That is a comforting message. =)

Shoshi said...

Thank you, Lloyd, for a beautiful post. I've also thought long and hard about this question, which I've been asked by quite a few people (most of whom, it has to be said, were looking for some way of tripping me up, with no real desire to learn more about the Lord and His Word) and I've come to the same conclusions as you.

May the Lord bless you, and many thanks again for your lovely comments on my blog, and for your continuing prayers.

dfish said...

Good Job, Lloyd.

God looks on the heart, and he is a righteous Judge. As you point out, he can be trusted to do what is right. He never gives a specific age of accountability, leading me to believe it has more to do with the ability to understand.


IanH said...

Lloyd, excellent post! I have copied it for future use should the need ever arise. It is a clear concise summary. Thank you!

Together We Save said...

I believe babies and children go to heaven.

Gorges Smythe said...

There are some old-line denominations that believe quite differently than you, but you'll never see me joining them. They forget that Jesus didn't tell the little children that they had to be like adults to enter heaven, but that reversed that idea completely.

jessica said...

Interesting. That question puzzled me for a while.

Faye said...

Solid Rock or Sinking Sand... that was the gospel of today's Mass. Ironic! :)

Very interesting post.

Annelisa said...

I believe we are all born innocent, and it is only through many life hardships we stray. Unfortunately, some very young children suffer some of these hardships (I think we can all think of examples where this is so). Though they may have lost their innocence, may they yet be 'innocent', in that they don't/ are not able to understand?

Wishing you and yours peace, harmony and happiness

Word in the Hand said...

Straight back into the arms of their Father and I don't understand how anyone could believe anything different.

Annelisa said...

By the way, thank you for your visit to my blog, and your kind words on the post Dona Nobis Pacem.


Pumice said...

RCUBE touched on the only thing I would add. I think the same reasoning would apply to those who are mentally limited. I often tell people that Jesus did not die to send people to hell, but to save them from hell.

Well needed topic.

Grace and Peace.

Ian Curtis said...

Good evening, brother.
I enjoyed the message you're conveying, and it is ironic that I was just studying that passage in Samuel not two days ago. I agree completely, based on the revealed character of God alone, if nothing else. Another interesting, if not entirely related, passage occurs in 1st Kings 14:1-16, about Jeroboam's son.
I caught your request. If my study can be helpful then you are certainly welcome to it. I pray that it may be a blessing to others, and clear away some confusion about the issue of baptism. God bless, Ian.

Sharon Kirby said...

Lloyd - Powerful post! I believe that you have thoughtfully and diligently searched and applied Scripture to this issue. And I believe that you have indeed spoken truth.

You have undoubtedly brought reassurance to many, many hurting parents who have lost a baby or young child (either age-wise or developmentally). I believe their guardian angels had the unparalleled privilege of ushering those dear little souls into the arms of their loving Father.

Thanks for having the courage to speak on this - it was a wonderful post...


fish lover said...

Hi lloyd, wow i love your blog. Thanks for visiting my site. hope u visit again. Iam your new follower, you can follow me if you want. goodnight

Cassie said...

Agreed brother. My understanding of this is the same as yours, though you put it much more eloquently than I could. Blessings to you!

One Heart said...

Thank you for sharing my request. Those are the very Scriptures God reminded me of. I will save this for someone who had asked.

I am still in a transition regarding blogging but wanted to stop by and let you know that God's not done with me and blogging just yet. I hope to visit more soon. Blessings.

Paulo César said...

A paz Do Senhor para você, eu não falo inglês, mas Deus abençoe sua vida gostei do seu blog e já estou seguindo.

Seshe James said...

Wow,very lovely post. I used to think about that myself, i used to ask myself 'where do babies go' now that am older, our God is not a wicked God, so therefore he will never let the inncocent one's suffer for the sins they did not commit.

Thanks for stopping at my blog, i have enjoyed and learnt so much from here. And i pray that the lord will continue to bless you and use you to bless others.(Amen)

fuzzys dad said...

I have asked this question.My wife and I lost two babies via miscarriage.This gave me some comfort.

chimakuni said...

Hi Lloyd - no virus problems! Praise be to God. The Church has studied this question for many years. It has concluded that we are to trust in God's mercy, for what child, created by the Father would not be welcomed home by His Father?

Pope John Paul II wrote a beautiful letter to men and women who have been involved in abortions of their children. It is here:

Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life):

"I would like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly."

"If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitely lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord."

"With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life."

-- Pope John Paul II

The above is an excerpt from the Encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) 1995, #99

riZa jAne said... are you? by the way ...this question bothered me since then...but good to know you have it all here... God Bless!