There are few of us who have never had to experience the death of a small child. Many have endured multiple miscarriages personally or through a close friend or family member. Some have had a child die soon after delivery. And some have experienced that pain while their son or daughter was quite young. Few topics are as heavy as what happens to children when they die but the question is asked an awful lot. We will seek to uncover what God’s word says about this issue and hopefully it provides a more blessed assurance to the uncertain.
first thing we need to establish is that whether babies go to heaven,
hell or no where, it’s God’s choice. All His ways are just and right. So
if the evidence suggests all babies go to hell, we need to be willing
to accept that as a just choice made by holy God. If the evidence tells
us that some babies go to heaven and some go to hell, that is a choice
we need to be satisfied with. Regardless of the conclusion, we need to
respect God’s judgment. A tough pill to swallow? Oh yeah. Real tough. If
you’re thinking now about questioning God, I encourage you to read
Romans 9 a few times.
You may be thinking to
yourself that I am a terrible person to investigate this question. I am
at times cold and seemingly inconsiderate of people’s feelings. I will
often say things that hurt people’s feelings or upset them (though they
are irrefutably true) when something contradicts what the Scriptures
teach. I have even called out false teachers by name (Gasp)! So why does
what an insensitive man such as I have to say about such a delicate
topic matter? Because I am going to proclaim the Truth, regardless of
what people think of me. Amen? Since there’s nary a person who doesn’t
have some emotional connection to the death of a small child, I think
it’s safe to say I’m no more disqualified (because of emotions) than
The first example we will look at
is the death of David’s son. This story is told in 2 Samuel 12 and the
salient verse from the passage is in verse 23:
23 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.”
is the seminal verse. No other verse speaks with this degree of
perspicuity on the matter of babies going to heaven or hell. David is a
man after God’s own heart specifically chosen to be king of Israel and
to be the earthly father to Christ. So when David is confident that he
will see his son again when he dies, it is evident that will be in
It is important to note the manner in which David’s son
was conceived. David committed adultery with Bathsheba. Bathsheba
committed adultery with David. The child was conceived outside of God’s
design for marriage and as a result of a premeditated plan David
concocted and at the expense of another man’s life. What other child was
conceived in a more damning set of circumstances? All that is to say
that the parents of the child have no part in where the child goes when
he or she dies. Whether the child is born to believers or not or to a
mixture, the child is not impacted by the parents’ salvations.
The next passage I want to examine is Jonah 3 and specifically verse 11:
Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there
are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between
their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”
is infuriated with God because God chose not to destroy Nineveh. In
verse 11 we see God’s explanation to Jonah for His compassion. 120,000
persons who can’t distinguish left from right could be explained in any
number of ways. That could mean they are mentally handicapped, babies or
just plain dumb. But stupidity (in the ignorant sense) is never a
justifiable excuse of rebellion against God. I think it’s safe to
eliminate that option. But what does “as well as many animals” mean?
Animals have not rebelled against God. Animals don’t have the mental
capacity to make a conscious choice to disobey their Creator. They are
stubborn beasts. They can have their behavior modified to make them
domesticated but they don’t have the cognitive abilities to truly
differentiate between right and wrong in the manner you or I do.
Children are the same. We modify our children’s behavior to make them
domesticated. Is that not exactly what we do when we potty train them,
teach them not to scream, not to hit, and how to eat? We’re essentially
domesticating small humans.
God felt compassion
on Nineveh because so many of its inhabitants were oblivious to their
rejection of Him. Think back to when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
He challenged Abraham to prove that the cities were worth keeping and
Abraham brought back no evidence. As the town was overrun by
homosexuality it’s not a stretch to suggest there weren’t many if any
The third relevant passage is in
Luke 2:39-52. This passage is the only record we have between Jesus’
birth and when He began His ministry about 30 years later. He is age 12
in this account. So what does this have to do with anything? Let’s look
at verse 40:
40 The Child continued to grow and become strong, [r]increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
wasn’t born into complete spiritual maturity. He was born without a sin
nature but not with complete or perfect wisdom. Obviously 12-year-old
Jesus is greater than 28-year-old me or anyone else for that matter, so I
don’t want to have us expect 6th graders to be teaching well-read
religious leaders. But what does it mean? Jesus still had to learn and
grow. He wasn’t expected to immediately begin doing His thing. It wasn’t
until 12 years after His birth that we have an idea what He was up to.
No later than 12-years-old did Jesus become aware of His deity. His
brain had to develop just like ours. He could have known this of Himself
at age 2. His first words could have been a reciting of Isaiah 53 for
that matter. What we know is that He had to increase in wisdom and
So if Jesus’ brain’s development was
necessary before He could begin His Father’s work, can we not say the
same of our children? Children don’t have the cognitive means to
willingly reject the Gospel. I don’t know the cut off for the “age of
accountability.” People are cast into hell based upon their willing
rejection of God’s Truth. A child does not willingly reject God’s truth.
Sure children can be nasty, but their brains aren’t developed enough to
understand their need for a Savior.
next thing I want to look at is really the entire scope of the Bible. I
can’t think of one example of a child (age 0-whatever age you think a
child can be) coming to saving faith.
“Tim, isn’t that bad news?”
really. It means, as I said in the last section, that children don’t
have the mental capacity to reject God or to accept their need for a
“Tim, are you saying kids can’t be Christians????”
have no idea! I really don’t. Kids can say the sinner’s prayer (don’t
get me started) and be baptized (don’t get me started) at a really young
age. I’m not denying that. Does that mean that they’re saved? No. Does
that mean they can’t be saved that young or understand and clearly
communicate in their own words the meaning of baptism? No.
what I do know, and it’s sure to make people upset: Most of my friends
and most millennials prayed the prayer and got baptized and now
millennials are the most anti-God generation in a long time. That’s
undeniable. That’s an entirely different issue and I could write a
thousand pages on the irreversible damage caused by emotional
manipulation via the seeker-friendly movement and typical altar calls.
No kids were recorded as rejecting or accepting their Savior. Agreed? So what does Jesus think of children? Matthew 19:
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands
on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “[i]Let
the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the
kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 After laying His hands
on them, He departed from there.
apparently loves children. He rebukes those who keep children from Him.
Which is why I’m not trying to discourage anyone from praying with their
kids or letting their kids ask for God’s grace. In fact, I encourage
all parents to pray with their kids and I would never tell a kid that
the prayer they just prayed doesn’t mean they’re saved. But we have to
be careful in just assuming that anyone who prays such a prayer truly
understands what they’re praying and they aren’t just reciting some
words to please or appease their parents. We can all relate because any
of us who grew up in the sinner’s prayer era, and especially those of us
who went to church our whole lives, didn’t pray the prayer just one
time. You’re nodding your head right now, aren’t you?
point I’d like to evaluate and lay out is that I believe the death of
children serves 2 divine purposes. Firstly, it saves the children from
potentially terrible circumstances. Where infant mortality rates are
highest, conditions are typically the worst. Abortion and the
Godlessness of America run almost hand in hand. Since 1972-3 the state
of American Christianity has surely not been on the rise. Truth is hated
now more than ever before. Error is not only tolerated by most of the
church, it is also rewarded! In John MacArthur’s series
“What Happens to Babies Who Die?” he makes a very strong case for this.
I highly recommend that series and the accompanying book he wrote.
I believe babies who die are a judgment or at least the withholding of a
blessing. This doesn’t mean all babies who die are a judgment against
their parents. By no means do I think that but in some cases, yes. I
believe they are a judgment against a nation that despises them. Since I
believe, because the evidence in the Bible points to it, that all
babies who die are in heaven I also believe they are a part of God’s
elect people. Imagine, if you can, 57 million (approximate # of
abortions since Roe v Wade) more Christians in the United States. If
God’s tiny remnant currently left in America can create such a stir,
what would 57 million more do? God is extremely protective of His
people. What does God do to those who killed His people in Revelation?
What does God do to those who killed Jesus? Their nations will be/were
Does this mean I’m indifferent toward abortion since I
believe babies go to heaven? I am as indifferent toward that as I am
toward adult Christians being murdered. I can comfortably rest knowing
they are in heaven but I don’t have to be indifferent at their
This is such a heavy topic and it deserves a
Biblical assurance. I know we all want to just believe that all babies
go to heaven. That’s pretty easy to believe. But we also all want to
believe that most people go to heaven and that hell is only for the
worst of the worst. The case can’t be made for all adults going to
heaven but I pray I clearly articulated why I believe the Bible tells us
that children are with our Father in heaven.