Friday, May 16, 2014

Do Babies Go to Heaven?

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.

The 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 anyone else.

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.”

This 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 heaven.

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:

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?”

Jonah 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 children there.

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.

Jesus 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 strength.

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.

The 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?”
Not 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 Savior.
“Tim, are you saying kids can’t be Christians????”
I 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.
Here’s 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:

13 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.

Jesus 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?

The final 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.
Secondly, 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 destroyed.

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 mistreatment.

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.


  1. "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 mistreatment. "

    Love this paragraph. That's the big red herring for all the naysayers.

    Also, see Jeremiah 19:4 for more biblical support as to how God sees children. Note: he doesn't call them evil. :)

    1. I've not heard that verse used before. That does make it pretty clear.