Question of the Week: Do Babies Go to Heaven If They Die?
The hardest questions are the ones we don’t have a direct answer for. If it could be established, chapter and verse, then the question would have a simple answer. Because we don’t have a verse that directly states a yes or no, we have to use the same line of reasoning concerning whether pets are in Heaven. (Note: This isn’t comparing pets to newborn babies. The same line of reasoning is used to come to a biblical conclusion on that very same question.)
What do we know about God’s character?
Are there any Old Testament examples that mention infants in the afterlife?
Are there any New Testament examples that mention infants in the afterlife?
What Do We Know About God’s Character?
Beginning with the One with the most influence on our eternal destinies; if the character of God can be established as reliable, then the assumption that God would send unborn or newborn children to Hell would be inappropriate. If the only reason this question about the eternal state of infants is a lack of information, then we need to form conclusions off the information we actually have. In terms of alternatives, would it be a good thing for God to separate Himself forever from someone who never had the opportunity to make a decision to accept or reject Him? Those who would argue in favor of the idea of infants going to Hell would cite Psalm 51:5 mentioning our sinful natures as a part of us from the time of conception and therefore guilty before God. In response to this, Jonah 4:11 is cited as an example of God taking into consideration the fact that people who aren’t old enough to know their right hand from their left as worthy of His pity. The key in coming to proper conclusions about this point is the ultimate reality that everyone left wondering about the eternal state of their loved ones needs to fall back on. God will be their judge. He won’t punish the innocent. Of that much we can be certain.
Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Genesis 18:25 (NKJV)
Are There Old Testament Examples that Mention Infants in the Afterlife?
During the time of King David, we are given a record of the good and the bad things he did throughout his life. In this collection of honest history, God judges David for committing adultery with a married man’s wife. One of the consequences included the child conceived from that adultery would die. When the prophet Nathan informed David of this, he prayed for the child to be spared through fasting and wearing uncomfortable clothing. The child finally died and David allowed himself to eat and wear normal clothing again. When asked about this, David’s perspective regarding the child is worth noting concerning this issue. David acknowledges the child has gone to the place of the dead. He also mentions that the place the child has gone, he himself would also go to. Unless we assume David thought he was going to Hell, it would be unbiblical to conclude from David’s statement as one of despair. He expected to see his child again after this life. He also expected to see his God after this life. If we put these ideas together, we conclude from the Old Testament that infants have a provision in the eyes of God that the finished work of the Messiah would ultimately cover.
And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
2 Samuel 12:22-23 (NKJV)
Are There New Testament Examples that Mention Infants in the Afterlife?
During the earthly ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, He went out of His way to describe children (on more than one occasion) as the kind of people Heaven belongs to. It would be nonsensical to conclude from Jesus’ statement that the people Heaven belongs to would never see it. It would also be inappropriate to claim that Jesus’ treatment of children is the exact opposite of how He’ll react to their presence as the Judge of all the Earth. Jesus’ example and teachings would both conflict with the assumption that children/infants who die would be unwelcome in His presence.
Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:13-14 (NKJV)
People who experience the death of a child need comfort. Scripture is full of harsh realities that people don’t always want to hear, but this is not one of them. God’s character as the Judge of all the Earth wouldn’t judge the innocent. We have precedent in the Old Testament to conclude God sees children as worthy of His pity in the direct context of judgment. We have the observations of King David (that were never corrected) assuming his dead son went to the same place he expected to in the hereafter. We have the words of Jesus Himself describing Heaven as meant for children. And we also have the example of Jesus showing He isn’t the kind of person who would send them away from His presence. (The definition of Hell) Therefore, it is proper to conclude biblically that children who die will go to Heaven on the sole basis of God’s mercy.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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