Q Do babies go to heaven when they die?
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 4 Minutes
ANSWER: The most honest answer I can give you is that God will always do the right thing. We know God is a good and merciful God, not willing that any should perish, and that His Son, Jesus Christ, paid for the sins of the entire human race. We have the option of focusing on what we absolutely know: that God is just and right. It is never easy when a parent(s) loses a child, whether in the womb or out of the womb. It is a devastating time for the parents. The best comfort I can give is that the God of all comfort will comfort us in all of our difficult times (II Cor. 1:3-4).
As with any question, we must be willing to distance ourselves from the emotions of the true-to-life examples and, instead, search the Scriptures. While the Bible does not give us a matter-of-fact answer regarding this question, it does give us some information to consider.
An Age of Accountability
Here are a few verses that seem to allow for, as we call it, an age of accountability. In Deuteronomy 1:39, Moses is reminding the adults that they would not enter into the land of Canaan due to their persistent rebellion against the Lord, but he has something interesting to say about the young children. Moses states, “And as for your little ones…who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it and they shall possess it.” It is recognized in this verse that the young children were not held responsible for decisions they had not made; they were covered by the mercy of God and would be allowed to enter Canaan one day.
It is no secret in the Bible that ALL are born sinners (Psa. 51:5; 58:3; Prov. 22:15; Rom. 5:18), but Isaiah 7:16 seems to suggest that there is an age where a young child is not held eternally accountable. It says, “For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good….” So, it seems there comes a point in a young person’s life that, instead of just acting on the sin nature, he makes a willful decision to do what is wrong.
Jeremiah 19:4 states, “Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents.” The “innocents” here are the children that were sacrificed to Baal (see II Ki. 21:6; Jer. 19:5). These murdered children are considered innocent by God, thereby indicating they would not face judgment from God. These slain children are also said to be God’s children (Ezek. 16:20-21).*
The Lord, in the last few verses of Jonah, chastises Jonah because he cared more for a plant that lasted one day than the deliverance of Nineveh consisting of “persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand” (Jonah 4:11). This insinuates that, amongst the vast wickedness of the people of Nineveh, there were those who were too immature or without the mental reasoning to know their right from their left, let alone truly know good from bad.
Additionally, David mourned heavily when his son was dying, but it was a different story after his son died. David’s strange behavior was attributed to the fact that his son could not come back, but David would one day be with him (II Sam. 12:23). Some have said that David is just saying that he will join his son in the grave, but what hope is there in that? David believed in an afterlife, and that he would enjoy it with his young son.
Young Children in the Gospels
Then there is Jesus’ treatment of young children in the Gospels. He points to the child as examples of those to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs (Matt. 19:14). He also made this statement regarding children: “For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father Who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:10). This verse has caused people to go beyond its intent and erroneously talk about guardian angels, so we need to be just as careful not to create doctrines on shaky premises. However, it does seem to point to an innocence and unique care for children.
God is Gracious, Righteous, and Holy
So, while I think the Scriptural proof points to the mercy of God being extended to young children, the best comfort I can still give is to point you to the good, gracious, righteous, holy God Who will always do what is just.
*This paragraph was written by Pastor Andy Kern. For a digital copy of his entire study on this issue, you can request it by emailing us at email@example.com.
(Except where noted, the questions in this edition were answered by Matthew Ritchey, BBI Editor.)
Read another article from this edition of the BABQ:
Question 1: Can the Holy Spirit be taken from us?
Question 2: The word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, so why do we call God a trinity?