It’s a question asked in many religious debates: what happens to babies who die? Do they go to Heaven? Are they judged on how they lived by God? Would it be fair for The Lord to judge the sins of a baby who cannot even walk or speak yet? These are all valid questions to ask. The important thing to remember is to seek the answer in the Bible if you want God’s thoughts on a matter. And the answer to the question is clear from Scripture: Yes, babies who die do go to Heaven. All of them.
1. All of us – even babies, are sinful in nature: King David writing in Psalm 51, a Psalm of strong repentance for sin, acknowledged that: Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. While children do not inherit the sins of their parents, we do all inherit a sin nature, which is an inclination to sin, in our earthly flesh. So much so that David recognized that even when he was being “shapen” in the womb he was in sin.
2. Babies and small children do not know the difference between good and evil: The Bible states that while children may have a sin nature, at the youngest of years, they do not have the knowledge to understand morality, righteousness and thus God’s laws:
Deuteronomy 1:39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
In this passage, God was punishing the ancient Israelites for their disobedience in the wilderness but He specifically exempts the children and allows them to enter the Promised Land because at the time of the sinning they “had no knowledge between good and evil.” Thus children who are too young to understand morality receive God’s Grace and pardon.
Isaiah 7:16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.
This prophecy given to the prophet Isaiah centered on the birth of a child. Again God makes the distinction of a child who has not yet reached the age where she or her would “know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.” This age is often referred to as the “age of accountability” in Jewish and Christian theology. Once a child reaches that age, she is then a moral agent and responsible for the choices she makes.
This age is not specified in the Bible and nor should it be. Why? Because children mature and learn at varying rates. So as God does with adults, all children are judged individually. But prior to reaching that age, they will receive grace.
3. Jesus praises children as being closest to Heavenly beings: Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus saw the humility of children as a great virtue. Small children have no agendas, do not look for positions of authority, do judge outward appearance and are not prideful. It’s the attributes of children that Jesus was stating that the rest of us must take on in order to be a part of God’s Kingdom. Jesus came to Earth to serve others and ultimately give Himself for others. We are to do the same. And that requires child-like humility.
Matthew 19:13 Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Small children and babies naturally have the attitude and disposition that born again believers should have. It is only from spending more time around other, older more experienced sinners, that children soon grow out of it.
4. The Bible Confirms It – babies go to Heaven: As is the case with most difficult spiritual questions, the Bible not only answers it, but provides an example. And the clearest demonstration on the fate of babies who die is found in 2 Samuel in the life of King David.King David was called by God a “man after my own heart.” David loved The Lord, never worshiped false gods and constantly sought God in prayer and praise. But David was human and thus made sinful choices on occasion. After committing sexual sins of adultery, fornication, murder and a subsequent cover-up, David was punished by losing the baby which was conceived out of his adulterous union. The baby became seriously ill and David responded by praying to God, fasting and laying face down on the floor for the baby for seven days. His faith in God was not shaken by the child’s illness and it was in fact what he relied on through the hard week. However, once the baby had passed, his behavior changed:
2 Samuel 12:19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 12:20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 12:21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.12:22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?12:23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.
David had prayed in hopes that God in His grace, would allow the baby to live. Once the child died, David knew that there was nothing that could be done. The child was not coming back. However David was not completely despondent. He knew that one day he would “go to him” and that he would see his baby in Heaven. David who knew God so well, spoke with Him directly and received divine inspiration on many occasions, knew his small baby would go to Heaven.
And the same applies for all babies. There is nothing more tragic and devastating that the passing of a small baby. But at least parents can take hope and joy in the fact that God has brought them to Heaven and if they are believers in Jesus Christ, they will be reunited with that child one fine day.