Do Babies Go to Heaven? (Part One)

I wrote a post recently entitled, “Good Morning From Heaven.”  In response, a reader commented about the death of infants and their final destination, struggling over two opposing points of view.  From a biblical perspective, there is no verse that says, “all babies will go to Heaven when they die.”  It would be nice if there were such a verse.  But there is not and what we are left with is trying to understand, with our limited human capacity, some of the difficult questions in life. 

Personally, I believe that infants and others who haven’t reached the “age of accountability” will go to Heaven.  I do realize, though, that sometimes we twist the words of the Bible to make us feel more comfortable or help ease our anxieties, especially about very difficult life situations.  It is not my intention to contort the verses of the Bible to fit my view but rather to adapt my beliefs to what the Bible teaches.

(Before I go further, I’ll give a little bit of disclosure.  I am not a theologian nor am I an expert in all things biblical.  I’m not a preacher and I can’t begin to think and write like all those intellectual “greats.”  I am not a Greek nor Hebrew nor Arabic linguist and I can’t translate the original scriptures that make up what we now call the Bible.  But, I am continuing to work out my salvation with “fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).  I have had a few seminary classes but none of what is here is from those classes.  It is what I have found studying God’s word.  People spend a lifetime studying God’s word, only to scratch the surface.  I don’t present this explanation as 100% proven as to what does happen to infants when they die.   What follows is part one of what I believe to be a logical and reasonable answer to the question, “Do babies go to Heaven?” based on different Bible verses and what I see in God’s character.  It is not a lengthy thesis nor a point-by-point rebuttal to competing views.  Hopefully, though, it is in-depth enough to provide more understanding of this difficult issue.) 

All scripture references are from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise indicated.

Jesus Christ is the Way to Salvation

First, we must understand that salvation is found only in Christ and no other man or god.  That is a bedrock tenet of the Christian faith. To go to Heaven, to know salvation, is dependent on Jesus Christ and Him alone.  It is not based on works, deeds, actions or great speeches.  We cannot purchase it with all the money in the world.  Infants certainly wouldn’t be able to earn such salvation.  From a Biblical worldview, an infant in need of salvation would be dependent on Christ’s work on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

  1. Acts 4:12 – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
  2. John 14:6  – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Salvation is a Gift, it is Not Earned

Second, also mentioned in the first point, we must understand that salvation and, thus, going to Heaven is a gift and not something that can be earned.  Walking down an aisle, having an emotional reaction, getting baptized or doing great things does not earn one a place in Heaven.  It is important to realize that Salvation, and Heaven, is a gift of God.  So, with regard to infants, God can easily decide to grant them the gift of eternal life.   Infants can’t earn the free gift of Salvation.  There is nothing here to preclude infants from gaining eternal life in Heaven.  It is an act of God’s grace and mercy with God alone deciding an infant’s fate.

  1. Ephesians 2:4,5 – “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
  2. Epesians 2:8,9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
  3. Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  4. Romans 9:15 – “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

Willfull Rejection/Ability to Reason

Thirdly, willfully rejecting Christ prohibits our salvation.  It is a conscious, willfull act.  Throughout the Bible, we read over and over again how disobedience and conscious rejection of God and His ways is what often provokes His anger and/or punishment. 

There are several passages that refer to man’s ability to reason and to consciously decide which, indirectly, lends support to the idea that one must have the ability to reason and think in order to reject Christ and refuse His salvation.  Infants are unable to reason and think in such a way as to understand their need of a Saviour, therefore unable to reject Christ.  This is what I would call the “age of accountability”, that point where we reject or choose Christ. 

Some may say that “whoever believes” would not include infants since they are unable to believe and understand in the way that we do.  On the issue of obtaining salvation, “whoever believes” (John 3:36 and others) is an inclusive clause, including, just that, whoever believes.  That very well leaves room for infants, included still under the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21), should He so choose, though infants wouldn’t have salvation based on their belief or rejection as we understand it.  However, “whoever rejects” (John 3:36 and other passages indicating man rejecting God) is an exclusive phrase, that is excluding from Heaven those who reject Christ.  The verses below are just a few examples of man’s condition based on his thoughts, beliefs, understanding, consciousness, choices and obedience.

  1. Isaiah 1:18 – “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the LORD.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'”
  2. John 3:36 – “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
  3. Romans 1:20-21 – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
  4. Romans 2:12-16 – “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”
  5. Joshua 24:15 – “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

So, this is a start in looking at passages that I think leave open the possibility that infants go to Heaven when they die.  There are other verses in the Bible that further, but indirectly, cause me to believe that infants will go to Heaven.  Among them are verses about God’s character.  Still, even though it is a difficult question in life, it’s important to not get too caught up in trying to prove a question like this and to leave it to God and trust Him that He is just and will do what’s right.  Look for part two to come soon.

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14 responses to “Do Babies Go to Heaven? (Part One)

  1. Isaiah 65:17-and following
    “New Heavens and a New Earth”

    vs. 25
    Never AGAIN will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days ….

    God is the Great Comforter; He led me to this verse long ago when our son died on the day of his birth.

  2. cliffordthedawg

    Donna, sorry about your loss. Thanks for sharing how God has comforted you through His word. Through illness and the death of our daughter, I’ve come to know God in ways that I think I otherwise never could have.

  3. I just re-read your post about your daughter. Our children must be friends. :-) Our son died 6-7-96.

    And yes, we too have had the joy and blessing of knowing God in a way only those who lose children can know Him. It has also been a blessing to be able to minister to others who have lost babies.

    I appreciate your time and effort put into your blog. “JR” is a mutual friend who sent me your link.

  4. cliffordthedawg

    I’m sure they’re friends! You know, you can try to intellectualize things and try to prove things scientifically, but if you’ve been touched by God and experienced Him, you just can’t argue it. JR family are some of my favorite people – they are great. thanks Donna.

  5. “You know, you can try to intellectualize things and try to prove things scientifically, but if you’ve been touched by God and experienced Him, you just can’t argue it.”

    I’ve been avoiding commenting in this thread because I do not want to be perceived as attacking the memory of an infant who died tragically. That being said, I took that small barb personally given the content of my recent participation in the comments of your blog.

    I would argue that people who are so emotionally invested in a position are impossibly biased. I suspect that you, and people in similar position, are simply unable to accept the conclusion that according to the Bible it is very possible your child is not in Heaven (see the examples I referenced before http://www.christiandoctrine.net/doctrine/articles/article_00126_do_babies_automatically_go_to_heaven_web.htm). If the Bible was more clear that infants unable to form intent cannot ever enter Heaven, what would that do to your faith, having held your baby in your arms?

    It seems to me that you’re left with two options–your faith can be shaken or destroyed, or you find some way to conform the words of the Bible to what you believe must be true in order for there to be a reconciliation between the two.

  6. cliffordthedawg

    The barb is not specifically at you (I have no animosity towards you – let’s go to lunch) but at the fact that there’s just so much that can’t be proven and, as much as anyone might like to disprove the belief, it often comes down to trying to disprove someone’s religious experience.

    I fully realize that my belief about infants going to Heaven could be wrong. I realize, that I’m also just human and prone to trying to conform the Bible to what gives me most comfort. As much as I’d like to not to do so, it’s hard to help sometimes, being human and all. Emotions tend to bias us quite strongly, no matter how hard we fight it.

    Bottom line, for me, it comes down to whether or not I trust God. If the Bible were more clear, I’d like to think my faith would be unwavering (I have read your link, btw). There is so much I don’t know and will never know before I die, but I trust God. My faith is in Him and I trust HIm to do what’s right by Him.

  7. Not me.

    I tell you as sure as I am here today, that as long as I have free will I would not accept any other result than your baby being in Heaven–all babies and children and those without the mental capacity to form the potentially requisite intent.

    If it turns out that the Bible actually says that babies don’t go to Heaven, that would not be acceptable. Were I under such circumstances offered the gift of eternal life and a place in Heaven, I would choose not to accept it. If I had the chance, I would fight.

    And maybe it wouldn’t matter a hill of beans to anyone but me. And maybe I would suffer. But if it turns out that I have a soul, and I have choices, then I will seek to have the courage that I haven’t always had in this life.

  8. cliffordthedawg

    A little clarification – I’m not sure what the “not me” is referring to – 1. that you don’t trust God now, 2. you couldn’t trust Him to do what’s right or 3. just if the Bible were more clear and it said babies went to Hell that you wouldn’t accept the eternal life in that case. (Of course if you were atheist, it would be a moot point). I have to say though, that I really do believe that babies go to Heaven and, honestly, don’t really obsess over it.

    As far as accepting the result of babies being in Heaven or not,etc. I don’t know that we’d have the option to fight. If God is God and regardless of the baby’s final destination, it seems like it would be settled and we have no option to fight it.

    For me, it’s hard to say what I would do if certain things happened certain ways. As much as I would like to do something differently, be someone different or react in a certain way in the face of some event, actions speak louder than words and I guess it’s hard for me to really know how I would react. Am I a coward or is that really true for all of us? For example, you might fight God but find He’s way to powerful and you just give up. You might say you’ll fight but what you actually do in reality might be totally different. If God is God and the BIble is true, I don’t think we have any choice after we die.

    Also, are you saying/implying that faith in God is a weakness, then?

  9. We know that fallen angels can fight God. If demons exist, they fight God. And if you’re a believer in those things, it’s pretty hard to argue that at least here on Earth they seem to be holding their own. Maybe they lose in the end, but are any of them fighting for something they believe is right? I’m not saying I am either of those things, but what I am saying is that my intention, providing I have a soul and free will, would be not to accept a God that would deny eternal salvation to babies who have died. And if I was in your position, that is probably the only thing I would ever obsess over. I would not be able to accept being wrong about that. Hell, I can’t accept being wrong about it possibly happening to other people’s babies!

    I would say I fall into category #3, with the opinion that if God doesn’t allow babies into Heaven, then He is not a being to be trusted to do what is right.

    I don’t have to believe in someone just because they are powerful, or out of fear. That’s a stupid reason to follow anyone, although there are certainly pragmatic reasons here on Earth for doing so. PoWs are routinely put in positions where their captors have all the power . . . some break, some do not. Some capitulate, some fight. That is not to lay judgment on those that break, but only to say I hope that in the face of such manifest injustice that I would have the fortitude to say “No”. If God were to break me by causing me pain or suffering, He could do that, but that wouldn’t really be following the model of free will. Where do the conscientious objectors end up?

    I guess this goes back to how many different interpretations of Scripture there are and how they can lead to very different results. You really do believe that babies go to Heaven, but you can’t say that is an objective Truth revealed by the Bible, because obviously other learned individuals of the Bible have come to the opposite conclusion. There is only subjective truth . . . your truth, based on your reading and interpretation. Even belief in Jesus . . . some people interpret Jesus’ references to how to get into Heaven as to not believing in Jesus himself so much as believing in his Way, his Path, his Philosophy. You can say all you want how that isn’t the right interpretation, that isn’t really what the words say, but who are you to say those things?

    To reply to your last question, I find it hard to find faith in my footing when I am on shifting sands. If I have a firm conviction in what is just, must I trust something that allows the unjust? That would deny a person eternal salvation because they were very spiritual but happened to pray to the wrong God? Or do I have faith that God is just, and then say that the Bible has been written and interpreted by men and so any appearance of injustice is not from God, but from man’s erroneous recording of God’s word? But if that is the case, then the Bible itself is a flawed source . . . but if the Bible is the inerrant true word of God . . .

    I just can’t wrap my head around the circularness of it. If God wanted to be clear that babies go to Heaven, why not just say so? I mean, is that a point that should be debatable? It wouldn’t have been difficult to slip in there. It’s a big book, it isn’t as if, at the end of recording some parable that Mark couldn’t have said “Oh yah, Jesus said something about all babies going to Heaven. Blah blah blah . . . some other stuff, then he made a pile of firewood from just a twig and told us to make sure to record for future generations that just because Vanilla Ice will be popular in the 1980’s doesn’t mean he isn’t a grade A douche. Not sure what that means, but we’ll stick it in Revelations. No one will know the difference.”

    btw I firmly believe that the Bible should not be the centerpiece of laws and public policy. Jesus never said anything, anywhere about using government force to spread his Word, and when you pass a law that is exactly what is happening. I know that is a different topic, but generally falls under the umbrella of faith in God, chosen people/land, whatever.

    [/rant]

  10. In the bible it talks about parents being responsible for a child until it come into the knowdlege of Christ!

    I need to know if these babys go to heaven should they die

  11. Hi Emery, thanks for stopping by.

    It’s my belief that babies do go to heaven based on the above plus a few other things. Some who agree quote a passage in the OT about King David when his baby died. David said that he knew he would go to him. David already knew he’d go to Heaven. To me, one of the strongest points is that babies can’t reject Christ. What often seems to draw the ire/wrath of God is people’s willful rejection of God, something babies don’t do. God is also big enough to accept Christ’s death to cover infants who don’t have the opportunity to accept or reject him.

    There’s some more support here: http://www.ruinedmetropolis.com/accountability.htm

    I hope that’s helpful to you.

  12. When it came to the subject of children Jesus said, “…Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven”. Did Jesus mean it, or was He just being theoretically nice? Jesus obviously KNEW how kids think and what they can and can’t do when He said what was never said about adults ~ that heaven is made up of children! Do we really believe His words?

    God even tells us that to obtain heaven we must be like children!! We must have the faith of a child! It never says that children must have the faith of an adult.

    Jesus KNEW that we are not born missing the mark…we are born with the tendency to do so. Children have not deliberately missed the mark yet…so God being just would not judge them with those who have!

    SO, why would God say that the Kingdom of God is made up of children… if it wasn’t??

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