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.
- 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.”
- John 14:6 – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- 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.
- 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.'”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.”
- 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.