Do Infants and Young Children Who Die Go to Heaven?

Do Infants and Young Children Who Die Go to Heaven?

By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Instagram

People often wonder what happens to young children, infants, aborted children, or children who die in miscarriage when they pass away. What does the Bible teach about the afterlife of children in such situations?

Though the Bible does not directly address all of these concerns, it does provide principles and examples that lead us to the understanding that infants and young children who die before being able to express faith in Christ will go to heaven. To be clear, all people are sinful from birth (Psalm 51:5) and commit sins even at a young age (Romans 3:23). Salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet we must still must with situations in which a child has not grown to the point where he or she can express belief in Jesus. What happens in these cases?

The Old Testament offers insight in 2 Samuel 12. David’s newborn son was sick and about to die. He mourned, prayed, and fasted on behalf of his son. Yet when his son died at only seven days old, David stopped mourning. When his attendants asked him about this, David replied, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (vv. 22-23).

What did David conclude? This was not the attitude of a godly man who saw his child perishing in hell or even in “the grave” in a general sense. David anticipated seeing his son again in the presence of God in heaven.

In the New Testament, Jesus had a special love for children, saying, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16; also Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16). This was used as an example of the kind of attitude a person should have in their trust of Jesus. Yet Jesus may have also hinted at His perspective of children going to heaven.

Many theologians and church traditions also speak about an age of accountability. In the Old Testament, those under the age of 20 were often not included in counts of people regarding Israel (Exodus 30:14; 38:26; Numbers 1:3, 18, 20, and others). Some have suggested this idea can be used similarly regarding a young age when people go to heaven since they are not yet held accountable in the same way for their sins. However, the New Testament does not make this claim and does not give a certain age at which a person must become a believer in Jesus Christ. Though there may be some relevance to this analogy, there is no particular “age of accountability” stated in the Bible.

The Bible does not directly state that young children or others unable to make a decision to follow Christ by faith will be in heaven. However, there is no reason to believe that God would not choose to mercifully save those who cannot make such a faith decision. God’s mercy extends to all sinners at a time when they cannot help themselves: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

1 John 2:2 also states Jesus is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” This verse is clear that the death of Christ is sufficient for all sins. If God has chosen to cover the sins of young children and others unable to come to Him by faith, then the blood of Christ is clearly powerful enough to accomplish the task.

We can take great hope in these biblical passages. Christ has made a way possible for all people to experience eternal life (John 3:16). He has called us to believe in the resurrected Jesus by faith (Romans 10:9). For those too young to do so, His grace is sufficient and perfect to meet every need and cancel the judgment of every sin. Those who have lost children due to abortion, miscarriage, or an early death can take great hope that their child is in heaven. As adults, we can find joy through salvation in Christ for this life (1 Peter 1:8-9) and anticipate a future reunion with these children in the life to come.

CLICK HERE to watch Dr. Erwin Lutzer and Dr. John Ankerberg as they explain “What Does the Bible Teach about the Death of Infants?”

Dr. Dillon Burroughs

Dr. Dillon Burroughs

Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.
Dr. Dillon Burroughs

Latest posts by Dr. Dillon Burroughs (see all)

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 2.67 out of 5)
Loading...

Please note we are not able to get to every comment due to the number we receive. To speak with someone directly please use the form here.

7
Leave a Reply

avatar
3 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
Amber LedbetterRickRonBarbZechariah Recent comment authors
Barb
Barb

Babies need NO believing parent to be in Heaven. Whether stillborn, aborted, miscarried, whether the parents knew Jesus, or did not, Heaven is full of these tiny little beings.
Any parent who has made Jesus his/her Lord and Savior before his own death, will know his/her child in Heaven!

For more on this, read Jack Hayford’s ‘I’ll hold you in Heaven.”

Ron
Ron

Let’s use the Bible with verses; not other books. 1. We know that an unborn child until it is responsible, and has 1 believing parent; if their physical bodies die, their soul and spirit will go to Heaven, 1Co 7:14. 2. God is merciful; saves the soul and spirit of unborn- young children who would have grown up to believe in Him, Ro. 9:15-16; though we will not know who they are. This gives hope to those who have aborted a child, but now believe. 3. Unborn-young children whose parents hate God, will likewise hate God; will not be saved… Read more »

Rick
Rick

It is verses like first Corinthians 7:14 that have caused me to become a non believer. If an unbelieving wife can be sanctified by her believing husband and vice versa, then the verse that talks about Jesus being only way to heaven is a complete contradiction. Why would a person get to go to heaven has a non believer just because they married a believer? (Unless you try to say that sanctified doesn’t mean salvation? If that’s the case, what does sanctified mean?) This doesn’t make any sense in light of other verses in the Bible that speak of salvation… Read more »

Rick
Rick

It is verses like first Corinthians 7:14 that have caused me to become a non believer. If an unbelieving wife can be sanctified by her believing husband and vice versa, then the verse that talks about Jesus being only way to heaven is a complete contradiction. Why would a person get to go to heaven as a non believer just because they married a believer? (Unless you try to say that sanctified doesn’t mean salvation? If that’s the case, what does sanctified mean?) This doesn’t make any sense in light of other verses in the Bible that speak of salvation… Read more »

Ron
Ron

Terrible non-assuring answer for believers. All unborn babies who have 1 believing parent, are created and kept holy by the Holy Spirit; their spiritual beings, soul and spirit, are taken into Heaven when their physical being dies. 1Co 7:14.
Since our spiritual being is created by the Holy Spirit; it is holy, eternal,and mature enough from being created to know God. Our bodies are reproduced sinful by our father’s seed which carries Adam’s original sin.
Forget theology and tradition and use God’s Word to understand our spiritual/physical relationship to our God.
More: AbidewithChrist.org see response.

Zechariah
Zechariah

A biblical-based sound message.
Thanks

Current Offer

Subscribe & Get Offer

You have been added to our list!.

sorry something went wrong!.

Become a prayer warrior

Become A Prayer Warrior



Check Show Times In My Area

Get access to the show

Anywhere you go

The John Ankerberg Show is available on the App Store The John Ankerberg Show is available on Android
The John Ankerberg Show is available on iPad and iPhone

Stay Connected With Us

Picture of bible Become A Christian

Give Now