Do babies go to Heaven when they die?

This question often comes up and although there is no explicit Scriptural proof of what happens to infants when they die, nevertheless, we can draw solid conclusions based on several Biblical events and what we know of God’s character and love.

The first example, cited for its clarity, is found in II Samuel 12:23. David’s son conceived by Bathsheba (another man’s wife), is very ill. He realizes his sin and begins to pray and fast to beseech the Lord to save the child. When the baby dies, the servants think it is now odd that David will stop his prayer and fasting, but David replies, “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? 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.” We can then conclude that infants who die go to Heaven.

David knew he was saved and would go to Heaven as evidenced by Psalm 23:6 — “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” If he is going to be reunited with his child, it will be in Heaven upon David’s death.

Take a look at Matthew 2:16-18. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:15-17. Herod killed all of the boys in Bethlehem under the age of two in hopes of preventing Jesus from reaching adulthood and threatening his reign. These grieving mothers are identified with Rachel, Jacob’s beloved wife who died in Bethlehem. Jeremiah tells them to refrain from weeping because the children are safe with the Lord and will come (live) again from the land of the enemy (death). Jesus Christ will be the one who defeats the final enemy which is death (1 Cor. 15:26). Those who belong to Him will also be victorious and live with Him eternally.

It is clear from Scripture that the Lord knows every baby from the time of conception. (Psalm 139:13-16) It is He that puts the spirit into him ( Zechariah 12:1). We know from the Bible that every man is a sinner because he chooses to do his own will rather than God’s and God gave him that freedom to choose. Thus, once an individual understands that his own sins separate him from God, he can repent and put his faith in the Saviour and receive eternal life. Babies and young children cannot understand this. You and I can choose to repent and be born again or we can reject the offer God has made. That rejection will end in an eternity in Hell along with Satan and his angels who also rebelled. Small children are in need of a Saviour, but without the knowledge or conscience to know that, they cannot be held accountable for their sinful actions. They cannot accept or reject that which they are incapable of understanding.

Paul says he knew sin when he understood the law. Young children are alive without the law because they cannot yet understand it. They would not be condemned at death because they were not yet able to understand the law and recognize their sin by that standard.

We know that God is just and must punish sin. (Romans 6:23) At the same time, He is good and merciful (Psalm 136:26). It just may be that God, in His grace, applies the sacrifice of Christ to the child and takes her on to Heaven at death. We know Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient for such a thing. Because 1 John 2:2 tells us that Jesus Christ died for all, in fact the whole world, He seeks all and wants all to be reconciled to Him. What little ones can’t do is access that salvation due to lack of understanding, but Christ can take them to Heaven because their sins are not accountable yet.

Many people talk about an “age of accountability,” but if there is such a thing, we cannot prove it from Scripture or even begin to guess when that would be. What we can do is trust in the Lord’s goodness, mercy, love, and compassion. We can really only speculate on the answer to this question, but based on David’s confidence and knowing that Jesus invited children to come to Him (Luke 18:16), we can see that it is appropriate to conclude that the souls of children are immediately in the presence of the Lord when their lives are cut short by death.

The other important aspect of this question is what about the parents? If they want to be reunited with their child, they must repent and turn to Christ. Trusting in a church or tradition just won’t do it. The only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. It’s the kind of belief and faith that results in a changed life and a new purpose in living for God and not self. Only then can the parent and the child be reunited in heaven.

– Bonnie

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