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If a baby dies does it go to heaven?


Ask the Pastor

Pastor, If all of us are born as sinners, then if a baby dies does it go to heaven?

Remember that in God’s eyes, human life begins in the womb (as opposed to at BIRTH), So the psalmist reminds us that God knows babies, that he forms them and loves them and cares for them. Babies who die in the womb or in infancy are His special creation, just as much as any other child would be.

  • For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;   Marvellous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret,  And skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139
  • Matthew 18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
  • 6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
  • 10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 
  • 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The loss of a baby is always painful. I have taken funeral services for many children, who had died in infancy, or who had been stillborn. It’s always a heart wrenching experience. I look forward so much to the time when there will be a anew Heaven and a New Earth, and there will never again be a baby who dies, or young parents who are encompassed with the awful grief that follows this event. What often adds to the pain of burying an infant is the sheer spiritual darkness in which many young people dwell. Many of them are two or even three generations away from those forefathers, who attended church, went to Sunday School and knew the rudimentary aspects of the Christian faith – had perhaps even learned the Shorter Catechism. I will attempt to explain to parents, the great comfort that there is in knowing that their little child is with the Lord, and that there will be no more sickness or pain or death. They look back with blank stares and like the godless society in which they were born and reared, they haven’t a single clue about how Jesus saves us from our sin, and brings us to God, through his atoning death on the cross. Eventually they produce a ‘poem’ that they have composed or copied from the internet, about how their little treasure is a star up in the sky, – looking down on them, – and that’s how they will always remember him… And I inwardly weep at the awful blackness of the darkness in which they live, for if their child is in heaven there is the opportunity that one day they may be reunited, through Christ, but if not there is nothing except hopelessness.

When David lost a child at birth, he wept. But he also made a starting statement which God has preserved for us as part of his word, for our help and for our comfort. David said,“I shall go to him, but he can not return to me” David was confident, the he and the child he had lost would one day be reunited in the presence of God.

But there is something else that we learn about babies in God’s Word, and it helps to clarify this assurance. We are also taught that in the womb, we inherit Adam’s sin, for we are told that we are born in sin, and shapen in iniquity. We are all the inheritors of Adam’s sin and guilt – even little babies. So how then can we, how then can David, be so sure that our babies are in heaven? Because of Jesus! Because of His atoning death on the Cross. Because He said “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” And we simply take Him at His word. So we have confidence in Christ that infants who die are with the Lord. In heaven because of what Jesus did on the cross for them and for us.

Jesus reminds us that we are to trust Him too. He reminds us that spiritually speaking, each one of us must place in Him a simple childlike trust. Just as a baby depends on his/her mother for everything, so we must depend on the Lord. Jesus tells us: Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

DISCUSSION: What happens to babies who die in infancy? Bear in mind the following facts:
Infants are sinners – they are not innocent. Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Even in the womb, we are ‘sinful.’
The wages of sin is death. Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
No-one can get to heaven without Jesus. John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. John 10:15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 1 Tim. 2:6
Infants are part of the Elect. Matthew 18:6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Mark 9:42
So: How can someone who dies in infancy ever be saved? Remember that our ‘decision for Christ’ actually follows our spiritual regeneration. So what of those who are effectively called, but cannot physically or mentally respond? (Like babies?)

The Savoy Declaration, (John Owen’s classic statement of Congregationalist Doctrine) 10:3 states: Elect infants dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

From → Ask the Pastor

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