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Do those Babies Who Die in Infancy Go to Heaven?
“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.”
(2 Samuel 12:23)
Do those babies who die in infancy go to heaven? As a pastor, this question is much more than an idle curiosity or a point of theological speculation to me. I have been called upon on many occasions to minister to mothers who had lost their babies and to preach the funerals of infants and toddlers. At such times, I want to do what I can to comfort the mourning parents, and yet be thoroughly honest regarding the teachings of Holy Scripture.
There are many who teach that “The baptized babies of believing parents go to heaven.” But the Word of God nowhere places any saving efficacy in the ordinance of baptism. And the Bible plainly forbids the practice of baptizing babies. Only those who are themselves believers are to be admitted to the ordinance of baptism; and then it is to be performed only by immersion (Acts 8:36-39). Some people, out of mere sentimentalism, say that “Infants who die become the angels of heaven.” But those who read the Bible know that the heavenly angels were created by God to minister to his elect people (Hebrews 1:3-14). A few people even teach that “Those babies who die in infancy are lost.” The Bible certainly does not teach that. When David’s servants told him that his baby boy had died, David went into the house of God and worshipped. When he did, he said to his servants, “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.” David’s clear implication was that he hoped to meet his son again in heaven when he died. But we still want something more personally satisfying when we take the tiny coffin of an infant to the grave. Here are some things that have helped me to answer this question from the Scriptures. — Do those babies who die in infancy go to heaven?
We know that all men are born with depraved, sinful hearts. Sin is not something boys learn at school. Sin is the inbred disease of the human race. All are born in sin. David said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). He tells us that all men “are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies” (Psalm 58:3). Through the sin and fall of our father Adam, we all became sinners. We were all born spiritually dead sinners. Paul said, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Every baby born into the world is born a sinner, guilty of Adam’s transgression, deserving eternal punishment. Even that baby who dies in infancy must have an atonement for sin through the blood of Christ, and must have a new nature by divine regeneration, or it cannot go to heaven.
Yet, the Bible teaches us that no one is ever sent to hell because of Adam’s sin (Ezekiel 18:20). The Word of God addresses men and women and deals with them as responsible, reasonable, and accountable beings. Every warning and every promise is addressed to people who are morally responsible to God for their own actions. While all are deserving of God’s wrath, because all are sinners by nature, none are ever said to be judged guilty by God, except those who willfully transgress his law, which infants cannot be said to do. In fact, the Scriptures seem to imply that God will not eternally condemn anyone solely upon the basis of Adam’s transgression. The Lord himself declares, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: Every man shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deuteronomy 24:16).
Knowing my heavenly Father’s character, that he is just, righteous, and good, when I read statements such as David made about his son, and consider the whole Revelation of God in Scripture, I can, with confidence and joy, say, yes, those babies who die in infancy do go to heaven. They are chosen of God, redeemed by Christ and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Like all of God’s elect, they are saved by the pure, free, sovereign grace of God. In his great wisdom and goodness, the Lord God takes them away from the evil to come and spares them from all the pains of life in this world (Isaiah 57:1). So, with regard to those babies who die in infancy, as with all who die in Christ, the Spirit of God says, — “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord!”