Are Children Who Die in Heaven?
You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
One of the most painful assignments any pastor has is trying to console parents who have lost a child. If the parents are Christians, they want to know, “Will I see my child again in heaven?” Anyone with an ounce of compassion would want to assure such a parent that their child is in heaven. But the Bible teaches only those who have exercised faith in Christ as their Savior will be in heaven. So how does that apply to an infant or child too young to make that decision? Although there is no single passage that clearly spells out the eternal destiny of children (and by extension, those who are mentally impaired and therefore “childlike”) who die before trusting in Christ, there are five biblical truths that strongly argue that they are welcomed into heaven.
First of all, God has a special love for children. God’s love and concern begin before the child is born. In Psalm 139:13-16, David wrote, “You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” In God’s eyes, a fertilized egg in the mother’s womb is not some biological blob but a child whom God loves and has uniquely designed. The child in the mother’s womb has a life God has ordained before that child ever draws a breath. Because God is intimately involved in every child’s life, it should be no surprise that God values children.
We see that special love toward children in Jesus as well. In Matthew 18, the disciples asked Jesus who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God. So Jesus “called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven’” (vv. 2-3). Jesus randomly selected a child to make an illustration. If that child was going to hell if he died before reaching a certain age, then the illustration doesn’t work. It’s nonsensical to say, “Be like this child, who is headed for hell.” It doesn’t work. By using that child, Jesus was saying that child would be in heaven if he died.
On another occasion, some parents brought their children to the Lord. But the disciples said, “The Lord doesn’t have time for stuff like that.” What was Jesus’s response? “When Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. . . .’ And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them” (Mark 10:14, 16). It doesn’t make any sense that He would say that and bless these children if they were condemned to hell. Now, this isn’t evidence in and of itself of what happens to children if they die, but it’s the first building block. God has a special love for children.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Are Children Who Die in Heaven?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.