Salvation Is Based on God’s Grace, Not on Our Faith

Salvation Is Based on God’s Grace, Not on Our Faith

By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
–Ephesians 2:8

Why am I convinced that children who die before they accept Christ as Savior are in heaven? Because salvation is based on God’s grace, not on our faith. You may say, “The Bible says only those who trust in Christ are saved. If God bends the rules for children, then why can’t He also bend the rules for sincere followers of other religions or those who’ve never heard the gospel?”

I struggled for years with this issue. All I’ve been able to say is, “We have to depend on God to do the right thing.” Abraham said in Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” But it dawned on me recently the answer to this question of how children who have never accepted Christ as Savior will be welcomed into heaven without compromising an unchangeable, immutable God. How are children saved? They’re saved the same way that those in the Old Testament before Christ were saved. They are saved the same way that you and I are saved today. We are all saved by God’s grace. We’re not saved by our faith; we’re saved by God’s grace. God’s grace was demonstrated in Jesus Christ when He came and died and paid our sin debt for us. That’s how we are saved. We’re saved by grace that is accessed through faith.

The means of our salvation is God’s grace in sending Christ to die for us. Faith is simply the way we access that grace into our lives. That’s what Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9: “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” The fact that a child isn’t yet capable of exercising faith is no problem for God whatsoever, because that child is still saved by God’s grace.

Perhaps this illustration will help clear it up. Imagine that a woman is trapped on the third floor of a burning apartment building. She’s out on the ledge. She knows she’s about to die, but fortunately below her, some firemen are holding a net. She has a need, the firemen have the provision to meet that need, but the only way for her to access that provision is to take a leap of faith that lands her in the net. If she does so, what saved her? Was it her jumping? No, what saved her was the net. Her faith was the way she met her need with the provision below.

Now, let’s change the illustration. The building is on fire, but a fireman goes to the third floor to search for potential victims and finds a toddler. That toddler can’t comprehend what’s going on. He doesn’t understand how to get out, and he’s incapable of jumping. So the fireman scoops that child in his arms, goes to the ledge, and takes that leap into the net. What saved the toddler? The same thing that saved the woman. It was the net. The only difference is the fireman scooped him in his arms and allowed him to access the provision below. I think God does the same with children who are incapable of exercising faith. He scoops those children in His arms and carries them safely into heaven. Children are saved the same way we are saved–by God’s grace.


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.