When my second daughter Claire died, I wanted to know that I would see her someday when I died. My wife Amy also had two ectopic pregnancies. We have three babies who died before breathing the oxygen of this earth. So I started asking myself two different questions and studied the Bible to find the answers to these two questions:
Do babies go to heaven when they die before they accept Jesus Christ as their savior?
If babies go to heaven, then what do their bodies look like?
When I try to answer these questions, I am not teaching something dogmatically. I know that much of what I am talking about is a mystery. No one passage explicitly states that babies go to heaven, but I am trying to piece together a few Scriptures which seem to present a case that children belong in heaven.
Question #1: Is Claire in heaven? I didn’t want to just feel like Claire was in heaven with Jesus because that is what seems right in my heart. I wanted to know for sure. Claire is not in heaven because she was innocent. She was conceived a sinner. She was born a sinner and died a sinner, even though she never committed a sin:
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).
This might be a shocking statement to make, because when we look at babies, they seem so innocent. Yet, the Bible teaches us that the presence of any sin is enough to separate us from God. Claire was a sinner since conception. That creates a problem for those who believe that infants are conceived saved, then remain saved until they reach a certain age, at which point they become lost. Scripture teaches us that we are conceived lost and remain lost until we become saved.
Scripture doesn’t teach the moral innocence of children. Claire was saved not because she was innocent. She entered heaven in the same way that we do: she was received in the name of Christ. Claire’s salvation comes only through Christ’s work:
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Unless Claire is born again, she cannot enter God’s kingdom:
“Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
The question now arises: How could Claire be born again without consciously choosing Jesus Christ as her savior? She never breathed a breath of oxygen. She never talked. Scripture opens the door to the answer to this question through its teaching that God has a special love for children. Jesus taught us that we need to become like a child to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus also made an effort of embracing children when His disciples wanted to push them away from Him for more important matters:
“Some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’” (Mt. 19:13-14).
I believe that Claire is in heaven because Jesus implies that HEAVEN is FILLED with CHILDREN. Jesus makes very clear that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children. Jesus even used children as examples of faith:
“He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Mt. 18:2-4).
There is even a passage in Ezekiel where God expresses His anger toward the killing of children and refers to them as “My children”:
“You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire” (Ezekiel 16:21).
I believe that Claire is in heaven because God seems to have a SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP with CHILDREN. God has assigned angels to little ones here on this earth to watch over them:
“See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
Clearly, this is a special treatment, suggesting there may be other acts of special treatment, including salvation apart from the normal process of confession and repentance.
I believe that Claire is in heaven because God treasures children so much that He ASSIGNS ANGELS to them. Once a human is born, it appears that there is an angelic presence in their life. Thinking through this logically, I believe that this angel would remain with this child until death if he or she accepts Jesus Christ as Savior, or the child is old enough to reject Jesus Christ and then does so. It appears that the angel is assigned to the child until a child reaches an age where he or she understands that he or she is a sinner and can comprehend what that means. It doesn’t mean that they understand everything about the Bible and Christianity, but they understand that they are a sinner in need of a savior. When does this age happen? As a daddy and also as a pastor (a daddy pastor), I have been able to interact with many young children, and it appears that there is a general age when this happens. At the earliest, a typical child will reach this age around age four, and at the latest, around age eight. Generally speaking, from age four to eight a child will reach that age of knowledge that he or she is a sinner. Up until that time an angel is assigned to this child and if the child was to die without accepting Jesus as the leader and forgiver of their sins, I believe that the angel would take them to heaven because God’s grace would extend out to them. This would be just like what happened with Lazarus when he died. An angel took him to heaven (Luke 16:22).
Assigning angels to children is definitely a special treatment. It appears that this special treatment could include salvation apart from the normal process of confession and repentance. I think this would include unborn babies and adults who have mental disabilities that prohibit them from comprehending the full message of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I wait in expectation that we will see Claire again someday when we get to heaven because of this verse.
Jesus quoted Psalm 8:2 when He said:
“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”
Infants unconsciously praise God. We all know that infants cannot sing yet. But God uses them to give worship to Himself. The inclusion of infants is significant because they would not be conscious of giving praise. It would have to be something instinctive. I believe that Claire is in heaven because INFANTS WORSHIP GOD. When I think about the millions of infants who have been aborted, I picture a heavenly choir made up of these children. These aborted children were given life in heaven by God and in return these children praise their Creator.
The most common biblical argument used to support infant salvation is David’s statement about his infant son who died:
“I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23).
It’s possible that David was saying either that he would die and go to the grave (joining his son in death) or that he would die, and join his son in heaven. I personally think David, in his agony, was consoling himself with the belief that he would one day join his dead infant son in heaven. I believe that Claire is in heaven because of DAVID’S STATEMENT about a REUNION with his DEAD SON in HEAVEN.
Because of these passages, I believe that God in His mercy and His special love for children covers them with Jesus Christ’s blood. But why doesn’t God tell us directly in Scripture that children go to heaven when they die? I believe there is one main reason for this. It might take away from us a sense of urgency to see our children come to faith in Christ.
Take note that before each of these statements in bold, I said, “I believe.” I do not know without any doubt that my three other children are in heaven. I cannot state with absolute certainty that all babies go to heaven. Instead, I believe. I believe because I have faith in a God who “works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). I believe because I have faith that someday my convictions will be confirmed when I see my three other children in heaven. I can almost imagine meeting them face to face. What an incredible day that will be!
I wonder what they look like now? Were they all three girls? Will they look like our three girls now? How tall are they? Are they now adults, or will they forever look like children? Next week I will be answering the second question: What kind of body do babies receive when they get to heaven?