Do Babies Go to Heaven When They Die?
This week on the podcast, we are talking about one of the most difficult, sensitive, and tender issues we could ever address. It’s the issue of whether or not babies go to heaven when they die. This is so important for all sorts of reasons. Let me mention two reasons why it’s important.
There’s actually a national reason for Christians living in the United States of America why this is such an important question. It has to do with the legality of abortion on demand. As I record this podcast, there is every reason to believe that the Supreme Court of the United States is going to throw the question of the legality of abortion back to the States. That would be a remarkable witness, not a full-blown victory, the fight will continue. But it will be a remarkable victory. Since 1973, it has been legal across the United States to get an abortion whenever you want it. In those decades, over 16 million babies have been executed. It needs to matter to us as a nation what happened to those babies. It would be a source of great comfort to us if we could believe that all of those babies whose lives were wrongly taken if we could believe that they were in heaven. But there’s not just a national reason.
There’s a personal reason. As a dad who is married to a mom who lost a baby in a miscarriage. I know how painful these losses can be. I know how great the ache is, and I know that I’m speaking to people who’ve lost babies in similar miscarriages and who have lost many babies to miscarriages, and who have lost babies during birth and infancy. The heartache that falls upon a family when they believe the Bible and they believe in Jesus, and they want to know if they can have confidence that their baby is in heaven if their baby is comforted. I want to answer this question very tenderly and in the best way that I can.
On the way to answering the question, we need to be clear about why the question is a hard question to answer. The reason it’s a hard question to answer is because, as Christians, we believe all of the Bible, even when we don’t prefer it, even when we don’t understand it, we embrace all of the Bible. And the Bible teaches that human beings are born in sin. David says that he was conceived in sin. He was a sinner from the time of his conception. The Bible teaches this doctrine that we call original sin. And that is that every single person is born and is indeed conceived in sin. Our only hope of redemption, our only hope of salvation, our only hope of heaven, is Jesus. Acts 4 makes clear that there is no name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. It’s the name of Jesus. And so, we are sinners in need of a Savior. We are born and conceived in that need, and Jesus is that only Savior.
What the Bible Teaches
And so, what do we think about babies who are born and we don’t know what happened. They have not had the opportunity to confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord. What do we do about that? Well, I think there are a couple of passages that we can look at to answer this question. I think that Christians should believe that babies who die are received into the loving arms of God and who are in heaven with the Lord. I think we should believe that. And I want to explain why by looking at two passages. The first one is in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” Now, we talked about original sin and how original sin means we’re born separated from God. We’re conceived and separated from God. What 2 Corinthians 5:10 makes clear is that we are not judged by God for original sin. Original Sin is important. It means that we are apart from God. It means that as soon as we have the opportunity to sin, we will do it and become actual transgressors ourselves. But the Bible also teaches in 2 Corinthians 5:10 that that original sin is not the basis for our judgment. We go to heaven or to hell, as we appear before the judgment seat of Christ, based on what we’ve done in the body, whether good or bad, not based on what Adam did. Because our own works of unrighteousness are the basis of our judgment, and not Adam’s works of unrighteousness. Adam’s works of unrighteousness are important, they do separate us from God, they do make clear that we will become actual sinners. But that is not the basis for our judgment before the judgment seat of Christ. We are judged based on what we have done, whether good or evil and a baby who has not yet had the opportunity, though they are born separated from God, though they are born in need of a Savior because they have not yet become moral actors, they are not judged for moral acts that they have not yet accomplished. I think Christians are right to believe that they are covered in the saving work and the saving righteousness of Jesus Christ.
There’s another passage that I think helps us have confidence that babies, when they die, are received into heaven by a loving father. It’s in Genesis 18. God has told Abraham that he is going to destroy the city of Sodom, and Abraham is distraught about this. He believes that Sodom is a sinful city, and he believes they need judgment, but he’s concerned that maybe some innocent people are going to get taken out in this deal. He begins to plead with God. He says, if there are 50 righteous people in Sodom, would you spare them? And God says, sure. And he said, what about 45? And what about 40? And what about 30? And what about 20? And what about 10? And the whole point of the back and forth is that Abraham is concerned that he’s going to be more loving and more tender and more caring than God is. And in the midst of that exchange, Abraham says this in Genesis 18:25, “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” In the exchange about what God is going to do as he judges sinful people, Abraham says the most important phrase when he says, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Here’s what that means. You don’t have to worry that you are more compassionate than the living God. You do not have to worry that you are more tender than the living God. God is love. God teaches us what love is. God teaches us what compassion is. We don’t teach God those things. God is more loving than you ever thought about being, and you don’t have to worry about his love when it comes to your precious son or your precious daughter that you lost in infancy or before. You don’t have to worry about that. You can have great confidence in who God is. You can have great confidence in his character. He is going to take care of your babies, and all is going to be well.