How can we know with certainty that young children, upon their death, are graciously welcomed into heaven? How can we know that they now stand in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? As parents who have experienced this tragedy, we certainly understand the vital importance of this question. While almost all would agree that our loving and gracious God would certainly welcome these precious little ones into His presence, how can we know for sure? Comforting words without the foundation of Scripture offer short-lived comfort. On the other hand, the truth given in God’s Word offers a true, lasting, and enduring assurance. Therefore, we have turned to His Word to search for answers. We see it is filled with the promise and certainty that these precious children now reside with our heavenly Father in paradise.
A close examination of the Bible reveals God’s plan regarding the death of a young child. While we will direct you to where Scripture offers answers, it is our sincere hope that you do not simply take our word at face value. Instead, we encourage you to search the Scriptures yourself. Let God speak to you through His Word. Let Him be the one to encourage you and assure you that He now holds your little one in His arms. If we turn to Him, He promises to walk with us, even through the valley of the shadow of death. He promises to heal us.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” ~ Psalm 147:3
In order to gain a thorough understanding of God’s plan for children, it is necessary to examine a number of questions. As we search for answers, we will see that God’s Word provides great hope and certainty for our departed little ones. The answers Scripture provides can be summarized into three truths:
1. God claims ownership of all children. This includes the children of believers and non-believers, throughout the whole world, and throughout all time.
2. By His sovereign grace, God always shows compassion on those He has declared to be His innocent ones. All children who die are welcomed in the presence of the Lord and live with Him eternally in heaven.
3. Adults who turn from their sins and place their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will be eternally reunited with their precious little ones.
We hope that you are able to cling to these truths. Examination of God’s Word will demonstrate these statements to be true. While we don’t seek to offer completely exhaustive explanations, we hope to summarize the essential truths offered by Scripture. For more detailed answers and explanations we would refer you to the book Safe in the Arms of God, written by Pastor John MacArthur. We would also recommend listening to the sermon “Jesus, Friend of Children” by Pastor Skip Heitzig. Most of the insights identified in this document are a result of their teachings. Being a parent of a child whom Jesus has called home, I am so thankful for their careful study of God’s Word. Most importantly, I am eternally grateful for the love and grace that the Lord has showered on my son… and the promise that we will be reunited with him in the not so distant future.
What does Jesus teach about the salvation of children?
How does God view the death of a child?
What does the Bible teach about salvation and original sin?
What about the children of non-believing parents?
What about miscarriage, stillbirths, and Abortions?
What is the age/condition of accountability?
How did King David react to the death of his child?
What role does baptism play?
What is heaven like for my child?
Will I see my child again?
Jesus Christ demonstrates an overflowing abundance of love toward children. Examining His love for children is the most straightforward way to understand how God regards children. The gospel accounts of Jesus’ life record many occasions where He was teaching and healing. On one such occasion he was surrounded by a great multitude of people. Some of these people brought their children to Jesus, seeking His blessing upon them. Jesus’ disciples scolded the parents and tried to keep the children away from Jesus. The disciples didn’t feel that children were worthy of Jesus’ attention. This event, and Jesus’ response, is so important that it is recorded in three of the four Gospel accounts. The event is recorded as follows:
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Matthew 19:13-14
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. ~ Mark 10:13-16
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”. ~ Luke 18:15-17
In these encounters, Jesus is making a very straightforward declaration. He states that young children are welcome into His presence and His kingdom of heaven. We see that Jesus readily welcomes these precious little ones into His arms. In fact, He blesses them. It is also important to note that Jesus became “indignant” with the disciples when they tried to limit the children’s access to Jesus. Jesus chastised the disciples and made it abundantly clear that children were important to Him. The disciples were utterly wrong in believing that children were unimportant and did not have a place in the presence of Jesus.
It is interesting to note that the Greek word for children in the Matthew passage is perhaps better translated as infant. Mark refers to the “little children” and Luke refers to “babies.” There is no question that these passages are talking about very young children. These children obviously could not understand the implications of who Jesus was or what He could offer them. Despite this, Jesus promises, “the kingdom heaven of belongs to such as these.” Jesus is stating, in no uncertain terms, that children are readily welcomed into heaven. On another occasion, Jesus also stated:
“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… In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” ~ Matthew 18:10, 14
Jesus loves children. He recognizes a level of dependency and trust in children that is often lacking in adults. Children are humble, eager to learn, willing to forgive, quick to obey commands, and they openly express their love. In many ways, Jesus likened our becoming believers to becoming like children. Jesus used children as an analogy to teach His disciples, and all of us, the importance of these qualities. Jesus repeatedly used a child as His best illustration of a redeemed believer. Just like a child, we must be completely dependent on the Lord for everything. While this reasoning certainly holds true, this has led some to believe that Jesus intends for children only to be an example of how adults may become part of God’s kingdom. And further, that the promise “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” does not apply to actual children. However, this directly contradicts Jesus’ statement, and therefore cannot be true. In order for the implied or secondary meaning to hold truth, the literal or primary meaning must also hold truth. In his book “Safe in the Arms of God” author and Pastor John MacArthur explains:
“Let me quickly point out to you that an analogy works only if it is rooted in truth! If children are not readily and fully received into the kingdom of heaven, the analogy to spiritual conversion would be a very poor one. As it is, the analogy is a great one! Children are readily accepted into the kingdom, and because of that, we are wise to become like children in our spiritual dependency upon the Lord so that we, too, might be readily accepted… These were real children Jesus was holding in His arms, and He said of them, “Of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). Jesus blessed those in His arms because from heaven’s perspective, they were counted among the blessed righteous ones whose rightful eternal home was heaven.” (p. 59-60)
If there were no other place in Scripture that referenced God’s plan for children, the above passages would be completely sufficient to assure us that our precious little ones now reside in the presence of Jesus in heaven. However, as we will see, the Bible is full of places where God demonstrates His love for children. There is no place in Scripture that teaches the eternal separation of infants from God. The damnation of young children cannot be found in Scripture. Instead, every reference to deceased children, whether direct or indirect, gives us reason to believe that they are now residing in the presence of our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost… Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Following the death of a child, the feelings of loss and grief experienced by parents and family are simply overwhelming. It’s certainly the most despaired-filled, lost, broken time we will ever experience. But how does God view the death of our child? The Bible teaches us that God does not view the physical death of our child in the same way we tend to. As parents, we see the moment of our child’s death as the worst of all possible tragedies. Yet it is at this very same time that God graciously welcomes our children into His presence. They leave this broken, sin-filled world and enter a perfect world. They enter a world where they are completely cared for, completely fulfilled, and in a direct relationship with their Heavenly Father. The Apostle John gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to stand in the direct presence of Jesus Christ:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ~Revelation 21:3-4
As we read earlier, Jesus graciously welcomes children into His presence. We will also see that He claims them as his own. He promises that they will have eternal life and that He will be with them forever.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. ~John 10:27-28
It’s important to understand that God was not surprised or caught unaware regarding the death of your child. The Bible tells us that God knew your child even before conception. He knew exactly how long he or she would live. He continues to intimately know every detail of his or her life. He also fully understands their eternal purpose. This is echoed in the book of Psalms:
Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! ~Psalm 139:16-17
God sees our children in the context of eternity, not simply in the context of this temporary world. He is not limited to the rules that govern our world. Your child has been given a unique and eternal purpose tailored directly by God. This purpose is precious and is greatly valued by God.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~Psalm 16:11
Unfortunately, we as humans have a very difficult time understanding eternity. In all likelihood, the implications of God’s eternal plan do not make sense to us now. Even though we cannot understand, the Bible reassures us that God’s purpose for our children is always for their eternal good. It also assures us that if we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we will one day stand with our children in His presence and begin to gain an understanding of His eternal plan.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. ~1 Corinthians 13:12
God understands the pain parents face in this separation, but He also understands that the death of a child is not an eternal tragedy. While it may be hard to acknowledge as we mourn, our moment of deepest despair is our child’s moment of greatest victory. Our children now stand in the presence of their Heavenly Father. God loves your child and is holding your precious little one in His arms. God also loves you dearly. Through His son Jesus Christ, He has a plan for you to be reconciled with Him and reunited with your child.
This next section seeks to illustrate that God’s gift of heaven and salvation is based solely on His grace, not by human works or deeds. God’s gift of salvation is His to distribute based on His plan, His pre-conditions, and His sovereign will. This applies to all people, both adults and children.
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~Matthew 19:25-26
The Bible teaches that when a person dies, they will either spend an eternity in the presence of our God in heaven (salvation or saved) or an eternity separated from Him in hell (damnation or lost). In light of this, the question must be asked: How does one receive salvation? In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” ~Ephesians 2:8-9
These two verses are incredibly rich in explaining God’s plan for our salvation. The first truth Paul explains is that people are saved through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He further clarifies this in his letter to the Romans.
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame… Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” ~ Romans 10: 9-11, 13
Paul explains that we are “saved, through faith… not by works, so that no one can boast.” This means that there is absolutely nothing we can do, child or adult, to earn our salvation. There is not a checklist of deeds or rituals we can perform to make ourselves righteous before God. It is only when we put our total faith and trust in the completed works of Jesus Christ that God chooses to credit us with the righteousness of Christ.
The second truth explained in Ephesians is that any faith we possess is “not from ourselves, it is the gift of God.” This means that even our ability to have faith is a God-given gift. God is the one who plants the seed of faith in every person’s heart. Therefore, if salvation is received through faith, and faith is a gift of God, salvation is also the gift of God.
Finally, Paul tells us that we are saved by grace. This means that God has sovereignly decided to present us with the gift of salvation that we do not deserve. He has chosen to credit us with the righteousness of Christ when we place our God-given faith in Jesus. It is very important to understand that we have not earned our salvation once we put our faith in Christ. Furthermore, God is in no way obligated to offer us salvation once we put faith in Christ… yet He chooses to anyway. It is only by His sovereign decision that God has lovingly chosen to declare us righteous. This is very important because we see that God’s plan of salvation is not based on our merit but instead based on His grace and love.
It is only when a person chooses to reject Jesus Christ, and therefore chooses to reject the faith that God has placed in their heart, that God allows that person to be held accountable for their sins. The Bible calls the ultimate, final, and complete rejection of faith in Jesus Christ the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the one sin for which the Bible offers no forgiveness.
…but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. ~Luke 12:10
Those who make this choice are saying that they want nothing to do with God, His son Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. This is a deliberate, total, and complete rejection of the Holy Spirits’ offer to receive Jesus Christ as one’s personal LORD and Savior. It is very important to note that while adults are able to make the choice to reject faith in Jesus Christ, children are unable to make this choice.
In the case of an adult, God places the seeds of faith in a person’s heart. That person either allows those seeds of faith to grow into a full trust and belief in the completed works of Jesus Christ or chooses to reject the seeds of faith and reject God’s plan of salvation. In the former case, even though the person is sinful and undeserving, God declares him righteous and innocent based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God was not obligated to make this decision, yet by His grace he chose to. In the latter case, the God-given seeds of faith are rejected, and therefore trust in Jesus Christ is also rejected. Ultimately, God’s plan of salvation is rejected. God allows this person to be accountable for their own sins. The wage of sin is death and eternal separation from God.
So how does God’s plan apply to young children and infants? Does God gift children with faith? Do children allow the faith God has planted in their hearts to grow, or do they reject it? Does God choose to declare them righteous and innocent of sin based on the completed work of Jesus Christ?
Does God Give Children Faith?
All through the Bible, God invites us to come to Him as children under his loving care. During His time on earth, Jesus treated children in the highest regard. One day the disciples approached Jesus and asked Him, “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus responded by pulling a young child from the crowd and said:
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” ~ Matthew 18:3-4
As stated earlier, Jesus likened our becoming a believer to becoming like children. Jesus repeatedly used a child as his best illustration of a redeemed, saved, heaven-bound believer. Jesus taught us that we must have faith like a child (dependency, humility, affection, and simple trust) in order to come into a right relationship with God. Based on the model Jesus described, if children do not have sufficient faith to enter God’s kingdom, none of us will have sufficient faith to enter God’s kingdom. Furthermore, Jesus tells us, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” The question that must be asked is this: Would Jesus ask us to do something that He is not willing to do himself? Would he refuse to welcome a little child? The answer is most certainly not.
How do children respond to the faith that God has placed inside them? The book of Psalms gives a very direct answer which is repeated by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise. ~ Psalm 8:2, Matthew 21:16
Note that Jesus tells us even infants offer praise to the Lord! Tiny, tiny infants offer worship to their Heavenly Father. Certainly all would agree that infants are not capable, in and of themselves, of consciously making such a decision. Most infants are not even able to support the weight of their body, let alone make a reasoned decision to praise their Creator. So how can this be? The answer, as the apostle Paul tells us, is that faith is a gift from God. It is not earned. Faith is planted in the child’s heart by God. Somehow, in some way that we cannot fully understand, God’s Word tells us that children respond to the faith that has been planted in their heart. Just as infants and young children are unable to consciously make a decision to worship God, they are also unable to consciously make a decision to reject God’s gift of faith. Scripture tells us that only adults are able to make a conscious decision to reject God. There is no place in the Bible that even remotely suggests that young children consciously reject God’s truth.
Does God plant seeds of faith in children? The answer is a resounding yes! Jesus even uses children as his best illustration of a redeemed believer. Do young children respond to the faith planted in their heart? Again, the answer is a resounding yes! Do young children make a conscious decision to reject God’s will for their life? Absolutely not!
Are Children Innocent?
Before reading this next section, you should again be assured that God has welcomed your beloved little one into His arms. However, to understand God’s plan for your child, it is necessary to look at some biblical truths that may be initially unsettling. This may be difficult to do during a time of mourning, but it will ultimately provide a foundation of certainty regarding your child’s place in heaven. With that said, we turn to the question: Are children innocent?
The Bible clearly states that there is no person, in and of themselves, who is innocent or lacking an inborn sinful nature. This statement not only applies to adults, but it also applies to children. Scripture teaches that every person is born morally corrupt with a bent toward evil. The idea that a child is born morally neutral without a predisposition to sin is completely contrary to the teaching of the Bible. The following verses are a short list of many that make this abundantly clear:
Every inclination of his [man’s] heart is evil from childhood ~ Genesis 8:21
They sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin. ~ 1 Kings 8:46
Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies. ~ Psalm 58:3
For no one living is righteous before you. ~ Psalm 143:2
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. ~ Romans 3:10-12
The Bible clearly declares that all people are sinners from conception. It is important to understand that sinfulness is not a condition that comes upon people when they are old enough to make choices and decisions for themselves. Instead it is our condition from before birth. It is the nature of the human heart. God’s Word tells us our sin nature is an inherited trait stemming from the deliberate disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden. The Apostle Paul writes:
Through the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners. ~ Romans 5:21
The disease of sin is within the heart of all humans, and given enough time, it will ultimately manifest itself into deliberate disobedience of God’s will. Any child who lives to the point of making a responsible moral choice will make the choice to sin. This is true of all children and all adults. Paul goes on to tell us the wages of any and all sin:
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. ~ Romans 6:23
The fact that infants die is ample evidence that even the youngest are born with a sinful heart. If young children were not sinful or morally corrupt, they would not die at all.
Therefore, we cannot say young children go to heaven because they are innocent, meaning free of original sin. Babies, based on their own merit, are undeserving of heaven. However, the Bible teaches us that babies who die go to heaven because God is gracious. As we will see, God, by his love and grace, declares young children to be innocent. God sovereignly chooses to apply the righteousness of Jesus Christ, attained through His death and resurrection, to the credit of all small children.
One of the characteristics of God is that He is able to take the most tragic and heart-breaking situations and use them for the good of those who place their faith and trust in Him.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~ Romans 8:28
With regards to our precious little ones, the simple fact is that we will not fully understand God’s plan for their lives this side of eternity. However, God can and will use every situation for the good of those who love Him. While this promise is true, it doesn’t necessarily relieve the pain we are currently forced to live with. The death of a child is a tragedy, but it is not an eternal tragedy. For those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, a wonderful reunion is being planned for you and your child.
In the Old Testament books of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, God takes incredibly tragic situations and uses them to declare two wonderful truths. The first truth, found in Jeremiah, is that God declares children who die to be innocent in His sight. Secondly, in Ezekiel, He claims ownership of all such children. During the time of these prophets, many in the land of Israel chose to reject God and instead worship false idols. In an attempt to appease their false idols, they chose to incorporate the killing and sacrifice of their own children. On two different occasions, God sent His prophets, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, to declare His judgment on this horrific practice. God told Jeremiah to say the following:
There proclaim the words I tell you, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned sacrifices in it to gods that neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.’ ~ Jeremiah 19:2-5 (emphasis added)
On another occasion, God sent Ezekiel to say the following:
“And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood.” ~Ezekiel 16:20-22 (emphasis added)
In these verses, God undeniably claims ownership of young children, infants, and babies. He also declares them to be innocent. And the best part is that when God declares someone to be innocent, they are completely 100% innocent. There is no partially innocent and partially guilty in the eyes of the Lord. It’s one or the other. The Bible tells us the only way to be declared innocent is to receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ, based on His death and resurrection. Therefore, in proclaiming children innocent, we see that God has sovereignly chosen to apply Christ’s righteousness to young children… even though they don’t necessarily deserve it. While children are undoubtedly born with sinful hearts, God chooses to wash those hearts in the blood of Christ. It is only through God’s love and grace that He declares them to be innocent of sin, and welcomes them into His presence at the time of their death.
Are Children Righteous?
Once again we will see how God is able to take a tragic situation and turn it into a promise of hope for many grieving parents. The Old Testament book of 1st Kings tells the story of the wicked King Jeroboam. King Jeroboam was responsible for implementing and encouraging the worship of false gods throughout the land of Israel. It was under his rule that false priests instituted the burning of children as sacrifices. In fact, the Bible tells us that King Jeroboam had done more evil than any before him. He had hardened his heart against God, and God finally sent judgment. God spoke to Jeroboam through the prophet Ahijah:
You [Jeroboam] also have done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back – therefore behold, I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person, both bond and free in Israel, and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam, as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone. “Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for the LORD has spoke!” ~ 1 Kings 14:9-11
God pronounced judgment against King Jeroboam and his heirs. All were sentenced to the most disgraceful death possible; one where their bodies remained unburied and left for animals to scavenge. This was true of all Jeroboams’ heirs except for his infant son.
“Now you, arise, go to your house. When your feet enter the city the child will die. “All Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam’s family will come to the grave, because in him something good was found toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. ~1 Kings 14:12-13 (emphasis added)
While the infant son would also die, he would die a seemingly natural death. His death would be mourned by all of Israel and given a burial befitting a prince. Most importantly though, the Bible tells us God found “something good” in this little one. Another way to say this would be to say God found something righteous in this little one. Furthermore, God does not reject that which he has sovereignly declared righteous. As a result, when Jeroboam’s son died, he was immediately welcomed into heaven and entered the presence of the Lord. What holds true for this little one also holds true for our little ones.
Jesus taught us that we must have faith like a child in order to come into a right relationship with God. The Bible tells us that children and infants offer praise to the Lord. God, who claims ownership of children, sovereignly declares them to be both innocent and righteous, based solely on His grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our little ones now stand in the presence of our Heavenly Father.
The Bible clearly demonstrates that young children of non-believing parents enter into heaven at the moment of their death. God loves these children in the exact same manner that He loves the children of believing parents. In the previous sections, we examined the Israelites who practiced infant sacrifice. We also examined King Jeroboam; the one the Bible said had done more evil than any before him. Not only were these people unbelieving, but they were also in active rebellion against God, worshiping false idols while practicing the most atrocious deeds. How does God describe their young children? He claims them as His own (Ezekiel 16:20-22), He declares them to be innocent (Jeremiah 19:2-5), and He declares them to be righteous (1 Kings 14:12-13). There is no doubt that God has called these children home to be with Him.
The Bible tells us that God does not hold children accountable for the sins of their parents. This is explicitly stated in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel.
The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. ~Ezekiel 18:20
Scripture tells us that the ultimate sin is choosing to harden one’s heart against God, actively rejecting His will and living in unbelief. As with any other sin committed by a parent, God does not hold the parent’s sin against the child. Instead, God sovereignly decides to welcome these children into heaven based on the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ.
If you are a parent who has experienced the death of a child, your belief or disbelief in Jesus Christ has no impact on your child’s eternal fate. Our children are now in heaven. However, your belief or disbelief in Jesus Christ is essential regarding your eternal fate. The Bible tells us that only those who place their faith and trust in Jesus will enter into heaven, and only those who enter into heaven will experience a reunion with their precious little one.
Consider this interesting thought: History has shown there to be many different nations, tribes, or people groups that have completely rejected a relationship with their Creator. Yet the book of Revelation states the following regarding Jesus:
…and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. ~ Revelation 5:9
How can every nation, even nations who have utterly rejected the Gospel message, be represented in heaven? Answer: They can be represented through the redemption of their little ones. At the moment of their death, God graciously welcomes all young children into His presence.
In order to address this question, we must first understand that the Bible teaches that every life conceived is a person. God’s Word is extremely clear that life begins at conception. Furthermore, God makes it abundantly clear that He is intimately involved in the lives of these pre-born children. He loves them, He cares for them, and He provides for them eternally. King David writes in the Psalms:
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. ~Psalm 22:9-10
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. ~Psalm 139:13-16
God spoke to the prophet Jeremiah telling him that even before conception, God knew of him. God also states that He created Jeremiah.
The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” ~Jeremiah 1:4-5
However, perhaps the most straightforward illustration occurs in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. The angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary, revealing that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive a child. This child was Jesus, the foretold Messiah, the Son of God. After receiving the message, the Bible tells us that Mary hurried to see her relative Elizabeth. At the time, Elizabeth was also pregnant. She would shortly give birth to Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” ~Luke 1:39-44
Note that the Bible refers to a baby in the womb. This baby is not simply a mass of tissue, but instead a God-created person. Furthermore, we read that Elizabeth’s son, John, leaped with joy. Even in the womb, incapable of speech or any other rational response, John was able to react to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He was able to acknowledge the presence of his Lord Jesus Christ when Mary entered the room. With that in mind, we also note that John was reacting to Jesus, who was also being “knit together” in the womb of Mary. Again, John was not simply reacting to a grouping of cells, but instead to his Savior. If we return to the conversation Mary had with the angel Gabriel we are able to observe another profound detail.
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” ~ Luke 1:35-37
At the time of this conversation, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that Elizabeth is in her sixth month of pregnancy. After the conversation we see that Mary “hurried… to meet Elizabeth.” When Mary and Elizabeth met, John had yet to be born. This means that at the time of their meeting it was less than three months, at the absolute latest, since Jesus had been conceived. In fact, it is far more likely that Jesus was conceived only weeks, or perhaps even days earlier. Despite this incredibly short time period, John recognizes the person of Jesus Christ and leaps for joy when he enters into His presence.
Just as King David, the prophet Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and Jesus Christ are recognized in the Bible as people before they were born, your child too was a person while being “knit together” in the womb. Furthermore, any death that occurs after the moment of conception is the death of a person. This is the reason that miscarriages, stillbirths, or abortions can be so devastating to parents and families. It is not simply the removal of a mass of tissue. If it were, we would expect to see similar responses of grief and heartache after an appendectomy is performed. This is certainly not the case. However, the grief and heartache that so often accompanies the loss of a pre-born child is rightly justified. Those families are experiencing the death of a child who was created in the image of God.
While we certainly cannot understand God’s plan for pre-born children in this life, God’s Word tells us that He does have an eternal plan for these little ones. That plan includes spending an eternity in heaven with Him. We see further evidence of this in the Old Testament book of Job. God described Job as the most righteous man on all the earth. His understanding of theology and heaven were completely accurate. Despite his righteousness, Job lived a life filled with extreme suffering. In fact, it may be said that Job endured more suffering than anyone else in the Old Testament, yet he never rejected God or lost faith in God’s eternal plan for his life. Job’s testimony is so meaningful to this discussion because at the height of his suffering he exclaimed to God:
Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed? For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest… Or why was I not hidden in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day? There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. ~Job 3:11-13, 16-17
Job is saying that it would have been much easier to have been a stillborn than to endure what he was facing. He then goes on to say that a stillborn child goes to a place where the wicked are not permitted and the weary are allowed to rest. The Bible tells us that Hell is a place of wickedness where rest cannot be found. On the other hand, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Job was clearly stating that children who die in the womb move directly from this world into the presence of God in heaven.
Just as young children are incapable of making a conscious decision to reject God’s will for their lives, pre-born children are also incapable of making that same decision. As such, all of the previous discussions regarding God’s plan for children also apply to pre-born children. Jesus lovingly welcomes these children into the kingdom of Heaven. God graciously declares them to be both innocent and righteous based on the death and resurrection of His son Jesus. If you have had a miscarriage, stillbirth, or an abortion, know with certainty that your little child now stands in the presence of our Heavenly Father. By placing our faith and trust in the risen Lord Jesus Christ, we can be reunited with our pre-born children. In heaven we will have the chance to know them, love them, and spend eternity making up for lost time.
It is necessary to close with one final note on this topic. While we praise God that He has a plan for pre-born children, His plan in no way condones the practice of abortion. The practice of abortion is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord (Jeremiah 19:2-5). That being said, abortion is surely not an unforgivable sin. Jesus Christ died on the cross to cover the sin of abortion, just as he died on the cross to cover all other sin. God’s love for you knows no bounds. That is independent of whether or not you have been party to an abortion. God has the ability to mend the broken-hearted. He has the ability to turn death into life. He wants you to be reunited with your child. That reunion will be one of pure joy. There is no bitterness in heaven. There will not be a resentful child awaiting your arrival. In fact, if you allow Christ to pay the price for your sin and ask Him to be Lord of your life, your child will be “rejoicing in the presence of angels” (Luke 15:10). They yearn to be with you. The short amount of time lost in this life can be replaced by an eternity of relationship in the next.
A natural question concerning the salvation of children arises: “How young must a child be in order to qualify for God’s declaration of innocence and salvation?” Often this question is phrased as, “What is the age of accountability?”
The simple answer is that there is no specific age. The Bible does not make such a declaration. Instead, we see that all children eventually reach a “condition” of accountability. A condition of accountability is reached when a child begins to understand the difference between right and wrong, sin and righteousness, and the gospel message of Jesus Christ. It is at this point that a child becomes morally culpable for their own decisions and actions. However, the age at which a child reaches the condition of accountability varies greatly from child to child. This shouldn’t surprise us because we all know that every child is unique and develops differently. The important idea to understand is that God makes a distinction between those who are able to understand the difference between right and wrong and those who cannot. This distinction is perfectly illustrated in the book of Deuteronomy.
The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy records the movements of the Israelites through the dessert wilderness after their escape from slavery in Egypt. God had promised to give them a plentiful land to settle. Upon reaching the borders of the Promised Land, the Israelites found it to be inhabited by another group of people: the Amorites. Despite this, God told the Israelites that that they should not be discouraged, for He would be with them and they should take possession of the land. Instead of following God’s directions, the Israelites chose to send spies into the land to gather their own report. Ten out of twelve spies returned reporting that the Israelites could never conquer the land. As a result, the Israelites placed their faith in the spies instead of placing their faith in God. They rejected God’s plan and rebelled against Him. In response to their disobedience, God declared that instead of entering the Promised Land, they would spend the rest of their lives wandering in the desert wilderness. However, regarding their children, God stated:
And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. ~Deuteronomy 1:39 (emphasis added)
The Bible goes on to tell us that those children did enter the Promised Land. God makes a distinction between those who know the difference between right from wrong and good from evil and those who do not. He is perfect in His judgment and discernment. God included those children even though they were not old enough to understand. He did not exclude them based on the decisions of their parents or based on their inability to decide for themselves. Similarly, we can be assured that every young child who dies before reaching a condition of accountability is graciously welcomed into the presence of our Heavenly Father.
A miscarried, stillborn, or aborted child has no understanding of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. A baby who dies shortly after birth has no understanding of sin and salvation. Neither does an infant, toddler, or young child understand the willful rejection of God’s plan for their life. This can be true of even older children. Furthermore, there are some people who are never able to mature past a childlike level. They may have the body of a 30 year old but the mind of a 6 year old. These people, despite their increased age, also have not reached a condition of accountability. As such, they too are considered “children” in the eyes of the Lord.
Children are not excluded from heaven due to their inability to understand. Until they reach a condition of accountability, they enter heaven because God declares them to be innocent and righteous. They enter heaven based solely on the graciousness of God through the completed works of Jesus Christ on the cross.
King David is one of the greatest heroes of the Old Testament. He is the shepherd who became a king, the boy who struck down the giant Goliath, and the primary author of the book of Psalms. The Prophet Samuel even described him as a man who sought out the heart of the Lord. However, despite his many accomplishments, he also had colossal failures in his life. Perhaps his largest failure was caused by his lust, and it resulted in the sin of adultery.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.” ~2 Samuel 11:2-5
David knew that he had sinned against Bathsheba, her husband Uriah, and most importantly against God. He followed this deed with many botched attempts to cover his sin. Ultimately the sin of lust also led to the sin of murder. David intentionally sent Uriah to the front lines of battle with the order that he be abandoned to his enemies.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died… When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord. ~2 Samuel 11:14-17, 26-27
Again King David tried to hide his sin by marrying Bathsheba. However, the Lord knew of David’s sin and sent the prophet Nathan to confront him. Once confronted, David acknowledged the magnitude of his sins and sought genuine forgiveness from God. Nathan told David that God had forgiven him. However, he also told David that his sin had given the enemies of Israel reason to blaspheme God, and as a result, the child Bathsheba had conceived would die.
Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.” After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. ~2 Samuel 12:13-18
Let’s pause in King David’s story to consider a very important point. As we talked about previously, the Bible tells us that God does not hold children accountable for the sins of their parents. This was explained in the book of Ezekiel.
The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him. ~Ezekiel 18:20
In this verse, death is ultimately referring to the eternal separation from God, not simply a physical death. With that in mind, David’s son was still born into a broken, sin-filled, and death-infected world. When we sin, our sin often impacts the lives of those around us, despite the fact that they may have had nothing to do with our sin. This has been true throughout all history. A present day example of this would be an auto accident, caused by a drunk driver, resulting in the death of a family. The family had nothing to do with the drunk driver’s sin, yet they were victims of his sin. That being said, while David’s son was impacted by his father’s sin, it is absolutely vital to understand that God did not hold David’s son accountable for his father’s sin. As a result, at the moment of the little boy’s death, God graciously welcomed him into heaven.
It is essential to remember that God does not view physical death in the same way that we often do. When David’s son died, he exited a broken world and was called home by God. Through his death, the little boy ended up in an infinitely better existence: standing in the presence of his Heavenly Father. As parents, God understands the grief of separation we are now forced to endure. However, He also wants us to know that we don’t need to mourn for our children. That’s because He is now holding our precious little ones in His arms. Right now they are much better off than we are. As we will see, King David understood this and knew with certainty that God was planning a reunion for him with his son.
After the prophet Nathan told King David his son would die, David pleaded with God for the life of his child. The king spent the next seven days praying and fasting, yet God allowed the child to die. The servants of King David were hesitant to tell him of his son’s death, fearing that he would do something desperate. However, once David discovered the news, something astonishing happened.
David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked. “Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.” Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. ~2 Samuel 12:19-20
King David’s servants simply could not understand his reaction to the news. They certainly thought the king would plunge even deeper into guilt and grief. Perplexed, they asked him why he was now able to clean himself and eat again.
He answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” ~2 Samuel 12:22-23 (emphasis added)
David cherished his infant son. He undoubtedly loved him more than words could express. Like us, David had hoped to experience a lifetime of togetherness with his child. He had hoped that God’s plan would have allowed his son to live a long life. This wasn’t the case. Instead, God called this little boy home to be with Him. David’s drastic change in attitude and demeanor demonstrated that he understood this.
In spite of his sins, King David was a man of God. He had genuinely repented of his sins. His faith and trust was placed in the Lord and his theology was sound. David knew his child would never come back to him in his lifetime. Yet he was able to declare, “I will go to him.” David knew where both he and his infant son were going. He knew his son was in heaven and that one day they would both stand together in the presence of the Lord. Consider what David wrote in the book of Psalms:
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. ~ Psalm 23:6 (emphasis added)
And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. ~ Psalm 17:15
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~Psalm 16:9-11
King David knew that at his death he would enter into heaven. He knew he would stand in the presence of the Lord. He also knew this was the eternal home for his beloved son where they would be reunited for eternity. Similarly, our precious children now stand in heaven, and by placing our faith and trust in the risen Lord Jesus Christ, we too can experience the reunion of which King David spoke.
One final thought before we go on. If you feel you were either directly or indirectly responsible in the death of your child, King David’s declaration also applies to you. With genuine repentance and faith in Christ, there is no deed, omission, or obstacle that can overcome God’s love for you. Let’s say that again just to be clear. There is nothing that can overcome God’s love for you. As is the case with all of us, God wants you to turn to Him, place your trust in His son, and live a life of hope, filled with the certainty of a reunion with your beloved child.
The subject of baptism is often a source of great confusion for parents who have experienced the death of a child. This is primarily because there are some Christian denominations that claim the certainty of an infant’s salvation is based on the child’s participation in a baptism ceremony. They claim that without such a ceremony we cannot be certain of the child’s eternal fate. But is this what the Bible teaches? After a close inspection of Scripture, we will see that God welcomes all children into His presence independent of their participation in a baptism ceremony.
Generally speaking, when people think of baptism, they think of baptism by water. This is the ceremony that is often seen conducted during a church service. Depending on the denomination, it may include the cupping of water over an infant’s head, the complete submersion of an adult, or some other slightly different variation. However, baptism by water is only one of many types of baptism mentioned in the Bible. There is also baptism by fire (Luke 3:16), baptism into Moses (1 Corinthians 10:1-3), baptism of repentance (Acts 19:4), and baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). In the majority of cases where baptism is mentioned, Scripture doesn’t explicitly distinguish which type of baptism is occurring. However, the Bible does tell us that in order to receive salvation (becoming part of the body of Christ), we must be baptized by the Holy Spirit.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. ~1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (emphasis added)
Scripture tells us the only person with the ability to baptize with the Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ. Even John the Baptist, the greatest of all preachers, was unable to baptize with the Holy Spirit. He was only able to baptize with water. His words are recorded in the Gospel of Mark:
And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” ~Mark 1:7-9
While baptism by the Holy Spirit is necessary to receive salvation, Scripture teaches that baptism by water is not necessary to receive salvation. This is demonstrated by the interaction between Jesus and the repentant thief during the crucifixion.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” ~Luke 23:39-43
Jesus told the thief that he would be with Him in paradise (heaven). As the thief hung on his cross, there was no possibility for a baptism by water ceremony. However, the thief was able to acknowledge that he was a sinner and placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul tells us God requires for us to receive salvation (Romans 10:9-11). We have already seen that all those welcomed into the family of Christ must first be baptized with the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). It was at the moment where the thief placed his faith in Jesus Christ that he was baptized with the Holy Spirit, received salvation, and welcomed into the body of Christ.
There is another important factor to consider regarding baptism by water. If a baptism by water ceremony were a requirement to receive salvation, our salvation becomes a function of faith plus works. No longer would our salvation be solely based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead our salvation would also depend on our ability to complete a religious ceremony. Even worse, in the case of an infant or one unable to decide for themselves, their salvation would be based upon the work of someone else. Clearly this is not taught in the Bible. Salvation is based solely on what God has done for us, not by what we do to make ourselves righteous.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. ~Titus 3:4-7 (emphasis added).
Baptism by the Holy Spirit is necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). Only Jesus Christ is able to baptize with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-9). We receive this baptism and our salvation when we place our faith and trust in Jesus’ completed work on the cross (Romans 10:9-11). The ceremony of water baptism is representative of the “washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” yet is not a pre-requisite to enter heaven (Titus 3:4).
How does this apply to the death of young children? We have already seen that God has claimed ownership of these children. He has also declared them innocent and righteous. King David spoke of a future reunion with his unbaptized and uncircumcised son in heaven. Jesus Christ said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” The point is that these children are now standing in the presence of Jesus Christ in heaven. Since everyone included in the body of Christ is baptized by the Holy Spirit, we can know with certainty that at some point our children were also baptized by the Holy Spirit. This is independent of any decision a parent makes. Children who have participated in a ceremony of water baptism have certainly received salvation, but their salvation is not based on that ceremony. Instead, all young children who die receive salvation solely based on the graciousness of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A final thought on baptism: This discussion is not meant to be disrespectful to the ceremony of water baptism. Baptism by water is an ordinance clearly presented in the Scriptures as an act of obedient testimony for those who willfully believe the gospel message. Through the obedient practice of water baptism, God often manifests dramatic impacts in a person’s life. However, it is vital to understand that the ceremony of water baptism cannot save a person in and of itself. Our salvation is based solely on what Jesus Christ did for us, not by what we do to make ourselves righteous.
Once we understand that our children are not eternally lost, but instead now stand in the presence of Jesus Christ in heaven, the natural question is: What is heaven like for my child? The answer is that heaven is a perfect paradise.
If we are honest with ourselves, all of us have a difficult time understanding the concept of perfection. This is because we live in a world where nothing is perfect. Everything in our world is tainted by the curse of sin. Nothing is as it is meant to be. In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John is given a glimpse into heaven. It appears he is unable to adequately describe what he is witnessing. Simple words seem to be insufficient in describing the perfection, goodness, and holiness of heaven. The best way for him to explain heaven is to describe it in the negative. This means instead of telling us what is there, he tells us what is not there; namely death, grief, tears, and pain.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:3-4
Our children no longer experience death, suffering, sorrow, or pain. They no longer live in a sin-filled world. They will never experience disappointment, hate, persecution, abuse, or sadness. Instead the exact opposite is true. They experience love, purpose, laughter, meaning, and joy.
The ultimate reason heaven is a place of perfection is because it is God’s place. The most wonderful aspect of heaven is that its inhabitants are in constant unbroken and intimate fellowship with the creator of the universe, our Heavenly Father. Right now our children are enjoying that fellowship. The book of Psalms tells us what they are experiencing:
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~Psalm 16:11
The Bible tells us that when we are in His presence, we will experience pleasures that go on forever. Our children are experiencing fullness, completeness, and absolute joy. Heaven is God’s place, and God is the source of all things that are good. Everything that is good in this world is amplified millions of times over in heaven. It is impossible for us to understand the complete joy that our children are now experiencing in heaven.
While much mystery remains regarding all of the specifics of heaven, the Bible does tell us a great deal about what heaven is like. In fact, entire books have been written on the subject. While this discussion can’t possibly cover all of the biblical aspects of heaven, it is important to highlight a few.
First, the death of your child was not a surprise to God. God knew the exact length of your child’s life. He alone fully understands the purpose of your child’s life. He allowed your little one to enter into His presence in heaven. While this may be difficult for us to understand in the midst of terrible grief, the Bible tells us that God’s ways are not our ways.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:9
His understanding is higher than our understanding. His knowledge of eternity is complete, and ours is not. However, He promises that one day, if we place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we will join Him and our children in heaven. At that point, we will understand His plan. The Apostle Paul states:
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. ~ Corinthians 12:13
The Bible tells us your child was never alone, even at the point of death. Jesus states that angels were present to escort your child into heaven (Luke 16:23). The Bible also teaches that entry into heaven is immediate. There is no delay. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The Apostle Paul tells us that the spirit of one who dies in Christ immediately enters into His presence in heaven.
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJ)
Furthermore, God has the perfect place in heaven prepared for your child. Jesus spoke of this to His disciples during his ministry on earth.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ~ John 14:1-3
Jesus has prepared a place for your child… a specific place for your child… tailored exactly for your child. He knows your child by name. Right now your child is being protected, loved, and intimately cared for. Your child is safe and secure.
The Bible tells us that our children will have bodies like Jesus Christ. If your child suffered from physical aliments, they are completely and utterly gone. Their health is perfect now and will be forevermore.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.~ Philippians 3:20-21
Your child is able to recognize loved ones in heaven. Your child will be able to recognize you upon your arrival into heaven, and you will recognize your child. King David did not say, “I will go to the place where my child is.” He said, “I will go to him.” (2 Samuel 12:23) He specifically stated that he would be able to seek out and find his child. God has an unbelievably joyous reunion planned for you and your child – one that will last for all eternity. Moments lost in this life will be restored with even greater moments in heaven. God’s plan for you and your child in eternity will far exceed anything we can currently imagine.
Heaven is exciting. It is a perfect paradise because our perfect God lives there. Heaven is also the home of our children. Despite this, we still deeply mourn that we are not currently with our children. We undergo extreme grief because we are experiencing a temporary separation from our precious little ones. However, we do not need to grieve for them. They are being loved and cared for in a capacity that we cannot possibly imagine. They are now in a place that is infinitely better than the place we are at. Our children now stand in the direct presence of Jesus Christ in his heavenly kingdom. He loves them. He cares for them, and He will hold them until the day we are reunited with them.
This is the most important question on the mind of every parent who has experienced the death of a child. The Bible tells us the answer to this question is completely dependent on your relationship with Jesus Christ.
Shortly before His death, Jesus told His disciples He would be going to heaven. Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, wanted to know how he could follow Jesus. He asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Jesus replied to Thomas with very simple directions.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6
Your child is in heaven. Jesus is in heaven. Jesus is telling us that there is no way to enter heaven except through a personal relationship with Him. If you have acknowledged your sin and need for a Savior and placed your faith in trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you will be saved. You will enter into heaven. You will experience an exceedingly wonderful reunion with your child for all eternity. However, if you try to earn your way into heaven, or place your faith in any other system of beliefs, doctrines, or religions other than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will not enter into heaven. You will not experience a reunion with your child. Jesus Christ is the only way. The Bible consistently teaches this truth. We see this again in the book of Acts:
It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” ~Acts 4:10, 12
Some would say the idea that Jesus is the only way to heaven is not politically correct. Most believe there are many different paths that will lead to a right relationship with God. Many say it is narrow-minded to believe that Jesus Christ is the only means to receive salvation. However, Jesus taught that it is only those who pass through the narrow gate who will receive eternal life. Jesus Christ is the only way to life. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus stated:
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ~Matthew 7:13-14
Eternal life only comes through the narrow gate of Jesus Christ. Carter’s Eternal Hope exists to proclaim the wonderful gospel message of Jesus Christ. We want parents to fully understand the truth and certainty regarding their child’s place in heaven. We also want parents to understand that God has provided a means for them to be reunited with their child. We have tried our best to explain God’s plan for your reunion here: www.carterseternalhope.org/gospel-message.
As parents, we fully understand the feelings of loss, grief, and seemingly overwhelming sadness that accompany the death of a child. However, we also understand physical death is only a temporary separation when our faith and trust are placed in Jesus Christ. It is our sincere hope and prayer that one day we will be able to rejoice with you and your child in heaven. We greatly anticipate meeting your child and hope to introduce you to our precious son, Carter. What a glorious reunion it will be! God is exceedingly good!
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Matthew 19:14