Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why We May Hope That Babies Who Die Will Go To Heaven

This is an emotionally charged issue, because many have been affected by the death of a baby, and no one wants to think such a one could possibly go to hell. The question then, is not what do we want to think, but what does the Bible actually teach about the subject?

1) All Are Born With Inherited Sin:
A) Adam was made in the image of God:

Genesis 1:27 NIV
(27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

B) The fall changed Adam's nature:

Genesis 2:17 NIV
(17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Spiritual death came with the fall of man.

C) After the fall, it is said that Adam's children were born in Adam's image:

Genesis 5:3 NIV
(3) When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.

D) Ephesians confirms the spiritual death from which God has to save men:

Ephesians 2:1-3 NIV
(1) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
(2) in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
(3) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

E) The Psalms show men receive that sin nature at the moment of conception:

Psalms 51:5 NIV
(5) Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Psalms 58:3 NIV
(3) Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.

Inherited sin is passes on from the moment of conception, which is why no one is born in a condition that makes him worthy of entering heaven.

2) Imputed Sin

Romans 5:12-14 NIV
(12) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—
(13) for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.
(14) Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

God directly imputes the sin of Adam to all men, and this is evident by the fact that even though sin is not taken into account where there is no law, death reigned from the time of Adam and Moses, when there was none.

Hebrews shows that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, by virtue of being present in his loins at the time Abraham did so:

Hebrews 7:9-10 KJV
(9) And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
(10) For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

Thus, imputed sin passes directly to all men, and God counts them guilty of the sin of Adam.

3) You must be born _"again"_ to enter the kingdom of God

John 3:5-6 NIV
(5) Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
(6) Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Flesh cannot give birth to "spirit". Salvation requires being born twice. First of the flesh, then of the Spirit. Men are not saved simply by being born of the flesh.

4) Eternal Security

Romans 8:30-31 NIV
(30) And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
(31) What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

God glorifies everyone whom He saves (justifies) in the first place. You can't have a person starting out justified, who then is not also glorified, because God has sovereignly predestined 
everyone whom He chooses to save, to glory.

To claim that babies start out in a saved condition, then lose that at some "age of accountability", implies not only that babies are born in a sinless AND meritorious condition, but that they then lose that salvation based on their own merits, which makes salvation depend not on a sovereign and merciful God, but on man's merits. If salvation depends in the the least upon 
man's merits, rather than God's sovereign mercy, then NO ONE could EVER be sure they're going to heaven.

5) The direct statement of Scripture:

Romans 9:11-16 NIV
(11) Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand:
(12) not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger."
(13) Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."
(14) What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!
(15) For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
(16) It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

This chapter labors to show, by many examples, that salvation does not depend on the "will or effort" of men, but on God's sovereign purpose and mercy. For those who want salvation to be a reward for man's innocence or merit, we are shown the example of twins, before they were born, or had done anything good or bad. Even in such a case, salvation is shown to depend not on man's innocence or merits, but on God's sovereign purpose. Thus there is no room for man to bask in the glory of his own merits or "innocence", and all glory must go to God alone.

6) Objections answered:

Romans 9 anticipates the objection that if God is sovereign in the salvation of men, then why does He find fault, since who has resisted His will? The answer it gives is

A) God is not unjust:

Romans 9:14 NIV
(14) What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!

B) The glory of God's sovereign mercy is more important than our glory or salvation:

Romans 9:15-18 NIV
(15) For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
(16) It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.
(17) For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
(18) Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

C) A creature doesn't have any standing or right to call a sovereign God to account:

Romans 9:19-21 NIV
(19) One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?"
(20) But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"
(21) Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

7) Practical problems:

If all babies who die before the "age of accountability" are guaranteed salvation, but could then possibly lose their salvation if they live to reach that certain unknown age, the only way to insure their salvation would be the insane, incorrect, and dangerous idea that they must die before that age. That kind of reasoning would make abortion more effective than proclaiming the gospel, as a way to insure the salvation of children, which is totally insane idea with potentially catastrophic ramifications.

8) Conclusion:

The answer to the question seems clearly defined in Romans 9.  Whether or not babies go to heaven when they die depends not on man's "innocence", merits or will, but on whether or not God has elected him to salvation. For me, this Scripture definitively answers the question. Elect babies go to heaven if they die, and non-elect babies do not. Since we can't possibly know whether a baby was born elect, we have a basis for hoping that all children who die could have been one of God's elect.

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The Gospel


Have you heard Christ died for our sins, and God raised Him from the dead? Did you know God saves you from hell and gives you eternal life through faith in this finished work alone, not your merits (Jn. 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-3; Eph. 2:8-10; 2 Thess. 1:8-9)? This is so man cannot boast, and God alone gets the glory (Eph. 2:8-9).

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