Do Children Go To Heaven When They Die?


I believe the Bible speaks clearly on this issue, yet for some reason a lot of ministers claim that they do not know the answer to this question.  It is commonly called the age of accountability, meaning the time that a child knows the difference between good and evil.  At this time they become responsible for their sins and rejection of salvation. 

There are alot of different ages thrown around anywhere between 6-18 years of age.  I do not know the age, it is probably different for every person taking into account the varying circumstances in their life.  Of course the mentally handicapped and others who do not know right from wrong all go to heaven when they die.  Hell is filled with people who are grown adults who willfully rejected Jesus while they walked this earth.

In my belief that children go to heaven I hold dear the biblical and orthodox belief that we are all conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5); we are all sinners through Adam (Romans 5:12); and that we are all spiritually dead in Adam (Romans 5:17).  

Deuteronomy chapter one is the clearest teaching on this issue.  The children of Israel were forbidden to enter the promised land because of their unbelief.  Yet, God says that the children not knowing good from evil shall enter in.

"Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it,"
Deuteronomy 1:39.

In the book of 2 Samuel chapter 12 we have another example that a baby goes to heaven when he or she dies.  King David wept and prayed for his child when he was alive, yet when the child died he washed his face and ate.  When his servants saw this they were perplexed, they asked him why was he not sad anymore.  King David replied,"I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
Here is the scripture in full:

"Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.  Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done?  Thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.  And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me," 2 Samuel 12:20-23.

In the book of Nehemiah we have another example of only those that could understand were held accountable to hearing the Word of God:

"And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law," Nehemiah 8:2-3.

In the book of Isaiah we again have the teaching that there is a point in a child's life when they do not know the difference between good and evil.  I believe that it is significant that this is taught in Scripture.

"He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good.  For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken,"
Isaiah 7:15-16.

John MacArthur states the following:

"However, another point may be helpful in answering this question. While infants and children have neither sensed their personal sin and need for salvation nor placed their faith in Christ, Scripture teaches that condemnation is based on the clear rejection of God's revelation-whether general or specific-not simple ignorance of it (Luke 10:16; John 12:48; 1 Thess. 4:8). 

Can we definitely say that the unborn and young children have comprehended the truth displayed by God's general revelation that renders them "without excuse" (Rom. 1:18-20)?  They will be judged according to the light they received. 

Scripture is clear that children and the unborn have original sin-including both the propensity to sin as well as the inherent guilt of original sin. But could it be that somehow Christ's atonement did pay for the guilt for these helpless ones throughout all time?  Yes, and therefore it is a credible assumption that a child who dies at an age too young to have made a conscious, willful rejection of Jesus Christ will be taken to be with the Lord."



2 SAMUEL 12:23—Do those who die in infancy go to heaven?

PROBLEM:

The Scriptures teach that we are born in sin (Ps. 51:5) because we “all sinned [in Adam]” (Rom. 5:12).  Yet David implies here that his baby, who died, will be in heaven, saying, “I shall go to him” (v. 23).


SOLUTION:

There are three views regarding children who die before the age of accountability, that is, before they are old enough to be morally responsible for their own actions.


Only Elect Infants Go to Heaven:

Some strong Calvinists believe that only those babies that are predestined go to heaven (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29).  Those who are not elect go to hell.  They see no greater problem with infant predestination than with adult predestination, insisting that everyone is deserving of hell and that it is only by God’s mercy that any are saved (Titus 3:5–6).


Only Infants Who Would Have Believed Go to Heaven:

Others claim that God knows the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:10) and the potential as well as the actual.  Thus, God knows those infants and little children who would have believed in Christ had they lived long enough. Otherwise, they contend, there would be people in heaven who would not have believed in Christ, which is contrary to Scripture (John 3:36).  All infants whom God knows would not have believed, had they lived long enough, will go to hell.


All Infants Go to Heaven:

Still others believe that all who die before the age of accountability will go to heaven.  They base this on the following Scriptures.  First, Isaiah 7:16 speaks of an age before a child is morally accountable, namely, “before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good.”

Second, David believed in life after death and the resurrection (Ps. 16:10–11), so when he spoke of going to be with his son who died after birth (2 Sam. 12:23), he implied that those who die in infancy go to heaven. 

Third, Psalm 139 speaks of an unborn baby as a creation of God whose name is written down in God’s “book” in heaven (vv. 14–16). 

Fourth, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14), thus indicating that even little children will be in heaven. 

Fifth, some see support in Jesus’ affirmation that even “little ones” (i.e., children) have a guardian angel “in heaven” who watches over them (Matt. 18:10). 

Sixth, the fact that Christ’s death for all made little children savable, even before they believed (Rom. 5:18–19). 

Finally, Jesus’ indication that those who did not know were not morally responsible (John 9:41) is used to support the belief that there is heaven for those who cannot yet believe, even though there is no heaven for those who are old enough and refuse to believe (John 3:36).
(Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. 1992. When critics ask : A popular handbook on Bible difficulties . Victor Books: Wheaton, Ill.)
"Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it."
Deuteronomy 1:39
"But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
2 Samuel 12:23
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 18:10