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Do Children Go To Heaven?

We are all ignorant children who want to go on making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation by the sea. We are far too easy to please – C. S. Lewis

There are enough veiled references in the Bible on this subject that the answer is a categorical YES! However, there are two questions that beg to be asked. Why would anyone ever question the idea that all children go to heaven, and why are the refences on this subject somewhat obscure?

The question as to where the spirit of a deceased child goes concerns the issue of original sin. Adam and Eve were uniquely created free from sin. God allowed them to be tested by Satan to see if they were virtuous enough to resist his offers. They quickly ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and failed the test. Thus, they rebelled against the rule of God and He in return, kept his promise and cause two physiological changes in Adam and Eve. First, He altered their genetic code so that they started to age and ultimately died. Today we have located the gene that causes ageing. The problem is, when this gene is turned off in lab mice, they immediately develop cancer and die. Therefore, the curse of ageing and death that God has temporarily place on mankind cannot be altered by science. Ageing can be slowed down but it cannot be stopped. Second, God caused a change in human reproductive chromosomes. Currently, any child produced using the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes from the male or Adam, will automatically produce a child that has a genetically induced cognitive predisposition to sin or rebel against God. Therefore, all of mankind will exhibit a natural resistance against God and His desire for the spiritual growth of man verses a single focus on experiencing a life of physical pleasures and attaining material wealth (Romans 5:12,16,18). Therefore, people are not sinners because they sin, people sin because they are born sinners (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3).

This was why it was a necessity that Jesus’ biological father be God and not Joseph so as not to pass on the sin chromosome of Adam to the body of Jesus. Thus, Mary could only become pregnant through the supernatural intervention of God by way of the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). This is why Jesus referred to God His Father as abba or daddy and why God referred to Jesus as, “…My God’s only begotten human Son…” (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, John 1:14, Luke 3:22). This is also why Jesus could also refer to Himself as both “The Son of Man” as He was genetically related to Mary, as well as “The Son of God” because of the second pair of twenty-three chromosomes was provide by God thru the Holy Spirit. Therefore, all people including even infants, exhibit the propensity to sin. To test this understanding, simply take a piece of candy and let a toddler taste it. Then take the candy away and watch what happens. The cooing, happy child immediately becomes a screaming unhappy child. This is proof positive all people since Adam are born sinners with a genetic cognitive predisposition to desire the material pleasurable things of the world in order to satisfy the lust of the flesh. Mankind naturally prefers this type of growth over spiritual growth which ultimately brings the believer into  a closer relationship with their creator God.

The early church was aware of this problem of original sin and the idea of a child dying unsaved drove its leaders to distraction. They decided the solution was to immediately baptize a newborn by fully immersing them in water. Unfortunately, it was usually very cold water. This ill-conceived practice caused tens of thousands of new born babies to go into shock and die. The practice continued with the idea that it was better for an infant child to die young, saved and go to heaven, than to not be baptized and die unsaved. It is from this practice of baptizing babies in their blankets that we get the phrase don’t be a wet blanket, a negative connotation as it could result in death. Once parents understood the dangers of this practice, they took the chance and waited to baptize the child when it was older and stronger. But this also caused a problem in that for thousands of years, even under the best of conditions, seven out of ten children died before adulthood. Therefore, to wait to baptize was a real terror for parents concerning their child’s afterlife.

So where did the spirits of unbaptized children go? The Catholic Church originally invented a non-scriptural teaching that the spirit of a dead unsaved child went to a made-up place called Limbo. Again, this was a scripturally unsupported place that was described as not as nice as heaven but not as bad as hell. Only in April of 2007 did Pope Benedict abolish the concept of Limbo after eight hundred years in the Catholic doctrine. But even with Limbo gone, the concern still remained. If all children are born with a sin nature and if they die before freely choosing salvation through Christ, then at their death, the child would die unsaved.

A reasonable question to ask is why would the scriptures not just come out and say that all children go straight to heaven? We can only suppose that there are two reasons. The first would be that silence on the issue would help encourage parents to teach their children about Christ and have them baptized as soon as possible. This would then eliminate any fears as to their spiritual access to heaven. The second supposition is a little darker in nature. The Bible gives very little information on the creation and fall of Lucifer. The thought being that the more information you give on him, the more important his image and story become. Therefore, if the Bible were to make it clear that a child’s spirit automatically goes to heaven, this understanding could possibly act as an unintended incentive for those who seek to hurt or cause the death of a child to proceed with their cruel plans. In other words, it may serve to relive whatever conscience may still exist in their disturbed minds concerning a child’s death.

So, what does scripture say that would allow us to come to a definitive conclusion on the issue and what is the age that separates a child from an adult? The Bible does in fact delineate when a person is under the age of accountability. This would also include by inference, a person with a mental disability that effects their ability to understand the sin nature issue and the need for salvation. A person cannot be held accountable for something they are incapable of understanding.

The first time scripture speaks to this issue is when God dealt with the children of Israel during their exodus. The Israelites were at the boundary of the land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses had led them from Egypt to Mount Sinai to receive the Law and now it was time to take control of the promised land. Instead, the people sent spies into the land to see just how powerful the current inhabitants were. They concluded that it was simply too dangerous for them to take the land by force even through God had promised He would personally drive out the inhabitants once they entered. God answered their unbelief and refusal to go forward by stating that they would wander in the wilderness of the Sinai until that original generation died. However, their children would instead enter the Promised Land under His protection (Deuteronomy 1:39-40). The cut off age between adults and children as given by God was all those nineteen and younger. All those twenty and older would wander in the desert until they died. Those under the age of twenty were determined by God as not accountable for their parent’s decisions and actions (Numbers 14:29). In this case, people nineteen and younger were considered incapable of making certain major decisions as they concerned the will of God. Also, the children were in fact following the commandment by God to honor their parents by obeying them even if the parents were outside the will of God.

We next read in the Book of Isaiah that God understands and accepts the fact that children and young people do not have the mental maturity to be able to knowingly choose between good and bad in every situation. “How can a boy or children choose to refuse evil and choose good", if they are not fully aware of the differences and consequences of choosing one over the other (Isaiah 7:15-16; I Corinthians 13:11). We next read that King David had an infant son that was terminally ill and died. David wrote, “I will go to him my child at my death but he shall not return to me” (II Samuel 12:23). Therefore, David was sure that his son’s spirit would go to an afterlife and that he would be united with him again at his death.

“Christ Blessing the Children” by Nicolace Maes

The final word on this issue concerning whether the spirit of a child goes to heaven is found in references made by Jesus on how children are to be treated and the way He treated them. In the Book of Mathew, Jesus became upset when the people refused to allow little children to come and meet Him. He told the adults that if they were more like children who were meek, trusting, humble and had open inquisitive minds concerning new ideas and concepts, that they would not only inherit the Kingdom of God but that they would be considered as “great” saints in the Kingdom (Matthew 18:3-5). Scripture tells us that Jesus would take the little children into His arms, place His hands on their heads and bless them (Mark 10:16, Matthew 19:13-15, Luke 18:15-17). When the Chief Priests and Scribes heard the children in the Temple shouting Hosanna or glory to the Son of David, they asked Jesus did He not hear them and to silence them. But Jesus replied with a quote from the Book of Psalm, “…out of the mouth of toddlers and infants you Lord have perfected the perfect praise” (Psalm 8:2, Matthew 21:15-16). Here we have God saying that the purity of a child would make them the first to recognize Jesus for who He was because they did not have preconceived ideas or expectations about the Messiah. The praise that comes from a child is sincere, loving and pure of heart, thus the highest form of praise. It is clear that Jesus adored and valued the life of every precious child. In fact, Jesus pronounced a particularly horrific curse on anyone who would hurt a child. He said, “…see that you do not despise hate or harm one of these little ones. For I tell you a truth that their angels plural in heaven always see the face of My Father” (Matthew 18:10). Jesus is warning all people that you are never allowed to intentionally hurt a child, and He knew for an absolute fact that they each have their own individual guardian angels and these angels not only minister to a child, but also have an especially close relationship with God.  Jesus also said, “If anyone causes even one of these little ones…to stumble or go astray, it would be better for them to have a millstone or many hundreds of pounds in weight hung around their neck and be drowned in the depths deepest part of the ocean” (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2). It is clear that Jesus sincerely loves all children. Since no one comes to the Father God but by Him, it is clear that all children will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God by Jesus (John 14:6).

Last, but not least, since the age of accountability in the eyes of God is twenty years old and older, it would appear that we can expect ‘all’ children on earth to be raptured out with all saved adults. Parents left behind on earth will at first be emotionally devastated at their children's suddenly disappearance. But as the horrific seven year tribulation period unfolds, they will come to praise God for having mercy on their children.

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