Will the baby be sentenced to hell since s/he didn't have a chance to choose Jesus before death?
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I think that this is an issue that we as Christians should leave to God, rather than dwelling on it, or allowing it to adversely affect our own Christian walk. Part of our faith as Christians is that God is perfectly righteous, but at the same time also loving and merciful -- enough to send His own Son to die for a world that was (and still is) at enmity with Him (John 3:16). While the Bible (in my view) does not support an "age of accountability" (prior to which God does not hold a person responsible for his or her sins), Jesus also made clear that children are precious in God's sight (Mark 10:13-16). In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man, despite his suffering following his death, did not rail against God, question His judgment, or seek to be released from his situation, but only asked that Lazarus be sent back to earth to warn his brothers. If even the condemned will not be able to dispute the righteousness of their eternal destiny, then Christians (who have been saved by God's love and mercy) should also certainly trust God to judge everyone perfectly, and with both equity and justice, even in heartbreaking situations such as that mentioned in the question.
I serve a most loving, merciful, and gracious God who mentions "children" in Scriptures about 1500 times. We are all Children of God and He cares deeply for each of us. Enough to send His own Son to suffer and die a horrible death so we may choose Him and spend Eternal Life with Him. I also do not have a directVerse to quote supporting what happens to the "spirit" of a baby/child. But I believe these may give you some peace and reassurance. "Then they (people) brought little children to Him, (Jesus) that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 NKJV) Test yourself about your knowledge and faith in our God and Savior by searching what is in Scriptures of His words of love and caring of all children. Also pray for the Holy Spirit to convict you of the truth of God's intent for those lost to us before birth, or after birth before they could hear the Word of Salvation for themselves. Seek God's Wisdom, He will provide. "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;" (Colossians 1:9 NKJV) I lost three babies before birth and struggled with this question myself for many, many years. It wasn't until I really read, understood, and experienced the magnitude of God's great love (for me a sinner) did I know in my heart and soul, I will see my innocent children again. Right now I picture them, there on Jesus knee, being loved beyond anything we can imagine. My hope and prayer is for God's peace for you in this loss, I believe only one who has lost a baby would ask this question. Keep the faith!
There is nothing in the Bible to make us think that a child who dies before he/she is old enough to know right and wrong is anything but saved. The texts in Jeremiah 31:15-17; Isaiah 49:25 and 1 Cor. 7:14 appear to indicate just that. In Matthew 18:3, Christ said: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” and in Matthew 19:14, “the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." One can safely derive from these two statements that babies and little children are welcomed in heaven. Finally, in Isaiah 11:6 we read: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” Knowing that in heaven the saved will be like angels (Matthew 22:30) the only logical conclusion is that all these children mentioned in the Bible were resurrected and taken to heaven at Christ second coming (Revelation 20:4-6). Also, it is very likely that at Lord's return there will be lots of babies alive - in either case, there is no indication that these babies would be excluded from heaven because they were unable to accept and claim Christ's grace through faith. We are serving a great God, full of mercy and love and should trust that He will deal with everyone of us just as He promised: "For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations" (Psalm 100:5).
As Tim stated, this is one of those questions that does not have a clear cut answer. The only passage I'm aware of that may remotely address the issue is found in 2 Samuel 12. David committed adultry, impregnated Bathsheba then had her husband Uriah murdered to cover his sin. The Lord sent Nathan the prophet to confront and pronounce judgment upon David for his crimes. Nathan presented an analogy that could not be denied, convicting David of his terrible sins. (V. 1-14) Although David continually fasted and prayed The Lord to spare the child, after seven days the baby died. (V.15-21) In response to his servants questioning V. 22-23 records: " 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." (V.22-23) "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." I don't believe this statement is conclusive evidence of the infant's eternal state. David may have only been speaking of joining him in death, the grave. However, David knew where he would personally spend eternity and may have expected to be reunited with his son. Many find comfort in this position.
1 Corinthians 7:14 shows that one believing parent sanctifies a non-believing marriage mate in the same way children are made holy. Also, there are several references in the Bible referring to "family salvation".
For nearly 1,800 years that Christian church taught and accepted the doctrine of original sin. Every human being was born in sin and at risk of going to hell unless they were saved. The church used the sacrament of water baptism to deliver God's saving grace to each infant child. In the last 200 years the church has frowned on infant baptism, believing that people were putting their faith in the act of baptism and not in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus life, suffering, death and resurrection for our salvation. As as result, the doctrine of "Age of accountability" developed. The church began to teach that infants and little children were under God's grace until they understood the difference between right and wrong. Once they understood, they were accountable for their actions and guilty for their sin. But all such human means to manipulate the grace of God are full of holes. 1) what happens to infants before they are baptized? 2) when do young children understand the difference between right and wrong? When we try to play God - by deciding how and when people need to get saved - we fall outside God's grace into legalism. The bible clearly teaches that we are saved by God's grace, through faith, and this is not from ourselves, so anyone can boast (Eph 2:8-9). God creates each person with their name already written in the book of life. Their name is only erased from the book of life upon their death, and only after they have "consciously" and "deliberately" rejected his gospel message. But God also reminds us in Romans 1 that ignorance is not a valid excuse. Everyone will be held accountable for what they know: The God of creation The law of the bible The person of Jesus Christ The more a person knows and has still rejected God's offer of salvation, the greater the penalty in hell. Our God is a God of love and salvation and new life, The only thing any human being can do is choose to reject this amazing grace.
The grace and mercy of God extends to all those who cannot comprehend the Word of God. E.g. Children and children born with brain defects. "The promise is to your children and your children's children and those that are afar". I believe if you don't like children, you won't like heaven.
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