Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
I think that the Bible is clear that no humans deserve eternal life on their own merits. God in His holiness would be perfectly justified in consigning everyone (regardless of age) to eternal separation from Him. It is only by God's grace (undeserved love and mercy) and faith in the sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection of Jesus that any person has hope of eternal life. Children are certainly capable of acquiring such saving faith. However, I also think that any parent would be able to attest that, in addition to the many ways in which children can bring unique joy to our lives, they can also display an inclination from the time of their earliest actions to be disobedient and to resist authority. That is why they must be trained and disciplined (as the Bible says in verses such as Proverbs 22:6 and Proverbs 29:17) as part of a Christian upbringing, and should be introduced to God and Christ as early in life as possible, which are both responsibilities entrusted by God to their parents or caregivers. I would not presume to say at what age God begins holding children responsible for their actions from a standpoint of their eternal state. Perhaps God would hold their caregivers accountable for children's behavior up to a certain point, as Jesus seemed to imply in Mark 9:42. There is also the concept of prevenient grace, by which God could save children under the same principle through which (as Jesus said) He makes the sun to rise on both the evil and the good, and provides rain to both the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45), with no reference to anything that they have done or not done. He could thus apply Christ's salvation to them before they are capable of making a decision of their own (whenever that might be, as God would be fully and rightly able to judge). What I can be sure of, however, is that God's actions with regard to the eternal state of children who die at an early age will ultimately be something that the redeemed will not question in eternity; that those actions will also be found by the redeemed to have been characterized by the same attributes that God displayed in saving them through Christ (that is, both grace and the satisfaction of His justice); and that people should not allow questions or concerns about this issue to prevent or deter them from accepting the salvation that God offers to them in Christ.
Can children go to hell? Under certain situations they probably could. In 2 Kings 2:23, 24 we read how some boys were cursed and killed for mocking God’s prophet. We are not told the age of these boys, but apparently they were old enough to know better. The Bible appear to indicate that a child who dies before he/she is old enough to know right from wrong is saved (Isaiah 49:25; 1 Cor 7:14). What is that age? It depends of individual - some mature earlier than others. Moreover, James 4:17 says “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” That would suggest that immature persons unable to discern between right and wrong, God doesn’t hold them responsible – also in Acts 17:30 we read that God excuses ignorance. And then there is the popular doctrine of the original sin. It started with the valid biblical position of man's inherent carnal nature – predisposed to sin - and evolved into the doctrine that Adam's guilt was also imputed to his descendants. That's why some churches baptize the infants. Augustine is mostly responsible for this view of transmitted guilt – view contradicted by the Bible (Ezekiel 18:20). Furthermore, the Bible teaches that Jesus was born in Adam’s fallen human nature and in the same time He was sinless (Heb 2:16; 4:15; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 John 3:5) - “was made of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3). All David’s descendants, except for Christ, bore their hereditary inclinations and committed personal sins. Jesus, also inherited David’s nature after the flesh, but He did not yield to the inherent weaknesses of that nature: “but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15). 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." We can safely derive from these two statements that babies and little children are going to inherit the Kingdom of God, not hell. Hell and death are frightening and often misunderstood subjects. Fortunately, the Bible talks a lot about these two issues and no one should be confused by mystical teachings. The Bible often refers to death as ‘sleep’ - the dead will be awakened (resurrected) at the end of time – some to everlasting life, others to everlasting contempt (John 11:11-14; John 6:39; Daniel 12:2; 1 Cor 15:51; Acts 7:60). So, the good news is that right now no one is burning in hell and the God of love and mercy is not going to torment for eternity children in hellfire.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.