Over the years I have heard much debate as to the destination of young children, including those who died before birth (be it miscarriage or abortion); are they in heaven?
For those who believe in the unbiblical doctrine of baptismal regeneration, this becomes a real quandary. The Roman Catholics invented a place called Limbo where these children go, which has been described variably as a place of natural happiness or of mild punishment. Others, including a Lutheran pastor of a church we once attended, claim they go to hell. Still others, like me, believe the destination of these children is heaven.
First, let me say that while I believe we are born with a sin nature and are “sinners” in that regard, I don’t believe that babies are sinners in regards to actually committing sins. (For example, many people claim that when a baby cries for food it is demonstrating a sin of selfishness, but this is nonsense - it’s the only way a baby has of advising of its need!)
Let me give some thoughts from Scripture (HSCB).
+ Deuteronomy 1:39: “Your little children who you said would be plunder, your sons who don’t know good from evil, will enter there....” (my emphasis). Notice how God said these “little children” didn’t “know good from evil.”
+ Isaiah 7:15-16: “By the time he learns to reject what is bad and choose what is good, he will be eating butter and honey. For before the boy knows to reject what is bad and choose what is good, the land of the two kings you dread will be abandoned.” Again notice how God says young children do not know - have not learned - to choose between good and evil.
I think these passages talking about children not knowing good from evil, and not knowing to choose between them, demonstrates there is an age during which a child is innocent of being charged with sin - an age before “accountability.”
+ 2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgement sat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.”
+ Revelation 20:12-13 says that the dead are all “judged according to their works.”
These passages which state that we are judged according to our works imply that we have knowledge of right vs wrong, and a child not having this knowledge would be free from such judgement.
+ 2 Samuel 12:23: “But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’ll to go to him, but he will never return to me.” David is talking about the death of his son. Notice he says that he will be able to go where his son is. Where is his son? Apparently with the Lord.
+ Matthew 19:13-14: “Then Children were brought to Him so He might put His hands on them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. Then Jesus said, ‘Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.’” Mark 10:13-15 is a parallel passage to the Matthew passage, and vs 14 gives this as Jesus’ response: “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” This is repeated in Luke 18:15-17.
David believed that his child was with the Lord, and Jesus says that God’s kingdom is for “such as these” - not only children but those who become like children in their faith.
So let’s look at the issue of not only children, but also those with the mental capacity of a child - or even less. There has been a long-standing teaching among Jews and Christians about an “age of accountability.” Some give numbers such as 8 years old, but others don’t. If there is such an age, I would say it would have to be variable because each person matures at a different rate, and some may be a genius at four years old while other may not have a clue until they are almost pubescent!
The God of the Bible is a loving and merciful God, and not one who would condemn to hell the souls of children who never saw life, let alone children who not only never learned right from wrong, but also never matured enough to know anything about spiritual matters. And this of course would apply to those with severe mental disabilities whose mental capacity is no more than a child’s.
I cannot be dogmatic about this subject because the Bible does not specifically state children are saved, but I think the implication is certainly there.