By Vernon Gray - email@example.com
As a pastor in the past I was responsible for a young couple that had recently joined our Church. They had been attending for about six months when early one wintery Sunday morning I got a call from the father who was almost incoherent saying that something terrible had happened and that I must come over immediately. I hurried over to their home to find a scene that haunts me to this day.
They had been asleep in their bedroom and their two toddlers were up and about early playing as kids do. The man was in the habit of sleeping with a handgun next to his pillow.
He vaguely remembered the children being in the bedroom but they often amused themselves till mommy and daddy woke up and attended to them.
Suddenly, from their bathroom-on-suite the Sunday morning was shattered by a gunshot going off in their bedroom.
The two children had found the gun and were playing with it. The older little boy tried to wrench the gun from his sibling when it went off. The bullet entered from the bottom of the jaw and blew the cranium empty of all its contents. This was the scene I was confronted on that winters day.
It was the saddest funeral that I had ever conducted, and the fate of that little boy has been on my mind ever since.
So, can we make a case for children going to heaven on a Scriptural basis rather than relying on vague "emotional hopes?"
When does life begin?
Before we explore much deeper into the question about children in the Rapture, let us establish two things first. When does life begin, and what is the age of accountability?
Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
Psalm 22:9, 19 "But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly."
The Bible is clear that life begins at conception. The eternal soul is "birthed" in the womb, and not when it comes through the birth canal. I don't think we need to spent much more time on this matter.
Age of accountability
This would be the time when a young person has reached the mental and spiritual maturity to fully understand with responsibility the issues of law, grace and salvation. This would not apply to a fetus in the womb, or an infant, or those who have a mental deficiency which renders them unable to make such decisions for themselves.
Every person is different, and because this is so, we cannot apply a fixed age of accountability.
Judaism has chosen the age of accountability as 13 for boys and 12 for girls.
Hopefully, a child that reaches their teenage years would also reach the age of personal responsibility for their decisions and actions.
Are we all born morally clean?
Scripture records instances where some souls were chosen or sanctified from the womb. (John the Baptist)
There is an old heresy that says that sin only takes root in our lives with the first sin we commit from which point we become sinners. Prior to that we are morally neutral and if we died in that state, we would go to heaven automatically.
This would mean that heaven is populated mainly by Chinese and Indian girls who are aborted at an alarming rate even today.
This view of "infant redemption" is not found in the Bible, rather the Bible declares that we were conceived in sin.
Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
We were born morally corrupt from our mother's womb. From the womb we had the sin nature which we inherited from our father Adam. Innate sin is the curse of humanity and none are exempt from that curse.
Any child that dies before the age of moral responsibility dies as much a sinner as a reprobate man who lived till he was 100. Don't get angry with me; this is what the Bible teaches.
Every person that lives beyond that point where they know and understand moral responsibility WILL SIN, because they have a fallen nature from conception. We are all wretched sinners from conception embedded within our nature inherited from Adam.
We are born with the seeds of our own destruction.
If you think that the HIV virus is deadly; the SIN virus is 100% fatal.
No baby; within or without the womb is sinless.
Proverbs 20:9 "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?"
Ephesians 2: 3 "Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."
Isaiah 48:8 "Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou wouldest deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb."
Deuteronomy 1: 30 "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."
Isaiah 7: 16 "For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings."
How will humanity be judged? Revelation 20:11, 12 "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
Children are innocent
Ezekiel 18:20 also states, "The soul who sins is the one who will die."
1Kings 8:46 "If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near;"
This cannot apply to infants because they do not know right from wrong. They do however have innate sin which they inherited from Adam.
Where do dead innocents go?
Job 3:11 - 17 "Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
12) Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts that I should suck?
13) For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
14) With kings and counselors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves;
15) Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:
16) Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.
17) There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest."
The one thing we know about hell is that there is no rest there. But here Job, (the most righteous man on earth at that time) says that it would have been better if he had died at birth because he would be at rest.
David's firstborn son
2Samual 12:13 - 23 "And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.
15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.
18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
20 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.
21 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.
22 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?
23 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."
As far as we can tell David believed that he would go to be with his dead son in the afterlife.
He clearly stated that "I shall go to him."
Now the question is; where did he get this idea from? Was it from Scripture?
We cannot find it anywhere in the Scripture that was available to David at that time.
Was it perhaps divine revelation from God that this would be the case with his dead infant son?
Was it some rabbinical type tradition that gave rise to David's confession?
Truth and Truly Stated Scripture
In Hermeneutics we learn that some things in Scripture are not true.
Let me explain.
The Bible records instances where men have lied about various things. The fact that they spoke an untruth is a statement of fact.
Their words are recorded as something that is TRULY STATED, (they did in fact say it) however what they said is not a statement of TRUTH.
There are things in the Bible written where men have either lied or were ignorant.
Jesus said "I am the way the truth and the Life."
What Jesus said was the truth. It is a statement of truth.
Satan lied to Eve in the garden, Ananias and Sapphira lied about money, Abraham lied about his wife/sister as did Isaac etc. etc. What they said is truly stated in Scripture, but what they said was not a statement of truth.
So; if someone says something in the Scriptures, we need to know if it is the truth, because even mans errors are recorded as they spoke the words. This is the difference between something that is TRULY STATED, and something that is the TRUTH.
Now, did David make a statement of "truth," or is what he said merely "truly stated?"
It is the same with Job in his great despair exclaimed... "Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day?
There the wicked cease from turmoil." (Job 3:16, 17)
The wicked at rest? That is not what Jesus taught. Could Job have said this in ignorance because of his extreme grief and agony? In other words what Job said was not a statement of truth albeit truly stated.
What about judgment for all?
The Scripture is clear in both the Old and New Testaments that all men will be judged.
This must apply to the unborn infants too because they are "people" too.
The question is how does God judge an infant who never saw the light of day?
Because God is Sovereign, Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, He knows the beginning from the end, and that includes every human life that ever lived or will live on this earth. His power is such that He also knows what an infant would have done had they lived long enough to commit offence before God.
God's special relationship with children
There are instances in the Bible where God ordered the destruction of every man woman and child in certain cases. The reason for this most likely that the "people" mentioned were the wickedest of hybrids and could never attain to salvation because of their diabolical origins.
Psalm 58:3 "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."
Deuteronomy 2:34"And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:"
That being said, both the Old and New Testaments indicate that God has a special relationship with children. In the book of Ezekiel, God was angry with His people as they were sacrificing their children to idols. God calls these babies "My children."
"Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire." (Ezekiel 16:20-21)
In Jonah we find that God speaks fondly of the innocent children in Nineveh.
"And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" (Jonah 4:11)
Jesus indicated that people who enter heaven are like children, implying that children go to heaven.
"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:2-3)
"Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:13-14)
Is this an indication that all children who die go to heaven? Or was Jesus explaining that we need child-like qualities to enter the Kingdom. What qualities would these be?
* Children are teachable.
* Children are trusting.
* Children are forgiving.
* Children are loving.
* Children are unresentful.
* Children are without self importance.
* Children do non-judgmental.
* Children are submissive.
* Children are caring.
* Children are accepting.
There is the argument by many respected Bible Teachers who say that all babies who die go immediately to be with the Lord. They say that when the Rapture takes place, God will remove all babies to spare them from the coming Tribulation. If this is the case, it cannot be supported by Scripture. In fact it would go against the pattern already found in the Bible.
God did not spare the infants of Noah's flood, Sodom and Gomorrah or at the destruction of Jerusalem. What makes these babies different to those?
They base this on the fact that we adults are saved by God's sovereign grace alone, and that He extends this grace to those babies who have not yet sinned because they have not had the opportunity to accept Christ as their Saviour.
In other words it is God's election that places them with Him.
The problem is that if God elected all these babies before they had "sinned," what about those babies whom God would have rejected if they had lived long enough?
What you end up with then is our salvation being justification by faith; their salvation (infants) is justification without faith. Is this correct? Would God apply one set of laws to one group and not to another? I am not playing Devil's advocate here I am asking a very troubling and pertinent question.
The cry from Hell
Imagine this; there are people in hell who have heard that children are being granted access into heaven by the Grace of God.
"That's not fair. They cry, we were born and reached the age of accountability and because of our sin nature became sinners. Yes we did not believe and are condemned because of that fact, however why should these souls have grace and we do not?
Why couldn't we also have died at birth so that we too can enjoy heaven?
What would these infants have done if they were allowed to live to an age where they also rejected the gospel? Why is it that we are being punished and they who have never had to suffer the trials of the world be given salvation without trial?"
Would someone in such a hypothetical case be justified in their accusation that God is unfair in His dealing with them?
Children in the Rapture
You need to read the portion of Scripture below in order to understand what this writer personally believes what will happen to children in the Rapture.
1Kings 14:1 - 13 "At that time Abijah the son of Jeroboam became sick.
2) And Jeroboam said to his wife, "Please arise, and disguise yourself, that they may not recognize you as the wife of Jeroboam, and go to Shiloh. Indeed, Ahijah the prophet is there, who told me that I would be king over this people.
3) Also take with you ten loaves, some cakes, and a jar of honey, and go to him; he will tell you what will become of the child."
4) And Jeroboam's wife did so; she arose and went to Shiloh, and came to the house of Ahijah. But Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were glazed by reason of his age.
5) Now the LORD had said to Ahijah, "Here is the wife of Jeroboam, coming to ask you something about her son, for he is sick. Thus and thus you shall say to her; for it will be, when she comes in, that she will pretend to be another woman."
6) And so it was, when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps as she came through the door, he said, "Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why do you pretend to be another person? For I have been sent to you with bad news.
7) Go, tell Jeroboam, 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Because I exalted you from among the people, and made you ruler over My people Israel,
8) and tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you; and yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do only what was right in My eyes;
9) but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back-
10) therefore behold! I will bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male in Israel, bond and free; I will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as one takes away refuse until it is all gone.
11) The dogs shall eat whoever belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, and the birds of the air shall eat whoever dies in the field; for the LORD has spoken!" '
12) Arise therefore, go to your own house. When your feet enter the city, the child shall die.
13) And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the LORD God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam."
There is something in this story that most commentators miss. We see that Jeroboam's child Abijah, although now dead from an illness was found to have good in him.
The implication of this statement is astonishing. God looks at the child and determines what that child would have been and thus is able to find good or bad in that child.
Surely this would apply to all infants and children who die before the age of accountability.
No, we cannot make a doctrine from this one passage of Scripture, but if we take this and other passages about Gods love for all men, His desire that ALL men be saved like 1 Timothy 2: 4
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."
For the Christian there is even more hope in the New Testament
1Corinthians 7:14 "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy."
English can sometimes be a nuisance especially with Paul's writings.
For instance if I say..."I was looking for blackberries, but they were green because they were red."
Most people would have to think carefully to catch what I said. Here Paul says that an unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believing partner; this because if it were not so, the "innocent" children would be "unclean."
To take what Paul is saying to its ultimate conclusion is that should the Rapture occur the children of believers will be raptured with them. Of this I have no doubt.
Let us not forget that anyone who is saved is saved by the grace of God, the saving work of Jesus Christ and the undeserved and unmerited regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
God is way beyond our understanding of what He is doing today.
God is love. True, that is a half-truth because God is Holy too and as such cannot abide sin.
But God has made provision for our sin if we would accept His plan of redemption which cost Him so dearly. Surely God has made provision for those "innocents" who die before their time.
I think that it is wise for us to accept God's grace and mercy and trust in His ability to secure those whom He has called before the foundation of the world.
When Jesus said "Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one." (John 18: 9)
Surely those would include the infants chosen before the foundation of the world.
Galatians1: 15 "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,"