CHILDREN - DO THEY GO TO HEAVEN?
THE BOOK OF LIFE HAS RECORDED IN IT EVERYONE FROM CONCEPTION INDICATING THEIR POTENTIAL TO BE SAVED UNLESS THEY REACH THE CAPACITY TO UNDERSTAND AND THEN REJECT THE GOSPEL OF FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE AND DIE UNFORGIVEN OF THEIR SINS
The Book of Life records everyone from conception on. This book indicates that all men are potentially able to go to heaven from the point of conception unless they reach the capacity of understanding and reject the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone.
This doctrine supports the doctrine of unlimited atonement as taught in 1 Jn 2:2:
[1 Jn 2:2]:
"He [Jesus Christ, (v. 1)] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
So the sins committed by every individual who ever lived are paid for and it only remains for an individual, therefore, to accept this payment by trusting alone in Christ alone in order to receive forgiveness of their individual sins:
"Of Him [Jesus Christ] all the prophets bear witness that through His name every one who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins."
Although sins are not the issue with anyone ever born, no one is saved because of the propitiatory work of Christ alone, since that only provides payment for sins committed. There still is the position in Adam = the guilt all individuals are attributed with as a result of what Adam did as federal head of the human race in the Garden of Eden and the sin nature that all are born with. The sin nature = the evil soul which is in every individual which committed those propitiated acts of sins is what must be forgiven. And God stipulates that forgiveness of sins only comes about with one exception: when one understands and chooses to express his faith in the gospel offer of faith alone in Christ alone. So the lack of forgiveness of sins still keeps all individuals separated from God and eternal life with Him - even the infant and the mentally handicapped. The only time an individual is forgiven of his sins and placed into Christ without having to trust alone in Christ alone is if that individual cannot understand God's offer of the free grace gospel of eternal life and he dies. At that moment, God being justified to do so because of the propitiatory work of Christ, God indeed does save the infant and handicapped individual .
Those two bricks of unforgiveness of sins and being in Adam in the wall between God and man are not removed unless God can position the individual out of Adam and into Christ and impute the righteousness of Jesus Christ to that individual. In accordance with God's plan of eternal life that normatively occurs at the point of faith alone in Christ alone. The study listed below on ***FORGIVENESS points that out. That presumes that the individual is capable of understanding and then choosing to express his faith in the free grace gospel of eternal life. The exception comes when an individual is not at such a level of understanding, i.e., children, mentally handicapped, etc., then God will remove the rest of the wall between Himself and the individual without the faith being expressed. This is in spite of the fact that the child or handicapped individual is still in Adam and has a sin nature and is not as righteous as Jesus Christ and cannot and does not choose to express his faith alone in Christ alone as Savior. This is so because it is God's Sovereign plan of salvation which glorifies Himself at every turn even when one chooses to reject His offer because only if He elects an individual is that individual saved.
***Study on forgiveness of sins in detail
SINS ARE NOT TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT UNLESS THERE IS A CONSCIOUSNESS OF COMMITTING SINS
[Cp Ro 5:13b]:
"But sin is not taken into account when there is no law."
Just as acts of sin were not taken into account before a code of moral behavior was instituted which the above phrase is referring to, so a child who does not have the capacity to understand the concept of moral behavior and the consequences of violating this concept cannot be held accountable for his sins either. And since the debt for his sins has already been paid for anyway then before accountability, God is justified in providing forgiveness for that child and accounting him justified unto eternal life if that child dies before accountability.
THE CONCEPT OF BEING ERASED FROM THE BOOK OF LIFE INDICATES THE STATUS OF NO LONGER HAVING THE POTENTIAL OF BEING SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE:
If an individual dies physically having rejected the gospel = never having trusted alone in Christ alone unto eternal life, (Jn 3:16), which assumes the capacity to understand and accept or reject such offer of eternal life by faith alone in Christ alone then at that moment of his physical death his name is erased from the Book of Life in heaven.
The concept of being blotted out of the Book of Life as a result of being held accountable for ones sins, i.e., not forgiven of them is evident in the following passages:
[Compare Rev 3:5]:
"He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels."
Since an unbeliever when he is accountable for his life has rejected the need for receiving by faith alone the gift of God's perfect righteousness through Jesus Christ, (Ro 3:21), then he has not received forgiveness of his sins, (Acts 10:43). At the end of his life, since he never chose to trust alone in Christ alone unto eternal life but rather rejected this gospel message, his name is blotted out - erased - from the Book of Life and he comes under condemnation:
(v. 27) "Do Thou [God] add iniquity to their iniquity [refers to David's adversaries who are persecuting him, (v. 19)],
And may they not come into Thy righteousness.
[David is crying out to God that he wishes that his adversaries which are persecuting him mercilessly not be credited with the righteousness of God - which enables them to have eternal life in heaven. He goes on to say this in a another way which includes the doctrine of the Book of Life]:
(v. 28) May they be blotted out of the book of life, and may they not be recorded with the righteous."
[Since they were requested by David to never be credited with the righteousness of God, (v. 27), which is by faith alone in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, alone, (cp Gen 15:5-6); then their names would be blotted out of the Book of Life]
Detailed study on the Book of Life
SCRIPTURE INDICATES THAT CHILDREN AND OTHERS BEFORE THE AGE OR WITHOUT THE CAPACITY OF ACCOUNTABILITY DO GO TO HEAVEN
GOD'S WORD STATES THAT A CHILD WILL GO TO HEAVEN IF HE/SHE DIES BEFORE GROWING UP TO AN ADULT
[2 Sam 12:21-23]:
(v. 21) '''His [David's] servants asked him, 'Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!'
(v. 22) He answered, 'While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought '''Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.'''
(v. 23) But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him [in the kingdom of heaven since one does not die and go to another simply by being placed in a tomb], but he will not return to me.' '''
David speaks of a baby in the womb as having been written in God's Book of Life which is saying that that baby is destined for heaven provided he/she does not come to the age when he/she can and does reject Christ as Savior.
"Your [the LORD's (v. 1)] eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
The prophet Isaiah indicates that an individual can be at an age when he/she is not accountable for moral/immoral actions as yet, even the child Jesus in His infant humanity:
"But before the boy [Jesus] knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste"
Jesus indicates that children will go to heaven:
"When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
Jesus indicates that those who do not know of moral right and wrong are not responsible:
[Jn 9:31, 39-41]:
Verse 31 reflects the common belief that if an individual were born blind or with some other birth defect, he was guilty of sinning in the womb before he was born:
(v. 31) "We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will."
Verse 39 teaches that Jesus came into the world to convict it of sin so that they may then respond to the need for Him as Savior:
(v. 39) "Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."
(v. 40) "Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, 'What? Are we blind too?"
Then Jesus states that one who is not aware of sin is not culpable, i.e., there is a heavenward destiny for those who cannot yet make the choice between trusting in the gospel and not trusting in it yet:
(v. 41) "Jesus said, 'If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."
THOSE THAT DO NOT HAVE THE CAPACITY TO BELIEVE IN OR REJECT CHRIST AS SAVIOR CANNOT BE CONDEMNED BUT MUST BE SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE
Since God is merciful and gracious and just;
and since God is not willing that any should perish,
(1 Pet 3:9);
and since salvation is given freely only to those who trust alone in Christ alone as Savior, (Eph 2:8-9, Ro 3:21-31);
and since the sole condition of eternal condemnation is to refuse to believe in Christ alone for eternal life, (Jn 3:36, 3:18, 1 Jn 5:1);
then those that have neither the capacity to believe nor the capacity to reject Christ as Savior cannot be condemned and must be saved.
Otherwise God could not be declared a just God.
[Robert P. Lightner states, ("SIN, THE SAVIOR, AND SALVATION", Thomas Nelson Pub., Nashville, Tn., 1991)]:
"By those who can't believe we mean not only infants and young children, but also all who experience physical death before they are capable of making a decision either for or against the Savior. Those individuals who are mentally incompetent or incapacited, and have therefore never been able to believe, are also included. Human life begins at conception. Those who can't believe also include babies aborted naturally or by human instigation." (p. 178).
"There is but one human condition the sinner must meet in order to enter into salvation in Christ. Personal faith - individual trust - is presented many, many times in Scripture as the sole condition for salvation." [Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5] (p. 180).
"But what about those who can't believe, those who can't consciously receive salvation?....Any attempt to answer the question ...must take into account the fact that these are never called upon by God to believe.
It is always to those capable of believing that the challenge is issued. Would it not be mockery for God to call upon His creatures to do, and to hold them responsible for doing, what they could not do?"
[A good point to consider. Every salvation verse was always spoken to those who were capable of believing.]
"The Lord is good. (Nah. 1:7)...The Bible does not teach the damnation of those who can't believe.
[In truth it is completely silent on the subject]
It does teach the goodness of God. It is inconsistent with His goodness to believe any who die who can't believe are doomed." (p. 185).
"Not one verse of Scripture which relates in any way to the question at hand can be used to suggest the view that any of those who die without being able to respond to the Savior are doomed to eternity in Hell. What information God has been pleased to give us provides great and gracious promise of eternal salvation for all who can't believe." (p. 191).
Compare David's attitude over his son by Uriah's wife that died (2 Sam. 12-23) and the adult son, Absalom, who died and David was unsure of his salvation
(2 Sam. 18:33).
Then upon getting to the place where they may consciously reject Christ alone as Savior:
Their names are still in the Book of Life but that name is erased upon their death if after consciously having rejected Christ they never accept Him by conscious faith in Him alone. This may fit with the command of Dt. 6:7 to teach the children the faith so that they will never come into a place of having rejected Christ but would go from the position of child-faith to conscious adult faith, having never entered into a lost state. After all, God is not willing for any to perish (2 Peter 3:9) so why would He not make the provision where no one would need to go from being a protected child to a lost adult before becoming a saved adult?
OBJECTORS TO GOD'S SOVEREIGN PLAN OF SAVING INDIVIDUALS BEFORE ACCOUNTABILITY SUGGEST THEN THAT IT WOULD BE BETTER TO KILL AN CHILD BEFORE HE GROWS UP TO INSURE ETERNAL LIFE WILL BE RECEIVED
Considering the sovereign decrees of God and His election there is no circumstance whatsoever where it would be better to kill a child in order to insure his eternal destiny. If a child is elect then that child will assuredly go to heaven no matter when he dies. Therefore to cut an elect child's life short would be an egregious sin, not enabling that child to earn eternal rewards and perform Christian service thus glorifying God all the more.
And if that child is not elect then the child will reach the age of accountability in accordance with the sovereignty of God and choose to reject the gospel of eternal life no matter what the designs of mankind are on him. This rejection of the gospel by the non-elect individual glorifies God as it points to the absolute Sovereignty of God and to His will which can be the only one which is effectual in the universe in order to maintain a righteous one. For without the election of God, the non-elect individual inevitably chooses unrighteousness and to reject Christ as Savior.
So to kill a child in order to insure his eternal destiny is quite an ugly and futile point and sets out to deliberately defame God and His sovereignty rather than to glorify Him in every event that occurs on the earth. Here is a detailed viewpoint on election: