What Happens to Babies Who Die?

What do you say to the parents of a deceased baby? What would you say to the families of the 80 children who died on flight MH17 last week?

I’m not sure what you should say but I know what you shouldn’t say. Don’t ever tell them their children are in hell.

“Paul, I would never say such an awful thing.”

But you might if you have been taught that heaven belongs only to those who confess Jesus as Lord. So what about babies, young children, the mentally handicapped, and the mute who confess nothing? Are they hell bound?

According to some theologians, they are.

Apparently babies are born bad to the bone and destined for the lake of fire. Augustine said unbaptized infants “share the common misery of the damned,” and John Calvin allegedly said, “There are babies a span long in hell.”

For pity’s sake.

I hope this offends you. As a father of four – including a newborn baby – this sort of thinking upsets me deeply. I get furious when I hear people speaking evil things over children. Children are a gift from the Lord. They are heaven-made treasures, not hell-bound brats.

Do babies go to hell?

This question has led to much confusion and hand-wringing. It has caused some to abandon the faith and others to embrace universalism. It has convinced the atheist that God is cruel for condemning the innocent. Bad questions always lead to bad places.

So how does the gospel of grace deal with this question? What would Jesus say if he was asked about babies and young children? He would say this: “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16).

There you go. Jesus said it, I believe it, that settles it.

4 reasons why babies go to heaven

However, some of us have been fed so much religious mumbo-jumbo that we doubt whether the kingdom really does belong to such as these.

To kill the doubt, let us address four fictions: (1) God condemns sinners, (2) faith is a work, (3) children are known for their great faith, and (4) those who don’t get a chance to respond to the gospel are lost.

(i) No one is condemned on account of sin

Why would Augustine, Calvin, and others entertain the possibility that babies go to hell? Because they’re natural-born sinners, of course, and sinners go to hell. But is this true?

Jesus died for sinners (Rom 5:8). Because of his perfect, redemptive work, we can say that all sin – even the future sin of little children – has been dealt with once and for all on the cross (Heb 9:26). Even if it were true that your children were sinners, their sin does not condemn them any more than your sin condemns you.

“Paul, I think you are referring to a ‘grace period’ known as the age of accountability.”

No, I’m not. The age of accountability myth was invented by rule-keepers who had painted themselves into a corner. It’s not in the Bible.

Under law, it makes sense to not hold children accountable for their behavior, but under grace the issue is irrelevant. Under grace, not even adults are accountable for their sin (see 2 Cor. 5:19).

Sin certainly has bad consequences. Sin can hurt you and others, and our sin grieves the Holy Spirit. But under grace you are neither qualified by your good behavior nor disqualified by your bad behavior.

Do you see? Because of Jesus, sin has been removed from the equation. No one is condemned on account of Adam’s sin, their parent’s sin, or even their own sin. The only thing that can condemn us is unbelief (John 3:18).

“Aha! Paul you have skewered yourself. Since babies are too young to believe, they must be lost!”

(ii) Babies are not unbelievers

Some say that babies will be judged according to the light of their revelation. This is silly. I can tell you that my six-week-old baby doesn’t have a lot of revelation beyond milk, nappies, and cuddles.

What about a miscarried baby? How much revelation do they have?

Others say God looks into the baby’s future and judges them for what they would’ve done. This is ridiculous. The baby died. The baby didn’t do anything. How can a just God judge them for what they didn’t do?

The problem with these silly scenarios is they define faith as something you must do, so unbelief is doing nothing. Since babies do nothing, they must be unbelievers. But this is back to front.

In the Bible unbelief is described as a work. An unbeliever is someone who has rejected Jesus (John 3:36) and denied him as Lord (Jude 1:4). They have thrust away the word of God (Acts 13:46), suppressed the truth (Rom 1:18), and delighted in wickedness (2 Th 2:12). They have turned away (Heb 12:25), gone astray (2 Pet 2:15), and trampled the Son of God underfoot (Heb 10:29). Babies have done none of these things.

How does Jesus describe unbelievers? As evil-doers and workers of iniquity (Mat 7:23). Babies aren’t doers or workers of anything and they haven’t rejected Christ. Sure, they haven’t received him either, but it would be unjust to condemn someone for something they haven’t done.

Religion defines faith as a work, but true faith is a rest. And one thing babies are good at is resting! (When was the last time you saw a baby striving to be saved or sanctified?)

(iii) Grace is for the helpless

Jesus said that unless we become like little children we shall never enter the kingdom of heaven (Luke 18:17). What did he mean? Let’s look at his words in context:

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:15-16)

Who were the children that Jesus called to himself? They weren’t well-behaved Sunday School kids who could recite the Ten Commandments. Nor were they children who had learned how to trust. They were babies. This is significant.

What is the defining characteristic of a human baby? What is the one thing that sets human babies apart from animal babies? It’s helplessness. We are spectacularly helpless when we are born. We can’t walk, swim, climb, hunt, stay warm, order pizza, or do anything on our own. A baby without help will surely die, no exceptions.

God made us this way to teach us something, which is this: We need help and he is our very great Helper. Grace is not for those who help themselves. Grace is for the helpless, and no one is more helpless than a baby. A baby is so helpless he can’t even ask for help! He can’t say the sinner’s prayer. He can’t respond to an altar call and say, “Lord, have mercy on me.”

If grace is for the helpless, then grace is for babies.

Jesus said you must change and become like a little child. We have been told this means “have childlike faith.” But babies don’t have a lot of faith, at least not that I can see. But what babies do have is the ability to receive. In fact, a baby is perfectly suited to receiving the one-way love that God gives. “Be like that,” says Jesus. “Humble yourself like a child and receive my Father’s unconditional love.”

Spurgeon on babies

What happens to babies and young children who die?

I will address the fourth fiction – those who don’t get a chance to respond to the gospel are lost – in my next article. But we now have enough revelation to answer the question above. What happens to babies and young children who die?

Answer: They go to be with Jesus. Every. Single. One.

If you have lost an infant or child, I want you to be 100% certain about this. Don’t listen to those comfortless frowners who say your child is lost, but trust the One who said his kingdom belonged to such as these.

If we could see heaven right now we would find that it is full of the lost children of earth – deceased babies, HIV babies, aborted babies, miscarried babies, along with all the children who died on that plane last week. I don’t know what age they are in heaven, but I do know they are there.

How do I know? Because if grace is for anyone, it is for babies and children such as these.


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143 Comments on What Happens to Babies Who Die?

  1. Whenever I say dead babies go to be with Jesus, some inevitably respond with the following comment: It would be better to die in infancy than risk becoming an adult unbeliever. By that logic, it would’ve been better if God had never placed humanity on planet earth.

    If the Garden of Eden story tells us anything, it tells us that God desires a family to share his love, and there is no love unless it is freely chosen. You have been given a great gift and it’s the same choice that Adam had. It is the opportunity to participate in the adventure of living loved. You get to walk in the spirit in an uncertain world. You get to enjoy heaven-on-earth and eternal life here and now (John 17:3).

    God made this planet for you to enjoy. It was never designed to be some sort of survival test. So enjoy it. Make the most of your time on earth. Discover the gifts God has given you and share them with others. Co-labor with him and make the world a better place. Shine a light and release the kingdom of heaven wherever you are.

    If you died in infancy, you’d never get to eat curry, get married, raise a family, attend your daughter’s wedding, watch sunsets, hear Bach, or see U2 live in concert. Be thankful for these pleasures. They are gifts from Goid and babies who go to be with Jesus experience none of them.

    • Paul,
      What do you think about divine election?-I can’t find anything about it on your site.
      What you say would suggest you don’t hold with it though.

      • I don’t think they hold divine elections. There’s no democracy in heaven. Jesus is Lord. Period.

        (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

      • I’ll keep that one up my sleeve.
        Seriously dude, does it not ever cross your mind- the whole free will thing?

      • Please allow me to simplify my question;
        How is it that some people believe and are saved while others don’t?
        I am persisting because I appreciate your thoughts.
        (If this is cluttering this discussion could you direct me to one of your more appropriate posts)
        Many thanks.

      • That’s a good question, Lewis. I don’t know why. I find Jesus altogether irresistible, yet others resist him. Why do they? You would have to ask them.

      • Best to ask someone who now loves Christ as there will have been a time before they did. What is your experience? For me I think the key was being prepared, however briefly and for whatever reason, to overlook the offence that Christ is to a non believer and so give the message an entrance. However the real question remains; who is responsible for this change/decision? God, the indivdual or both. If the individual plays any part how can this be other than that which God has already dictated since He created them?

    • Steven Saxophone Reed // September 15, 2014 at 6:04 am // Reply

      Paul could you explain moor on why you think adults are not held accountable for are actions when the bible she,s that we will all have to give an account either good ore bad. Please reply thank you.

      • 2 Cor. 5:19 says God is no longer holding our sins against us. Since Jesus took responsibility for our sins, we no longer have to give an account for them. The only thing we have to give an account for is what did we do with Jesus? Did we receive him and his sacrifice by faith? Or did we reject him?

    • I respectfully disagree with your line of reasoning on Adam’s choice. His choice was to obey his Creator and Father. Whether Adam obeyed or not, he remained God’s possession, just as our disobedient child remains our child. The prodigal remained the son – even if he had never returned home. We either belong to God or we don’t. (Genesis 3:15 – Wheat and Tares) Our belief as an adult simply confirms whose we are. When God looks at 10 pregnant women, does he also see 10 innocent babies? I don’t believe a soul – once created – has an age. So God doesn’t see innocent babies, he sees souls. God already knows which souls are written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world. After Adam’s fall, God did not offer him the ‘choice’ to be redeemed or not. He simply promised that he WOULD be.

  2. God’s love for us; “is our first Love”, as you have implied if not said, babies and us don’t have the capacity to love but by the daily receiving of the parents love the child “learns” to love its parents, as we by the constant receiving of God’s love for us “learn” to love God. The comment that it is better to die in infancy, is flawed in, as you said, that isn’t what we are born for, our purpose is to be the recipient of God’s love and then the Reflector of God’s love back to God; ie be in relationship with God.

  3. James Driver // July 24, 2014 at 11:07 pm // Reply

    Beautifully said. I loved how you phrased each statement. I had lived under the notion of tbe “accountable grace period” almost my whole life. The truth sets us free in so many ways. Thank you.

  4. Hi Paul, been a while since I’ve commented on a post, but I’ve been reading all of them and “digesting” them. 🙂 I am wondering if you might provide clarification to what you are or aren’t saying with this post. I agree that babies who die do go to heaven, and I believe the same for children in a general sense. (1) I am not one to subscribe to an age of accountability either, so my question has to do with how is the line drawn, if there is one. … I do agree that the only thing that separates us from God is unbelief, but in order to trust in God and rest in faith or belief, we have to know the Gospel. (2) So where does that leave those who have neither embraced nor rejected the Gospel? I do not pretend to have an answer, and I trust God and His goodness that there is a good and perfect answer, one that I may never fully comprehend. I know the Bible talks about how all of creation testifies on behalf of the Creator. Some might say that people reach a point in their maturation that allows them to “know” and decide for themselves about what is “out” there. I’m not trying to raise objections, just trying to understand and seek clarity.

    • Hi Brandon – my answer to question 1, when is the line drawn, is the same as yours. I don’t know. But like you I trust God there is a good and perfect answer. I’ll offer my answer to question 2 in my next post. Your other question was raised by someone else here so please check down in the comments for my response to that.

  5. Wow…. what perfect timing this is, Paul. We just had a tragedy happen in my town and i posted something about this. Thank you so much. I got some heat from a few people on this subject and I thank you so, so much for writing this.

  6. Hi Paul,

    I just read this post, which I love and agree with. It’s something I’ve been thinking about gor a while. I am not an inclusionist by any means, but I can’t help but notice an inclusionist aspect to this. If all babies and young children go to heaven when they die, then we are all born “in” until out active unbelief “kicks us out” (at whatever age this happens).

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


    • I have no doubt that inclusionists will attempt to interpret my words in a way that supports inclusionism, but no, I am not saying babies are in until they are out. In direct contrast with inclusionism, I do not say babies are saved, righteous, holy, or seated with Christ. So why do they go to heaven when they die? For all the reasons I outlined in the post.

      The cross of Christ undid Adam’s harm. Because of Jesus, none of us are going to pay the penalty for Adam’s sin. Because of Jesus we all get the same choice Adam had – the choice to trust God or self. So a baby is somewhat like Adam in his unfallen state, except he lives in a world stained by sin and where every road leads to ruin. Was unfallen Adam saved, righteous, holy, filled with the Holy Spirit, or seated with Christ? No. Neither are babies.

  7. Cindy Rush // July 25, 2014 at 12:17 am // Reply

    Thank you, Paul. I have never heard or read this subject addressed so well. My own kids and now my grand kids have often floored me with their expressions of wonder at who God is. As much as I’d like to believe I taught them about God, the reality is that little ones teach me more about who God is and His overwhelming love for us.
    I actually once heard a preacher say that baby Jesus never cried because when babies cry, it’s out of selfishness and that’s a sin, and Jesus never sinned.
    Where do ideas like that get started?
    Blessings to you and your precious family.

  8. carie stephens // July 25, 2014 at 12:18 am // Reply

    As the mother of an infant who is with Jesus, thank you for this. I pray the truth you share will become clear to all grieving parents, as well as to all pastors and counselors in a position to minister to them when they desperately need this reassurance.

  9. My only question for people is this: How on earth can a person read these things (which are documented historical statements/facts) about Calvin and Augustine and remotely imagine following the doctrine of Calvinism?! Unbelievable….. This alone screams volumes about what “might” be a little off on the rest of what they preached/did…… good post

  10. Paul, thank you for another insightful, thought provoking post. I believe the church is in reformation again. Rather than blindly swallowing doctrines of reformers who lived hundreds of years ago who were just recovering from the effects of the Dark Ages, people like you are actually looking into the Scriptures.

  11. it may be me, but I dont see to many people having a problem with this, what David said was always interesting to me,in a couple of ways, when the child died,he immediately sat and ate dinner and as you point out he said” I WILL GO TO HIM.”

  12. Thank goodness the bible speaks and we do not have to second guess. In Mark 9 it says, ALL will be salted with fire. We Christians have already been salted with this fire the which word tells us not to not quench, the Holy Spirit. What we begun in. Thank goodness it was not our flesh. Those not salted during this evil period may be experiencing the fire of his wrath, Gehenna. With two eyes and hands. But we have entered LIFE in the spirit with one eye, one hand, dying to flesh. But eventually ALL the mothers, not salted during this period, will be salted in the lake of fire and be reconciled with their children so all their tears will be wiped away. Oh how their knees will bow and call on the name of The Lord. How merciful is God. We were all given over to disobedience so that he might have mercy on ALL. How easy it is to forgive when you see his forgiveness. How can we fathom his ways.

  13. Thank you for tackling a tough subject in such a clear way. I am looking forward to your next post.

  14. Thank you so much for this post! Wonderful, wonderful, loving insight. I am so grateful for all your posts pertaining to younger children. Also, congratulations on your new baby!

  15. Excellent article Paul. When will we finally get the idea that it’s not God’s will for any to perish? We are so quick to cast people, other people that is, into hell. We are not so quick to cast ourselves there. Great post as usual!

  16. We lost our firstborn to a miscarriage and I don’t feel like I even need a specific verse that tells me where babies go. I know the tender heart of my Father and that comforts me that my child is in a safe place, since He is a better Father than I am. The living Word speaks to us and gives us peace from the inside. We don’t have to be super spiritual, just look to Jesus; it’s a gift of His grace.

    • P.S.  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” -Acts 16:31 🙂

      • This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3, 4 NIV)

        While on one level God wants all men to be saved and His heart of love breaks that even one of The sons and daughters of Adam should perish. On another level beyond the scope of human intellect is the fact that God saves the elect by grace alone and not because of anything they do, say or think. In fact the biblical teaching on grace is that salvation is entirely of God alone and not of anything in men.
        We cannot argue this clear biblical doctrine of sola gratia (grace entirely) out of one side if our mouth – declaring that salvation is entirely of God’s motivation alone and yet on the other side of our mouths come up with all the reasons why humans should be saved based upon their age, their innocence or their non innocence.
        God doesn’t save on account of innocence or guilt – he saves on account of His own mercy and grace alone.

      • Barry, you didn’t answer my question (in the thread below) – Where do babies go when they die? Shall we infer from your comment that you agree with Augustine that babies are damned?

      • I don’t know where they go my brother but if I am ruled entirely by my own limited sense of what divine love and mercy is not only would I believe that all infants and children be saved but all adults as well. But I know just enough about Gods sense of justice and mercy that this is not the case (at least where adults are concerned). It is critical however that we reason from what God has done in history as revealed in the Scriptures rather than from out own sentiments concerning a passage that isn’t even teaching on where children go when they die . In your primary proof text Jesus is not teaching on where children go but is teaching that those who do go to heaven are childlike in their faith. I do not think it is wise to accuse men like Augustine or Calvin of lacking compassion for children in there honest attempts to exegete the text. But one thing I am certain of is that God is perfectly just, good, holy, righteous and loving and everything He does is congruent with those immutable attributes.

      • For someone who is uncertain, you sure have a lot of conviction about the wrongness of my view that babies go to be with Jesus. 🙂

      • just a thought,it seems God has a thing about innocents and ignorance,”forgive them for they no not what they do” Paul is a prime example,innocents speaks for it self

  17. Joe A. Serge // July 25, 2014 at 3:57 am // Reply

    I beg to disagree. I believe Jesus’ reference to children relates to their trust and readiness to believe compared to skeptics who consider themselves masters of their own destiny.There is nothing in the Bible to suggest all that die in infancy are automatically saved.The apostle Paul doesn’t excuse infants when he says all come short of the glory of God..I believe grieving parents should be assured that our God is a just and merciful God and that we are to rest in that assurance.
    The traditional Christian teaching about hell is perhaps the reason many want to believe all their loved ones go straight to heaven. I believe that’s largely because they are more concerned about escaping hell than missing out on spending eternity in glory in the presence of God. . . . .

  18. Thank you so much for this article. It is unthinkable that Jesus would banish little children to hell. I have always believed that babies and children who die are immediately ushered back to the place they came from: heaven.

    Another religious myth about death that needs to be addressed is that any person who takes his own life goes straight to hell. The already devastated loved ones left to deal with the tragedy then have the added grief of being told their loved one is now burning in hell. I believe that if a person is in Christ, he goes where Jesus is when he dies regardless of the circumstances of his death. I know people who were Believers who became ensnared in addictions or became victims of hellish vexation and sadly succumbed to suicide. Obviously, people who do this are not thinking straight and are goaded by the devil.

    The doctrine behind this belief is that suicide is a sin and you don’t have a chance to “repent and be forgiven” because your final act is a sinful act. But, thank God, we now know that our position in Jesus Christ is way more secure than that. In fact, it is irrevocable and eternal! And we know that God’s grace is bigger than any act on our part!

  19. “Under grace, not even adults are accountable for their behavior”.
    Can I clarify that you mean, with God specifically?

    • The age of accountability is a manmade tradition that says “You’re children are sinners but God won’t hold their sinning behavior against them until they turn 7 or 12 or 20.” The gospel of grace says God won’t hold your sin against you at any age (see 2 Cor. 5:19). Rather, we are held to account for what we have done with Jesus.

  20. When my mother was 9 she had a near death experience as a result of septicaemia, this was before antibiotics. Her experience stayed with her all her life and she longed to return to the place she saw then. She described it thus…..”I was going down a long black corridor, at the end it was very bright and I could hear children playing and laughing. When I got to the end of the tunnel there was a little white fence and on the other side were all these children with Jesus. They were having a wonderful time and I wanted to join them”. There was no doubt in her mind that there were children in heaven because she saw them and there was no doubt in mine that she was right.

  21. As much as I want to believe this, I’m having a little trouble swallowing it because parts of it feel like inclusionism. But I know you don’t believe in inclusionism so I’ll wait for the next post.

  22. khayyam modir // July 25, 2014 at 7:08 am // Reply

    where’s the ebook?

  23. Some friends of mine lost a baby to cot death some years ago. They were loosely Anglican – not regular church goers, but they went on holidays and big events. They believed in christening their children and wanted them to grow up in the teachings of the church. Their first son was christened and when their second child died, before they got round to organising a christening they turned to the church for comfort. The vicar had an ideal opportunity there to share God’s love and care with that couple, directing them to Him for healing. Instead he told them that their child was now in hell because they hadn’t got him christened in time. I will never forget the anguish on that mother’s face as she told me this.

  24. I’m not sure if anyone would agree with this and I asked the Lord concerning this. When I was around 11 years old, I’m 60 now. I fell asleep on my Grandparents Front porch. When I awoke Something changed I couldn’t describe it. I looked at myself, I looked around, I was a different person. I asked other people about this for years and ran into some folks that had a similar experience. I went to the Lord concerning this and this is what I believe the spirit told me. From birth until that time your were alive unto me. When that time came you died Spiritually. You needed to be born again. When I excepted the Gospel in 1980, Old things past away all things became new. My opinion, Children are alive unto God. When the knowledge of sin comes you die. Whatever age that is.

  25. Aimee Fernback // July 25, 2014 at 10:19 am // Reply

    Thank you SO MUCH…I have 8 miscarried little ones in Heaven with Jesus…and this post was an indescribable comfort to me.Aimee Fernback

  26. Thank you, Paul, for a well framed post about such a sensitive subject. We have seven children, but lost two wee ones to early miscarriage. I’ve always chosen to trust in the Grace of God; that they are safe with Him.

    I used to be a part of a mom’s email group where there are a lot of large Reformed families and grieved with and for those who lost babies, either to miscarriage or infant death. It was very difficult as they worked through their grief, part of which was feeling like they didn’t know if their baby was of the ‘elect’ or not. They seemed to find resolve in God’s ‘sovereignty’, submitting to the idea that if their baby was not of the ‘elect’ that it was God’s will and that was just something to which they would submit.

    I wish I had had your post to pass along to them then. I’m glad it’s available now. Thank you again.

  27. Such as these = innocent faith, not children.

    I couldn’t read the whole article – I’m sorry but I don’t believe God looks at children and adults differently. He simply sees a SOUL. Period. And because I believe in divine election, I don’t have to worry about God damning anyone who belongs to him.

    God did not rescue children in Noah’s day. Does that make him a tyrant for judging “innocent” children?

    • And yet for the sake of 120,000 children God intervened in the history of Nineveh (Jon 4:11).

      I agree that God doesn’t look at adults and children differently. He loves us all. The issue is not how he looks at us but how we look at him. Those who reject him, reject him. Babies don’t reject him.

    • momzilla76 // July 25, 2014 at 3:12 pm // Reply

      But you’re ok with God damning people He created to be nothing but damned? Off topic I know but that’s a whole lot of ick. 😦

      • I’m not “ok” with God damning anyone :(. In fact (and I know this will be a shocking statement), I don’t believe God will damn any humans. Matthew 25:41 says that Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. God is all-knowing – why would he prepare a place for demons and then send humans there? The war between good and evil began in the garden of Eden between Eve’s offspring and Satan’s offspring (Gen. 6). Genesis 3:15. We are supposed to preach the gospel to whosoever because only God knows his sheep and they hear his voice. In the end, God will separate the sheep fro the goats and his angels will separate the wheat from the tares which the enemy (Satan) sowed. Way off topic! Ha ha.

    • I agree, the episode of the flood raises difficulties for me in understanding why God would choose to act in that way but our free ( however that can truly be ) will is vital. Without an element of our genuine free will the whole shooting match is meaningless.

      • Joe A. Serge // July 27, 2014 at 2:12 am //

        In our limited intelligence we tend to foolishly question the rationale of the Intelligence Giver. Rather than trying to box God in human terms,on how he deals with children who die in infancy,we should prayerfully consider the extent of our gratitude for Christ’s saving work through Calvary’s cross by the way we demonstrate our love of God and neighbor. . .

    • Joe A. Serge // July 26, 2014 at 3:29 am // Reply

      Hi Molly, Clearly Paul doesn’t embrace the Scripture’s teaching on predestination and election.saying “all appointed for eternal life believed…”(Acts 13:48); “to purify a people that are his very own..” (Titus 2:14); “That he might give eternal life to all those you have given him” (John 17:2); “I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me for they are yours.” (John 17:9)..

  28. I’m still not convinced in my heart, though, about rejecting the gospel.. I still see (in my mind) the young boy who is taken from his family – or maybe given away to kill people in a rebel army. All he knows is hate and fear. Then a missionary tells him the truth of Jesus but he rejects the truth and dies 10 minutes later in a gun fight. I’m not so sure it’s all cut and dried. That’s why I believe in election – God saving his family chosen in eternity past, one-by-one.

    Regardless of what they did or didn’t do. Romans 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand , not because of works but because of Him who calls,

    • You are talking about someone who has heard and rejected the gospel. I am talking about babies who haven’t.

      It is not the subject of the present post, but I would interpret Romans 9 as a brilliant sermon on God’s choice with regard to covenants rather than a discourse on who goes to hell or not. In fact, Paul warns again making this sort of interpretation on Romans 10:6-7. There is much to say about this, but another time.

      • Looking forward to it.

      • Yeah, I understand the covenants with Israel are represented in Romans 9, but the terminology is what I’m referring to.

      • Colleen G // July 26, 2014 at 1:11 pm //

        Young’s Literal Translation turns the election terms on their head though most other versions use “election”. If you chase the meanings via Strong’s concordance election’s roots come closer to “called out” than “election”. It may not mean elect as in preselected just as in special people that were called and responded to the call which fits in with other passages better.

  29. Graceful Dance // July 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm // Reply


    I agree.

    But the way you get there is so interesting. I fail to see how this clarification from the age of accountability myth is that much different. I totally get what you’re saying and why you’re clarifying, but it doesn’t make much difference, because both of these views do in fact, just like you saw coming, lead one to believe that it would have been better to die when you were a baby. Just like Paul said it would be better to depart and be with Jesus, I would trade “eating curry, getting married, watching sunsets, and seeing U2 live in concert” for a 100% guarantee of being with Jesus. Why would I want the gamble of living and possibly rejecting Jesus later?

    This is one reason I’m an inclusionist. This is why so many see inclusionism in this post.

    You seem to want to the benefits of inclusionism and predestination while remaining non-inclusionist and free-will. It just contradicts at some points. I feel inclusionism omits these contradictions.

    • I don’t see any contradiction, but then I don’t see any benefits of inclusionism either. As you say, the inclusionist rightly fears rejecting Jesus later and being lost. However, such a fear is not relevant to the gospel of grace for those who don’t believe don’t fear this and those who do will never be cast away. This is just one of many ways the gospel of grace can be distinguished from inclusionism.

      You are forgetting the other half of Paul’s quote: “For me to live is Christ.” It’s not a win-lose scenario he is describing, but a win-win scenario. Under grace you have your curry and eat it too.

      • Graceful Dance // July 26, 2014 at 9:31 am //

        I think you misunderstood me. I, as an inclusionist do not fear rejecting Christ later, I was positing from your point of view how I would feel. If I shared your view I would rather die as a baby so I didn’t make the misguided mistake of rejecting Christ later just so I could eat some curry and watch a sunset.

        I did leave out a part of the quote . . . “. . .I desire do depart and be with Christ WHICH IS BETTER BY FAR . . .”.

        Your whole post seems to be the same thing you reject about inclusionism . . . you’re in until you’re out (Which by the way is something you read into the discussion, not something inclusionists agree with or ever say). You’re in as a baby but out as an unbelieving adult!

      • It sounds like you are a universalist. Would that be correct? If not, what do you think happens to unbelievers?

        The gospel of grace is often confused with inclusionism, but that is only because the latter borrows the language of the former. Do you see? Babies are neither in nor out any more than unfallen Adam was in or out. Inclusionism would say a baby is saved, righteous, and holy until he becomes an unbeliever and becomes cut off from Christ. The gospel and the New Testament writers make no such claim.

      • Graceful Dance // July 26, 2014 at 12:40 pm //

        Thanks for your responses Paul, you’ve been very patient. Tone can be lost on internet comments, so I’m glad we can discuss this without offense.

        I hope that all will come to experience eternal life, but I don’t see anything that says that must happen.

        Inclusionism says that even the unbeliever is saved, righteous and holy. Believing it doesn’t make it true, it must be true first, so we can believe it! So I disagree that inclusionists ever say that you’re in until you’re out, thats something you deducted from your understanding of it. They always say you’re in!

        But just because you’re saved (I think we mean different things by this word), righteous and holy, doesn’t mean you have eternal life. So what happens to unbelievers? Well, whats left except fear, guilt and condemnation if you refuse to repent and believe the truth?

        When inclusionists say all are “Saved”, I believe they mean exactly what you say in point 1 . . . we’re all saved from Sin. But if by “Saved” you mean “experiencing eternal life”, then no, inclusionists do not believe that all are “Saved”.

    • It is impossible to support inclusionism if you have read the Bible with any depth. The Bible is very clear that not all will be saved. If inclusionism is real, you’d have to throw out or ignore large portions of scripture.

    • Are you belaboring your point to win an argument or is it to help someone? I truly am sorry that my question lacks tact, but I’m not getting how turning this into an opportunity to advance your position brings forth life. My impression was this post is intended to bring peace and comfort to those who have lost a young child. I’ve noticed the doctrine of inclusionism tends to distract its’ victims into a consuming quest for a perfect understanding of its’ doctrine. A quest that loses sight of the beauty of God’s plan for perfect union with man; turning it into something mechanical. Sound doctrine is good, but the purpose is not to be right. The purpose is to become consumed in a relationship with our heavenly Father that allows us to experience His abundant life and share the fruit of it with others.

  30. Brian Midmore // July 25, 2014 at 7:45 pm // Reply

    When David’s child died he said ‘I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me’. (2 Sam 12.23) This is clear evidence that David believed in an afterlife that babies went to. This is surely heaven since he was going there too! However, I don’t believe that the bible supports the idea that sin is not judged by God e.g. Rom 2.3.

    • If sin is judged by God, then Christ’s work is imperfect and unfinished. Romans speaks about the coming wrath against ungodliness and unrighteousness. But God’s wrath on sin was poured out on the cross (Rom 8:3).

    • Hi! Regarding Romans 2:3, i believe Paul (the apostle) here is referring to unbelievers. Let’s just jump a few verses back, to get everything in context.

      Rom 2:1 says that if we judge other people, as we do from time to time, God will condemn us. This condemnation is the judgement that’s spoken of in Rom 2:3. And it’s scary. It’s not good news.

      When Paul wrote this warning, it could have been meant to one of three groups: 1) Those who are not in Christ Jesus (unbelievers), 2) Those who are in Christ Jesus (believers), or 3) Both thoose who are in Christ Jesus, and those who are not.
      Which of these three alternatives is it?

      Well let, Paul interpret Paul. Romans 8:1 declares: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Those who are in Christ will not be condemned! Hallelujah! Then it’s quite clear who Paul must have been writing to regarding the condemnation and judgement in Rom 2:1-3. Unbelievers, who are not in Christ Jesus.

      I hope this helps you.

  31. Andrew Sharp // July 25, 2014 at 7:45 pm // Reply

    Thank you Paul as always for your Biblical insight, and pastoral sensitivity. I too am long convinced that all babies who die are in heaven. I know that Christ died to deal with the sin issue, and that therefore God does not hold anyone’s sin against them. Where I struggle to fit the theological pieces together though is in understanding the fallen nature that we are born with. Am I right to say we are born with a sin nature and that we need to become new creations (born again) to experience the Kingdom of God and heaven? How does this happen for a child? I hope you see I am not being belligerent, this is a genuine question, for which I’d love an answer. thanks.

    • Hi Andrew,
      I have much to say about the sinful nature but I know anything I say here may spark a long tangential discussion that I’d rather not have on this thread. Short version; I believe the sinful nature is acquired, not inherited. We aren’t born astray, we go astray. The idea that we inherited a sin gene comes straight from rabbinical teachings on the yetzer hara and is unbiblical. Parents will point to their toddler’s selfishness as evidence of a sin gene, but that selfishness is the result of being waited on hand and foot since birth. There – I probably said too much! I talk a little about this in ch.2 of The Gospel in Twenty Questions.

      • Andrew Sharp // July 25, 2014 at 8:14 pm //

        Thank you Paul, I’ll look into all that with interest.

      • Brandon // July 26, 2014 at 5:21 am //

        Normally I agree with you, but on the point of sin nature, I am skeptical of your perspective, mainly due to the content of Romans 5:12-21. Hopefully your new thread addresses the issues raised there. I can see ways of dealing with them, but it has more to do with sin nature not being counted against them rather than saying it hasn’t been acquired yet.

      • I don’t always agree with me either, Brandon. 🙂

        I don’t plan to go into the sin nature in the next post because I’m not done exploring the riches of God’s love and grace. (That could take a while!) But I will leave you with two thoughts pertaining to the passage you mentioned. V.12 says “all sinned,” but v.19 says “many were made sinners.” Which is it? All or many? Those who push the universal sin gene lean towards v.12 as definitive and ignore v.19. But if we were genetically re-engineered by the devil or sin to be sinners, why doesn’t Paul use the word ginomai? Elsewhere he says Jesus was made (ginomai) of a woman and we are left with no doubt that the Son of God became a human baby. But here in Romans 5 he uses a different word and says many were made (kathistēmi) sinners in the same way that some are made elders and deacons. Obviously there is much more to say about this and maybe one day I’ll find time to put up a set of study notes, but not today. I’m taking my kids to see some big kites.

      • I believe something to take into consideration in this is sin the [noun] and sin the {verb].

      • Colleen G // July 26, 2014 at 3:52 pm //

        Brandon In Romans 5:13 it says that sin is not imputed where there is no law. As a mother I know that awareness of rules, laws, breaking them and the consequences is a learned thing that a child needs to mature into. Perhaps the concept of “a law higher than I” needs to exist in a person’s mind before sin can be imputed to them.

      • Trevor Lancashire // July 27, 2014 at 4:38 am //

        Very interesting point you raised some time ago now – Only just picked up on it – My understanding is that we are born into this world as sinners due the first Adam’s sin and we are born again as new creatures in Christ due to the righteous blood Jesus shed for us all – Where the first Adam failed the second Adam succeeded – Hence we are now redeemed – We were lost but now found!!
        Babies have no ability to ‘accept or reject Jesus’ yet! They are indeed innocent in this respect! Jesus died for the sin of everyone (including babies) born into this world – No sin is therefore is held held against anyone who believes or who has accepted what Jesus has accomplished through the Cross! As already mentioned babies have no ability to accept or reject what Jesus has done – As they are not rejecting this magnificent GOOD NEWS they would find themselves instantly in the arms of Jesus after their premature death. David in the OT after the premature death of his child with Bathsheba stopped fasting and reported that though he could not bring his child back, he would, nevertheless, one day, be reunited with him!
        No-one is going to hell for their sins for Jesus died for the sins of us all – The only sin that could take anyone to hell is to reject Jesus the sin bearer!! Amen!
        Hope this helps the theological dilemma you found yourself in some time back now!
        Blessings to you in Jesus
        Trevor Lancashire.

      • Brandon // July 27, 2014 at 5:25 pm //

        Nice pic Paul.

        The 2 verses that are troublesome with the sin nature issue are 18-19.”18Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessg leads to justification and life for all men. 19For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” I think it comes down to condemnation and sin as well as justification and righteousness were both made available to all men, but the result Depends on our response to the Gospel. Regardless, verse 20-21 is the good news of freedom from the bondage of sin and new life in Christ.

      • I would say those two verses are key to my understanding – that Adam’s one trespass put the human race on death row; it branded us prisoners of sin. And yes, the gospel is that we can be free from this bondage and slaves to sin no more.

      • Brandon // July 28, 2014 at 2:41 am //

        I can see where you are coming from with that.

      • Brandon // July 28, 2014 at 3:40 pm //

        Sorry to keep stirring this up, but I’ve been continuing to give it thought and some other ideas occurred to me. If the sin nature is acquired not something we’re now born with, wouldn’t that mean sometimes people die without having acquired it, but Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Also, how do adults stained by sin who have not embraced the Gospel give birth to sinless offspring born of the flesh? I am kind of just freewheeling some thoughts here, not pretending to have it all sorted out for myself. Also, say with Adam and Eve, did they first acquire sin nature the moment they bit into the forbidden fruit or the moment they decided in their hearts to believe the serpent over God? Did they acquire knowledge of good and evil from eating the fruit of the tree, or did they acquire it when they exercised unbelief in God? Where do the rest of us not presented with such a choice acquire our knowledge of good and evil from? Adam and Eve didn’t have it “taught” to them by their parents obviously. How can we teach our offspring to have knowledge of good and evil if that knowledge for Adam and Eve came either from the fruit or from unbelief in God’s declaration? I realize one could say “knowledge” of good and evil was passed down from generation to generation by “modeling” it for our offspring, but Scripture is unclear about how that happens. The most common belief is the corruption of sin in the flesh is passed down through the “seed” of the human father. Receiving the free gift of salvation from that corruption comes through embracing the Gospel through faith. It’s difficult to imagine being born free of that stain, hence the new creation and being “born again”. We have been saved from the penalty of sin, we are being saved from the power of sin (hence the reason people still struggle with it from time to time), and we will be saved from the presence of sin.

      • We have been taught for a thousand years that sin is genetic and I find this hard to reconcile with scripture. We don’t assume the children of righteous parents are righteous, yet we assume the children of sinful parents are sinful. How is it that our sin is more potent than God’s righteousness?

        Romans 3:23 says we have all missed the mark and fallen short of God’s glory – that sounds like the prisoner’s life to me rather than “we all did bad stuff.” On many occasions the Bible identifies people who haven’t done bad stuff. Some individuals are identified as blameless. Children are sometimes described as too young to distinguish good from evil (eg: Is 7:16). You will hear people say, “We sin because we’re sinners,” and that’s true, but what makes us sinners is not a defective gene but a prison uniform.

        The sentence God pronounced on Adam was death – this is what we inherited. It is death and the fear of death that mars us. Fear is kryptonite for the children of God. What was Adam’s reaction after he fell? Not “I sinned” but “I was afraid.”

        Maybe I should get organized and post my notes on this issue.

      • Brandon // July 29, 2014 at 1:07 am //

        I definitely welcome more thoughts from you on the subject. Thanks for the patience and consideration.

  32. Wow, a lot of thought provoking questions and great comments.I agree with Paul.The scriptures he points to certainly show us Jesus’ heart and i dont think we need to worry about babies eternal home. A lot of discussion came up concerning election and free will. I believe scripture teaches both.While we cant explain it,we CAN receive it. The apostle Paul at the end of Romans 11,after several chapters concerning Gods choosing of Israel,their rejection and hardening leading to salvation for gentiles whom were previously not chosen ,says this “oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out!Who has known the mind of the Lord?or who has been his counselor?Who has ever given to God that God should repay him?For from him and through him and to him are all things.To him be the glory forever!Amen.” Paul neither “blamed” God for being unfair to Gentiles who were not chosen or “excused” them.He also did not “blame” God for hardening Israel or “excuse” their rejection of him.Paul just is amazed and gives glory to GodHe is the Potter and we are just clay.We can either glory in that or resent it.The very fact that any of us are here and alive is an “election” of God,proof of his love.I would just urge everyone to receive Him!you will not be disappointed.

  33. This is a helpful and insightful post on the eternal destiny of infants. It still however does not address the divinely inspired accounts of the loving God of all grace giving these clear and unmistakably divine commands:
    1. Why did God order the infants in the families of Achan as well as the infants belonging ing to Korah to be put to death along with the entire family?
    2. Why did God order the infants along with “every breathing thing” to be put to death in the conquest of Canaan under Joshua?
    3. Why did God order Saul to kill the infants along with the children belonging to the descendants of Amelek?
    The God of the Bible who issued these orders has not changed. He was the same loving God of all grace then just as He is now and always will be . If He could change He would not be God.
    “I the Lord do not change. . (Malachi 3:6 NIV)
    Your post here is good but how can anyone sweep Gods dealings with infants under the carpet without doing violence to His truth and His name?

    • Barry, simple question for you. Where do babies go when they die?

      • Paul – I think you may have missed my point in asking why God clearly admits in His own Word that He ordered the killing of “innocent” infants in each of the biblically historical cases I mentioned.
        In case you missed it my point can be found in these simple questions:
        In the light of God clearly issuing orders to kill infants how can you logically apply your arguments against God relating to the eternal destiny of infants?
        Should not your logic in your view of God as He relates to infants who die outside of Christ not also apply to your logic in your view of God in ordering the killing if infants?
        Why did your “God” who you claim spares “innocent” infants from being lost after death – why did He not spare them from being condemned to death by the sword of His servant Joshua?
        If you argue that Hell cannot be compared with being slaughtered by the sword that is true but my questions are to point out that your arguments do not hold water when you apply them to God ordering the killing of infants .

    • Perhaps God would like to spare the children from following the sins of their parents (one theory is that God ordered annihilation because He felt necessary to get rid of all the horrific religions Canaanites practiced) ! Being killed by God does not always equate condemnation. In a way we are all “killed” by God when He pronounced that all man shall die (physically) and then stand judgement. But it’s really the second death that God would love to save us from.

  34. Romans 5:12 and Psalm 51:5 tell us that we are born sinful, don’t they?

    • There are about two dozen scriptures that have been used to suggest an inherited sin nature and Ps 51:5 – “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” – is one of the biggies. This passage is the Old Testament equivalent of Romans 5:12, which I address in a comment above. Note that David does not say he was born with a sinful nature; rather he was born a sinner, or a member of Adam’s family. Manmade religion says you and I and David were born criminals, but the Bible says we were born prisoners to sin. Paul says “You were slaves to sin.” We were born in a POW camp or death row, if you like. Religion says your greatest need is to be forgiven for the crime of being born, but Jesus said our greatest need is to be free.

  35. There is nothing greater than discipline to bring out sin in a child, there is nothing like love to bring out discipline in a child.

    • Chris – “discipline brings out sin” – really???
      “They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10, 11 NIV)
      Your statement also clearly implies that Discipline of children is somehow antithetical to loving children.
      And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” (Hebrews 12:5, 6 NIV)
      Could it be that your morbid and negative perspective of disciplne comes from being disciplined in capricious anger and not in loving and self controlled godly wisdom ?

      • Colleen G // July 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm //

        From a practical stance yes discipline, normally understood as punishment, does tend to pull more misbehavior from children, until one of two things happen you break them or they simply grow out of or move past the infraction.
        A loving atmosphere of support and correction via teaching and modeling brings out much better self discipline. I’ve lived it both ways in my parenting journey. The loving, teaching kind of discipleship brings better fruit.
        Discipline is rooted closer to discipleship. It is only recently in in the history of parenting that it became synonymous with inflicting pain as a teaching tool. Yes the Lord chastises and disciplines but He does not beat, hit or inflict pain upon His children to teach them “lessons”.

      • ive always seen it as more of a training,a work out, learning to use the sword and armor,.
        you dont give a child the keys to the car,he will run it in the ditch,or do harm to someone.

      • Barry seems very right to me. But I’m curious…Billy Graham wished for his parents to beat him more – later says consider Christ instead. Joel Osteen seems never to need to discipline his children, though he would tossle with his own brother growing up and his mother would catch him and “discipline” him in the funniest of ways. She seemed to have a spiritual gift of insight! haha.

        In Christ alone.

      • I don’t see discipline as punishment although I realize that is often the way people see discipline. I have always seen discipline as training. So (Hebrews 12) hardship in the Christian’s life is God actively training us – not punishing us. The greatest lessons in life are always discovered in suffering some pain.
        Does God cause pain ?- I doubt it but He does MEAN FOR IT TO HAPPEN.
        Joseph’s brothers caused him a great deal of pain yet Joseph (under inspiration from the Spirit of truth) has the audacity to say this to his brothers: “You MEANT it for evil but God MEANT it for good- to the saving of many.”
        The exact same word is used to describe the brothers intentions and willful choices to cause Joseph’s sufferings , “You MEANT it” as is used to describe God’s intentions and willful choices to cause Joesph’s sufferings “God MEANT IT.”
        Which God is more worthy of our trust ? a God who is negligent in not protecting His children from suffering or too weak to stop their suffering or a God who is so strong, sovereign and loving as to be both actively involved in “meaning” to bring sufferings and strong enough to bring about good through those sufferings that He MEANT?
        I will trust the later – the former isn’t worthy of anyone’s trust.

  36. why in the scriptures Jesus said, Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.

  37. I’m in harmony with about 95 percent of what I read from Paul (Ellis). And my mind and heart agrees with this post too. However, this subject seems harder to nail down. All of Paul’s points and reasoning above on the baby death matter fit with the Grace gospel. But the reasoning also seems to support a distraught parent somewhere discerning for themselves that the best thing for their children is to kill them. I know just the thought of such horrible actions brings up incredible emotions and therefore our society doesn’t go around doing things like that. But what if this view caught on somewhere… “Dead baby = baby in Heaven”… and a religious cult took up the cause to promote and even somehow act on? I can see them on the news saying, “A baby going to heaven trumps any experience they may miss out on by living out life here!”, as they hold up their picket sign “Support Abortion – Kill your baby”. That scenario strikes me as ludicrous, but it’s also a possible scenario. The religious zeal and effort put toward silly stuff like “King James only” seems ludicrous to me too, but certainly not to those that support that view. I suppose Romans 3:8 applies to these types of things. We don’t act sinful/wicked just because there is Grace! Of course Grace teaches us how to love our children, not murder them. But, it seems a religious mind could conclude the way to love children the most is to send them quickly to heaven.

    • This seems to be an inherent danger of the gospel. The Apostle Paul preached pure grace and some thought “that means I can get away with sin!” I wrote a post to comfort the parents of teens who have committed suicide, and some thought “I can kill myself.” Just as Paul was horrified that some would take grace as a license to sin, I am horrified that some would take grace as a license to kill themselves or their children. We worship the Lord of Life, not death. Those who look to death as their savior are misguided in the extreme. You might even say it amounted to a declaration of unbelief in the goodness and faithfulness of God and his ability to keep us until the (natural) end.

  38. Paul Ellis,
    First I want to say I love your posts and am grateful for the work that you are doing to shed light upon the gospel of Grace. One thing I’m having trouble reconciling though is one statement in this post. I am trying to understand your statement “no one is condemned on account of sin” in light of 1Corinth. 6:9-11. It would seem from that passage that those who practice sin are held accountable. And I believe there are many other places including Romans 6:23.

    • Hi Steve, in 1 Cor 6 Paul does not say “God will condemn sinners,” he says the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. What’s the difference? You need to ask “What qualifies me for the kingdom of God? It is not “not sinning,” it is being justified and sanctified through Christ Jesus (v.11). The Corinthians are proof that God remembers our sins no more, for they were sinning saints. Read 1 Corinthians and you may suspect that every sin on Paul’s list was probably happening in the church!

      If we are to decide who’s in and who’s out on the basis of behavior, then we must admit no thieves (1 Cor 6:10) and no liars (Rev 21:8), and indeed there are no thieves and liars in the kingdom, only thieves and liars who have been made new by the grace of God. Romans 6:23 does not say “God condemns sinners” but “The wages of sin is death.” This has been the case since the Garden of Eden and it hasn’t changed. Sin is destructive. But a just God who has condemned all sin (Rom 8:3) cannot condemn your sin anymore (Heb 9:26).

      • The Bible does not teach that God doesn’t condemn sin in anyone anymore. It says He does not condemn sin in those who believe in Jesus. The future divine judgement will not be based upon the rejection of Christ- rather the future divine judgement on those who do not believe in Jesus will be based entirely upon their behavior (vis- their sins)…

      • Barry, I have no wish to argue with you. If you choose to reject Hebrews 9:26, that’s your business.

      • I am uncertain how to respond to that statement. I wasn’t aware I was provoking an argument and that certainly wasn’t my motive. It appears you may be becoming impatient with my sincere effort to question your interpretation of the Scriptures and that you are politely telling me you are no longer interested in being challenged. I respect that wish and will no longer challenge your interpretations .

      • Not impatient, Barry, just saying lets agree to disagree and move on. Normally I give those who disagree with me the opportunity to say so on these threads. But one time only.

  39. Could someone explain 1st cor.7 (12-14) to me the part where it says about the children being unclean ? Is it because of unbelieving parents ? Does a believing parent sanctify the children ? Thank you ! love your ministry brother ! I believe that children go to heaven because of the love of JESUS !

    • Thanks Jim. That verse is a bit of a puzzle since God told Peter to call no one impure or unclean (Acts 10:15), which Paul interpreted as “From now on regard no one from a worldly point of view” (2 Cor 5:16). Prior to the cross, the Jews were institutionally racist. By that I mean the law system drew lines between them and filthy foreigners. Then Jesus came, hung out with Samaritans and basically said, “Enough of that – God loves the whole world.”

      Paul speaks of a marriage being holy if one of the partners is a believer. In other words, don’t divorce your unbelieving spouse if they willing to stick around (1 Cor 7:13), “otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” Adam Clarke thinks this has something to do with the idol-worshipping culture of Corinth along with Jewish traditions about who was regarded as holy and who wasn’t.

      I wouldn’t read too much into this. It is Christ who makes us holy. Paul’s point was “don’t bust up your marriage and family for your faith” because “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (v.16). Maybe others will have further insights to add to this.

  40. Are we damned simply for being descendants of Adam? If so then all are saved because Jesus reversed Adams error. Or are we dammed for our own sins and/or rejection of Jesus and His sacrifice? Then infants and young children are safe because they do not have the mental emotional maturity to comprehend it all.
    God is holy and no respecter of persons. It is our sins that Jesus died for not our genetics. The whole redemption story flow and concept answers the question for those who choose to see it. Once you commit sin with a knowledge of it being wrong and ultimately reject Jesus offering for that sin you are lost.(Romans 1-2) God has revealed Himself to every person in some way so that they have no excuse when they are judged for their sin & rejection.
    Imperfect I know but I would rather err on the side of love, peace and comfort for parents. If by chance we are wrong and infants and children are truly lost there will be time to find out from God face-to-face on exactly how and why it was an affront to His holiness to accept the mentally/morally incapable into His home.

    • Colleen, What good questions to start with! These are things I ask myself as well. But since I see more scripture on the side of genetics, I tend to believe that is was genetics because in the Garden, God promised to send a Savior through Eve’s “offspring”. Satan heard the promise and tried his best to stop the process by polluting the bloodline – Genesis 6. When God called Abraham out of paganism, it probably wasn’t because Abe was so upright – it was likely because his blood was still unpolluted from the lineage of Seth. God forbid intermarriage with certain people groups. God required circumcision for his people – implying sexual purity and a covenant to keep the bloodline pure – which they failed to do. These are the reasons I also believe in divine election and that not all infants are saved. Under the old covenant of the law, God ordered the genocide of whole people groups. Is God a moral monster? No. Satan had a whole lineage of his own! Genesis 3:15; Matt. 13; John 10. It is none of our business who and where this lineage is today – maybe grafted in somehow by grace? So we take the good news to ‘whosoever’.

      I totally agree, though, with your final analysis that we should always err on the side of love and grace and let God sort it all out because He alone knows who are his from the foundation of the world and whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

  41. Universalism (all go immediatellly to heaven) and all unbelievers (go to hell) decry what scripture says: Christ is the Saviour of ALL men (John 4:42), each in his own order ,( 1 Corinthians 15:21-23). When and how is HIS business, but – 1 Cor:15:28 is the final say, Good ALL in all. He who is God Almighty, and Love Himself, will not have less than total and ultimate victory.

  42. Robert Tague // July 29, 2014 at 7:39 am // Reply

    Paul, as a parent who has experienced the death of a child shortly after her birth, and having searched the bible for answers, I can say I fully agree with your interpretation of scripture. However, early in the post you wrote “Jesus said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Actually Jesus said it and that settles whether you believe it or not.

  43. just a few thoughts i had considering God ordering the death of infants….while that is awful to think about and i can’t explain it,i think possibly we today,do not grasp the depravity that existed then.There were no believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit.The Spirit was not yet come and so his restraining work was not there.(i feel this is one reason Jesus told the disciples it is better that he go away) Because of the conditions that existed at that time,maybe the death of those infants was actually a salvation for them.

    • Judging a heart based on actions is a tricky game. Motives are what truly reveals a heart. Actions are often misunderstood because we do not know the motive of the heart.

  44. Thanks for your response , your in sight is very helpful ! You are a one of a kind brother that’s for sure ,your teachings on many subjects have shed a great light to many ! You are very much appreciated !

  45. Heaven belongs to such as these. JESUS said that, the Word of God.

  46. “An unbeliever is someone who has rejected Jesus… They have turned away (Heb 12:25)” How can an unbeliever turn away if he or she hasn’t been converted in the first place?

    “gone astray (2 Pet 2:15)” How can they go astray from a path they’re not on?

    • Let scripture interpret scripture. An unbeliever turns away from Jesus. “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66). Those who turned away weren’t saved because Jesus said of them, “there are some of you who do not believe” (John 6:64). They didn’t see Jesus as the Son of God but “Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know” (John 6:42).

      Those who have gone astray are clearly identified as false teachers and false prophets, not Christians (in 2 Peter 1). They know about Jesus and the way of righteousness but deny him as Lord (v.1), and are blasphemers (v.12) who never stop sinning (v.14), and remain slaves of depravity (v.19). They don’t follow Jesus but Balaam (v.15). Incidentally, when Paul says all have gone astray or turned away in Romans 3:12, he’s not saying that humanity was once saved and has become unsaved.

      Your comments on Hebrews 10:26 would be better suited to this post.

    • Where children go when they die is one of those issues that it’s likely not wise to be overly dogmatic about either way. One thing that is definitely never wise is to tell anyone grieving the loss of a loved one of any age that their loved one is in hell. Even truth written in stone told at the wrong time is just plain stupid. In the right time if folk ask us as ambassadors of CHRIST where we think their deceased loved ones are wouldn’t it be more helpful to simply say, “God is good and He is always just that you can be sure of. I can however say this with complete certainty- that if you don’t repent and believe in JESUS you yourself will perish and will never see your deceased loved ones again.”
      “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  47. Brother
    These blogs have been blessing my socks off and also causing me to seek myself mr reality.
    Stay in the Love of God causes its flowing like a flood of awesomeness:)

  48. There is a scripture I’m trying to find that says the unborn DO go to heaven as a demonstration that we are called by election, not through works. Are you familiar with that passage? It might be Nehemiah?

    • Doesn’t David say that after his baby dies. I will go to him….

      • I’m not aware of any scripture that says the unborn go to Heaven. The passage about David’s son merely talks about David joining his son in death some day. I don’t see how election could factor in to ALL babies going to heaven? In fact, Romans 9 seems to teach otherwise. Romans 9:8, 11 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants .
        11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand , not because of works but because of Him who calls, Genesis 3:15 talks of two seeds (offspring). One seed is human, the other seed if of the devil. It’s all through the New Testament.

      • Rightly dividing the Word off Truth is my quest. Most people take a Scripture as you have and i have in the past and become bound and religious. Jesus said I AM the god of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were very much alive. Your spirit man does not die. Your flesh takes off its coat at death, but “to be absent in the flesh is to be present with the Lord”. Babies are not guilty. Aborted babies go straight into their Father’s hands. To ascribe to God an attribute based on a child’s view, is a God that I personally would not serve. The God I serve loves the whole world. But I am not a universalist. You have to make a decision, and babies are not capable of that. I can only say that as we hunger and seek truth for ourselves and not through another “teaching” or “man”, God will reveal Himself. I see God no longer as a mean, harsh, predetermined God who loves some and hates others, but the one that said, “I did NOT come to condemn the world but to save the world”. For God so loved the WORLD, not some, the WORLD. It’s our choice, not his.

      • Does a soul have an age? When God looks at 10 pregnant women, I don’t believe he sees 10 sinners and 10 innocent. I believe he sees 20 souls and knows those who belong to him. My sheep hear my voice….

      • So you are saying He knows EVERYTHING from beginning to end? When we will go to the store, marry, eat, sin, etc. Is there room for choice in your “belief” system?

      • I’m not saying God knows everything. The Bible tells us so. Yes, we have limited free will. We can obey our Father or disobey our Father. He remains our Father. If the prodigal had not returned home, he still was the son.

      • If God doesn’t know everything (omniscience) he would cease to be God. A God who lacks information is not the God of the Bible.

      • Brilliant and kind response.

      • Colleen G // February 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm //

        Molly I know my question is truly beyond the scope of this article and the discussion but ask yourself does God willingly create certain people because He wants to send them to hell? If they have no choice in the matter He creates them for hell because He wants to place them there for they are not going there based upon the merit of their sins but simply because God placed them in the group “b” of rejects. Does that truly fit the full scriptural picture of God?

      • Jesus said hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. That is who will go there. Matthew 25:41

        Hebrews 2:16 The Son did not come to help angels.

        Three races: human, angelic, demonic. Genesis 3:15

        Those who believe belong to God. Those who do not believe are not his to claim. God rejects no one. He sends no one to hell.

      • roshaneaso // February 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm //

        Barry. The bible says “one day” God will judge men’s “secrets” by his gospel of Jesus. Why? God loves his children.

  49. Dear Paul, maybe I misunderdtood you, but you seem to be saying that babies aren’t born as sinners.

    In which case I must ask: how do you deal with the identity issue?

    It seems a main point of the grace message is that before we were sinners because of Adam’s sin (our own sin simply being a fruit of that identity), and likewise we are righteous because of Jesus’ obedience (our own sinply being a fruit of that identity).

    Are we born in Adam or done we each choose our way into Adam in your opinion?

    • I do not share the views of Augustine and Calvin on this issue, but to answer your question would require a lengthy series dealing with all those scriptures that have been used to promulgate the notion of original sin. Adam put the human race on death row, and Jesus got us out. Do all sin, fall short, and go astray? Definitely. That’s the human condition. But Adam did not create and pass on a sin gene. There is much more to say about this. Maybe later this year I’ll get around to it.

      • Thanks for the prompt reply Paul. I hope you do get around to it, because it seems that those who deny original sin typically put a greater emphasis on behavior than identity, and usually only believe in the forgiveness of past sins and then only whatever sin we repent of after salvation.

        I know you’re not like that, nevertheless their logic makes sense. If bad behavior is the problem (not being born as lost, fallen, and spiritually dead), then good behavior (rather than spiritual life and a new identity) would appear to be the remedy.

  50. In section ii you said that it is ridiculous for God to condemn someone for something they haven’t done, but in John 3:18 Jesus says that the one who ‘believes not’ is condemned already….the wording makes it that all are condemned originally and then that those who believe are removed from that already existing condemnation. Please explain this.
    I would love to believe that what you are saying is true, this just seems to contradict.

    • John 3:18 says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Does this mean babies are condemned for not believing in Jesus?

      Babies are neither believers nor unbelievers. An unbeliever has done something – they’ve rejected Jesus, thrust away the gospel, turned aside (see article above for references) – and babies have done nothing. They cannot be counted among those who have insulted the Spirit of Grace or trampled the Son of God underfoot.

      Yet John 3:18 says “not believing” is sufficient for condemnation and babies don’t believe. However, look at the following verses and you will find the evidence of not believing: it’s doing evil deeds, hating the light, and loving darkness. Clearly this is not talking about babies.

      In the old covenant, those who were too young to know right from wrong were not judged and you can be sure that the new covenant is better than the old. John 3:17 reveals God’s intent: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” We may be inclined to sin, but God is inclined to save, and he is most definitely the Savior of babies. We only need to see how Jesus acted around little children to know this is true.

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