A brother in church asked me about the age of accountability for children. He heard that any child, no matter what age, if not saved, will not be permitted to go to heaven. I pointed him to 2 Sam. 12:23 where David said he would go to his dead baby son. Can you help me find more Scriptures on this issue?
The “age of accountability” is not Scriptural. It is a concept created by men because of questions such as “will babies go to heaven?”.
It comes from man’s need to answer questions that God doesn’t give us a specific answer to. The “age of accountability” is an attempt to explain the “innocence” of children or babies, and give some sort of idea of WHEN someone is “old enough” to respond to the Gospel.
We get ourselves in trouble trying to create answers to questions that God does not answer for us.
There is no “age of accountability” in the Bible, not even an indirect reference to it. All persons are born with the sin nature (Jer 17:9; Rom 8:7; Gen 6:5). It is not imparted at the “first committed sin” as this man-made doctrine assumes.
The need to have this idea of “age of accountability” is because it is unthinkable to us that babies are born with sin, and because we know that sinners are condemned to eternal hell unless cleansed by the blood of Christ. The idea of matter-of-factly stating “all babies that die go to hell” is simply unacceptable to us.
And it should be. We are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26) and the the idea that babies who die (still born, aborted, infant death, etc) will go straight to hell is repugnant to us. I believe this repugnance stems from the fact that we are created in God’s image.
God is good. God is love. God is merciful, patient and above all JUST. It is NOT in keeping with His character that millions of babies will spend an eternity in hell because they died before ever being able to hear or understand the Gospel.
Now, the FACT is, this question about “where babies go when the die” is simply not answered in Scripture, much the same as the FACT that an “age of accountability” is NOT a Scriptural doctrine.
God has not specifically answered the question about a dead baby’s eternal destination. Scriptures like 2 Sam. 12:23 do give us “hints” about the matter. David speaking about his dead baby said:
“But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
We can also make some fairly substantial arguments based on the revealed CHARACTER OF GOD that babies who die will go to heaven and be covered by God’s mercy.
In the end we have to draw our conclusions from Scripture and accept that this question is not answered. The Biblical conclusions are:
- The “age of accountability” is not Scriptural and attempts to answer what God has not
- The Bible does not specifically state the eternal destiny of a baby or young child who dies
- The Bible does “hint” that they go to heaven
- What we know about God’s character seems to support that they go to heaven
- Being created in God’s image, we are rightfully repulsed at the idea of millions of babies condemned to eternal hell, and this innate “knowledge” supports the idea that they go to heaven.
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