Q: I have a question posed to me by my wife which I can not answer. The question regards infant salvation, or as my wife put it, “What happens to babies and young children if they die before being old enough to understand and accept Christ?”

To be honest, I never really studied the issue before. I always just “knew in my heart” that the Jesus who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not. For of such is the Kingdom of God,” would never let young children be lost if they died before being old enough to understand sin and accept Christ.

I did a Google search and found several web sites of various pastors with their own ideas about the subject; however, none of the discussions were very authoritative, mostly being a few scriptures strung together with a lot of philosophy and personal opinions.

Does the Bible directly or even indirectly address this issue and are there any verses that can give us confidence in knowing that the little ones do in fact “go to Heaven” when they die?

Examples of some theories I have read:

  1. The children of “saved” people go to Heaven. The children of the “unsaved” don't.
  2. An even more creative theory — God is omniscient and knows what kind a person the baby would have been if it had grown up — that is, whether they would have accepted Christ or not, and they are judged accordingly.

Thank you for any help you can give me in this matter.

A: Sadly, the only way I can answer your question is to simply say the Bible does not actually address that specific issue and therefore, it does not reveal what happens to infants if they die in infancy. The passage you cite from Matthew's gospel is not dealing with infants, but with children that were old enough to come to Jesus and these were children old enough to understand the gospel, and it does not address the question of infancy. People may use different examples to try to prove one point or the other, such as the fact that God did not spare infants in other divine judgments like the Noahic flood, but that does not actually deal with the eternal salvation of the soul. So because the Bible is silent I simply have to tell people we really do not know, but I can certainly trust that the God of all the Earth will do right.

Obviously, I know what I want to believe, but since I will not be able to verify it by Scripture I choose not to express my own opinion since the Bible does not give me a specific answer.

The two examples or theories you listed are just that, theories and can be quite creative but are not what the Bible specifies. It is always best to say that where the Bible is silent we need to be silent and trust in the Lord that He will do what is right in accordance with His holiness and righteousness and justice.