What happens when a baby dies?
The weight of that question is simply crushing. With it comes the acknowledgement that many parents have felt the heartbreak of losing a child. While it is not an easy thing to consider, it is well worth our time to understand how the Bible speaks to this issue.
Millions of babies have been aborted. Others have been miscarried. Still others have died in infancy. What happens to these? What happens to the children (or adults) who are mentally disabled and unable to function in a way where they can express faith in Jesus Christ? Where will their eternal destiny be?
We have basically been given two answers to this question: (1) do something to remove the child’s original guilt or else (2) say the child is innocent and not yet accountable. The Catholic Church takes the first approach. The thought is since everyone is born in sin and with a sin nature, that original stain must be removed. In 1951, Pope Pius XII stated, “…no other way besides baptism is seen as imparting the life of Christ to little children.” Therefore, babies are Christened in an attempt to remove the original sin passed down from Adam.
The second attempt to answer this question is how many Protestants deal with the issue. This approach advocates an “Age of Accountability”. The thought here is that a child is innocent (or at least safe) until he reaches the age where he understands his sin and actions. While the “Age of Accountability” isn’t a phrase used in the Bible, the thought comes from such Scriptures as Isaiah 7:16, “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.” This passage clearly shows that there is a point in which a child does not yet know how to refuse evil and choose good. Other passages such as Deuteronomy 1:35-39 show that the little ones and children of Israel do not have knowledge of good and evil. Because of this, they got to go into the Promised Land while those adults who willfully sinned were not allowed.
The problem with both of these attempts is that they each offer a second way of salvation that the Bible does not allow. The Bible is crystal clear that there is only one way to be saved: by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. The only name by which anyone can be saved is the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12). There is absolutely no one who can come to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). One must be born again if he is to even see the Kingdom (John 3:3). The Bible simply does not allow any other way to be saved besides coming through Jesus. And the only way to come through Jesus is by way of repentance and faith. There is no second option. (more…)