Being a protestant, I’ve always believed children, below the age of “accountability” DO go to Heaven. I think it’s silly to believe otherwise. But that’s just me.
That said, I found the following to back that up...
The Bible makes it clear that people are condemned to hell on the basis of their sins and their rejection of Jesus Christ as the remedy for their sinful condition. However, infants and young children are incapable of fully understanding either their spiritual condition or God’s requirements for salvation. Can God judge them even though they don’t understand the basis of that judgment? The Bible does indicate that children are innocent, for example, when describing how some of the Israelites in the Valley of Benhinnom had become corrupt so as to sacrifice their own (innocent) children:
“Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind; (Jeremiah 19:4-5)
The Bible also indicates that children are regarded as being innocent because of their lack of ability to discern between good and evil:
Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it. (Deuteronomy 1:39)
Other verses also indicate that young children are not fully capable of making moral choices.10 So, the Bible says that babies and children are innocent, based upon their inability to fully understand the difference between good and evil.
Do babies go to heaven?
So, since babies and children are considered innocent, one would assume that they would be excluded from judgment and get a pass to heaven. However, does the Bible explicitly state what happens to them? A verse from Job says that they enter into rest:
“Or like a miscarriage which is discarded, I would not be, As infants that never saw light. There the wicked cease from raging, And there the weary are at rest. (Job 3:16-17)
Likewise, another verse suggests that a person who is not satisfied with their life is worse off than one who is miscarried.11 Although it does not explicitly state what happens to the miscarried, the implication would be that they went to heaven.
Children belong to God
Both the Old and New Testaments indicate that God has a special relationship with children. In the book of Ezekiel, God was very upset with His people as they were sacrificing their children to idols. However, God calls them “My children”:
“Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me and sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered My children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire.” (Ezekiel 16:20-21)
Jesus indicated that people who enter heaven are like children, implying that children go to heaven.
And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-3)
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:13-14)
So, the Bible indicates quite clearly that children who die go to heaven. However, the question remains at what age an individual ceases to be a child.
Age of accountability?
So, we know that babies and children go to heaven when they die. However, we don’t know what the cutoff is for those who die young. Is it 5, or 8,or 12 years old? The Bible makes no mention of any kind of “age of accountability.” So, it is quite likely that there is no specific age at which an individual become accountable. Our three sons all accepted Jesus as their Savior around five years old. However, they had been exposed to the gospel message since birth, and had gone to Sunday School, Bible studies, vacation Bible schools, and Awana in their early years. We never asked them if they wanted to be Christians, but allowed them to ask the question on their own. Five years old is probably not the average age at which children are capable of understanding the gospel and responding to it. Having taught vacation Bible school and Sunday school for many years, I recognize that the average first grader is not taking in the information and processing it for how it applies to him. However, when the time comes, one can see the light come on. In one of the vacation Bible school assemblies, I recall a group of boys (probably around 10 years old) who were in attendance as a gospel presentation was being made. One of the boys suddenly said to the others, “Did you hear what she said?,” in an excited voice. An alter call had been made, and he dashed up to the front. His friends were left sitting in the pew. So, I have seen many children at many different levels of spiritual and physical development, which must be the basis by which God determines if they are accountable. For those with mental disabilities, it is possible that they never become morally accountable. However, we can be assured that God judges all people, including children, fairly.12
Does it matter if they’re baptized?
Some denominations baptize their infants in the belief that such baptism prevents them from going to hell should they die before coming to faith in Christ. However, what about babies who are miscarried or die during childbirth? Are they condemned to hell? That is what the doctrine of infant baptism would imply. So, the doctrine of infant baptism changes salvation from one of grace to one of works, since infant baptism is a work of the parent, and not a work of God. As such, the practice of infant baptism displays a lack in trust of God as the bearer of salvation, so must be rejected as being an efficacious act. So, being baptized as an infant saves neither an infant nor an adult. Salvation is still a gift13 of God based upon the grace of God.14 Biblical baptism is the public confession of faith by an accountable individual.15 So, we reject infant baptism as being required for the salvation of babies and young children who die.
Conclusion Top of page
Babies and young children who die go the heaven through the grace and righteous judgment of God. The Bible is clear that those who are not fully capable of making moral choices are declared to be innocent, and, therefore, worthy of heaven. The Bible does not mention any kind of “age of accountability,” but bases accountability on the basis of the ability to make moral choices. Infant baptism, although it shows a commitment from the parent, is neither required nor efficacious in obtaining salvation for little ones. The salvation of babies and children is a gift of God, based upon His grace, and cannot be purchased through a work of a parent. If you have lost an infant or child, we pray that the Lord would comfort you with His grace, and that you would desire to join your child in heaven through a confession of faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. May God bless you.
What About Infant Baptism?
1. In the previous studies we have seen that baptism...
a. Is essential to:
1) SALVATION - Mk 16:16; Ac 2:38; 22:16
2) BECOMING DISCIPLES OF CHRIST - Mt 28:19-20; Ga 3:27
b. Is immersion, for:
1) The Greek words can only mean immersion
2) Pouring and sprinkling do not fit with figures used to
describe baptism in the N.T.
3) Scholars are unanimous in pointing out that immersion was the
practice in the Bible and early church
2. Two more questions remain which are often in the minds of people:
a. Should infants be baptized?
b. Is there ever a need to be "re-baptized?"
[This study shall consider the question "What about infant baptism?"
My first point is to suggest that...]
I. "INFANT BAPTISM" IS NOT BIBLE BAPTISM
A. BIBLE BAPTISM REQUIRES IMMERSION...
1. We have seen that pouring or sprinkling is not baptism
2. Therefore "infant baptism" as commonly practiced is really a
a. "Infant pouring" or "infant sprinkling" would be a more
b. Only if the infant is immersed could it be called "infant
-- Of course, immersion is not the only thing which constitutes
B. BIBLE BAPTISM REQUIRES CERTAIN PREREQUISITES...
1. Bible baptism requires FAITH - Ac 8:35-38
a. Notice the eunuch's question, and Philip's response
1) "See, here is water. What hinders me from being
2) "If you believe with all your heart, you may."
-- If one believes, they may be baptized - cf. Mk 16:16
b. Infants, however, are incapable of belief!
2. Bible baptism requires REPENTANCE - Ac 2:38
a. If one is a penitent believer, they may be baptized
b. But infants are incapable of repentance!
[The first thing to realize about "infant baptism" is that it is not
baptism in the strict sense of the word; nor is it the baptism spoken
of in the N.T., which was only for those who possessed faith and a
Another point to consider is...]
II. "INFANT BAPTISM" IS NOT NECESSARY
A. THE RISE OF INFANT BAPTISM IN CHURCH HISTORY...
1. Even those who later approved of infant baptism admit that one
could not prove it from the Scriptures...
a. "It cannot be proved by the sacred Scriptures that infant
baptism was instituted by Christ, or begun by the first
Christians after the apostles." (MARTIN LUTHER, On
b. "Infant baptism was established neither by Christ nor the
apostles. In all places where we find the necessity of
baptism notified, either in a dogmatic or historical point
of view, it is evident that it was only meant for those who
were capable of comprehending the word preached, and of
being converted to Christ by an act of their own will."
(JACOBI, Article on Baptism in Kitto's Cyclopedia of
Biblical Literature, Vol. I, p. 287)
2. If this is true, when did the practice of "infant baptism"
a. The earliest mention of infant baptism is around 200 A.D.
b. The practice began only after the doctrine of "original
sin" had been developed
1) "The early theological development of the doctrine of
original sin contributed to the importance of infant
baptism." (Christianity Through The Centuries, p. 160)
2) The whole basis of "infant baptism", therefore, lies in
the assumption that infants are born in sin
B. ARE BABIES BORN IN SIN?
1. Of course, the doctrine of "original sin" means different
things to different people
a. Some understand it to refer only to inheriting the "fallen
nature" of Adam, and not any personal guilt of his
b. But the common conception includes the idea of inheriting
the guilt of Adam's sin as well, meaning that babies are
born in sin and guilty of sin
c. It is this latter understanding that led to the practice of
2. People are not held accountable for the guilt of their
a. God has clearly said that He does not hold the child guilty
for the sins of the father - Ezek 18:20
b. Paul described a time in his life when we was alive before
he became a sinner - Ro 7:7-11
1) According to the common idea of original sin, this would
have been impossible!
2) But not if children are born free from the guilt of sin
and remain so until they reach an age of accountability
3. Consider also the nature of the NEW COVENANT - He 8:6-13
a. One of the notable features about the new covenant is:
1) "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his
brother, saying 'Know the Lord'..."
2) "For all shall know Me, from the least of them to the
greatest of them."
-- In other words, no one enters into this new covenant
without already knowing the Lord!
b. Unlike the OLD COVENANT...
1) Where people entered the covenant by virtue of birth
into the family (Israel)
2) Where males entered the covenant by virtue of
circumcision when eight days old
3) Where as they grew older they had to be taught to know
c. When "infant baptism" is practiced, this distinctive
feature of the new covenant is no longer present!
1) Children, who have supposedly entered a covenant
relationship with the Lord, still need to be taught as
they get older
2) They have to be taught to know the Lord!
d. This distinctive feature of the new covenant is true only
1) Baptism (the means by which we enter a covenant
relationship with the Lord today) is administered to
2) Those who enter the covenant have already been taught
about the Lord (via the gospel of Christ)
1. Should infants be baptized? The answer is "yes" if we can show...
a. One example in the N.T. where infants were baptized
b. That they meet the prerequisites of faith and repentance required
of all those baptized in the N.T.
c. That they can know the Lord somehow before they enter into the
relationship baptism places them, and so do not need to be taught
to know the Lord
2. But the Biblical facts are...
a. There is not one case of "infant baptism" in the N.T.!
b. Only those who believe and have repented may be baptized!
c. To baptize infants would make the point of He 8:11 without
3. The logical conclusion from the Biblical evidence is that babies...
a. Are born into this world without the personal guilt of their
b. Are not lost and in need of salvation
c. Are "safe" (not "saved," for they were never "lost")
d. Remain safe until they reach an accountable age where they become
guilty of their sins, and in need of salvation
4. What if you were "baptized" as an infant?
a. Most likely you were not actually baptized (immersed), simply
b. Even if immersed, it was not "Bible baptism", which requires
faith and repentance
-- Thus you are still in need of obeying the Word of the Lord!
Don't place your faith in the traditions of men, or in the doctrines of
some church; place your faith in God's Word, and obey it accordingly!
Thank you for a lovely post, and a thought provoking thread.
Dear Lord, please guide us.
Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Matthew 19:13-14)
And no, baptism is NEVER a work of man, it is 100% God's doing, and to call it otherwise is to not understand what a gift it is.
It's too important to take any chances by denying it to them. Jesus himself was baptised, and it wasn't because he "came of age" and suddenly figured out the difference between good and evil.