Infant Children Cannot Meet The Description Of Those Facing Eternal Punishment
We can be assured that God saves children who die in infancy because infant children do not possess any of the attributes of those described in the Bible as facing eternal separation from God. While infant children are saved the same way that adult believers are saved by God, namely, through grace, infants are not damned in the same way that adult nonbelievers are, since infant children could not possibly possess any of the attributes described in the Bible of those who await an eternity outside of God’s presence. In closely studying the attributes of those who will spend eternity apart from God, one can clearly see that infant children do not possess these attributes, and therefore will not face eternal separation from God.
Infants Have No Ability to Know God
Infants do not have the physical and mental capabilities to know God and understand their own sinfulness and therefore have a legitimate excuse to be spared eternal judgment. In Romans 1, Paul writes, “What can be known about God is plain to men, because God has shown it to them. For ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. Therefore, they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.” Romans 1:19-21.
All of us adults, who have the mental capacity to know God, to perceive his greatness and his beauty, are without excuse for our own actions. But the implication is that those who
cannot perceive God’s power through their mental facilities
do have an excuse. The millions of infants or mentally handicapped adults who died without ever possessing the ability to know and understand God’s beauty and power have an excuse. Therefore, God will not judge infants and young children in the same manner as He will judge those of us who have seen and perceived God’s glory as demonstrated in His creation.
Infants have had no opportunity to deny faith in God.
Infants and young children have never had any meaningful opportunity to accept or deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Numerous times in the book of John, Jesus emphasizes that condemnation will come to those who, after receiving the
opportunity to believe in Jesus, willfully and purposefully refuse to believe in Him. In John 3:18, he says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has
not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” Jesus is not saying those who have no opportunity to even believe in Jesus are condemned—it is those who, having heard the good news of Jesus Christ, have make the conscious and willful decision not to trust Jesus.
In John 3:36, Jesus says, “…he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides in him.” In John 8:24, Jesus tells the religious leaders, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Throughout each of these passages and the rest of the New Testament, the relevant distinguishing characteristic for receiving the wrath of God is willful disbelief in Jesus Christ. There is no promise anywhere in scripture that those who have no capacity to deny faith in God will receive the same fate. Instead, Jesus emphasizes the purpose for his own entrance into the world is to save. He says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
John 3:17. We can therefore rest in the knowledge that through Christ’s sacrifice, God saves for all eternity our children who die in infancy.
Infants have never committed a willful sin.
When the Bible refers to why people go to Hell, it always refers only to those who have willfully and purposefully disobeyed God. In numerous passages throughout their letters to the early churches, Paul and John detail the attributes of individuals who will receive the wrath of God. Without exception, all of these attributes relate to intentional sins.
Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15.
For example, in the third chapter of Colossians, Paul tells the believers to “put to death” certain purposeful, willful sins, such as “…sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
All of us adults have willfully chosen to depart from God’s ways. As with the individuals described by Paul, we rightfully deserve God’s wrath in Hell. But children have not willfully committed any sin. If our infant children have no ability to commit those very sins that are the subject of God’s wrath, there is no Biblical basis to believe that our infant children are the subject of God’s wrath. There, we can be assured that our infant children are not now receiving God’s wrath.
No Ability to Understand Divine Punishment
Infant children would have no capacity to understand why they would be damned to Hell. Since infant children have no capacity to reason, they could not possibly mentally associate the sufferings of Hell with sin. R.A. Webb wrote that if infants were damned to hell, “…the child’s mind would be a perfect blank as to the reason for its suffering. It could not tell itself why it was so awfully smitten, and consequently, the whole meaning and significance of its sufferings, being to it a conscious enigma, the very essence of the penalty would be absent and justice would be disappointed, cheated of its validation.”
R.W. Webb, The Theology of Infant Salvation (Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publications, 1907), 42.
Instead of punishing infant children for no purpose, God is reserving divine punishment for those who, during lifetime committed willful sins. “God’s justice in condemnation will be most clearly seen by allowing those who will not be saved to demonstrate their inherent sinfulness through willful, knowing transgression.”
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