Today I had the privilege of conducting a memorial service for a very precious one year old baby boy called Luke. Luke while on earth was a Down Syndrome baby with major heart defects that caused serious complications in other areas of his body.
Luke’s amazing parents are followers of Jesus and one of the many questions they wanted to be clear on was where Luke would go after death. At the memorial service I said these words to them and the other people there, “I want you to understand that I believe that Luke is in heaven right now with Jesus. And I don’t say that just as some religious cliché to make people feel happy but on the basis of God’s character as revealed in the Bible and other Bible passages too.”
Why did I say that? This is my reasoning.
- The Bible doesn’t say that when babies die they go to heaven.
- Luke was not old enough to choose Jesus as his Savior as is the normal way for sinners like us (and Luke was a sinner by nature like all of us from conception as David says in Psalm 51: 5).
- But it is ultimately not just our choice of Jesus as Lord and Savior that saves us but the prior work of the Holy Spirit in us (according to His plan) that saves us and then allows us to choose Jesus – John 3: 3, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
- There is no passage that I can take you to for this but what if it was God’s plan to give the new birth to all babies who died so that when they reached heaven they would acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross?
- I say this in part because it certainly is possible for God to give a baby the new birth as in Luke 1: 39 – 45. And yes this is only one verse and two special people in a unique time in Salvation history but ultimately John the Baptist was just a sinful human being like us and it would be impossible for him to recognize the King of God’s Kingdom if it were not for the action of the Holy Spirit.
- And when you consider how graciously Jesus dealt with children while on earth this is not an impossible avenue of thought to go along.
- And ultimately I think there is a much stronger case to say that the children of believing parents go to heaven when they die on the basis of God’s electing plan, the Spirit’s work in them and their status as the children of believers as seen in 1 Corinthians 7: 14. This passage is problematic in some ways not only because of the different perspectives that people come to it with (some come with an individualistic mindset others try considering first century biblical thinking which is much more community oriented; some are determined to uphold a believers baptism point of view and others are determined to prove a paedo-baptist view-point) but also because at a certain level it is a difficult passage. But ultimately we must come to this passage seeking to understand what it is saying in context. In this passage Paul is dealing with some concerns in the Corinthian church about marriage in general and in the section where we find this verse the situation of a believer married to an unbeliever. Certainly whatever the “sanctification” of the unbelieving spouse (a responsible adult) means there is enough scriptural evidence to know that it can’t be that one adult goes to heaven because their partner is a believer. But when it comes to their children, if even one of the parents are a believer then the child is not “unclean” (def: that which cannot be brought into contact with divinity) but is holy (can come into contact with divinity). I think Paul is being much more radical that just saying that the children are now under the influence of the gospel (he would have used other language for that). I think Paul is saying that this child (one who is too young to stand responsible before God on their own) fall under the holiness of their parent(s). This has nothing to do with baptism but with the way God chooses to do things. Which seems so clear to Paul and his readers that Paul just states it without any clarification or qualification. And if that is so then I could apply this passage to any baby / child of believing parents and say that until he or she is old enough to take the responsibility upon themselves, if they die, they will go to be with the Divine, with God… The Holy Spirit having given them the new birth so that when they get to heaven will see Jesus and recognize Him as their Lord and Savior!
And that is why I believe that Luke is in heaven now! And ultimately why I believe that at least the babies of believing parents go to heaven when they die.