Many of our strongly held belief’s evolved because we want our faith to make us feel better. Often, our source (the Bible) is silent on particular issues, so we are left with a deductive process to fill in the blanks where the Scripture is silent.
The Bible does not explicitly state that all babies go to heaven.
The Bible does not define or even mention a so-called age of accountability.
Both of these ideas have answers which have developed designed to make us feel better about difficult issues. We don’t like the idea that babies who died before being able to consciously choose to believe in Jesus would be subject to the fiery flames of hell. What does the Bible teach about the eternal state of babies? This raises another lie we believe in.
The Bible does not teach that people go to hell for not believing in Jesus.
Let’s examine these issues.
Let’s start with why & when people are condemned. The Bible teaches that all men stand guilty before God, before they even do one thing, and certainly before they reject Jesus. This is clearly taught in passages like Romans 3. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 6:23). Theologically this is called the doctrine of original sin. We have been born in sin. Add to this we are guilty not only because we are born into sin as sinners, but we heartily commit sin on our own, very early in life. According to the Bible, babies are not “innocent.” People are condemned to “hell” because of their own sin – before the gospel has ever been presented, before anyone is capable of responding to the gospel. People go to hell because they are guilty before God because of their sin nature and their sinful behavior.
For the purposes of illustration, it is similar to disease. Let’s say someone has cancer, his doctors offer a life-saving drug or procedure that he refuses. He dies. What caused his death? Did he die of cancer or did he die because he refused the treatment? The cancer killed him, not the refusal of medication. The medication could save him, but the cancer killed him. So it is sin that condemns us. Believing in Christ could save us, but not believing is simply one more expression of my sin and death.
If you say that all babies go to heaven, or if you conclude at this point that babies must go to hell, you are simply demonstrating ignorance as to how people come to be saved. If your theology says that people are saved when they choose to believe in Jesus Christ, again this is not a concept taught in Scripture. People are saved when God in His wisdom and knowledge predestines his children to adoption as sons. This happened before the foundation of the world. Salvation is the work of God and is the result of his elective choice. This goes for all people, babies as well as adults. What if a baby dies before that person expresses belief in Christ? They are saved because Jesus paid the price for their sin.
Because of a misunderstanding of the order of salvation, and a humanistic philosophical attachment to the freedom of the will of man – Christians have compiled a set of doctrines designed to explain sticky problems that are raised by the non-Biblical ideas.
God is just in punishing those who rebel against Him, ignore Him, fail to give Him glory or to thank Him for the life that He has given to them. God is just in punishing them even if they have never heard of Jesus. God is just, and would be just if He condemned all of humanity without ever even sending Jesus. What if God, in a tremendous act of mercy chose to save some of those condemned by their own sin? What if he decided to send His Son to die in their place? This does not make him unjust to send those who deserve punishment to their well-deserved end.
Do all babies go to heaven? The Bible is silent on this issue. It is not silent on the fact that all are born in sin, none are innocent, all deserve the wages of sin.
Is there an age of accountability? Not with respect to salvation. For legal terms and in parenting this may be an important discussion and definition, but the Bible neither speaks of one, nor hints at one.
People go to hell because they are sinners, before any decision with regard to Christ has been evidenced. Certainly, belief in Christ is the means to salvation, but not the reason for punishment. Not believing in Christ for the unbeliever simply becomes one more expression of his sinfulness.