Why Do Babies Die?
Part VI – What happens to them?
I left our last post with this paragraph:
Granted, there are some who say that all babies who die automatically go to heaven because God sovereignly chooses to extend His special grace to them. There is no doubt that God who is in fact sovereign can do just that. I, for one will not argue for a minute that God cannot do what He wants, especially in this situation. The question is does He? Really, I think the question is does He need to?
I began this series first of all by recounting a conversation a friend had with me a week ago today. In the midst of our conversation my friend opined that she did not believe that babies sin, nor have a sin nature. She also proffered her conviction that each and every baby that dies must so straight to heaven. She is convinced that God could not, and therefore would not, condemn a baby to hell or to punishment.
Second, I shared with you my dilemma. This discussion affects me in two major ways, first, as a theologian and second, as a pastor. I am committed to the accurate handling – interpreting – the Scriptures. The Scriptures are replete with imperatives and admonitions to study, understand, and obey Scripture. Doctrine, biblical doctrine based on sound exegesis and not personal preference or whimsical opinions is absolutely necessary in order to fully know, honor, worship, and obey our heavenly Father.
However, as a pastor, counselor, and comforter I must be able to answer the tough questions of life. Among those “tough questions” is the question, “What happened to my baby,” or “Where is my baby now?” Parents who suffer miscarriages, experience the horror of crib death, and/or lose a child of any age are desperate for answers.
Let me say first of all that the Bible is absolutely silent on this question. There is no “book,” chapter, or verse (s) that reveal the mind of God on this subject. As a result there is an inordinate amount of speculation regarding this question. I will grant or allow that much of the speculation goes to the purpose of comforting and consoling grieving parents.
Second, I believe that a possible reason that both God and the Scriptures are silent on this topic is due to God in His infinite wisdom providing a means of trusting Him. I mean that God is first worthy of our trust and secondly engineers various means to encourage that trust. It is often in our darkest hours that we must trust God to be what He has revealed Himself to be.
God is love. God is wise. God is gentle. God is a benefactor. God is merciful and gracious. God is just. God is holy. God is righteous. We must trust God that He will never do anything to hurt us, harm us, or hinder us. Everything that God does or even permits is for a divine reason or purpose. Many of these reasons and/or purposes are often known only to Him.
I can only comfort a grieving parent to trust God to always do what is right, what is just, what is loving, what is merciful, and what is holy. God will never violate or act contrary to His character. Therefore, all things do work together for the good in your life. (Romans 8:29) Don’t reject them, even the death of a baby. In some way, some form, some fashion God will make that tragedy work for your good and His glory.
Now back to my question. Let’s get down to some real nitty-gritty, shall we? I have probably lost you and most if not all of my readership any ways, so let me step on one more landmine. Danger, Danger Will Robinson! Go ahead send those cards and letters.
There is no doubt that God who is in fact sovereign can do just that. I, for one will not argue for a minute that God cannot do what He wants, especially in this situation. The question is does He? Really, I think the question is does He need to?
First, God does exactly what he pleases and he doesn’t bother to ask our opinion - “…according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph 1:11b, KJV)
Second, I do believe that God will always do what is right, just, holy, and merciful.
God does not have to save anyone at all. He is under no obligation to save anyone from the human race. He said to Adam, “…for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:17, NKJV)
God also said, “The soul who sins shall die.” (Eze 18:3, NKJV).
Adam sinned and the entire human race (as previously discussed) died, including all babies. As a result, God does not have to save any human being.
Secondly, in order to magnify or demonstrate His character/nature, God chose to provide salvation for some members of the human race. Prior to God creating the heavens and the earth, God determined to save some, God provided a means by which to save those whom He determined to save, and God put into action his plan.
All whom God has appointed, ordained, or chosen to be the recipient of eternal life will be saved. Since God does the redeeming based on the atoning work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, all whom He has chosen will be saved. None will be lost. This includes the most recent and microscopic fertilized embryo, or aborted, or miscarried, or stillborn, or crib death, or otherwise death of infants.
I can find no passage in the Bible, either in the Old Testament or New Testament that states that every conceived embryo goes to heaven immediately upon death. (We will talk about David’s experience in a separate post.) The scripture is silent.
I confess I find it mind-boggling and beyond comprehension to conclude that God must save every baby conceived. After all, every baby sinned. By the way, let us make it very clear, human beings do not sin because they have a sin nature. Human beings have a sin nature because they are sinners. As a matter of fact Paul made it clear in Romans chapter five (5) that Adam’s sin made or constituted every human being a sinner. Human beings were made to be sinners and as a result, sinners now have a sinful nature or bent to sin. (Romans 5:18, NKJV)
Mind you, I am not opposed nor would I oppose God if He chose to save every conceived embryo from the beginning of creation. I just can’t fathom nor find Scriptural evidence that every conception that ends in death guarantees as MacArthur put it, “Instant heaven.” Based on what? That babies haven’t sinned? That can’t be, Paul proved they sinned in Adam and are guilty of sin even though they were never born.
Sin is a very serious thing. It is more serious than we could ever imagine this side of our own glorification. How serious is sin?
First, Genesis 6-8 gives us details of the great universal flood perpetrated on the earth by God. God drowned every living thing except Noah and his family – and of course the animals which were brought on the ark. God hated sin so much that he drowned men, women, teens, toddlers, and infants and destroyed them. He saved eight souls out of the world’s population. God is not so much about saving human beings as He is in exonerating His offended character and nature.
Second, God burned up the cities on the plains in Abraham and Lot’s day, including Sodom and Gomorrah. God burned alive men, women, children, teens, and babies in those cities saving only Lot and his two daughters. God again showed his hatred for sin in the deaths of everyone in those cities.
Third, God showed again His hatred in the most horrific and unimaginable manner by killing His own Son. He made His Son who had never known sin to be sin in order to save those whom He had determined to save. God hurled the full force of His wrath and fury against His Son, punishing Him in our place for our sins and exacting the penalty for sin, which was death.
God created the wicked for judgment and God created some to be the recipients of the righteousness of His Son, Jesus Christ. God does not have to save anyone nor provide a means of escape for anyone including babies.
There is no doubt from Scripture that God loves children. Jesus loved children and often made time for them even when the disciples were irritated by them. God has even determined horrific punishment for those who harm children. God has been a “Father” to the orphans in many cases.
But God is not obligated by us, by age, or by His nature or character to provide a means of salvation to anyone. However, if in His own counsel He is pleased to do so, glory and praise to God. I cannot find evidence that God has revealed that “program” to us.
As food for thought, which I WILL NOT explain nor defend in this post, but if God has determined to save every conceived embryo that dies, then why are we so opposed to abortion? If an aborted baby, as MacArthur stated it has, “Instant heaven,” and every aborted baby avoids a possible life of crime, prison, drug addiction, alcoholism, rape, murder, torture, deformity, rejection, ridicule, bullying, taxes, and the American political system, why oppose abortion?
I AM NOT FOR NOR DO I SUPPORT ABORTION. I am just wondering about the seeming incongruity.
Let me conclude my thoughts about the conversation I had with my friend, what I think the Scriptures say, and finally, for what it is worth, what I think. I don’t believe my “opinion” is greater or superior to Scripture. My conclusions come after years of intense, heart-wrenching study, theological emphasis, and pastoral ministry. My conclusions are as follows:
First, the Scripture is silent on this topic. We are left in the dark. I think this is to invoke absolute trust in God. God wants us to put our complete trust and faith in Him because of who and what He is. He is worthy of or trust.
We must trust God to do what is in accordance with His character and nature and not our sense of fairness or fair-play. Our values and measurements of what is right and wrong or just, are not the standards by which God works out His own counsel. His entire character and nature works in perfect harmony to accomplish His purposes. Don’t make Scripture say what it does not say in order to assuage conscience, guilt, or theological supposition.
Second, I believe based on what I have come to learn of God’s character and nature that God will do what is right in all things. God will be merciful, just, holy, righteous, kind, loving, and wise in everything including the deaths of infants. God will always do what is right – again, not based on your definition of right or upon your standards. God’s ways are not our ways. God is God, and we are not!
Third, I believe those whom God has chosen to be the recipients of the atoning work of Christ on Calvary’s cross will be saved. God has planned their salvation, provided a certain sacrifice for their salvation, sent the Holy Spirit to sovereignly apply that work to those whom He has chosen, and God will preserve those whom He has chosen. None of the elect, infant or adult will be lost. God can apply the work of Christ to the heart or soul of an infant in the womb by the work of the Holy Spirit as well as He can to an elderly individual moments away from death.
Fourth, because of God’s character/and nature and because of what has been revealed in Scripture, I do not find proof or evidence that God has to save anyone or everyone. I do not find evidence or proof that God has to save infants or babies that have died. No one deserves to be saved. Even beautiful, tiny, adorable, precious little babies deserve to be saved. They are sinners who sinned in Adam incurring the penalty for sin (death) and the wrath of God. It is only by God’s indescribable and unfathomable grace that any are saved.
Fifth, as a pastor, I will always offer the comfort of the grace of God which is sufficient for any and all things, tragic or otherwise painful. I will encourage anyone including grieving parents to cast their grief and pain on God and trust Him to always do the right thing. I will always direct their hearts, their attention, and even their hurt to God. He is the only one who can heal and mend a heart that has been so devastated by the death of a baby, whether in the womb or after delivery. I will never offer platitudes or false opinions in an attempt to ease the pain and suffering.
As a pastor, I don’t know what happens to every baby that dies; only God knows. I know God will always do right regardless of what I think He should do or could have done. I trust God and so should you.
Sixth, as a theologian, I long for a neat box, with a grand ribbon to neatly wrap up this question with solid “proof-texts.” Alas, I don’t have such a box or ribbon. As a student of theology I can only say, I am in the dark.
However, as a theologian, I know that I can see the light of the stars in the most clearest and brightest fashion possible when I am at the bottom of the deepest and darkest well. As a theologian, as well as a pastor I can only trust God in the darkest of night.
Seventh, let God be God!
There you have it. I don’t know if I will ever “post” on conversations with my friends. This was one was of great importance. No, I am not ignoring the only possible reference to this discussion. I am not going to go into David’s experience at this time because of time, space, and the fact that this discussion has emotionally and spiritually exhausted me. Suffice it to say that within its context it does not settle the question either way. One day, I will “pick up my pen” through the tap, tap, tap of this key board and exegete the death of David’s son and the declaration of David.