Heaven Belongs to Little Children

     Heaven belongs to little children.  Jesus’ disciples did not always understand this, and on one occasion they tried to prevent children from coming to Him for prayer (Matt. 19:13).  But Jesus corrected them saying, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 19:14).  Jesus welcomed little children, and was welcomed by them; and I think this says something about the Person of Jesus.  Little children are transparent and trusting with adults, and we must be the same with the Lord Jesus.  

       One goes to heaven by believing the gospel message that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).  However, the command to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation presupposes intelligence and the ability to exercise one’s volition.  Children and those who are mentally disabled lack the intellectual and volitional capacity to make a decision for or against Christ; therefore, they are not held accountable for sin (see my article on The Gospel). 

In the Bible, infants, little children, and others who cannot believe are neither told to believe nor expected to do so.  They are not classified as wicked evildoers and rejecters of God’s grace.  It is always adults who are addressed, either directly or indirectly, regarding these matters.  Because the Bible has so much to say about those who cannot believe and yet says nothing about their being eternally separated from God because of their inability, we conclude that they have heaven as their home.  They die safely in the arms of Jesus.[1] 

       King David had a son who became sick to the point of death (2 Sam. 12:1-15), and David “inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground” (2 Sam. 12:16).  However, after seven days the child died and David learned of the difficult news (2 Sam. 12:18).  Afterward, David got up and washed and changed his clothes and ate food and revived himself (2 Sam. 12:19-20).  David’s servants were somewhat surprised by his quick recovery and asked, “What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food” (2 Sam 12:21).  David said:

While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ “But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me. (2 Sam. 12:22-23)

       While the child was alive, David prayed to God to be gracious, “that the child may live.”  However, after the child died, David expressed optimism by saying, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”  I am convinced David was thinking of heaven, where he knew his infant son had gone.

Life after death was a certainty for David.  That he would be with his son again in the future was his firm belief.  He never doubted that fact for a moment.  David was rightly related to the Lord, and he did not question that he would spend eternity with Him.  Nor did he have any doubt that his infant son, taken in death before he could decide for or against his father’s God, would be there also.[2]

       The death of a child can be a difficult experience.  I know friends and family who have had babies and little children die, and they need to know that heaven belongs to little children.  They need to know their little babies are safe in the arms of Jesus.  

A portion of this article is an except from my book – The Cross of Christ: Sufficient to Save

Steven R. Cook, D.Min.

[1] Robert P. Lightner, Safe in the Arms of Jesus (Grand Rapids, Mich., Kregel Publications, 2000), 15-16.

[2] Ibid., 55.

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