“Now that [my child] is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Samuel 12:23
A few years ago I served as a volunteer chaplain at Victor Valley Community Hospital. One of my main duties was to officiate at the hospital’s quarterly Fetal Memorial Service at Victor Valley Memorial Park. When a pre-born baby is miscarried prior to twenty weeks gestation, most hospitals discard the fetus as “biological waste.” But in recent years, Victor Valley Hospital and St. Mary’s have partnered with Victor Valley Mortuary and Sunset Hills to cremate the babies’ remains and offer a free Fetal Memorial Service for the grieving families.
Each time that I speak at one of these special services, I do my best to offer words of comfort and hope. I want to be able to give the moms and dads some level of assurance that their little ones are safe and sound in the arms of our loving God. This was also the case last year when I presided over a funeral for a ten-day-old baby boy who died of SIDS. As the boy’s mom stood in stunned silence in front of her son’s tiny casket, I wanted to assure her, “Your son is in a much better place, and you will see him again.” But does God’s Word support such a bold statement?
I believe it does. In Romans 1:18-20, we are told that God has revealed His power and character to men and women everywhere. Throughout nature and even within our own consciences God has left His unmistakable fingerprint—clear evidence that He is a powerful, intelligent and just Creator. That being the case, God’s word reveals in Romans 1:20 that those who reject God and His laws “are without excuse.” God’s eternal judgment is based on two things: 1) a conscious rejection of God’s revelation regarding the way to salvation, and 2) a conscious disobedience to God’s commands.
The fact is: The majority of human beings have no excuse for rejecting God’s grace through Jesus Christ and disobeying His laws. But could it be that there are some human beings who do have a valid excuse? If so, babies and young children would seem to fall into this category, especially in the light of the following verses.
After King David’s baby boy died in 2 Samuel 12, the king told his servants, “Now that [my son] is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” You may remember that David concludes his most famous psalm (the 23rd Psalm) with these words: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” It’s clear from David’s writings that he believed he would live eternally in the presence of the Lord. That being the case, when David said, “I will go to him” in 2 Samuel 12:23, it seems clear that David believed his young son would be with him in heaven.
This conclusion is reinforced by Matthew 19:13-15 and Mark 10:13-16 where Jesus tells his disciples, “‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.” Note that Jesus doesn’t say, “If these little kids died today, they’d go straight to heaven.” But he sure seems to indicate that babies and young children are innocent of sin before God.
Although the Bible doesn’t come right out and say that babies and young children are exempt from God’s requirement of personal faith in Christ and repentance in order to be saved, it seems to imply it. After all, if God’s eternal judgment is based on a conscious rejection of God’s revelation regarding salvation and a conscious disobedience to His commands, how could God condemn to Hell those who are incapable of understanding and responding to the gospel? And since the New Testament is clear that there are only two possible eternal destinations (heaven or hell), all babies and young children must live eternally in heaven. And the same could be said of individuals suffering from mental handicaps. It seems clear to me that teens and adults who don’t have the intellectual capacity to understand and/or embrace the message of salvation through Christ will similarly receive God’s eternal grace in lieu of His eternal judgment.
Where does that leave you and me? Well, you and I have heard the Gospel message loud and clear. We have heard and understood the truth that Jesus lived, died, was buried and rose again on the third day. We have heard and understood that it is only by accepting His grace that we can be saved. You and I have consciously turned our backs on our Creator and consciously disobeyed His commands. You and I know this. We understand this. Therefore, we are without excuse.
If you continue to reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and continue living in disobedience to His commands, God’s just wrath will fall on you. So, God calls out from the pages of Scripture: Turn to Christ! Place your trust in Him as Lord and Savior and walk in obedience to His commands! Babies and the mentally handicapped have an excuse for not submitting their lives to Christ. But you don’t. You are without excuse.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit www.fccvv.com and join us for worship Sundays at 10 am.