BACK

 

WHAT ABOUT BABIES? HOW CAN A GOOD GOD THROW BABIES INTO HELL?

Updated - 5/20/09

 

The question comes up about babies. Either babies that die at a young age or babies that die in the womb.

 

The question is asked: “How can a good God cast a baby into an eternal suffering?”

 

 

There are a few other questions that we should ask before we ask that question:

 

1. Is God a good God no matter what His judgment program is?

 

2. Do we believe that the Bible is true even if it teaches something that seems unreasonable, unjust or unacceptable to us?

 

3. Is everything that God does just even if we cannot see how it is just?

 

4. If the Bible teaches something that seems unjust to us, does that mean that God is unjust or that the Bible is wrong?

 

5. Is it impossible that the Bible teaches something that seems unjust to us, but in reality it is just according to God’s perfect justice?

 

6. Do we test what the Bible teaches against our own standard of justice or reasonableness?

 

7. If the Bible teaches something, are we going to accept it, no matter what it is?

 

8. Does the Bible have to conform to some basic reasonableness in our minds?


9. Do we reject a teaching of the Bible because it does not seem just or reasonable or fair to us?

 

10. Can we still say “To God be the Glory” no matter what God’s Judgment program is?

 

 

 

While reflecting on the above questions, let us consider what God says in Proverbs 3:5. We read there:

 

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

 

We must trust the Bible and not to depend upon our own reasoning; what seems reasonable to us. An eternal punishment of conscious affliction may not seem reasonable to us; but we don’t understand much about God and His righteousness and how awful sin is.

 

 

We read in Romans 3:4:

 

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

 

A key part of this verse is “let God be true, but every man a liar”.

 

All of us are liars by nature. Our thinking is corrupted at times. Our conclusions are wrong at times.

 

If we want truth, we must trust only the Bible and not our own thinking.

 

 

If the Bible teaches something, are we going to accept it, no matter what it is?

 

 

Let’s consider another question:

 

How can babies be punished for their “childish” sins?

 

Maybe this is the way that we think.

 

 

Does God refer to the sins of a baby as “childish” or somehow less sinful that the sins of an adult?

 

 

Let’s consider what God says about babies in the womb and babies just born in Psalm 58:3-6. We read there:

 

3  The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

4  Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

5  Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

6 ¶ Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.

< 

 

Verse 3 tell us that even before birth, babies in the womb are estranged from God and as soon as they are born and are able, they act out their rebellion against God.

 

Like all of us before salvation, the rebellion is already there in the baby in his heart and in his intentions. God assures us that we are sinners, starting all the way back in the womb.

 

Verses 4 to 6 tell us in strong language that God’s wrath is upon all mankind, including those new born babies and those still in the womb.

 

 

God does not use any softer words to describe the nature of a baby’s sins than He uses to describe an adult’s sins.

 

 

Notice the harsh character of God’s response in verse 6 to the sin of babies.

 

 

How does the above language match with our terminology of “childish sins” ?

 

 

God does not use soft terms like “childish sins” in describing the nature of babies. God uses the same kind of harsh language to describe a baby’s sin as He uses to describe an adult’s sin.

 

 

Man’s sinful character starts all the way back at conception

 

We read in Psalm 51:5

 

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

 

This verse is teaching us that man is sinful from his beginning in the womb of his mother. The sin of the heart and the sin of the thinking is important to God like the sin of action.

 

 

God is just and righteous. God considers even one sin a very significant issue.

 

 

Back to the question of the fairness of God in sending a baby to a punishment of eternal suffering. Concerning this question, God does give us more help to understand His justice:

 

We read in James 2:10:

 

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

 

We learn from this verse that even the smallest sin is a big deal. That is something that is foreign to our thinking. We think that a criminal that has done a small offense maybe should be let go or a small offense by a child should be overlooked.

 

However, James 2:10 helps us to see that even the smallest sin is a big deal to God. Therefore, even the sins of a baby are a big deal to God. All sin is a big deal to God.

 

 

God instructs us that sin begins in our heart and in our thinking.

 

 

We read passages like:

 

MMatthew 15:18-19:

18  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.

19  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:

 

Mark 7:21-23:

21  For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

22  Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

23  All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

 

Jeremiah 17:9:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

 

These verses are talking about all mankind. They are not limited to adults or children of some age. Man’s mind is in rebellion against God from the womb, according to the Bible.

 

So, man sins by his thoughts and in his heart even apart from any actions, and these sins are a big deal to God. The sins of our heart and thinking are grievous sins.

 

 

A little baby has a very sinful heart, like all of us before salvation, and sins.

 

 

Consider God’s assessment of all mankind in Romans 3:10-18:

 

10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14  Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15  Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16  Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17  And the way of peace have they not known:

18  There is no fear of God before their eyes.

 

God says “There is none righteous, no, not one”. This includes babies.

 

In verse 13, God begins to talks about the mouth which is a reference to what man says. So, we might think that this passage does not include babies.

 

But, Matthew 15:18-19 tells us that the sin starts in the mind and later shows up in action. However, the sin is also in the thinking.

 

 

The baby is not yet acting out sin like an adult acts out sin. But, nevertheless, God sees the sinful heart as we read about in Psalm 58:3-6, Romans 3:10-12, Matthew 15:18-19 and other passages.

 

 

We have to remember that God links us all into the sin of Adam and Eve in a passage like Romans 7:9 which says:

 

For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

 

The Apostle Paul is an example of all of us. We are all in the loins of Adam and Eve. We all were alive in their loins. But, when they sinned, we all died in both body and soul. It is like we also sinned. So, all babies, like all adults, have a sin nature and act out that sin nature in thought and finally in deed.

 

 

According to the Bible, babies are also guilty before God for their sinfulness.

 

 

 

The Bible provides some indication that the punishment of a baby might be less than an adult

 

We read in Ecclesiastes 6:3-6:

 

3  If a man beget an hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years be many, and his soul be not filled with good, and also that he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he.

4  For he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness.

5  Moreover he hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing: this hath more rest than the other.

6  Yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, yet hath he seen no good: do not all go to one place?

 

 

In Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 God compares two different people; a man that lives many years and has many children versus a still-born baby or “untimely birth”.

 

In verse 3 God says that the untimely birth is better than the man that lived many years.

 

Then in verses 4 and 5 God describes a man who lived many years in this world and never became saved. Darkness has to do with not having the light of the Gospel or salvation. That unsaved adult has not seen the sun, which represents the Lord Jesus. He remained unsaved.

 

Then in the second part of verse 5, God explains how the untimely birth is “better” than the man who lived many years.

 

 

How could an untimely birth be “better” than one who lived a long time?

 

 

God gives more information. God says in verse 5 that the untimely birth has more “rest” than the man who lived many years.

 

 

We have to understand verse 5 as teaching that the untimely birth, the still-born child, has the more “rest”. We can know this because in verse 3, God said that the untimely birth is “better” than the man who lived many years.

 

 

The manner in which the untimely birth is better than the man who lived many years is that the untimely birth has more “rest”.

 

 

The word “rest” does not always have to signify salvation

 

 

Frequently God uses the word “rest” to indicate salvation (Matthew 11:28). However, this is not always the case.

 

Here are some verses with this same Hebrew word translated “rest” in Ecclesiastes 6:5. This word is Strong’s <05183>.

 

Proverbs 29:9  If a wise man contendeth with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest <05183>.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:6  Better is an handful with quietness <05183>, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.

 

 

Here, rest is contrasted to travail and vexation of spirit.

 

Ecclesiastes 9:17  The words of wise men are heard in quiet <05183> more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools.

 

These verses have a salvation application. However, they also have an application to the problems of this world.

 

 

So, Ecclesiastes 6:3-6 at least is a suggestion that babies will have more rest or relief from the suffering of hell.

 

 

We learn further support for this in Luke 12:47-48. We read there:

 

47  And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

48  But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

 

The “Lord’s will” is the whole Bible.

 

Those that have lived a long time have had more opportunity to be exposed to the Bible. If they reject the Bible, then according to Luke 12:47-48 they will receive more stripes, a conscious affliction.

 

A baby has had no exposure or very limited exposure to the Bible. Therefore, he is subject to fewer stripes than someone who was in this world for a long time with contact with the Bible.

 

 

We read in Matthew 11:22:

 

But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.

 

Matthew 11:22 and 5 other verses use this Greek word translated “more tolerable” which means “more sufferable” and is always used to mean conscious affliction.

 

In Matthew 11:22 Jesus is talking to Chorazin and Bethsaida. These are cities in which the Lord Jesus spent a lot of time preaching. Yet, they never turned to the Lord. The Lord Jesus is saying that Judgment day will be more tolerable or more “sufferable” for those that had heard less of the Gospel.

 

Babies have not had the opportunity to hear the Gospel like many adults have had. Also, babies have not had the opportunity to sin like adults have had.

 

Perhaps these verses indicate some advantages for a still-born non-elect person. He has not had the opportunity to act out his sinful character.

 

 

This may provide some understanding to Matthew 26:24. We read there:

 

The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

 

This is talking about Judas who betrayed the Lord Jesus. The betrayal of the Lord Jesus was another sin committed by Judas.

 

God says that it would be good for Judas if he had not been born. If Judas had not been born, then he could not have acted out his sinful nature and have committed the sin of betraying the Lord Jesus.

 

An answer given for this verse is that there will come shame upon Judas. Judas will not know about that shame but it would still be good for Judas if he had not been born so that he could have avoided that shame that he will never know anyway.

 

 

But, how is that good for Judas?

 

 

We can understand how that is good for God, but how is it good for Judas?

 

Generally, unsaved man does not care about how shameful his actions are in the sight of God. Nor does he care about things that will not hurt him.

 

 

A better answer for Matthew 26:24 can be found by considering the above verses; Ecclesiastes 6:3-6, Luke 12:47-48, and Matthew 11:22.

 

 

If Judas had been still-born then he would not have been able to act out his sinful heart and would have be subject to less suffering or fewer stripes before God.

 

 

Summary:

 

Because of our sin corrupted thinking and limited wisdom, we don’t understand God’s justice and why it must come against babies as well as against adults. However, we have to remember Proverbs 3:5 and study the Bible to learn about God’s Judgment plan and not resort to our own reasoning. Whatever the Bible teaches, we should follow that independent of how it seems to us.

 

 

 

 

 

HOW CAN A GOOD GOD THROW “INNOCENT” ADULTS INTO HELL?

 

We can ask a similar question about decent moral adults. How could a good God send a decent moral “innocent” adult into eternal suffering?

 

First of all, in our minds we may think that some people are “innocent” or decent and moral. However, in God’s sight everyone is a miserable sinner.

 

We examined Romans 3:10-18 earlier. Let’s look at it again to reflect upon what God is saying. We read there:

 

10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

13  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:

14  Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:

15  Their feet are swift to shed blood:

16  Destruction and misery are in their ways:

17  And the way of peace have they not known:

18  There is no fear of God before their eyes.

 

This is God perspective on the nature of mankind, all mankind.

 

We look at ourselves and others and we normally don’t see that much sin. However, Romans 3:10-18 and other passages give God’s perspective on the sinful nature of man. God can see into the heart of man. We cannot do that.

 

 

The Bible teaches that everyone is a miserable sinner in the sight of God.

 

 

We think that at least some people are reasonably “innocent” and do not deserve a severe punishment of conscious affliction. However, if we carefully consider Romans 3:10-18 and other similar passages, we see that God views the condition of man much differently than we do.

 

 

In connection with the wrath of God, another question is raised.

 

We learn from the Bible that those that become saved were chosen by God from before the foundation of the world. Also, unless we were chosen by God before the foundation of the world we will never become saved. Those that never become saved will be cast into hell.

 

 

Therefore, we can argue that God will create billions of non-elect people who are guaranteed to spend an eternity suffering the wrath of God. How could a good God do that?

 

 

This sounds very reasonable to us.

 

However we should consider what God says in Proverbs 3:5. We read there:

 

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

 

When we study the Bible, if we want truth we have to follow what the Bible teaches without applying our own test of reasonableness.

 

 

If the Bible teaches that the unsaved are cast into a place of perpetual suffering and that man cannot get himself saved, then if we love God we have to accept what the Bible teaches and know that God is good.

 

 

If we love God we accept what the Bible teaches without making it pass our own sense of reasonability.

 

 

There is another important point that we must consider: God views the situation differently than we do.

 

 

We think that it is unfair that a non-elect person is destined to spend eternity enduring the wrath of God. However, God views the situation differently than we do.

 

We read God’s perspective in Romans 1:18-32:

 

18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

19 ¶ Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

20  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27  And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

29  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

30  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

31  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

32  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

 

This is a long passage, but we should read it slowly and carefully to understand how God views the unsaved.

 

We think that it is unfair that billions of unsaved people were never elected and will be cast into the lake of fire forevermore. However, all of our thinking is the result of our own corrupt, sin-tainted minds.

 

We should carefully read Romans 1:18-32. There are other passages that teach the same principles as this passage.

 

When we examine God’s perspective on the condition of unsaved man, we see that it is much different than our perspective.

 

 

In Romans 1:18-32 God insists in several different ways, that unsaved man is not innocent. Rather, that mankind is very willful in his rebellion against God.

 

 

In verse 19 God says that He has made Himself known to mankind. Deep down, everyone knows that there is a God.

 

In verse 20 God insists that creation bears witness to mankind that there is a God.

 

 

God further insists that mankind is without excuse. That includes the excuse that he was not elected by God.

 

 

Verse 21 insists that unsaved man knows God and yet refuses to glorify Him as God.

 

Verses 22 and 23 insist that mankind actively goes his own way and worships his own gods.

 

Verse 25 again stresses that man is active in his rebellion against God.

 

Verse 28 teaches that mankind does not want to retain God in their knowledge. Again, it is teaching man’s active rebellion against God.

 

Verses 29 to 31 talk about all kinds of sins that men do. Man does these sins of his own will. God does not force him to do these sins.

 

Verse 32 says that man knows the judgment of God. Mankind knows that he is under the judgment of God. It also says that the unsaved not only commit these sins, but they also have pleasure in them that do the same sins.

 

 

When we read Romans 1:18-32 we hear God’s perspective on mankind. God does not view the unsaved as victims of His election program. Rather, God views the unsaved as being in open and active rebellion against God.

 

 

As we consider passages like Romans 1:18-32 we see that God’s perspective on unsaved man’s accountability for his sinful activity can be very much different than man’s perspective.

 

When we consider God’s election program, it is very easy for us to think of the unsaved as victims of God’s sovereignty. However, God does not see it like that.

 

 

The Bible is very clear that God views the unsaved as very active in their rebellion against God.

 

 

Without an elective program, the whole human race would continue rebellion against God.

 

 

God promises to mankind that if he will seek God with all of his heart He will surely find God. God also encourages man to start seeking God now with whatever heart he has. In this world, God is very merciful and patient to the unsaved.

 

 

Here are some of the verses that encourage mankind to seek God in salvation:

 

Deuteronomy 4:29  But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

 

Isaiah 55:6  Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

 

Jeremiah 29:13  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

 

Zephaniah 2:3  Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.

 

Matthew 6:33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Matthew 7:7  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

 

Luke 11:9  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

 

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

 

Notice that Deuteronomy 4:29 and Jeremiah 29:13 add the condition that we must seek God with all of our heart.

 

 

We learn about how mankind, of himself, responds to God’s mercy by reading passages like Romans 3:10-11.

 

We read in Romans 3:10-11:

 

10  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

 

 

Romans 3:11 teaches that no one will seek after God with his whole heart. Man has chosen to rebel against God. His heart is in complete rebellion against God.

 

We read in Jeremiah 17:9:

 

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

 

Man’s heart, his whole nature, is in complete rebellion against God.

 

 

According to the Bible, unsaved man is in complete and active rebellion against God and will not come to God with all his heart.

 

 

The wisdom of God is foolishness or ridicules in the minds of men.

 

If we trust our own thinking, we can conclude that what the Bible teaches is wrong or unfair or foolish or ridicules.

 

God talks about this in 1 Corinthians 1:21-23. We read there:

 

21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

 

In verse 21, God talks about the “foolishness of preaching”. There is nothing foolish about the Gospel that is preached. However, if we trust the wisdom of our minds then we can easily think that truths of the Bible are “foolish”. That is why God talks about the “world by wisdom”. Mankind by his wisdom will not come to truth.

 

If we trust in our “wisdom” we are going to think things that are taught by the Bible are “foolishness”.

 

God continues this theme in verses 22 and 23. The “Greeks” represent mankind. Mankind seeks after “wisdom” from his own mind. The result of that is truths from the Bible are “foolishness” to him according to verse 23.

 

 

If we want truth, we have to reject our own wisdom and our own thinking and just trust the Bible for truth.

 

 

When we search our own thinking, we can see the unsaved as victims of God’s election program. However, from God’s perspective all mankind by nature are in open and active rebellion against God and will not come to God. Unsaved man is not a victim of God’s election program. For truth we must trust the Bible and not our own thinking.

 

 

 

BACK