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What happens to babies at the second coming?

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What happens to babies at the second coming?
Posted on April 21, 2020  - By Dr. Scott Shiffer

What happens to babies and children at the second coming? Will they also be taken with Christ? I know God is good and sovereign, but as a mother, how does one make peace with not knowing?

This is such a good question. I have four children and two of them are still quite young. Recently, my five-year-old said something about Jesus being alive again and about how we are believers. She has not prayed a prayer asking for salvation, she has not cognitively stated that she wants Christ to be her Lord and Saviour, she does not really understand repentance, but she certainly has a child-like faith.

We are not saved by praying a prayer, keeping the rules, or earning our way into God’s presence. We are saved by grace through faith. Saving faith is belief that Jesus is who He said He was. Jesus said He was the Son of God who came to save the world.

Obviously, new believers of any age have a rudimentary understanding of the faith. People are often saved before they have a comprehensive understanding of salvation.

Journey of faith

Many people do not know the exact moment that they fell in love with their spouse, but at some point, they come to realise that they love the other person. In the same way, many people often do not know the exact moment they were saved, but they know they are saved because they have a relationship with Christ.

As parents, we can often see whether or not our children have a genuine love for the Lord — even if they have not yet truly decided to follow him. Many children believe in God and in Christ even if they have not connected all the dots. As with any true believer, evidence of their faith becomes clearer over time. A child may not have a working knowledge of the Trinity, but as he or she grows in knowledge of the faith, he or she would come to accept this truth once old enough to grasp the concept.

I believe that we trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness. We trust that He knows the hearts of our children better than we do. We also trust that, while He is holy and separate from sin, He is also just in His rule. 

We are not saved based on our theological knowledge, but on the basis of our belief. God knows our hearts and this includes the hearts of children. 

We are not saved based on our theological knowledge, but our belief. God knows our hearts and this includes the hearts of children

What does Scripture say?

This question makes me think of two specific passages in the Bible.

Matthew 19 reads:

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 

In the first century Jewish world, children were considered less valuable than adults. They were seen as less human because they were not old enough to have done anything important. But Jesus clearly had a heart for children and had a strong sense of empathy and compassion for their unquestioning faith.

The other passage is 2 Samuel 12. In this passage, the first child born to David and Bathsheba is sick and passes away:

19b And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

David desired for his child to live, but it did not happen. When the child passed away, David worshipped the Lord. He recognised that God was in control of life and death, and just in all His ways. Then David told his servants that he would see his child again one day when he goes to him. This passage suggests that David believed he would see his child again. Because the passage is recorded in Scripture, we can infer that if a child dies, we can trust the Lord that we will see that child again.

Because the passage is recorded in Scripture, we can infer that if a child dies, we can trust the Lord that we will see that child again

While the circumstance is a bit different than the second coming, I think the same principle applies. God is just, God is in control, God understands the mental capacity of a child at any age, and as God’s children, we can trust Him with the lives of our children, especially if they are too young to have made a conscious decision on their own to trust Christ and make Him Lord.

Trust His goodness

I believe that if the Lord were to return, we can fully trust Him with the lives of our children in that moment, just as David trusted Him when his infant child passed away. God cares for all of His children and He always does what is best for His creation. God can be trusted because He is good. God can be trusted because He is loving. Our loving God desires for all to come to know Him.

One of our jobs as parents now is to cultivate a love for God in the hearts of our children. We are to teach them about the truth of the gospel, the love of God, and the reality of sin. We trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, will work out the rest.

Dr. Scott Shiffer

About Dr. Scott Shiffer

Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Faith and Culture Now, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations, including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for many years. Scott is married and has four children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges every day.



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