What happens to children who pass away?  The issues of heaven and hell are commonplace. When speaking of those who do and do not enter heaven, the issue of children is certain to arise. This topic evokes more concern than most because of the innocence surrounding those most vulnerable in life. Youth are especially interested in this question because they want to know how Christianity views and treats children with direct implication to God’s love and justice on the line.

With the goal of keeping an open dialogue and helping youth think through this challenging issue, here are a some questions to pose:

  1. Does God send everyone who sins to hell? (No, Christians sin but do not go to hell).
  2. When speaking of “sending someone to hell” (condemnation), what is the basis for this as noted in Scripture? John 3:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8
  3. Specifically, what reason does God send someone to hell? (Hint: it’s the same reason for anyone!) See previous verses.
  4. What insight does 2 Samuel 12:15-23 provide on the issue of children dying?
  5. What does Scripture say about those who sin (Ezekiel 18:20)?
  6. Exodus 32:32-33 is a bit surprising with an implication for those who are young. If a person begins life with his/her name in the book of life, and it is removed at some point thereafter through sin, then it is quite possible that small children/infants already have what is needed (though unknown to them). On the book of life, also see Psalm 68:28; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:; 20:12, 15; 21:27.
  7. It is clear, also, that Scripture does not endorse universalism (the view that everyone is saved eventually). Matthew 7:22-23; John 3:18; Revelation 20:15

While Scripture does not directly address the question “what happens to children who die,” it is possible to glean biblically consistent views on the matter. At the same time, it is important to keep clear on key doctrines. Often confusion on one point can be used to cast unnecessary doubt on clear teachings throughout Scripture.