With this term I mean those people who died before Christ was born, or who died before they heard the Good News, or those who died so young (even before birth) that they could'nt understand or those who will never have the priveledge of understanding.
Every believer-parent who lost a child to death who could'nt understand the Gospel may wonder where that child will spend eternity, because in order to get to heaven, one needs to confess Christ as your personal Saviour, which of course, these children could not do. In their cases this proviso seems so unfair, and one wonders if there isn't an answer in Scripture to these questions.
I think there is.
In search of the answer, one can either persue doctrine or Scripture. Scripture of course, is reliable, whereas doctrine is a fallible human construct.
One's point of departure determines one's answers, so here are a few pointers to the answer:
- God is Love, Mercy and Grace
- Christ died so that every human who ever lived can be saved.
- God's mercy is bigger that our own judgement (Jonah 3:1 - 10; 4:10,11)
- His mercy is bigger than His own judgement Rig. 3:9 -11
- Therefore, no person can make any kind of judgement on the eternal future of any other person.
The Bible does not address this question extensively, which in itself is an indication of whom the believer should entrust the answer to this matte to - God or humanity
However, there are some verses that may provide some insight into this matter (From the NIV):
Acts 14:16: In the past, he let all nations go their own way.
Acts. 17:30, 31: In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Rom. 3:25,26: God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — He did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Rev. 20:12,13: And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
Phil 2:10,11: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father
These verses show that we do not need to be concerned about the eternal future of these children and other persons, because God has everything under control.
May this be a word of encouragement to every parent who ever lost an "un-understanding" child to death, even before birth. They will one day rise and have an opportunity to confess Jesus as Lord.