Church Education Resource Ministries
Before I get started on this topic I want to make it clear that by Developmentally Disabled I am referring to DD individuals that are so severely disabled that they cannot think for themselves, need constant personnel care, and have the mental age of a small child or infant. Personally having had some six months working with DD individuals I have had experience with some that fit just the scope of this study. This subject is very tough to address since scripture is not completely clear on the answer. I did a little research on the web and discovered a ton of different views on this topic. Some argue that DD people (like babies) go to Hell when they die.
The scriptures used to support these arguments seem to be primary the passages below.
[Pr 20:11] Even a
child is known by his actions,
by whether his conduct is pure and right.
[Ro 3:23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
[Ro 6:23] For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
[Jn 14:6] Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
[Ep 1:4] just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
So the logic of those that believe that DD people like babies go straight to Hell after they die is this.
Personally I cannot think of anything farther from the truth. I believe in an age of accountability, and believe that Infants and certain Developmentally Disabled people (that cannot think for themselves) have been accepted to heaven and will be with the Lord the moment that they die. I also believe in a God of Grace. Matt 20 is a grace passage and it is below.
Matthew, Chapter 20, Verses 1-16, English Standard Version
For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you. So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, Why do you stand here idle all day? They said to him, Because no one has hired us. He said to them, You go into the vineyard too. And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first. And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat. But he replied to one of them, Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last.
God is certainly a God of Grace. I find it in his character to provide salvation to those that cannot comprehend it. Arguing from Biblical logic the Calvinist is certainly correct and God should send babies and DD people to Hell. But arguing from Grace, I believe that God will provide a way, or at least give them a chance to choose Him. Babies and DD people perhaps they will be given a chance to choose Christ after their death instead of just a free ride to Heaven. But Since God has not revealed these details in His Holy Word, I think that this view would make the most sense. I remember once working with a DD individual when I worked in the HomeCare industry. This individual was some 40 years of age, and could not think for himself. He could not speak, and was wheelchair bound. He had to be fed, he had to be showered, he had to be changed, he had to be dressed, etc.. Taking care of him was much like taking care of a 2-year-old. 2 year olds need to be fed, they need to be showered, they need to be changed, dressed, etc.. Obviously different 2 year olds develop at different rates, but my point is that the DD man that I assisted was like a 2-year-old even though he was 40. He may have been an adult in chronological age, but his mental age was much younger. Obviously not all DD individuals are this severally disabled, but there are a good handful of ones that are. I remember once when I forgot this man's lunch, I rushed over to his Day program for to drop off his lunch. It was there were I saw an individual about my age, who was crawling on the floor, hollering in baby talk, and all this time being followed by his female caretaker whom was about his age. To me it was so very sad to see someone that old and so severely disabled. This man could not think for himself, and really could not do much if anything on his own. So why would a loving God send someone like this man to Hell? It’s not as if this man could make a choice to accept Christ, for he could not think on his own.
Even though this man (like all human beings are born into sin).
[Ps 51:5] Surely I was
sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
This man could not choose Christ, because he could not think for himself, nor grasp the concept of Christ. This man was below the age of accountability, and could never in his lifetime reach such a age, given his mental capacity. I believe that there is some evidence in the scriptures of an age of accountability. I think that 2 Samuel 12:23 is one such passage.
2 Samuel 12:23 (NKJV) 23But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
Because of David's sin with Bathsheba and having her husband murdered on the battlefield the prophet Nathan said in verse 14 that David's son would die, and so this was fulfilled. David himself knew that he would be reunited with his son at his death. So this seems to show that the infant that died before the age of Accountability, would go straight to Heaven at the moment of his death. In the same way, Developmentally Disabled people that cannot think for themselves and die, are outside the age of accountability, since they cannot think for themselves and likewise go to heaven, or are resurrected to a place where they will be given a choice to accept Christ or to reject him. If they accept him, they will go to heaven and if they reject him, then God will ratify this desire for all eternity as they spend their time in Hell.
Ephesians 1:4-7 (NKJV) 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,5having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,6to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
Some have used this passage to aid their argument that God does not choose Babies or DD people, and that some He will sentence to Hell and others to Heaven. The problem with this argument is that it overlooks God's Grace, His Sovereignty, His Justice, His Mercy and His righteousness. God is completely Just, and its very unbiblical to assume that God chose certain Babies and certain Developmentally Disabled people to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. This seems to completely contradict the nature of God. For one as shown in the passages below it was obvious that Jesus really loved children. If He loved them so much why would He send so many millions of children and DD people to Hell/ The Lake of Fire?
Jesus Blesses Little Children
[Lk 18:15] Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."
This story is also found in Matt and Mark. I quoted from Luke since the Matt and Mark accounts do not mention infants. It is clear that in this passage Jesus loves children and infants and strives to bless them. There is another passage from the book of Mark that I will mention.
[Mk 7:27] But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first are filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs.
Jesus here was defending the children that this mother in the context was abusing. This is yet another passage that the motives of Jesus’ love towards children is obvious. Therefore it makes no sense why He would predestine millions of them to Hell. For in doing so would be completely against God's sovereign and Just nature. God is completely just and could never punish an individual for sins that he or she didn’t do. There are some that say that babies that cry and go in their diapers are sinning. I find no hard evidence of this, as such activities were also done by Jesus whom was perfect and without sin (Heb 4:15). Such activities are the natural order of things, and are not sin.
I hope this brief study on this topic has been helpful. Regardless please do send me your comments if you disagree with any of these conclusions. The Bible seems clear on the nature of God, and I just find it hard to swallow that God would predestine or condemn people that cannot think for themselves to everlasting separation from him. It just makes no sense, and does not seem to be the way in which the God of the Bible would operate.
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