Can Unborn and Young Children Who Died Be Saved?
Thank you for contacting the ministry. I want to give my personal views and I know others may disagree with me but my hope is to help give comfort to fellow Christians who ask about this serious topic. I am open to the possibility that I am wrong and ask forgiveness up front. Nevertheless, I ask that my fallible response not be a reflection of a perfect God and His Word.
Who Are Sinners?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NKJV)
5:12 also indicates that all have sinned because Adam sinned. Isaiah 48:8
Why do I start here? There are some people who try to argue that the unborn (or even newly born children) are sinless or without sin—blameless and pure in the sight of God. Thus, they can be saved by having a form of righteousness and purity apart from Christ. I want to caution people from using this argument because there are significant theological problems with this view.
Consider the implication of the unborn if they are not sinners. If the unborn have not sinned, then they cannot die because the punishment for sin is death. Sadly, they can die whether by miscarriage, abortion, still born, etc. God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) so, as we (author and reader together) just read, all are sinners. I have four children in my house and from personal experience, I can attest from the moment they were born, they are definitely little sinners. 😊
is another theological problem if we assume that the unborn are not sinners. In
Romans 5:6-8 and 1 Timothy 1:15 both indicate that Jesus came to save sinners,
i.e., the ungodly. If the unborn are sinless,
then Jesus didn’t die for them. This would pose a problem for the unborn then since
no one comes to the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). If they were not sinners, they wouldn’t even
have the possibility to go through Jesus so they wouldn’t make it to
Another theological issue is in Hebrews 7:26 where Jesus is set apart from sinners as He is the only one blameless and pure. If there are others who are blameless and pure, then Jesus wouldn’t be set apart in that respect.
In our hearts, we desperately want children to be blameless and pure but they inherit sin because we were all in Adam when he sinned.
Let me explain this further. My life came from my parents and your life came from your parents. Where their life come from? It came from their parents…all the way back to Adam and Eve. When Adam sinned our life was wrapped up in Adam so his sin is also our sin. This is called original sin because it came from the original sin in the Garden of Eden. We are sinners by the nature of our life going back to Adam but we are also sinners by our own actions and choices. Hebrews 7 reveals:
Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. (Hebrews 7:9-10 NKJV)
Note that Abraham’s great grandson Levi was considered “still in the body” of his ancestor Abraham when Abe paid tithes to a priest called Melchizedek. Thus our life was indeed in Adam when he first sinned. The Son of God—Jesus Christ, being the Creator God Himself per John 1, Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1, was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) yet came in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3) to save sinners. So to argue that children are without sin would be to negate that they have the possibility of salvation.
Significance of the Sinless Christ
Jesus, being sinless, meant that rightly, He shouldn’t have been able to die either. Recall that death is the punishment for sin. But Jesus should not have been able to die. So how is it that He was able to die on the cross? According to the Bible, Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) in order to die.
Upon Christ’s death via the Roman crucifixion incited by the Jews (including the High Priest himself), the infinitely powerful Son also took the infinitely powerful punishment we deserve from the infinitely powerful Father. Christ’s spilt blood satisfied God’s wrath upon sin and makes salvation possible.
Thus Christ’s righteousness can be imputed (or transferred) to us when we repent of our sin and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior (Romans 4:23-5:1) by believing in His death, burial, and resurrection (John 3:16-18, Romans 10:9).
Salvation is a work of God and a free gift offered to sinners (Ephesians 2:8). So believers are seen as without blemish and pure and spotless as the perfect bride of Christ to enter into a perfect heaven (Revelation 21:27) with a perfect God for eternity.
Jesus being the new federal head of humanity (Matthew 28:18, 1 Peter 5:11), unlike Adam (who led us into death through sin) cannot sin and therefore cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13); so for eternity we will never fall back into sin and death. This is why we can have eternal life enjoying God’s goodness forever (e.g., Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46).
Are human babies “human”?
It is hard to believe that people in our culture fail to understand this basic fact of life, but yes. human babies are human—even the unborn. They are people, albeit younger, but people nonetheless and we were all like this except Adam and Eve. Our respective grandparents were made with fully mature bodies and God supernaturally gave them life—this is not a problem because God is omnipotent (i.e., all-powerful).
Some evolutionist have argued that babies are not yet human but going through evolutionary animal phases during embryonic development (called: “embryonic recapitulation”). Sadly many are deceived into believing this religious view as it is taught in most state schools. This religion is why some people try to justify abortion children.
Even so, such a story is absurd as babies are unique persons from the moment of fertilization where a new child is made by the combining of the DNA from both mother and father. At no stage in the womb are baby humans going through animal phases—and this can be eye witnessed today through technology.
Sadly, many Christians today try to mix their religion with the secular evolutionary religion. In doing so, some join with this idea of human babies are going through animal phases in the womb and they assume their baby can be aborted because it is just like an animal and not made in the image of an eternal God to have an eternal soul yet.
Thus, they reason that the child in the womb isn’t eternal but more like an animal and so salvation isn’t necessary for discussion. Even so, murdering a child is simply that—murder and God will deal with those sins on judgment day if one doesn’t repent. God is merciful to those who humble themselves and admit and repent of their sin to Him.
Don’t Be Rash
For many years, I quickly assumed that the children that died early or were aborted were saved without much thought. I do want to encourage caution on this position though too. If this position is taken, then the conclusion could result that Christians should encourage abortions and the murder of the young particularly among non-believers, so that these children can be saved. Of course, this should never even be a thought of Christians who should be holding to the sanctity of life and the repeated biblical commands not to murder.
But look at the converse. Consider the possibility that all the aborted, still-born, or miscarried children are lost for eternal damnation. Such a sobering thought could dissuade even the most ardent evangelical from action knowing that nearly a billion children have been aborted the world over since I was born in the 1970s. Although one can see why Christians often stand up against abortion and the killing children. But let’s look at this issue in more detail before succumbing to such a rash conclusions one way or another.
How Do We Know If Someone Is Saved?
died for all (who receive Him—e.g., John 12:48) including those prior to and
after His death on the cross and resurrection as indicated in Hebrew 2:9. The
Old Testament people of
godly Old Testament persons looked forward to Christ’s finished work on the
cross and His resurrection in the same way we look back to what Christ did.
This is why the
But determining who is saved and not can become a hairy situation sometimes – from a human perspective that is. Of course, God knows and He is the best judge anyway.
If someone were to ask me if someone walking down the street was saved, that would be a very difficult task to ascertain, unless I could ask that person. And then see if they were producing the fruits a Christian should produce as a potential confirmation (e.g., Luke 6:43-44).
Let’s face it, a non Christian can lie and say they are a Christian even when they have not received Christ as their Lord. Leading atheist Richard Dawkins often calls himself a “cultural Christian” or “cultural Anglican” (the Church of England). He is by no means a follower of Christ. So seeing fruits are a good confirmation but even then it is still not absolute.
When it comes to children—namely the unborn, seeing fruits and even asking is impossible from a human perspective. So in reality, it would be extremely difficult for me to say if anyone is saved or not. But that is really between God and that person, even the youngest of children.
God Searches And Draws All People
God says He searches all hearts for example when He is speaking to Solomon:
"As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. (1 Chronicles 28:9 NKJV)
This includes the heart of children – even in the womb. It is God that draws them to Himself. Consider:
"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44 NKJV)
Jesus affirmed that He draws all people to Himself:
"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." (John 12:32 NKJV)
The unborn are people and Jesus said He draws them. This means that God has drawn children in the womb that is about to be aborted and a child that dies while very young, even after being born. For one to be saved though, God is the one who works in them and who of us can know who the Holy Spirit has saved in the womb and young children out of the womb?
God, who knows the future, is aware if a child is about to be aborted, die early of disease, or other problem. Who are we to say that God has not already been working in the hearts of the unborn and the young children who have been born and will die soon. God has mercy on those on whom He wills to have mercy.
Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Romans 9:18 NKJV)
I believe that children can be saved even though they are extremely young but they can only be saved through their faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). It would not be via any other means.
If someone argues that a child is too young to be saved because they do not have sufficient understanding to properly ascertain a thorough comprehension of the salvific work of Christ unto saving believability then we must ask how young and how much understanding must one have? (See what I did there—did you have to read that sentence twice?!? 😊). Don’t forget that it is a child-like faith that is the type of faith for which we strive (Matthew 18:2-4)!
What I’m getting at is that salvation is predicated on Christ’s work in one’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3) unto saving faith—not the depth of knowledge that we learn about Christ and His Work. I am still learning daily about His awesomeness and am overwhelmingly dwarfed by the immensity of the wisdom in His Word. I feel like a child in the depth of what I want to know about God and His Word. Consider the fact that we are all very young little children to someone like Jared and Methuselah who lived 962 and 969 years old respectively.
Now consider Psalm 22:10:
I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God. (Psalm 22:10 NKJV)
The Bible teaches us that David, while in the womb, knew God and was His (Psalm 22:10). Take note that this doesn’t negate that David was sinner prior to birth.
Now the point I’m getting to is that there is a difference in being aware of sin and being a sinner. Even now, there are adults living that don’t realize they are sinners and are well beyond the state of awareness. Does this make them sinless? No.
So with respect to the unborn, just because they are unaware that they are sinners, does this make them sinless? No. We are committing the logical fallacy of equivocation when we equate being sinless with salvation. There were elect angels (e.g., 1 Timothy 5:21) that did not sin and thus were not in need of salvation. The only way we can have salvation is to be in need of salvation (i.e., be in sin). Being sinful doesn’t negate salvation, but what it does do is give eligibility to be saved through Jesus Christ. If children weren't sinners, they couldn't be saved.
But I believe children and the unborn have the possibility of salvation because the Bible says that the Lord was David’s God as early as the womb (Psalm 22:10). Psalm 22:9, just before this, indicates that God gives trust as well. Jeremiah was a similar case—God both knew and sanctified Jeremiah in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5).
Therefore, there is the possibility that even extremely young children can be saved for their faith in the Lord Jesus – as far back as the womb as in the case of David and Jeremiah. Though we need to be careful about projecting this to all children in the womb. Because God has not revealed that all children in the womb are His. Judas wasn’t and he was in the womb once too. Consider these passages:
Even a child is known
by his deeds, Whether what he does is pure and right. (Proverbs 20:11
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. (Proverbs 23:24 NKJV)
Children can be known by their deeds and even have wisdom. It is the Lord that gives wisdom (Proverbs 2:6). So at early ages, the Lord is already working in children as well. Has He drawn them to salvation? That is between the Lord and the child.
But a little more comfort presents itself. You may also recall the instance with David’s young child in 2 Samuel 12:15-22 indicating that even though the child died, David would again be with him. This indicates that the child was still in the care of God and thus Jesus Christ and David was saved (Psalm 27:1).
Consider another instance. Judas. Satan entered him and he betrayed Christ (John 13:27). He committed suicide by hanging himself (Matthew 27:5) then later his body fell and was split open (Acts 1:18). But Jesus said of him:
"The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." (Matthew 26:24 NKJV)
"The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had never been born." (Mark 14:21 NKJV)
It sounds as though the nature of a child dying prior to birth has a better outcome (i.e., still born or miscarriage) than dying in sin as Judas did. However, the word for “born” means “to beget” or to be fathered”. So the passage may be saying prior to Judas’s conception/fertilization from his father (i.e., when he was beget). Does this mean it would have been better for Judas to have remained in the his father’s loins rather than to have been made. Anything would be better than an eternal hell in which he now is.
The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments states something that has intrigued people down through the ages. In the Second Commandment, God writes:
"You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:4-6 NKJV)
The last part of this discusses God’s judgment of iniquity down to the third and fourth generation of children to those who hate God. Consider this with regards to the children of those who hate God and have them aborted. The punishment for abortion is immediate in having your child taken away from you.
But look also to the blessing. God shows mercy to a thousand generations of children of those who love God. David was a great example here. David did love the Lord. Although he sinned and had a child with Bathsheba in adultery and murdered Bathsheba’s husband, the child was taken from them regardless of David’s subsequent actions. David repented, he did love God even though he made mistakes. And he was comforted in knowing that the He would again see the child when he would die many years later.
My Fallible Final Remarks
The point in all this is that there is much to consider. But as a fallible humans on this side of heaven, it is difficult for me to put a perfect answer down on paper for this difficult subject. God simply didn’t reveal enough for me to be definitive. Although I must caveat, perhaps God did and I am just not able to have reasoned it yet. If so, the fault is mine alone.
I also understand that people asking this question have often undergone loss and for that I’m sorry. It can be difficult. You may think that I don’t know how to deal with this loss but the fact is I do. My wife and I lost a child to a miscarriage many years ago and it is a painful reminder of a sin-cursed and broken world. It was unbelievably tough on us. It is all the more reason to turn our eyes to Christ who is the Great Healer.
From this perspective, my advice is time and prayer are among the best things you can do. Search the Scripture and find comfort in Christ and remember that God knows all things and He knows best and He is a righteous judge—far better than you or me. With sincerity, take humble comfort in that.
 For example see: Dawkins, the Cultural Christian? December 15, 2007, https://answersingenesis.org/christianity/dawkins-the-cultural-christian/.