Unborn Children and Eternity

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I write this with incredible sensitivity in my heart.

In London in 2008, while I was going to school, my wife and I lost our first child, our son Adam, through miscarriage. This experience was devastating—our faith was rocked. It sent us into a season of asking innumerable questions of God: Could we go on? Is God good? Can he be trusted with our lives being that Adam’s was lost? Does he even care?

Even today, we are affected by our loss.  Many of you know what this is like. There is an empty chair at our dinner table every night, birthdays that go by, and imagined holidays and experiences that are left only to the imagination of what could have been.

We are left to speculation, but our speculation doesn’t go unenlightened.

As a pastor, I am often asked what happens to babies like ours who are lost in miscarriage or to children who are killed through abortion. The one thing we do know is that they, like all of us, are image bearers of God who came into existence, even though they never had the joy of being loved, kissed, and cherished by their earthly mom and dad.

Where do the unborn babies go? Some would argue that they don’t go to heaven because we are sinful beings and the only way to be reconciled to God is through faith and repentance. Since these babies didn’t repent or have faith, they are forever separated from God in hell. Others argue that Jesus died for the world and therefore those children who are born in Adamic guilt have their sins atoned for because they haven’t committed personal sin.

The reality is that Scripture never speaks directly to this situation. At this point we are left to speculation, but our speculation doesn’t go unenlightened. We have a perfect Bible that reveals ultimately what God desires for us to know. Since there is not a verse (much less a systematic theology) on this subject, it seems only right to appeal to the character and nature of the God in whose image humans are created.

I abide in the great comforter, the Holy Spirit.

God has revealed himself as holy, just, and righteous—but that’s not all. He’s revealed himself as the definition of love (1 John 4:8), whose grace is scandalous, (Luke 15:11–32), and whose mercy leads to our justification (Rom. 2:4). In fact, Jesus teaches us that he is our heavenly Father (Matt. 6:7–15) and Paul goes as far as to tell us on two occasions that God prefers his kids use a familial name like “Abba” when talking to him in prayer (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:16).

Even though I don’t have a verse that definitively says that our boy Adam is in heaven with Jesus along with millions of other children, I can look at the nature and character of our God, who was born in a barn (Luke 2:1–20) washed the feet of his betrayer (John 13:1–17), unashamedly befriended outcasts of society (Matt. 11:19), forgave and restored dignity to a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1–11), and suffered so that he might end our suffering (Isa. 53:5), was raised to give us justification (Rom. 4:25), is building a home for us in heaven (John 14:3), is praying for us even now (Rom. 8:34), and is coming to take us to be with him forever (John 14:3), where he is the hero who wipes away every tear from every eye (Rev. 21:4).

I abide in the great comforter, the Holy Spirit, knowing that my baby met this God face to face, and therefore, I have great hope of one day worshiping Jesus at Adam’s side.