Do Children Go to Limbo When They Die?

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Do Children Go to Limbo When They Die?

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MP3 Audio (9.96 MB)


Do Children Go to Limbo When They Die?

MP3 Audio (9.96 MB)

The true hope of being raised to life by their creator God is based on the solid foundation of Scripture, unlike the strange teaching of “limbo.”

When a person dies their physical body decays and returns to dust. Each of us also has a spiritual component built into us that returns to God. This spirit is not a conscious or thinking life, nor does it have a body of any sort. It is merely a sort of record of the person who has died. God’s Word likens this state—when the spirit has no body—to sleep.

What is the hope we can have for children when they die?

Every person who has ever lived will be resurrected, but in stages. Christ was the first to be resurrected to eternal life. Next there will be a resurrection that happens when Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Later after Christ has ruled on earth for a 1,000-year period, God will resurrect all those still in the grave at that time (Revelation 20:11-14).

The resurrection that happens when Christ returns is a resurrection to everlasting life. It is granted to those who are Christ’s—those who know, obey and follow Him now (1 Corinthians 15:23). Such people will have lived their lives being assessed or “judged” by God (1 Peter 4:17). Those who do what is pleasing to Him will receive His gift of eternal life in an everlasting body composed of spirit (1 Corinthians 15:42-54)

Clearly there are many people throughout human history who have lived and died without ever knowing about or hearing about Jesus Christ—including small children or infants who died very young. All of these never had a real opportunity to obey and follow Him. They are not included in the resurrection that takes places at His return. But they still have a wonderful hope!

After Christ’s 1,000-year rule on earth, all the remainder of humanity will be raised back to life. They will be given a body of flesh and blood, bone and sinew (they do not yet receive eternal life or a body composed of everlasting spirit). But once restored to physical life something new will happen. The knowledge of God will be opened to them—they too will live a life before God who will assess and judge them.

Those who choose life and are accepted by Him will go on to a glorious future. Those who reject life will then die a permanent death with no hope of further resurrection or life. All memory of them will be wiped out.

Where does the idea of limbo come from?

Teachings of limbo, purgatory, and even hell as a place of conscious torture, are all non-biblical ideas that spring from the imagination of human beings. They are not given to us by our creator God.

The confusion begins with the popular notion that humans already possess some form of immortal spiritual life power, which is released from the body at death and then lives somewhere else. This immortal spirit idea is not a biblically based teaching, yet it is widely accepted.

If an immortal spirit were to carry on somewhere else after death, where and what would that somewhere else be? Human imagination came up with a few creative ideas.

Most cultures developed the idea that there should be either a place of reward or a place of punishment for these immortal spirits (perhaps to satisfy humanity’s instinct for justice in the universe, no matter how off-base). This is where we get our popular Western teachings regarding hell, heaven and in other parts of the world paradise, reincarnation, karma and so forth. None of these are biblically based either.

Now it gets even stranger

False interpretations of Scripture have led many to teach that all human beings are guilty of sin the moment they are born, even a newborn infant! It's generally called “original sin.” This is yet another false idea, but it has taken root. It even causes people to question the fairness of God because Scripture teaches that the removal of the penalty for sin comes only through accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, submitting to baptism and receiving the Holy Spirit. Newborn infants and children are wrongly assumed to be born guilty under this “original sin,” so many parents want to get their babies baptized as soon as possible in case they die young. But even this did not help babies who died after only a few days, hours or minutes. What about them? Would God really send little, unbaptized babies to hell?

Well-intentioned but misguided theologians during the medieval period (around A.D. 1300) developed a compromise by inventing the idea of Limbo—a state somewhere in the middle. Those in Limbo are not punished, not rewarded, and blissfully unaware of their indeterminate state. Limbo is not a biblical teaching. It came into popular thought many centuries after the Bible was completed. Limbo is not an official teaching of any church organization, but more like a working theory proposed to try and work around some difficult logical paradoxes.

The paradoxes and questions about the justice and fairness of God come about because of a poor understanding of God’s actual plan for the resurrection of all humanity in successive stages, and acceptance of non-biblical theories about life after death.

Children and infants who die do not go to a shadowy and vague place called limbo. Instead, they share a wonderful hope of resurrection and relationship with God.

You should take a look at the free Bible study guide What Happens After Death? Also take a look at the Beyond Today episode The Moment You Die.