Do Children Go to Limbo When They Die?

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Do Children Go to Limbo When They Die?

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Do Children Go to Limbo When They Die?

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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 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 [13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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). 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 Revelation 20:11-14 [11] And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. [12] And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [14] And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
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).

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 1 Corinthians 15:23But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
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). Such people will have lived their lives being assessed or “judged” by God (1 Peter 4:17 1 Peter 4:17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
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). 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 1 Corinthians 15:42-54 [42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [43] It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. [45] And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. [46] However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. [47] The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [50] Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
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)

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.

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