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INITIAL NOTE: This article will address the question and issue, but you will also get in-depth biblical insights on related things that touch on this issue.
Many have never had to experience the suffering of losing an unborn baby or an infant. It may be hard for us to imagine the emotions of those who have suffered such a loss. Of course, parents will mourn such a loss deeply. Some mothers have suffered the loss of their children before they were born. Others have lost a child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or some other tragedy. Yet, each living with their loss. For a mother, she will know how old her child would be had they survived on any given day. As Christians, should we have hope in a resurrection to eternal life to restore what has been lost? We will ask this question again at the end and answer it. But let’s get the gist of it out of the way here in the beginning. But know that the biblically grounded answer lies below, and we also offer a correction on John MacArthur’s view.
Should Christians have hope in a resurrection to restore the baby that they lost, be it in or outside the womb, who was aborted, stillborn, or lost through a miscarriage? In short, we do not know for absolute certainty because the Bible does not explicitly state what will happen in such scenarios. Nevertheless, God’s Word does include principles that offer inferences that may give us comfort. The Bible clearly teaches that life begins at conception and that God views all unborn children as unique and valued. We must remember that if a mother gets an abortion through ignorance or duress, it is not the child’s fault, and the mother may find Christ later and repent. There is no basis for anyone to be dogmatic on the matter in either direction. In the end, the matter rests with God, who is love and rich in loving-kindness and mercy. (Ps. 86:15) Undeniably, his deepest desire is to undo death through the resurrection. (Job 14:14-15) We can be assured that he always does the right thing.
EXCURSION: Some might question the idea that God is love and rich in loving-kindness and mercy based on some Old Testament texts, so we provided an article link to deal with that Bible difficulty as well.
Joshua 6:21; Deuteronomy 2:34; 3:6 OTBDC: How can God, holy, righteous, of love, all-powerful be justified in the destruction of cities and the killing of men, women, and young children?
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John Macarthur says that
- All infants dying in infancy go to heaven
- He gives a REASON for his position
- His reason is a complete denial of the biblical gospel.
MacArthur says that all infants dying in infancy go to heaven because “they enter and leave the world without being touched by sin.” The whole reason for man’s needing salvation is that we all sinned IN ADAM, therefore, we are all born guilty of sin. Paul can clarify what is meant by all have sinned in Adam. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) Without this teaching, we have a completely different Savior from the one in the Bible. What do I mean by this? If anyone denies that we are not born into Adamic sin, there is no need for the ransom sacrifice, and our future hope of salvation is dependent on ourselves. We turn to Paul again, “Therefore, as one trespass [Adam] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness [Jesus] leads to justification and life for all men.” (Rom. 5:18) Yes, sin is sin but like everything in life, there are different levels of sin. The Bible even refers to some sins as gross sins. Indeed, no one would equate stealing a piece of candy with the rape and murder of a child. God is justice, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.” (Lev. 24:19–21) “Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deut 19:21) Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 8:21 tell us that all of us are mentally bent toward evil. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that we have a treacherous heart, and we cannot fully understand it. So, the primary meaning of “sin” and the reason that were are all sinners is that we are missing the mark of perfection; we fall short of perfection.
So inherited sin is Adamic sin, sinning in Adam, something that we are guilty of at conception. Yes, even in the womb we are guilty of sin because it is something we got from our parents, that they got from their parents, that our grandparents got from our great-grandparents, and so on all the way back to Adam. It never skips a generation. Nevertheless, Jesus Christ’s ransom sacrifice covers this Adamic, inherited sin. So, this is the part of MacArthur’s statement that is mistaken when he says, “they enter and leave the world without being touched by sin.” No, they enter the womb and the world touched by Adamic sin, which Christ’s ransom sacrifice covers. Then, they have the hope of a resurrection like all others. When they go to heaven or await an earthly resurrection is debatable. (More on this below) However, there are other ways that we sin and it is these ways that the baby or infant would be without sin. We can sin in word (Job 2:10; Ps 39:1), by our actions (Lev. 20:20; 2 Cor. 12:21), or by failing to be obedient to the principles of God’s Word and our Christian conscience (Nu 9:13; Jam. 4:17). And we can sin in mind and heart (Pr 21:4; see Ron. 3:9-18; 2 Pet. 2:12-15). If we lack faith in God, this is a major sin. (Heb 3:12-13, 18-19) We reiterate this again below to start the new section. In this way of sinning, Macarthur is correct that they have not been touched by sin. This second kind of sinning, the what we do or fail to do sins is also covered by the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ if the person is repentant and making every effort not to repeat the sinful behavior. Yet, there is a third sin that the ransom does not cover, the unrepentant, willful, living in sin. Of course, the infant would not be guilty of this either. We will say this and offer you an article to contemplate it. God condemned Canaan 400 years before those babies were born because he has foreknowledge of every microscopic detail and every microscopic moment in time. Therefore, he could slate them for destruction. And the Bible record and secular archaeology prove that God’s foreknowledge was absolutely correct.
END OF STATEMENT
Is God’s Foreknowledge Compatible with Free Will?
Earthly and Heaven Hope Brief Excursion
The New Earth: The Earthly Hope
In the O[ld] T[estament] the kingdom of God is usually described in terms of a redeemed earth; this is especially clear in the book of Isaiah, where the final state of the universe is already called new heavens and a new earth (65:17; 66:22) The nature of this renewal was perceived only very dimly by OT authors, but they did express the belief that a humans ultimate destiny is an earthly one. This vision is clarified in the N[ew] T[estament]. Jesus speaks of the “renewal” of the world (Matt 19:28), Peter of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). Paul writes that the universe will be redeemed by God from its current state of bondage (Rom. 8:18-21). This is confirmed by Peter, who describes the new heavens and the new earth as the Christian’s hope (2 Pet. 3:13). Finally, the book of Revelation includes a glorious vision of the end of the present universe and the creation of a new universe, full of righteousness and the presence of God. The vision is confirmed by God in the awesome declaration: “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:1-8)
The new heavens and the new earth will be the renewed creation that will fulfill the purpose for which God created the universe. It will be characterized by the complete rule of God and by the full realization of the final goal of redemption: “Now the dwelling of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3).
The fact that the universe will be created anew shows that God’s goals for humans is not an ethereal and disembodied existence, but a bodily existence on a perfected earth. The scene of the beatific vision is the new earth. The spiritual does not exclude the created order and will be fully realized only within a perfected creation. (Elwell 2001, 828-29)
God created the earth to be inhabited, to be filled with perfect humans, who are over the animals, and under the sovereignty of God. (Gen 1:28; 2:8, 15; Ps 104:5; 115:16; Eccl 1:4) Sin did not dissuade God from his plans (Isa. 45:18); hence, he has saved redeemable humankind by Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. It seems that the Bible offers two hopes to redeemed humans, (1) a heavenly hope, or (2) an earthly hope. It also seems that those with the heavenly hope are limited in number and are going to heaven to rule with Christ as kings, priests, and judges either on the earth or over the earth from heaven. It seems that those with the earthly hope will receive eternal life here on a paradise earth as originally intended. It also seems that the mismanagement of the earth, that the destroying, i.e., damaging the earth will not go to the point of no return, in that, man will not ruin the earth to the point where it is beyond repair but will be stopped in the end, and God will destroy those destroying his creation. Throughout the thousand-year reign of Christ and his Kingdom, there will be a renewal of the earth.
You can anticipate that Jesus and his Kingdom heirs will bring about these transformations. For more information, read the article “Has the End of All Things Drawn Close?”
 It is unwise to speak of the written Word of God as if it were of human origin, saying ‘OT authors express the belief,’ when what was written is the meaning and message of what God wanted to convey by means of the human author.
 Create anew does not mean a complete destruction followed by a re-creation, but instead a renewal of the present universe.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? Why Has God Allowed Suffering and Evil? Why God, Why?
END OF EXCURSION
Sin is anything not in agreement with, therefore opposed to, God’s personality, standards, ways, and will. Thus, sin is anything damaging our connection with God. It can be something we say (Job 2:10; Ps 39:1), something we do (Lev. 20:20; 2Co 12:21), or something that we fail to do (Num. 9:13; James 4:17). Sin can also be in our mind, that is our inner person (Prov. 21:4; compare also Rom. 3:9-18; 2Pe 2:12-15). If we begin to lack faith in God, this can become a major sin. – Heb. 3:12-13, 18-19.
The traditional Hebrew term translated as “sin” is chattath; in Greek, the common word is hamartia. In both languages, the verb forms (Heb., chata; Gr., hamartano) mean “miss.” The sense is that of missing or not reaching a goal, way, mark, or right point. For humans, it is missing the mark of perfection. We are mentally bent toward evil. (Gen 6:5; 8:21), with a treacherous and unknowable heart (Jer. 17:9), with the natural desire to do bad.
So, with the partial quote you gave of MacArthur, it is not enough for context. He may well have been talking about living in sin, which an unborn baby or an infant would not have done, not that of being a sinner. He is well aware that all are born sinners, missing the mark of perfection.
FULL CONTEXT BY MACARTHUR
It must be emphasized that the Bible does not explicitly answer the question of whether aborted babies in infants will receive a resurrection, so there is no reason for us to be dogmatic on the subject. This question may bring us to an almost infinite variety of questions. It seems best to shun speculation. We can know for sure that the matter rests with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, both possessing loving-kindness and mercy. (Ps. 86:15) Undoubtedly, it is the Father’s deepest desire to defeat death by way of the resurrection. (Job 14:14-5) We can be sure that The Father and the Son will always do what is right. They will give us healing for the many injuries and emotional hurts visited upon us by life in Satan’s wicked world as they lovingly “destroy the works of the devil.”—1 John 3:8.
Lastly, I would add that you will not find any Christian, nor any leader within Christianity, that believes precisely the same on all Bible doctrines, even the so-called salvation doctrines. The salvation doctrines all have several different views as well.
As Christians, Should we have hope in a resurrection to restore what has been lost?
Being that we have a loving God who is the epitome of love, grace, and justice, we can be confident that he will do what is right. So, yes, we can have hope, and we should not let anyone deny us of that hope. The Scriptures also show that every person deserves the right to hear the good news, so as to make an informed decision on whether they will accept Jesus Christ. Unborn babies and infants who die will not have had that choice. We are told at Acts 24:15, “having a hope in God which these men also themselves await that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” The unborn baby and the infant that has died would be that unrighteous who never had an opportunity to place his or her faith in Jesus Christ.
What If You Have Had an Abortion?
Let’s repeat the fact that the unborn baby is not at fault for the mother’s decision to get an abortion. In addition, the mother has a lifetime to find Christ, or if a Christian who has stumbled to then find her way back to Christ and repent. Jesus Christ revealed God’s intention on such things when he said: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) Yes, when we truly feel real guilt, and remorse, and are sincerely repentant for a wrongful act, no matter how serious, and we make efforts to not repeat it and ask God to forgive us, he gladly does so, even for serious sins such as murder. (Isaiah 1:18) “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise,” says Psalm 51:17.
Aside from a cleansed conscience, God supplies the repentant one with peace of mind and a restful heart when they humbly come to him in prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” says Philippians 4:6-7. After digging into the Bible and unloading our hearts to God, we will realize that inner peace. We will come to know that with God “there is forgiveness.”—Psalm 130:4.