Justice for Those who Die Innocent

Every day, innocent children die in this world.  Some inherit genetic conditions that will not allow their bodies to form correctly, and as a result they cannot live.  Some contract deadly diseases that cause them to suffer and eventually die. Some are mortally injured in accidents or, even worse, due to the violent acts of others.  Millions are victims of abortion, through which their lives are willfully terminated before birth with the consent of their own parents. For certain, God hates these "hands that shed innocent blood" (Prov. 6:17).

These children are truly innocent, and their deaths are not the results of their own sins.  The Bible witnesses the fact that prior to birth children cannot do anything good or bad (Rom. 9:11).  After birth, the innocence of children is such that Jesus held them up as examples for the rest of us, saying, "The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt. 19:14), and, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3).  Indeed, we are called "children of God" in part to convey that quality of innocence that is present in children (Phil. 2:15). Calvinists and Catholics may deny the innocence of children, but they are in conflict with the truth of God's word.

The death of innocent children may seem to be patently unjust, and, if we do not have a proper spiritual outlook, it can leave us despondent.  Scripture tells us that "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23) and that "the soul who sins will die" (Ezek. 18:4).  Thus, when we see innocent children suffering and dying, our sense of justice is violated.  If there is no guilt of sin in children, then why do some die?  This question can be so burdensome to parents whose children have died that they sink into despondency and lose their faith in God.  Even so, there is an answer that will satisfy our understanding.

How then can the deaths of innocent children be explained?  To find the answer, consider Romans 5:12-21, which contrasts Adam and Jesus.  This passage is speaking directly concerning sinners, but it also indirectly gives us an answer concerning innocent children.  Calvinists have abused this passage for their own false doctrine, but let us understand it for truth.  Death has come to all descendants of Adam because of Adam's sin, including those who are innocent of sin.  None of us have inherited Adam's guilt, but all of us have received the consequences of his sin.  The scourge of sin and all of its effects have plagued the world ever since Adam sinned so long ago.  "Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin" (v. 12)..."by the transgression of the one the many died" (v. 15)..."by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one" (v. 17).

Thankfully, the Scriptures assure us that death is not the end of innocent children. Again in Romans 5:12-21, we find an answer to our dilemma.  Just "as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (v. 21).  Jesus came that all "may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). This abundant life has been made possible because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  If Jesus had not died and had not been raised from the dead, then the innocent children and all who have died would be hopelessly trapped in death forever.  However, "Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep" (1Cor. 15:20).  If He is the first fruits, then other fruits are to follow, and the children who have died in their innocence will also be raised up from the dead.

Therefore, it is at the resurrection of the dead on the last day that justice will be settled for the innocent children who have died.  The Lord has said, "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29).  Physical death will not hold anyone forever, for Jesus will call all souls from the grave in the day of judgment.  Those souls who are judged as guilty of sin without forgiveness will go away into the eternal second death (Rev. 21:8).  However, those innocent souls of children will have abundant life forever, and the physical deaths they suffered in this world will be of no consequence in eternity.  Thus, the justice of God will be done, and the innocent will live forever.

Stacey E. Durham


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