What will happen to babies and young children at the rapture? Will children be raptured?
There are three clear biblical passages that speak of the rapture of the church in which believers will be taken directly to heaven to be with Jesus (John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). None of these passages states what will happen to babies and young children at the rapture. What does this mean?
A look at other portions of Scripture suggests that God likely takes those too young to confess faith in Jesus Christ to be with Him in heaven upon death. For example, when David's infant son died, he said, "But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23). It is clear David does not have in mind the grave or death in general since he takes comfort in the fact that he will one day join his child. Instead, David had in view being with his son again in the presence of the Lord.
Based on this same principle, it is likely that babies and young children will leave earth to be with Jesus in heaven at the rapture. Though they have not yet expressed faith in Jesus Christ, He is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of all, including those unable to place faith in Him (1 John 2:2).
Another issue related to this question is the view held by some that only the children of believers will be taken in the rapture. This view is based on the faith of the parents rather than the grace of God. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is not dependent on others but on Jesus alone. A parent's faith cannot save a child so it does not make sense that a parent's faith, or lack thereof, would be the determining factor in which children are taken in the rapture.
Yet another related issue is what some call the age of accountability. While all children are born with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5), Jewish tradition held that a child became an adult at age 13. In other biblical passages, men were not counted as members of the nation of Israel until the age of 20. There is no specific age of accountability mentioned in Scripture, and many people have come to faith in Jesus at a young age. Yet there are certainly times in the Bible that God distinguishes how He treats young children differently than adults.
As parents, grandparents, family, and friends of children, we must teach young people the importance of believing in Jesus Christ at an early age. Samuel worshiped the Lord as a boy. David and King Josiah also obeyed the Lord in their youth. While the Bible offers hope for babies and young children to be with Jesus, it is also essential to, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
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