Do Children Go To Hell?
As an evangelist, one false doctrine that really irritates me is professing Christians denying hell’s existence. It’s baffling how they can do this even after reading Revelation 20. One Facebook friend recently posted this photo and added the comment: “The concept of Hell, where people suffer and burn for eternity, is an outdated doctrine based upon fear used to control people in the Church. It should be relegated to the history books.”
The Bible itself is a history book. It includes accounts of people being tormented in hell. Look at what Jesus said in Luke 16...
22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ “
Because Universalists like to offer alternative definitions of Hades (an ancient Greek word for hell), I initially didn’t respond to my friend’s comment with Scripture. Instead I posted this powerful quote from J. C. Ryle...
“Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy — but not just; a God who is all love — but not holy; a God who has a Heaven for everybody — but a Hell for none; a God who can allow good and evil to be side by side in time — but will make no distinction between good and evil in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own imagination!”
My friend replied to the quote by bringing up a question that has come up when I’ve witnessed to people: Do children go to hell?
Last weekend at church, I heard an excellent teaching on the Great White Throne Judgment. The pastor pointed out that every person born has their name entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life. When a child reaches what’s often called “the age of accountability,” he or she must decide whether to be saved. That young person would have their name blotted from the Book of Life if they reject the gospel and later go to hell if they die without repenting. 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”
I heard one minister suggest the age of accountability could be 12 or 13 years old since that's when young Jews have their bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs. Personally I believe that age can vary depending on an individual’s background and upbringing. A mentally handicapped person growing up in a godless environment might have a higher age of accountability than a preacher’s kid who heard the gospel all his life.
Regardless of when the age of accountability is, parents still have the responsibility to “...not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) One must speak the truth in love regarding what lies on the other side of eternity. The Great Commission includes a warning of condemnation to those who don’t believe the gospel (Mark 16:16).
If children need to be warned of the consequences when they disobey rules set by their earthly father, shouldn’t they be made aware of the consequences for disobeying our Heavenly Father?
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” - Matthew 25:41