Monday, March 3, 2014

Will the mentally handicapped go to Heaven?

This question is a little broad considering the number of different conditions that may fall under the umbrella of “mentally handicapped” or “disabled”. This question usually arises in a situation where a person is wondering if a loved-one with limited abilities will ever be able to truly “believe” and “obey” God. This post will provide a couple different thoughts to consider when faced with this question.

#1 God is loving, kind and just.

God has compassion for the less fortunate. Throughout Scripture the disabled are shown to be worthy of care. It would be contrary to God’s compassionate character for Him to condemn an individual for not doing something that they were incapable of doing. God wants all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), and He will do everything consistent with His character to make that happen. 

God does require a person to “believe and be baptized to be saved” (Mark 16:16), however, there are some who are incapable of true belief in the Lordship of Christ. I do not believe that a loving God who wants all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), would punish a person for not doing something they are incapable of doing. Some mentally challenged individuals are unable to understand salvation, but we can trust that a loving God would still take care of these precious souls.

#2 Children are innocent

Sin is what keeps a person out of heaven. It is not possible for a child to truly sin. Sin is a willful transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4). Sin is knowing the right thing to do but choosing to do wrong (James 4:17). A child may do bad things, but a child cannot commit sin that would separate them from God for all eternity. This principle would also apply to the mentally disabled.

Jesus emphasized the pure state of a child in (Matthew 18:1-5).
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me
It can be concluded, that even an adult (who due to a disability has the mental functions of a child), would also be considered pure in the sight of God.

Conclusion

Every situation is different, there are some individuals with impaired mental abilities who still have the capacity to believe and obey Jesus. On the other hand, there are some who have disabilities so severe that they may never understand God’s Word in anyway.

God’s people need to be kind, compassionate and patient with those, who through no fault of their own, have different disabilities or special needs. The church needs to be a place where these individuals, loved by God, receive love and care from their fellow man.

By Cliff Sabroe 
Quotes from NASB95