Do All Good People Go to Heaven?
“The funeral was over but not the ice-cold shock. . . . It seemed incredible that only a few weeks earlier my little boy had been taking his first steps, his small face aglow with a grin of sheer triumph. But now Andrew was dead! . . .
“I kept standing by the window, looking out into the night, searching the heavens. ‘Where is the little fellow now?’ I wondered. ‘Is he somewhere up there in heaven among the stars?’”
THE death of a child is probably the most traumatic experience parents can have. ‘Where is our child now?’ they wonder. ‘In heaven or some other place?’ Most religions teach that babies who die go to heaven. In Johannesburg, South Africa, the epitaph on one tombstone reads: “God wanted an opening flower, his angel took one of ours.” But one may wonder: ‘Why should God want “an opening flower” when, according to popular belief, he already has so many?’ And countless people wonder . . .
‘What Is Heaven Like?’
Most people have only a vague idea of heaven. Some lightheartedly speak of “pie in the sky when you die.” But what does the Bible say? Its very first verse says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) This refers to the physical heavens, the glorious array of stars and galaxies. (Deuteronomy 4:19) But there are also spiritual heavens. Thus, the Bible speaks of Jehovah’s “lofty abode of holiness and beauty.”—Isaiah 63:15.
Who was the first to ascend to this “lofty abode” of our heavenly Father? His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. He said: “No man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man.” (John 3:13) This clearly shows that no human creatures had gone to heaven. But Jesus promised that some humans would go there. Just before he ascended to heaven, he said to his faithful disciples: “I am going my way to prepare a place for you . . . and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be.”—John 14:2, 3.
Obviously, then, some good people go to heaven. But do all good people go to heaven? What about man’s home—the earth? Is it to be destroyed by nuclear war to become a burned cinder floating in space? Definitely not. The Bible says: “A generation is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4) And why should the Creator destroy this beautiful earth, even though parts of it have been polluted by selfish people? God’s Word promises: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29.
Evidently, then, the earth has an interesting future. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus foretold: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Moreover, the last Bible book, Revelation, indicates that the earth will become a paradise. Concerning obedient mankind, it says: “God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
From the foregoing, it can be seen that some good people go to heaven, whereas others will enjoy life on earth. This means that there are two distinct groups of people involved. How is that possible? Moreover, like the mother of Andrew, many worry about what happens to their babies who die unbaptized. Roman Catholics are taught that they go to a place called Limbo. Is there such a place? Do babies go there? Satisfying and comforting answers are provided in the next article.