Question No. 69:
Will infants and heathen who die without having the opportunity of hearing the gospel of Christ and of accepting Him as their Saviour, be saved? If they can thus be saved in their ignorance, then why cannot all be saved?
Could the gospel-ignorant be saved in their ignorance, then it were far better that the church leave the whole world ignorant of the gospel, so that all might be saved. But no! no one can be saved without the gospel.
As to the salvation of infants and children whose parents are saved, the Spirit of Prophecy says:
“Angels ‘gather together the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ Little children are borne by holy angels to their mothers’ arms. Friends long separated by death are united, nevermore to part, and with songs of gladness ascend together to the city of God.”–The Great Controversy, p. 645.
“So was the faith of this woman rewarded. Christ, the great Life-giver, restored her son to her. In like manner will His faithful ones be rewarded, when, at His coming, death loses its sting, and the grave is robbed of the victory it has claimed. Then will He restore to His servants the children that have been taken from them by death. ‘Thus saith the Lord; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded,…and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.'”–Prophets and Kings, p. 239.
And as to the salvation of children whose parents are lost, the Lord commands:
“Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Ezek. 9:6.
“And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they stoned them with stones.” Josh. 7:24, 25.
From these inspired passages, we see that infants and children are saved only because of the faithfulness of their parents. What a solemn, wonderful, and dreadful responsibility!
Concerning the heathen slave, we read: “I saw that the slave-master will have to answer for the soul of his slave whom he has kept in ignorance; and the sins of the slave will be visited upon the master. God can not take to heaven the slave who has been kept in ignorance and degradation, knowing nothing of God or the Bible, fearing nothing but his master’s lash, and holding a lower position than the brutes.
But He does the best thing for him that a compassionate God can do. He permits him to be as if he had not been.”–Early Writings, p. 276.
Clearly, therefore, those who have had no opportunity to learn the truth of salvation, will never suffer the punishment which the informed wicked will suffer, although they cannot be given eternal life.