Written by Perry Stone- Voice of Evangalism, Cleveland, Tn.
FOR CENTURIES THERE has been theological debate about infants in paradise. Most acknowledge, once an infant enters the world through the birth process and breathes on its own, that if the child were to pass away, its soul and spirit would be taken into the heavenly paradise. This is borne out when Bathsheba was pregnant with David’s son. The child was born with a terrible aﬄiction, which led David to engage in a seven-day vigil of prayer and fasting. On the seventh day the infant died. Under Divine inspiration, David said, “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:23).
What did David mean, “I will go to him?” The early Biblical patriarchs understood that at death, the soul and spirit leave the body and are taken to a special place to await the resurrection of the dead. In the 1611 King James translation, this process is called “giving up the ghost,” or we might say “releasing the spirit from the body.”
This death process is alluded to with Abraham (Gen 25:8), Ishmael (Gen. 25:17), Isaac (35:29), and Jacob (Gen. 49:33). Once their spirits departed their bodies, each spirit was “gathered to his people.” Some suggest this means they were buried in the same place. However, the phrase refers to the gathering chamber once concealed under the earth, in which righteous souls in covenant with God were gathered together. At the resurrection of Christ, those righteous souls were transported to the third heaven, where today they wait in paradise.
Thus David knew that once the eternal spirit of his infant son
departed to its final resting place, he could not bring him back; but
one day, he would go to where he was—meaning that when David died, he would see his son again.
What about an infant who dies inside the womb? When does the eternal soul and spirit enter the physical body of an infant? After years of researching this, it seems there are three possible theories:
- The soul and spirit enter the womb at the moment of conception;
- The soul and spirit enter the womb when the infant is six months old;
- The soul and spirit enter the infant after the umbilical cord is
Ministers and theologians have varying opinions and either accept or reject each theory. The first point to ponder is the foreknowledge of God in the human conception process. In the eyes of God, the unborn is a living soul and not just a blob of tissue, or even a creature with muscle, skin and bone.
In Genesis 25:21-22, Rebekah, the wife of Isaac, was pregnant with twins. As the two twins were developing inside the womb, we read that “the children struggled within her” (Gen 25:22). Notice the inspired Word of God called them childrenprior to their actual birth. In Luke 1:39-44, Mary informed Elizabeth that she had been visited by an angel and was impregnated to carry the Messiah. Elizabeth called Mary “the mother of my Lord,” before Christ was ever born in Bethlehem. Mary is called a mother, a title given to someone who hasa child.
Elizabeth and her husband had prayed for many years to conceive a child. The Lord opened her womb and gave her a son named John. Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John when Mary announced her own pregnancy. In Luke 1:41-44, Elizabeth felt John move in her belly and said to Mary, “The babe leaped in my womb.”
The Greek word babe here is brephos and is used four times by Luke, referring to John the Baptist and Christ. The interesting point is that the same word is used by Luke (who was a medical doctor) when the infant is still in the womb and once the infant is outside the womb. The word brephos can refer to an unborn child (Luke 1:41), a newborn child, or an older infant (Luke 2:12; 18:15; Acts 7:19; 2 Tim. 3:15). If it is not a baby in your womb, then you are not pregnant. The fact is that a child is a child and a living being in the womb, as well as outside the womb.
Notice that Elizabeth said that John “leaped for joy” (Luke1:44). The angel Gabriel had informed John’s father, Zacharias, that John would be “filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). The Holy Spirit enters the human spirit and resides there. For John to be filled from his mother’s womb would require John to have an eternal spirit within his small body while he was in the womb of his mother. The infilling of John appears to have occurred when he was six months of age, as this was the same time he leaped in his mother’s womb, and his mother, Elizabeth, was instantly filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). Perhaps when the Spirit filled John, his own mother received her infilling within her innermost being.
WHY ARE CHILDREN CALLED “SEED?”
God Himself identifies children with the word “seed.” In the Old Testament, God addressed future fathers, such as Abraham, by calling his unborn children “seed” (NKJ – Gen. 12:7; 22:17). God uses the term seed because children begin in the loins of their fathers, as it requires the seed of a man to create the infant in the mother’s womb. Contemporary men call this “seed” sperm, but the Bible called it seed for a good reason.
Just as an apple seed planted in the earth has all the characteristics of a future apple tree—the roots, trunk, branches, leaves, and fruit— concealed in the seed, so the physical features of a child are encoded in the DNA of the father’s seed. Eve was the first on record to use the word seed after Seth’s birth, as she said, “God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew” (Gen. 4:25). Eve may have used this word seed, since God Himself had stated that the “seed of the woman” would bruise the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15).
With Abraham came the “mark of the covenant,” which was
circumcision of the foreskin on the Jewish male child eight days after his birth (Gen. 17:12). Each male child shed blood during circumcision. Once he married and consummated with his wife, the seed from his loins passed through the mark of circumcision, thus marking his seed for a future blessing from God.
Paul confirmed this when he wrote about Abraham paying tithe (in Jerusalem) to Melchizedek, the first king and priest:
“Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.”
CONCEPTION AND BIRTH ARE MARKED
Since God Himself is the giver of life and the creator, He alone should be the voice of inspiration to explain to the medical field when life begins. In Scripture the moment of conception is marked as the moment life begins. Genesis 25:21-22, 2 Kings 19:3 and Ruth 1:11 all speak of children and sons in the womb. Job 3:3 speaks of both birth and conception. In Luke 1:36 we read where Elizabeth conceived a son, and in Luke 1:57 she brought forth (gave birth to) a son. The infant was a son at conception, and nine months later a son at birth.
God alone has the attribute of foreknowledge, meaning that He has detailed information on each person before they are conceived. Nine months before their son was born, Abraham and Sarah were told his name would be called Isaac (Gen. 17:19). Nine months before Samson’s birth, his father Menoah was informed he would have a son, and he would be a Nazarite. Before John was conceived in his mother’s womb, the angel told his father that he would be a son, he would be called John, he would come in the spirit of Elijah, and be filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:13). The angel Gabriel brought Mary a message that she would conceive a son whose name would be Jesus, and He would save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Note that in three of the four examples—Isaac, John, and Jesus—the name of the son was given before conception.
Throughout Scripture we find times when God revealed the gender of children before their birth; at times, He revealed their names, destinies, purposes, and plans for their future. God especially marked kings, prophets, and priests, as their ministry would impact the nation of Israel.
Hundreds of years before their births, the Holy Spirit revealed the names of two important leaders, Josiah (1 Kings 13:2) and Cyrus (Isa. 44:28). The destinies of these two men would directly aﬀect Israel and the Jewish people.
THE SPIRIT WITHIN INFANTS
In Ecclesiastes 11:5, Solomon wrote:
“As you know not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so you know not the works of God who makes all.”
Notice how the spirit and the bones are growing in the womb. A prime example is with Christ. In the miracle of the incarnation, Christ, who pre-existed with God, left his position in heaven to enter the womb of a virgin. For nine months, His body grew within Mary until the fullness of time, when He arrived in Bethlehem. Hebrews 10:5 reads, “A body thou hast prepared me….”
Paul penned an interesting observation when he said:
“For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.”
The time Paul was “alive without the law” was when he was a child, innocent with no awareness of sin. We would call
this before the age of accountability. This age varies among children and youth, as each individual has a diﬀerent level of comprehension and understanding. Moving from childhood into maturity, Paul reached a level of under- standing of the law, and the consequences of breaking the law. The conscience is the inner voice of the soul that rebukes or condemns a person when they knowingly sin or break the law. A child whose mind is simple, whose heart is sincere, and whose spirit is undefiled by the flesh is innocent until their understanding perceives—not just parental rules of right and wrong—but the law itself.
Christ understood this when He ministered and parents brought their children to be blessed by Him. While there are only a few examples in New Testament, Christ did say that the kingdom of heaven is made up of children (Matt. 19:14). Christ informed His adult audience that unless they be converted and become like children, they cannot enter the kingdom” (Matt. 18:3).
WHAT ABOUT A MISCARRIAGE?
While the Scripture does not use the word miscarriage, it does speak of an untimely birth in Job 3:16 (KJV). The correct rendering of this phrase is stillborn. Countless mothers have been devastated when their child was stillborn in the womb. When Job lost his wealth, his ten children and his health, he began to curse the day he was born (Job 3:1). We read in Job 3:16-19 (NKJV):
“Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they do not hear the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master.”
Job knew that when an infant passes, that child will see no wicked- ness and be at rest. The “rest” refers to the soul and spirit remaining in a compartment (in Job’s day it was under the earth) where the person ceases from their labor. The word “prisoners” means the captives, or the souls and spirits in the Old Testament who were captives under the earth.
Jesus ministered to these souls for three days when He was in the heart of the earth; and at His resurrection, He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men (Eph. 4:8-10). Notice both the “small and great” are there. The word small in Hebrew isqutan, and refers to the least, the little, and figuratively, to small (or young) in age. This is the place where David’s infant son went when he died seven days after his birth.
In another verse, Job speaks of what occurs within the womb when an infant dies:
“Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”
The same question is posed to the Almighty by Job, as he wishes he had passed before being born:
“Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me!”
Note in Job 3:11 that the infant has a spirit (KJV-ghost) in their small body in their mother’s womb. The spirit can depart the body, either while still in the womb (stillborn), or shortly after the child leaves the womb (Job 10:18). With the eternal spirit dwelling in the infant while still encased in the mother’s embryonic fluid, then this means the spirit is within the body while the body is within the womb. The spirit does not wait until the child leaves the womb and breathes on its own before it enters the body and brings life.
OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Pam and I were married for eight years before she became pregnant with our first child, a beautiful son named Jonathan Gabriel. In the late 1980s, prior to his conception, I experienced two separate dreams in which I saw two little girls. In the dream, one looked about five years old and the other was younger. The one child looked strong and in charge of the situation, but the younger almost seemed to have some type of bodily defect. I asked the older girl her name and she replied, “I am Amanda, the little girl you are going to have.”
I immediately asked her about the other little girl and she replied, “This is my sister, Rochelle.” I awoke and immediately woke up my wife to tell her what I dreamed. I told her that it appeared we would have two girls in the future. We had a book of baby names and looked up Amanda and Rochelle. Amazingly, Rochelle meant “from a little stone.”
The dream was so convincing that I met with our partners in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and told them I believed we would have a little girl. A few months later we discovered Pam was pregnant. We painted the room pink and bought dresses and girly things, but to our astonishment, a beautiful, blond-haired, blue-eyed boy was in her womb! We both were surprised but thrilled, especially since the Scripture taught that a male child that opens the womb (a firstborn son) was considered holy to the Lord.
Because of our intense travel schedule and the fact that we were seldom home, eleven years passed before we considered having more children. After returning from a long trip, I was lying on our bed when suddenly, on my left ankle, I felt the hand of a small child, as though it was trying to balance. I sat up and told Pam what just happened and immediately commented, “I believe this is a sign that we are to have another child!”
Pam became pregnant at age thirty-eight. We informed our family, friends, and ministry partners who knew about the dream eleven years earlier, and all were in agreement that the girls were coming. We wondered if they might be twins, although as I saw them, they appeared to be diﬀerent ages.
Several weeks into the pregnancy, we were setting up all day Monday at the Grand Hotel Convention Center for our biggest meeting of the year. While eating at a restaurant across the road from the hotel, Pam felt pain and suddenly began to bleed. We headed back to the room, and were saddened to learn she miscarried the tiny baby that was growing in her.
After the miscarriage, Pam felt emotionally and physically as though she would be unable to carry another child. However, she did become pregnant again, and into the seventh month, the doctor placed her on bed rest. I told Pam this would be a girl. I had seen a healthy girl in my dream, and I advised Pam not to be fearful, but to rest and let others help around the house. On August 2, 2001, our precious girl arrived and we named her Amanda, based on the dream from about thirteen years earlier.
At our ages, we will not be having other children, except for spiritual children won to Christ through our ministry. The question we asked was, “What happened to Rochelle?” Should we have attempted to have children earlier, or was Rochelle the child that was miscarried? Several circumstances seem to indicate this is possible. When Pam began to ask the Lord why the infant was taken and never given a chance to live on earth, the Holy Spirit gave Pam a personal Word to comfort her. After hearing this word, I was reminded of the dreams in which Amanda was strong, but Rochelle appeared weak, as though she had some form of birth defect.
Many years later we received a sweet letter from a woman who did not know about Pam’s miscarriage. The letter moved me to a river of tears mixed with joy. Leisia from Oak Hill, California penned her story.
Her only son, Levi, passed away and she had been in a season of great grief. She had consistently prayed to see him in heaven. One day she was lying on her bed and had an “out of the body experience” (note 2 Cor. 12:1-4), where she was taken into heaven. She saw her sister-in-law who had passed away seven months before her son. Leisia asked if she knew where Levi was and was told yes. She described being able to appear in one location in heaven and suddenly appear in another. She appeared at the location where her son was sitting in a large chair. He ran to her, grabbed her, and they hugged. She said that you don’t have to talk, as you can read the other person’s thoughts and feelings. Leisia noticed that Levi was growing a prickly beard, which was unusual because the medicine he took while living kept him from growing facial hair. She then wrote the following in her letter:
“This is not the reason for my letter today. The Lord moved on my heart to write you after another heavenly experience I had yesterday. I was praying before daybreak in the early hours of Friday, September 20, 2013. While I was praying, I either slipped oﬀ into a dream, or I had a vision and found myself in the waiting room of a grand Assembly of God’s people in heaven. I sat down next to a beautiful little girl. She had a light complexion, beautiful eyes, a dainty nose, and the loveliest thick, black curly hair. She had the wisdom of the ancients, and when I sat next to her I knew she was Perry and Pam Stone’s daughter. Nevertheless, she was not Amanda. She smiled very big and as I sat down next to her she said, ‘I know who you are. You are a godly woman…’
“The only thing I know is that somehow you both have a gorgeous little girl in heaven who is waiting for you! Please don’t be oﬀended at me, but it is true. I can’t tell you how, but it is true. I’ve heard that sometimes women miscarry, but they don’t realize it or maybe you are already aware of your little girl waiting in Glory…”
In my two dreams many years ago, Rochelle had dark hair. However, I also recalled she look weak in her eyes and not as strong as Amanda. In the back of my mind I can still remember what she looked like. In the dream, Rochelle was holding a small stuﬀed animal. The story reached another point in 2014 in Griﬃn, Georgia. I met a doctor who is also a very talented artist. She brought me a group of various drawings and paintings to view. When I saw one that she drew of a little girl holding a small stuﬀed animal, I almost went into shock. The drawing looked almost identical to Rochelle as I had seen her in the dream many years ago. I asked if I could purchase the drawing, as I wanted it in my oﬃce. I cried when I looked at it and still do occasionally.
ANOTHER AMAZING STORY
John Herston works with world missions. Years ago he experienced a stunning dream or vision in which he was with a young man in heaven, who appeared to be about thirteen years of age. This young man told his name and said, “I am the son of Dr. Cho.” John knew that he referred to Paul Cho, who at that time pastored the world’s largest church. Later, John was driving Dr. Cho around when he was impressed to bring up the dream / vision he had of Dr. Cho’s son in heaven. Dr. Cho was amazed and told those in the car that, many years ago, his wife was pregnant and had a miscarriage. The name the boy had told John in heaven was the name Dr. Cho and his wife had chosen if they had a son!
Another unusual part of the story is that, from the moment John experienced the dream or vision, it would have been about thirteen years prior that Mrs. Cho miscarried. Since the miscarriage happened thirteen years ago and the young man appeared to be about thirteen, this may imply that, in some cases, the spirit of a miscarried child could grow to be a certain age, or grow to a level of maturity that matches the number of years they would have grown on earth.
Barton Green is a screenwriter and author, and a friend of mine and the ministry. Bart’s grandfather was a noted minister named G.W. Lane, who passed away many years ago. G.W. never wore a three-piece suit, but was buried in one. Many years later, Bart began to experience heart problems and, on one occasion while in the hospital, he felt that he actually had died and his spirit departed from his body. During what he felt was an “out of the body experience,” Bart found his soul (or spirit) walking in a thick fog toward a bright light. Eventually, he came to the silhouette of two men talking to one another.
As the fog lifted, he saw his grandfather, G.W. Lane, standing there in a three-piece suit similar to the one he was buried in. G.W. informed Bart that God was not finished with his work on earth, and he began to reveal several things he would complete. At the time, he was not working on those things, but later they began to manifest. After the conversation, G.W. began to walk away into the light. Barton attempted to follow G.W., but he turned and told Barton, “No. You cannot go with us.” G.W., however, did say one more thing that stunned Barton. He said, “I should tell you…your son is proud of you.” As Barton sat across my desk at the VOE oﬃces and related this story, he said, “At first that threw me oﬀ. This was a very real experience, but I never had a son. Then I remembered that, when I was married, my wife had a miscarriage. It is apparent that it was a son and today he is in heaven.”
To me, the most mind-boggling part of this story is that his son was aware of who his father was and what he was doing on earth! How this is possible, remains a mystery.
When relating stories such as these, there are skeptics within the Christian community who use radio, television, and social media to criticize anyone who says they’ve had such an experience. One minister heard of a fellow minister who was caught up into heaven and saw friends who had passed, and he began to accuse this godly man of consulting the dead. In no story I have ever heard has anyone told me they were attempting to contact the “other side,” or make contact with a departed loved one. In each story, it is a dream, vision, or near-death experience the individual is relaying. I also remind some followers of this negative, self-righteous minister that Moses—who had been dead for fifteen hundred years—appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Christ, and spoke with Him concerning His death in Jerusalem. We must also remember that a person whom we say is dead has not actually ceased to exist. We see the physical shell of their body in a coﬃn, but we cannot see the ever-living soul and spirit which has made its journey to either paradise or hell. The fact is, the soul and spirit are more alert outside the body than when it resided within thebody, as the body places the spirit under certain limitations.
When we look closely at the biblical Hebrew and Greek words that describe infants in the womb, it is obvious that a child is considered a living soul, both at conception and while growing inside the mother’s womb. The child is just as much a living breathing infant in the womb as outside the womb. The soul and spirit originate with God, and they are implanted in the womb by God Himself.
Solomon wrote that, at death, the spirit returns back to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). Since the spirit is eternal and does not return to dust as the body does, the eternal element remains, no matter what age the physical body may be. When does life begin? It begins at the moment of conception. Why? Conception is the moment the spirit enters the womb. The infant could not live and grow without a spirit. Since the eternal spirit is already there, if a premature death occurs in the womb, the spirit returns to paradise—to God who gave it. It seems that the eternal spirit of the child might mature to a certain level, although we cannot be absolutely certain that it will be the same level for each child.
Despite the tragedy of losing a child through miscarriage or still- birth, the good news is this: That mot covenant with Christ—will see her child again.