Do you think you’re good enough to get into heaven? If someone asked you why God might let you in, would your answer be anything like “well, I try to be a good person”? Or maybe because you haven’t killed anyone? A lot of people think they are good enough…or maybe they’re not sure if they are, but they’re trying to be. But what does “good” actually mean, and how good is “good enough”?
On Tuesday at The Porch we talked about the bad advice that “good people go to heaven.” A lot of people believe this – and it might be the most dangerous lie that there is. Why? Because it affects where you’re going to spend forever and ever. If you believe it, your eternal soul is at risk. Good people don’t go to heaven.
The Bible is clear on the relationship between your goodness and heaven. In short, there isn’t one. Or more accurately, one Person’s goodness does determine whether you’ll go to heaven. But that person isn’t you.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)
If someone asked you, “are you a good person?” what would you say? I’m guessing that you’d try to be humble in your answer – after all, who’s perfect – but you probably think you’re a pretty good guy / gal. Here’s the problem, at least when we’re talking about being good enough to get into heaven: definitions really matter, and yours is probably wrong. When we talk about being good, we generally mean something like “good for the most part,” or “better than that obviously terrible person.” But God’s standard of goodness is perfection, and that’s what He requires to let you into heaven.
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” (Romans 3:20)
“Then they asked him, ‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’” (John 6:28-29)
But what about doing good works? Isn’t that what God requires to get into heaven? No it isn’t, and that’s at the core of the “good people go to heaven” lie. We think that somehow, even if we aren’t perfect, doing enough good will let us earn our way into heaven. This is called “performance-based acceptance.” We perform for God by doing good things, and He accepts us into heaven as a result. That might make sense to our human way of thinking, but it doesn’t line up with God’s. He does want us to do good works, but as a response to our salvation – not to earn it. This is called “acceptance-based performance.” God accepts us in Christ, and we obey Him as a response. It’s not the other way around. There is no amount of good that you can do for God to let you into heaven. It’s like trying to throw a baseball to the moon. You might get closer than I would, but you still won’t make it. Nice try, but still an epic fail.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
You can’t get to God through your good works. But the amazing truth of the gospel is that God made a way to Him through Jesus Christ. When you personally trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for your sins, you’re saved! When that happens, your slate is wiped clean forever of all past, present, and future sins. God forgives you and welcomes you into His family as His child. You can’t do anything to earn this, you can only accept the free gift. Only God can make you good enough for heaven. The beautiful thing is that when you trust in Jesus for your salvation, God does make you good enough by giving you the perfect righteousness of Jesus.
Good people don’t go to heaven, but forgiven people do. And the only way to get forgiven is through Jesus. Have you been forgiven?