Many of us buy the lie that we’re a good person, but there’s no universally accepted standard of what is good. Can we ever be “good” enough? In this message, we look at Mark 10:17-27 to learn three reasons why good people don’t go to heaven (but forgiven people do).
All right, well, what's up, friends in the room? What's up friends in Indianapolis; Scottsdale, AZ; Houston, Texas; Fayetteville, Arkansas; all the Porch.Live locations, everybody tuning in? We are wrapping up the series Hot Take Summer. Each week we have been starting with some hot takes, so I am going to give some hot takes to kick it off before we get into tonight's hot take, our subject for the night.
Hot take: Remember the Titans is the greatest movie of all time. I am tempted to just make the rest of the sermon Remember the Titans quotes, "Strong side." There you go. Okay. Hot take: If you are coughing, congested, and sneezing, it is never just allergies. You need to go to a doctor and get some medication, people. This whole, "It's just my allergies…" It is not just your allergies if you have a fever, okay?
Hot take: The Fourth of July is underrated. I think it's top three best holidays. You have Easter, then Christmas, and then the Fourth of July. There, I said it. Hot take: This one is hot. I don't think it's that hot with this crowd, but it should happen. #FreeBritney. Okay? Hot take: This one is hot for this crowd. Every Taylor Swift song sounds the same. Hey. Wow. Mix it up, T. Swift!
Hot take: Nobody should ever eat kale. It's disgusting and if you disagree, you're lying to yourself. I don't even know when this vegetable was invented. It wasn't here 20 years ago. It's like the same lab… I'm not even going to touch that, actually. Hot take: Crocs should never be worn unless you are at the beach or the lake. I know there are Crocs all over this room right now. I don't know how they came back, man, but they are back.
All right, here's a hot take that will go into a story before I give us a hot take. Hot take: I think the best honeymoon vacation spot is Cancún, Mexico. I can't explain. I don't have time to go into it right now. It's very affordable. You're not spending your money on jet fuel to take you to Hawaii. It's cost-effective. There are so many perks, and they have all-inclusives, which leads me to a story which will get us into the hot take for tonight.
A few years ago, because my wife and I love Mexico and a good friend who teaches here and was here for years, JP, and his wife Monica love Mexico…we have that in common…we'll do trips occasionally to Mexico. This was one of those trips. We booked this resort. It was a crazy deal. It was like seven days for basically a thousand dollars per couple, all-inclusive, everything included. It was just amazing and a really sweet hotel.
We show up. We get there. It's me, my wife, JP, and his wife. We go to the front desk and check in. This is what you do. We're there to check in. JP and his wife are checking in and they say, "Sir, there are two parts of this resort. There's the family side and then there's the adults only side called Heaven. You will be in the family-friendly side, JP.
We walked in not even knowing this was a thing. We were just like, "We're here for the resort." Then they check in. They're going off to their room. They say, "Mr. and Mrs. Marvin, you will be staying in Heaven." Man, wow, glory! How did this happen? "There's a golf cart. It's going to take you to Heaven. You can bring your bags over that way."
At this point, it's one of those times where you're like, I don't know whether to be like, "No, we want to be with them." We're like, "Sorry bro, have fun at Chuck E Cheese with all the kids." They take us on the golf cart. We get over to the Heaven side and what I see as we get to our room was not what I expected to see in that there were paint tarps everywhere. There were construction workers everywhere, right outside of our room.
They take us in. They put our bags down. There's a jackhammer guy right outside of our window. I'm like, "This is hell! This isn't heaven! There's been a mistake!" They put us over there because the resort was at max capacity and the Heaven side was not open yet because there was still construction taking place, but they had run out of room so it was just a small group of people who were going to be over there.
I start there because in the same way in that story heaven was filled with people that were not what I was expecting. In a very similar way, I think the true and actual heaven is going to be filled with people, and for many it's not what they expected or not who you would've expected. Because tonight's hot take is a really important one. Because it doesn't have to do with where you're going to have seven days at a resort. It has to do with where you're going to spend eternity.
The first part of the hot take is good people don't go to heaven. Good people don't go to heaven. Being good is not going to make you good enough to get into heaven. Candidly, this is a very common belief, and I think it is one of the primary reasons people will spend eternity apart from God.
Sadly, some of you in this room at some degree think good people are the ones who go to heaven. If you live a good life and you try to be good, "No, I think I'm a pretty good person. I'm going to spend eternity with God in heaven." Some of them make sense. Of course, if you were God or you were a nice person and it just kind of adds up. Most of the major world religions teach that the key to having a relationship with God, the key to having eternal life is, "Just be a good person."
So while it makes sense, there are a few problems that come along with it. One of them, as we're going to see, is the Bible. Even if you stepped outside of that for a reason, I just want you to think about this question. There are some challenges that come with, "Good people go to heaven," even on its face. Take the Bible out for a second.
One of those problems would be there is no universally accepted standard of what is good. You can ask different people, "Hey, what does it mean to be a good person? What is a good thing?" Depending on who you as, you're going to get different views. Even the major world religions have different opinions on what is a good action and what is not.
There are certain major world religions that would say performing some sort of jihad or attacking or blowing yourself up in a building will send you immediately to the highest level of heaven. Then there are others of us who would say, "That's not a good action at all; that's a horrific evil." Even if you just go on a plainer level, there are different standards that all of us would have on, "What is actually a good person?"
Some of you would say, "A good person saves sex for marriage." Others would say, "No, a good person just doesn't sleep around a lot. They save it for someone they really care about." Those are just two different opinions. There are different opinions on what a good person would do in terms of how much money they would give away or being generous. There are different standards or opinions on even what is good. There is no universally accepted, "This is good."
The other problem with being a good person, or if you do good, then you're going to be accepted into heaven, is we don't have the grading scale. Think about it. What is a sufficient number of good deeds? Is it 51 percent? Is that it? You just have to do more good deeds than bad deeds? Is the number that you have to do 70 percent? That's where the school grading system comes from. You have to get above 70 percent or else you fail. What is it?
The most important problem with why good people don't go to heaven, the most relevant thing, is because the Bible teaches very emphatically good people don't go to heaven. I want to walk through a story that covers three reasons that enforce why that is the case. To do so, we're going to be in a story found in Mark, chapter 10. This is a story that's also found in Luke 18. It's a story that's found in Matthew 19.
It is a story of Jesus and an interaction that he had with a young man who asked a question that every person asks at some point in their life. It's related to eternal life. So I'm going to read it, and then we're going to walk through those three reasons why good people don't go to heaven according to Jesus in the Bible. It says this in Mark chapter 10, verse 17.
"As Jesus started on his way…" He is walking with his boys. "…a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. 'Good teacher,' he asked, 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered." That's an interesting response. "'No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony [or lie], you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother."'
'Teacher,' he declared, 'all these I have kept since I was a boy.'" "I bet you have." "Jesus looked at him…" I love this. "…and loved him." That is just like Jesus. God in human form looks at him and is like, "Man, I like this guy." "'One thing you lack,' he said. 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'
At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!' The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, 'Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel…'" A camel being that enormous, bigger than a horse animal.
"…to go through the eye of a needle…" As in the sewing thing your grandma uses. "'…easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.' The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, 'Who then can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.'"
So Jesus walks along the road. He is there with his disciples. All of a sudden, a guy walks up and throws himself in front of him. All three accounts tell us he is rich. Matthew tells us that he is young. Luke tells us he is a ruler, which meant basically he had religious authority. So this guy is the total package. He is young, he has authority or influence, and he has money.
This would be the equivalent… In other words, sometimes you read stories like this and you think, "Oh man, he is just a bad guy." This is a good guy. This is the guy your mom wants you to bring home. He has a job. He has influence. He is a good guy. He follows the rules, or tries to as best he can. This is Tim Tebow or Ben Higgins.
This is the guy on The Bachelor you're like, "Yes, man! Yes, yes, he is the one! Yes!" Not the guy you're like, "Oh man, that guy is such a jerk! How does she not see this?" This is the guy that you'd be rooting for. He seems to have it all together. He certainly has the total package. He comes up and he asks a really important question.
The question, "How can I have eternal life? What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus, before even answering the question, asks a really eye-opening question to him. He just says, "You just called me good teacher. Why do you call me good? There's no one good but God." What is Jesus saying?
Jesus is readjusting how this man thought or saw the world that he… In other words, Jesus is not saying, "I'm not God." He is saying, "Are you calling me God? What are you calling me when you say that?" My guess is the man is just going, "Look, I was just trying to be polite and say, 'Good teacher.'" Jesus is saying, "No, there isn't anyone good but God. Do you know that?"
The first thing the Bible teaches related to this topic over and over, and that is clearly in this text, is the reason why good people don't go to heaven is good people don't exist. Good people don't go to heaven because good people don't exist. The Bible doesn't ever teach that, "There are good people and you have a good heart and just listen to it. There's a good guy."
The Bible teaches that there are no good people anywhere. There's only a good God. The only one who is good is Jesus. In Romans, chapter 3, it says this as it relates to this idea. It's Paul writing. It says in verses 10, 11, and 12, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."
How about that for a feel good verse? Paul says there is nobody good. Grandma is not good. You're not good. Mom is not good. The guy who took you on a date is not good. Nobody, and you know that for a fact. Nobody is good. Because the Bible teaches good people don't go to heaven because there is no one who is good.
As good as you think you are… I need you to listen to me very clearly. According to the biblical definition of what is good, no one meets that standard. I think if all of us were to be honest with ourselves, we have lived lives where everyone would say, "Hey, I'm not perfect," which is another way of saying according to the biblical definition of good, which is, "Without anything wrong," we have fallen short.
There is something on TikTok going around right now I've been told. There's a game that we all grew up playing as a kid, "Never have I ever." Here's what I want you to do. Everybody raise a hand. Raise a hand right now. Put five fingers up in the air. If you have five, if you have four, do it what what you have.
If you have ever lied in your life, put a finger down. If you have ever stolen anything, put a finger down. If you have ever cheated on anything, put a finger down. If you are about to give me the middle finger right now… No. If you have ever lusted after someone, put a finger down. If you have ever coveted or had envy over someone else's life, stuff, things, scenario, relationships, put a finger down.
If you have lied, stay with me… How many times do you have to lie to be liar? One. How many times do you have to steal to be a thief? In other words, how many cars would… If the guy you're dating or the girl you're dating stole a car, how many cars would they have to steal for you to be like, "Yeah, I don't think that's a great character quality." One.
The Bible says in terms of lust, if you lust after someone who is not your spouse, you have committed, Jesus says in Matthew, chapter 5, the same sin as adultery. You've done it at a heart level. If you've coveted or you've longed after somebody else's stuff, which some of you guys have maybe done since you've walked into the room, you've broken God's command. You're a liar, a thief, or an adulterer.
The biblical standard of goodness is very different than our standard because our standard, if we're honest, is really like, "Man, if they're good for the most part, they're a good person." That's what we mean. The biblical standard of goodness is, "If they're good in every part, they're good." My kids are 3 and 5. We have a son who is 5 and a daughter who is 3.
They will drink milk for breakfast. I get them out. I give them their sippy cups and they're drinking their milk, sitting there melting their brains with an iPad. Something that happens often when you give kids milk is they'll not finish the entire thing and it'll sit there. Eight hours later, they're at the same dinner table sitting for dinner and the milk is still there because their mother is irresponsible. I'm totally kidding. She's much more responsible. Good grief, people! Save me the email! I'm going to get an email. "You really shouldn't talk about your wife like that." I'm just kidding.
All right. Anyway. Come back to to the milk and here's what happens. It happens so many different times where they take a sip of it and they're like, "Oh!" and they spit out chunks because the milk has been sitting there the entire day. It's gross. If I was to take that milk cup and be like, "Hey, I got you." I go over to the sink, just scoop the curds off the top and bring it right back, would you drink it?
Because you understand that even if I take away the curds because I'm like, "Oh yeah, there are curds on top but I got rid of those and there's other stuff underneath. Everything is fine." You would go, "No, there are certain things that if any part of it is spoiled, the whole thing is spoiled." Biblically, that is how it talks about goodness: That the inside of every single person is broken. There's a sin nature and sinfulness to every human heart that doesn't allow us to reach the biblical standard of what is good. If you grew up in church, and this is so huge, especially if you're raised or you have some familiarity or maybe you went to Sunday school or you went through confirmation or you're just kind of had some exposure to the church…
You may have heard people say things that are really foolish and just not accurate. They said things like this, "The Bible is book full of good stories about good guys and you should try to be like those guys." That's not the message of the Bible. That's not even the contents of what the Bible has. The Bible is a book full of broken people. Everybody has messed up except for one guy: Jesus. All the other people are so bad that they kill the one good guy, Jesus.
The Bible is not full of all these stories of good men. Just to use a couple of examples of people maybe you've heard of: Father Abraham. Have you heard of Father Abraham? He had many sons, I'm one of them, so are you. You've heard the song, all that stuff. Father Abraham started the faith. Let's talk about Abraham for a second.
On two different occasions, Abraham was going into a new town, new area and he was so afraid of the people who lived there, he looked at his wife and was like, "Man, you are a catch! I cannot believe you married me. I'm afraid these guys are going to kill me in order to sleep with you. So why don't we just… You sleep with them, and that way they won't kill me."
He lets his wife go into the homes and be around other men. He was basically pimping out his wife two times, which I think most of us would agree is two times too many. On another occasion, his wife comes up and she is like, "Man, you're supposed to have kids and I'm getting too old. Maybe you should sleep with the maid."
The next scene is like, "Okay, if you say!" and he sleeps with and gets his servant pregnant. That's Abraham, the father of our faith. I could go on and on. King David killed Goliath. He was a man after God's own heart. David, one day he is sitting at home at the palace. He's out watching and sees a woman on top of her roof, bathing naked.
It isn't a great idea any time, but he sees this woman. It's one of his best friend's wives named Bathsheba. He says, "Man, go get that woman." He takes her into his home, sleeps with her, and gets her pregnant. He sleeps with the wife of one of his best friends, his mighty men. Then she gets pregnant. David doesn't come clean. He decides to kill his best friend in order to cover up his action.
We need to think about that. If that is a part of your story, God can do anything. Most of us would go, "Yeah, that's pretty extreme." You arrive at The Porch, and you're like, "Yeah, so last week I killed a guy after I slept with his wife," and we'd be like, "Bro, we're going to work on some counseling and go through some stuff. Call the police."
This is a guy who wrote huge parts of the Bible. So whatever sin you come into this room and you're like, "Man, I just don't know if God would accept me," if David was here, he'd be like, "Hey bro, come back when you killed somebody and you slept with his wife before doing it." The Bible is not story after story of good men. It's men who had faith but had tremendous failure, because good people don't exist. That's the first reason good people can't go to heaven.
Then Jesus goes, and it's so brilliant what he does next. I hope I can even communicate how amazing it is just how he weaves what happens. He says this. Jesus answers in response to, "What should I do to inherit eternal life?" "You know the commandments…" And he begins to list off the Ten Commandments.
"You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother." And the man said, "'Teacher,' he declared, 'all these I have kept since I was a boy.'" This brother does not lack self-confidence. "All these I have done since I was a young kid." He still thinks, "Man, I'm a good guy. Jesus, you're a good guy. We have a good guy club going on."
"Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' he said. 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." What is Jesus saying? This is a really fascinating take, because it's like, "Whoa, Jesus, he just asked for eternal life and you gave him a list of things to do. Cut! We're going to run this one back, Jesus. The line is, 'Walk him through how to pray the prayer.'"
Jesus says something really fascinating. He is responding to the man of like, "Hey, what do I have to do? What actions?" If you want to play by the rule of your actions are what allow you to have eternity with God, the standard is perfection. If you notice, out of the Ten Commandments, he lists five. He lists the back five, if you will, of the Ten Commandments.
You may have seen these going up in school, heard these before. You can read through the list. He lists out the five that have to do only with relationship with other people. Only those with earthly relationships, "Don't kill anybody, don't sleep with somebody who is not your wife, don't steal, don't lie to them, honor your father and your mother."
He lists out the back five. Why? Why would he list those out? Arguably the first two are the hardest. "You shouldn't have anything as a priority greater than me. You shouldn't have anything that you worship or any idol in your life that you prioritize that's number one above me." Because in asking him to do what he did…
"If you want to play by that, if you want to go by the Commandments, if you think that you are good enough or your good actions could earn you a relationship with God, then I want you to go follow the first two and go sell everything that you have. Because the law is there is nothing that is a greater priority in your life than me. So rich young ruler, I want you to go put all that money and sell it and give it away and display there is no idol in your life. There is nothing of greater priority in your life, and I am going to follow you."
The second idea from the text is that God doesn't want good; he wants you. He looks at this man and he puts his finger… Jesus does this, and he does it often in anyone who follows Jesus' life. He puts his finger right on an issue of this man's heart, a part of his heart that got tied up. "Hey man, I want to follow God and I want to serve God and I want to check the box and I want to spend eternal life with God."
Jesus, knowing he had great wealth, puts his finger on this thing that had taken ground in his heart. He puts his finger on a place in the man's heart where God was not his priority. Jesus says, "One thing you lack." It's really interesting that he says, "One thing you lack," and then he gives him four things to do. Go, sell, give, follow.
What is he saying? He is saying, "I want you to give everything to me. I don't want your religious actions; I want your heart's affection. I don't want you to do a bunch of religious acts; I want a relationship with you." Because God is not concerned about good. He wants you, not good actions. Christianity is interesting because it is both hard and easy.
In other words, to become a Christian, and you do so in a moment of placing your faith in Jesus. "I believe on the cross you died for my sin. You paid for everything I've ever done and then you died and you rose again. I accept that payment for my sin." In a moment of faith believing that, your eternity is changed.
So it's easy in that it requires nothing. It requires coming to a place where I have to bring you nothing. "I'll never be good enough, but I don't have to because you allowed me to have a relationship with you by dying in my place on the cross." It's both easy, because it requires nothing, and it is hard, because Jesus demands everything.
What do I mean by that? I don't mean that in like some cultish weird way. Like, "Hey, everybody put your car keys on the stage." I mean, when you begin to follow Jesus, when you put your faith in Jesus… This is how people change, by the way. The Holy Spirit begins to come into your heart and begins to inform how you do things, inform how you make decisions.
It begins to take everything about you that's not like Jesus and go, "Hey, I want us to work on that. I want to change that. I want to move you through to where you don't date like everybody else dates. I know that's how you always dated…" He just begins to come in and convict you. You just find, "I'm not able to go out and party the same way I used to. Things just aren't as fun."
It's like he begins to change your appetites, change your taste buds. Things that were so normal like, "Man, Friday we go to the bar. Go to the club. Going to go hook up, find a girl, hopefully take somebody home." It begins to be like, "Man, I don't even know if I can do it anymore. I can't just go through, 'Hey girl, how are you? Do you have a Bible? Do you know Jesus?'"
It's like he is beginning to change because he is. Because following him, at first it requires nothing, but because Jesus loves you so much the way that you are, he also loves you too much to leave you that way. He wants to change everything about you and about me that doesn't look like Jesus. It's interesting in that sense. It's very easy and hard.
He looks at this man, and he says, "One thing you lack. Give me everything. I want you to know I'm better. I want you to get all your stuff together. I want you to know that you can walk away from it and walk toward me, and you'll discover I'm better." He's not doing that because he is against stuff or hates stuff. That's where people get off. That's not the point of this story.
The point is, "I want you to experience I'm better." This man is confronted with an area of his heart. "I just really want a check-the-box relationship with God. I don't want everything, and I don't want this relationship. I want religious actions," which a lot of people want because it makes them feel like, "God owes me something now."
No, he doesn't owe us anything, but he wants you. He wants to have a relationship with you. It's like this. There's a huge difference between friends with benefits and married. Can we all agree? A friends with benefits relationship is basically like, "Hey, I'm going to use you to get what I want, and I may do some things and be nice and not be a jerk in order to let me use you to get what I want."
Marriage is, "You are what I want and I'm not going to use you or do anything in order to get something else that I want. You're what I want." Religion, in general, is a friends with benefits mentality. "God, I'm going to use you. I'm going to try to check the box. Give me the line. How much do you want? Tell me how much money I have to give you. Tell me how much stuff I have to give you, how much time, how many times I have to go to church. I'll do all of that, and then you have to give me what I want."
That doesn't line up at all with what the Bible says. The Bible says God wants something so much better for you, for everyone. He doesn't want religious action. He wants your heart's affection. He wants a relationship with you. Jesus wanted this man, who he loved. I mean think about it. If God in human form looking at him is like, "Man, I love this guy. I love you. I want you to experience and know I'm better than all of that stuff."
Then he gives the answer, which is really the most important part of the entire message. The man walks off and he is sad. "And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, 'How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!' And the disciples were amazed at his words.
But Jesus said to them again, 'Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…'" Which is impossible. "'…than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.' And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, 'Then who can be saved?' Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.'"
Is he saying that money is a bad thing? No. Is he saying that it is harder for some people to enter the kingdom of God than other people? No, it's impossible for everybody. The point is not money. Even the question of the disciples shows the point was not money. They ask a question, "Well then who can be saved?"
It's a really funny question because if this was about money, the answer is clear. Hey, rich people, it's really hard for them to get into the kingdom of heaven. The disciples would've gone, "Poor people are in! High five! We are in! God wants everybody to be poor and pretend like they're happy. Yes! We're in!" But that wasn't the point.
In that day and age, the reason they were so shocked is there was a belief that if you were wealthy it's because God had blessed you. You basically had been faithful or done good enough things to where God had blessed your life financially. The assumption was you were closer to God. Jesus says, "It's impossible for everybody to get in."
Let me read it again. "Then who can be saved?" With man, on your own, with religious action, with being a good person, with trying to do good things, with giving to charity, with giving of your time, it is impossible. But with God, all things are possible. Good people don't go to heaven because good people don't exist. God doesn't want good. He wants you.
The final reason is good people don't go to heaven because doing good can't save you, but God can. Doing good cannot save you. No matter how many times you pray, you give, you act in a way that you think is good, it does nothing to earn your way to God. Jesus says it is impossible. The essence of the Christian message is it is impossible to do it on your own.
He wants dependence, not obedience. Dependence on him leads to obedience, but the message of Christianity is the way that you and I have a relationship with God is through, "God, I'm dependent on you. I am unable by myself or on my own." It's about dependence, not obedience. Dependence leads to obedience, but it is being dependent. "God, I surrender my life to you."
He really illustrated this in the verses immediately before this story. The timing of it is funny. Do you know what happened right before the conversation he is having with the rich, young ruler? Some kids are running up to Jesus, and it says this. "And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant…" To the disciples.
So the disciples are there. Kids, people are bringing their family. Like, "Jesus, hey, will you bless my child?" They were putting them on his lap like he is Santa at the mall. They're like, "Hey, just hold him for a second." Jesus is sitting there, and they're like, "Hey, will you bless my child?" The disciples are like, "Man, get those kids away from him! Who do you think you are?"
Jesus says, "'Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child…'" Totally dependent. "'…shall not enter it.'" In Jesus' day and age, children were seen as entirely dependent. They still are today. I have a 3-year-old daughter who is entirely dependent on me.
She can't change her diaper. She can't feed herself. The other day we're hanging out at a pool. She is in clothes. She walked straight in the pool. It was like, "Oh my! Okay!" She can't even be alone by herself. She is totally dependent on her parents. Jesus said, "The only way you can enter the kingdom of God (that's heaven) is by being totally dependent on your heavenly Father."
You are not enough, but the good news is you don't have to be because he is. He has gone out of his way to make a way for you to spend eternity with him by trusting in Jesus, not in how good you are. Jesus hammers the entire point over and over. He gives the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7. It's a beautiful sermon. It's the most famous sermon of all time.
Inside of the Sermon on the Mount, over and over and over there are haunting things that he says, where he says things like, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." In another occasion he says, "Unless you are more righteous than the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of God." Who are the Pharisees? He points at this group in the audience.
Pharisees were professional religious people. All that they did was be good. On the business card, "I do good so you don't have to." They focused on following God's law to greater degrees than even the law had laid out. They were the best of the best in society. Jesus looks and says, "Unless you're better than those guys, you will not spend eternity with me."
It would be like saying, "Unless you are fast, you will never be able to go to heaven." If you ask, "How fast?" "Unless you are faster than Usain Bolt, you cannot enter heaven." Usain Bolt is too slow. That would be the reaction of the… "That's impossible!" That's the point. That Jesus didn't come to set up some new religion and to make people good. He came to make dead people alive and to give away for you to spend eternity with God by giving his life on your behalf.
Because no matter how good… Listen to me very closely. Some of you guys have bought the lie that you are a good person. As nice as you are… I bet you pay your taxes. I bet you're a really good guy. You probably help your friends move when they need to move. You probably show up and you care for your grandma, and your grandma loves the heck out of you. You, according to the Bible, are going to hell if you do not trust in Jesus because no one is good enough.
Doing good actions can never make you good enough because good actions or doing good can't save you, but God can. In Acts chapter 13, the apostle Paul says this. This is Paul and Barnabas, and he is laying out, "Here is what we are here to do." This is after Jesus rose from the dead. They are taking the Christian message.
"We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is made right in God's sight…" Not everyone who behaves for him is made right in God's sight. Everyone who believes in Jesus and what he did on the cross, there is forgiveness of sins for that person.
When they come to the end of themselves, "I'm not good enough on my own," they become a prime candidate to be the type of person who will spend eternity with God, because good people don't go to heaven, forgiven people do. Because good people don't exist, but forgiven people do. There is only one way to get forgiveness.
Do you know what forgiveness is? Forgiveness is what happens whenever you have a kind of breakdown in your relationship. You see that person. They hurt your feelings. There is distance. Anytime there has been… They did you wrong or you did them wrong. Now every time you see them at Starbucks, you're like, "Okay, I'm out of here," because there hasn't been forgiveness. It's what heals relationships. God has offered forgiveness through Christ, who healed the relationship, the gap, the distance, but not through your actions.
Through a moment of saying, by faith, "I believe Jesus you lived, you died, and you rose from the grave. In doing so, you are paying for everything bad I've ever done. I can have a relationship with you, not because I have a perfect past, because I don't, and not because of all the things I promise I'll do for you, but because of what you did for me." You can be forgiven and spend eternity with God, but not if you live trying to be a good person, because good people do not go to heaven, forgiven people do.
In conclusion, good people don't exist. God doesn't want religious actions. He wants you. He wants your heart. He has offered the solution, which is him. Because doing good can't save you, but God, and trusting in him, can. I'll close here. This past Fourth of July my son and I were hanging out, and as a 5-year-old, it was like, "Man, you're ready buddy. We're going to stay up. You're going to get to watch fireworks," which is like four hours past his bedtime, but he is jacked up on candy and like, "Where are the explosions?" We're hanging out. We're waiting for it. He is just so stoked.
In fact, here's a picture. We're just at our house. He is waiting. He was like, "This is the best!" At one point he goes, "This is the second best holiday of my life." I was like, "That's amazing! What was number one?" It was just unusual for somebody to categorize it like, "Hey, this is not best, but number two. We just got it." I was like, "What was the best?" He was like, "Easter, definitely Easter."
As a dad, I'm like, "That's my boy, right there. That's right! That's the most important day in human history!" That's what I'm thinking. I'm like, "Man, I'm going to start parenting classes. This is what I should do for a living. That's right! Jesus rose from the grave." All this is going through my head. I'm like, "Yeah. Why? Because Jesus rose from the grave?" He goes, "No, I just like the word east and -er." It's like, man, cancel the parenting classes. When you're 5 and you miss it and you don't get it, it's kind of cute. But when you're 25 and you don't get the point of Easter, which is the point of life, it's not cute. It's tragic.
I want you to think about something again as I close. This man was offered something that very few people were ever offered in the New Testament: an invitation from Jesus, the most important, significant, influential person to ever live. He got an invitation to follow him and be his disciple. Had he taken him up on it, think about it. This guy joins all the other guys.
You have Matthew, Mark, Peter, James, the other James, John, and this guy. He looks Jesus in the eye, and he says, "Man, I'm going to have to say no. I have a lot of stuff, and I don't know if it's worth it. I don't want to miss out." He missed out on everything. He missed out on walking with the one who not only made him but he was made for.
In hindsight, we can see it. We're like, "That was a bad trade, bro. What was so important? You have a house, some camels? What was so much better than him?" I have a hunch that there's going to come a day in eternity where all the different things that, just like this man, there's this one thing that, "God, man, I want to go all in with you, but I can't really surrender it. I want to follow you, but I just don't know if you're going to call me to step out of this relationship or change the way I live or change the way that… I don't know, God."
We're going to look back and for all of eternity go, "What was I thinking? I was so afraid to miss out on this, I missed out on the thing I was made for." It's tragic to miss out and to misunderstand when you're 5, or it's sad, it's funny, it's whatever. It is heartbreaking to miss out on the one you were made for when you're 25, 28, 22, or 35.
This man looked him in the face and said, "Nah, I don't know if it's worth it," only to realize for all of eternity it was. My heart for you, wherever you are right now, breaks at the idea of you spending eternity and you're holding on to whatever you're afraid. "Man, if I just release this to God or if I really just go all in with him. I'm afraid of missing out."
My heart breaks at the idea that you have to spend eternity having missed out. If you have never put your faith in Jesus, you are like this rich young ruler who, in some day in some way is going to ask the question, "As I stare death in the face, how can I know I'm going to spend eternity with God? What must I do?"
I want to be abundantly clear. The action is this: nothing but accept what was done for you 2,000 years ago when God came in the form of a man named Jesus, carried a cross, had nails driven through his hands and his feet, whips filled with nails scraping across his back, a crown of thorns placed on his head and he stared death in the face.
It was the day death died for anyone who would simply accept. You will never be good enough to earn God's love, but the good news is you don't have to. You just have to accept it by faith. "I believe you, Jesus. I believe you paid for me. I don't want to miss out. I don't want to live another day of my life walking through, not knowing and walking with the one I was made for. I receive your forgiveness." Tonight is your night.
I'm going to pray, and as we do, I want to do something that we almost never do. As we end this series, I want everybody to just bow your head right now and pray. I want to give a chance for if you're in the room and you've never put your faith in Jesus, I want to walk you through a prayer. The prayer doesn't embody magic words that save anybody.
The prayer is just a reflection of, "God I want to spend eternity with you. God, I receive that free gift." It's just a reflection of something going on on the inside. If you're in that place right now, out loud, to yourself, I want to lead you in this prayer.
Father, I have sinned. I have done things and lived in a way that is unworthy of you. I know I cannot on my own do whatever is needed to have eternal life, but I can receive the free gift that you gave when you died in my place on the cross for my sin, and then you rose from the dead, and everything I've ever done was paid for. I believe that. I know I will spend eternity with you because I believe that. Take my life. Use it for your name and your kingdom. In Jesus' name, amen.