You get to Heaven by being a good person.
I’d say a large percentage of people believe this statement. And this might be a surprise to my Christian audience, but I believe it, too.
Yep, you read that right.
A year ago I would have disagreed. But a few months ago I came to the realization that those who believe this statement are not far from the Truth.
It all comes down to a matter of terminology: what does “good” mean?
Most would label you as a good person if you’ve never done anything too terrible, stayed out of jail, done a lot of nice things – that sort of thing. If your “good” outweighs your “bad,” then you’re a good person.
But is that really accurate? Would that really be right? Criminals go to jail no matter how much good they may have done. A vehicle with only one major defect is considered defective, no matter how good everything else works.
Since God is our judge, shouldn’t we pay attention to the standard He has given us? God has spelled out very clearly for us what it means to be a good person.
He says, “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45, 1 Peter 1:16).
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
And He also says, “There is none who does good, no, not one” (Psa. 53:3, Rom. 3:10-12).
“For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecc. 7:20).
See, in God’s eyes, a “good” person is a “perfect” person. And none of us are perfect. Think about Adam and Eve. They only messed up one time, and perfection disappeared.
It’s like an exam, where God has set the passing grade at 100%, and all of us fall short of that mark. Some of us may get better scores than others, “good” scores, even – but none of us reach that 100% mark.
Or like a target, where you have to hit the bull’s eye to go on to the next level. But none of us manage to hit it dead-center. We all miss the mark.
So we all fail.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
But here’s the good news. God loves us, and from the moment Adam and Eve sinned, He started putting together a plan to rescue us, so that we could go to Heaven.
It started pretty much right from the beginning. Man recognized that when he sinned, he deserved death. So God allowed animal sacrifice, where man would kill an innocent animal and offer it to God. God chose to look at that creature as though it had been the one to sin, and the real sinner would be forgiven.
But this was only symbolic of the Master Plan, when God sent His Son Jesus down to earth. Jesus did what none of us could do – He lived a perfect life. And when He was killed, it was as the Ultimate Sacrifice. God chose to look on His Son as though He had committed all the sins of the world: past, present, and future. And now, we can be forgiven as a result.
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b)
“For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. . . . But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. . . For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:1, 12, 14).
Forgiveness allows us a fresh start, a clean slate. When we realize the truth of Jesus’ words, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6),” then God wipes out our record. He sends His Spirit to dwell within us, to teach us and change us, and to help us live the way God wants us to. And when He looks at us, He chooses to see us as though we are Jesus – perfect, holy, righteous, His children.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb 8:10-12).
It’s like the fine has been paid, and we have been set free. Do we deserve that freedom? No. But that’s the beauty of it. We have done nothing and can do nothing to deserve Heaven. It’s a gift that God has extended, but that we must open and use.
The fine has been paid. The prison door has been unlocked. Now, will you believe in what Jesus has done for you, and walk out of your prison cell into the freedom and light of Christ?
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. . . . And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:12, 15, NKJV).
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31).