When someone dies you often hear that the person has gone on to heaven. Usually this will be accompanied by comments about what a good person they were. “Well if anyone’s in heaven, its _______. He was such a good man.” “He was so good you know, he’d give you the shirt off his back.” “She’s in heaven now; she was such a good person.”
Well, I’d rather have a funeral like that than people talking about the other way. Those who were good in life leave a wonderful legacy to their family and friends and great memories for those left behind. Still, is it actually being “good” that gets you to heaven?
Now that’s a good question. When you consider the length of eternity it’s pretty important to understand how you gain admittance to heaven. And if goodness does it, exactly how much of it do you need for the confirmed ticket?
If you die young and haven’t had much chance to chalk up a lot of “good” what happens then? Since we have all done some bad too, does it cancel out whatever we have to the good? Then are we looking at scales to see which has the greater weight? What happens if we do good but with bad motive? Are we ever good enough?
The truth is that no one is really good enough to get to heaven. Heaven is the home of Almighty God who is holy and pure and perfect. How can any of us rightfully stand in his presence? “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) If being good gets you to heaven, we’re all in trouble here.
According to the Bible, God bypassed our “good” and made a better – and easier way to spend eternity with him. How about if someone who really is good stands in for us? How about if we get in on somebody else’s ticket? That’s exactly what happened because God is so smart.
“’For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’” (John 3:16) God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sin so we could skate into heaven on HIS goodness.
A favorite pastor of mine once preached something that really stuck with me. He had us imagine ourselves standing before the throne of God being asked to justify our life: “How do you plead; guilty or innocent”? The pastor said: “If you plead innocent you are a liar because we have all been guilty of much. If you plead guilty you are condemning yourself to eternity in hell.” Then he gave us the only solution: “Plead the blood!” He’s right. It is the blood of Jesus that secures heaven for any of us.
What good is good?
If being good doesn’t secure heaven does it have any value? My yes! Being good is our legacy if we have accepted the righteousness of Christ and become his disciples. God is good and he invites us to be his children and act just like him. The Bible says: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Certainly we are supposed to do good every chance we get and further we will receive rewards in heaven (though not heaven itself) based on our good works while we lived. Being good extends the kingdom of God upon the earth and aren’t we called to that good purpose?
No one wants to think of a “good man” being anywhere after death other than heaven. I understand that. But the real question is: when he is before God to give an account of his life, whose goodness is he standing on?
Note: If you examine your heart and find that you are relying on anything other than the merits of Jesus Christ and his atoning death on the cross to get you to heaven, would you like to reconsider now? You can receive the gift of eternal life by accepting what Christ did for you when he went to the cross. It’s the most important decision you will ever make. Learn how: MEET THE MASTER.