HOW TO BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR HEAVEN
If you’re like most people you’ve probably thought about heaven at one time or another, wondering how the record of your life will fair on that day when you stand before God. Will the good in my life outweigh the bad? Will I be welcomed in on the merit of my virtues and accomplishments and good deeds? Will God look on my life with favor? And then as the thought continues, you’ve probably started running down through a mental list of things. Let’s see, I regularly give to charities, I love my spouse and my children, I don’t swear, I don’t abuse alcohol, I work hard for my employer, and I even go to church. Your list might not be exactly the same as that one, but the fact is, you probably have one.
But now let me share with you something that may come as quite a surprise to you. No matter how good you are you could never be good enough for heaven. You may have more good in your life than a convicted murderer or a bank robber or even your neighbor, but the fact of the matter is, you’re still not good enough for heaven. Mother Theresa wasn’t good enough for heaven on the merits of her own life and neither is Billy Graham. You cannot possibly be good enough for heaven because of…
GOD’S HOLY STANDARD
How good would you really have to be to get into heaven on the merits of your own life? You would have to be perfect! Jesus gave the entrance requirements for heaven in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s it. If you want to be good enough for heaven all you have to do is be perfect, not one flaw, not one violation, not one inconsistency.
In the Old Testament God gave His law as a means of communicating His standards to us. Contained in that very complex law is what He expects from us, what He demands from us. If you want to be right with Me, here’s my standard of righteousness, a very inflexible and unforgiving written code of conduct. And just how unforgiving is it? James described it like this in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” If you’re going to keep the law in order to be right with God, then you’re going to have to keep it all, and you’re going to have to keep it all the time, and you’re going to have to keep it all perfectly. One miss and you’re out, disqualified for heaven. And therein lies the problem for anyone who is trying to be good enough for heaven. Everyone of us has already missed that mark of perfection before we even get started. God has already declared us all sinners. To one degree or another we have all missed the mark, we have all fallen short of the standard. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”. There is no one who will ever enter heaven on the merit of his or her own life; it can’t be done. We’ve all sinned and have therefore already missed God’s standard of perfection. In and of ourselves, we cannot be good enough for heaven. And if you’re honest with yourself, you know that that assessment of you is true.
And so what do we do? If we can’t be good enough for heaven, how does anyone ever get there? Well, there is a way to be good enough for heaven. It’s not the way you’ve always thought, but there is a way and it’s all spelled out in…
GOD’S GRACIOUS PLAN OF SALVATION
Because we were all hopelessly and helplessly lost, God, out of His infinite love for us, devised a plan that would enable us to be good enough for heaven. Our sin is what separated us from a Holy God and our sin demanded death. As the Bible says in Romans 6:23a, “For the wages of sin is death,”. If you sin you have to die, which means eternal separation from God in a place the Bible calls hell. But because God loved us so much, He (the very One who handed down the sentence of death) then stepped down from heaven taking on human flesh in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God in human flesh and the reason why He came to earth was to die on the cross of Calvary as your Substitute. He lived a perfect and sinless life because He was God and Man all at the same time. And because He was sinless, He was the only Man who wasn’t condemned already, the only Man who could qualify as your Substitute, the only Man who could step in and pay the death penalty that all of us deserved. And that’s exactly what He did.
Jesus Christ paid the death/hell sentence that we deserved as our Substitute. He died for you on a cruel Roman cross, He was buried, and then on the third day God raised Him from the dead. (1Corinthians 15:3-4)
Now, in this marvelous plan that came out of God’s love for us, we have a responsibility and that responsibility is to “believe“. You’re not just automatically saved because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. It has to be appropriated to you; you must believe. As it says so well in the famous John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The Bible calls on us to “believe”, but please don’t misunderstand the meaning and significance of that word. To “believe” in Him, in the biblical sense of that word, means far more than just mental assent to some facts about Jesus. James 2:19 says that even the demons believe in this superficial kind of way; that’s not saving faith at all. Please don’t be deceived about this most important issue. Saving faith is so much more than just giving mental assent to some facts about Jesus. When the Bible calls on us to “believe” it means to fully embrace EVERYTHING the Bible says about the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Now the scope of all that certainly goes far beyond the capacity of this little brochure, but let me at least tell you about the essential things.
First of all the Bible presents Jesus Christ as the Savior and if He is the Savior then you are a sinner who needs a Savior, and if you are a sinner who needs a Savior then you are going to need to turn from your sin before you can ever possibly embrace Jesus the Savior. That’s repentance and it’s a very important and integral part of what it means to believe. Repentance is a change of mind; it means to turn around 180 degrees. Jesus Christ died to save you from something and that something is your sin. And so you have to ask yourself the question: Am I willing to turn from my sin to embrace the Savior? That’s an essential part of what it means to believe.
Secondly, the Bible very clearly says that Jesus is Lord. He is Savior and He is Lord and you cannot take one part of Him without the other. A second essential part of what it means to “believe” then, is to fully embrace Him as your Lord. Now please understand, as you consider this gospel message, that the very concept of Lordship implies submission and obedience. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” And so here’s another question: Am I willing to embrace Jesus Christ as my Lord; am I willing to submit to Him as my Lord and obey His commandments?
That, my friend, is what it means to “believe” and that is the only way that you will ever be good enough for heaven. God calls upon us to recognize our own helplessness in terms of meriting His favor and to then place all of our faith and trust in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He is God in human flesh who came and suffered and died to pay the penalty for our sins and to make us right with God.
I’ve saved my favorite verse for last. It says this in 2Corinthians 5:21, “He (God) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (Parentheses mine) Do you know what that means? It means that when you believe on Jesus Christ, when you receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior, when you fully embrace Him for all that the Bible says He is, He takes all of your sin upon Himself and gives you in exchange for that, His perfect and righteous standing with the Father. That is the only way you will ever be good enough for heaven. You need the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ applied to your life through faith.
Will you turn from your sin and fully embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior today?
I would like to help you grow in your newfound faith or if you have further questions about that most important decision, I would love to hear from you.
Ron Lewis, Pastor
Faith Bible Church