Good Life

Clergy Column: Good people don’t go to heaven

Kenneth Codner
Kenneth Codner

Good people don’t go to heaven. That may surprise some, but it’s true.

Jesus said, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). The average person believes that going to heaven is based on how good one is; if the good deeds outweigh the bad, they deserve to go to heaven. Many churches that label themselves Christian advance this teaching, but it is not Biblically correct and makes the suffering and death of Jesus Christ meaningless.

Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10). The first obstacle to becoming a Christian is one’s unwillingness to humble himself before God, confessing his sin, and receiving from God the gift of salvation freely offered to all who will believe and receive. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

It might be a big sin in man’s eyes or a little sin. The degree of the sin is irrelevant. We are all sinners; no one deserves to go to heaven; we all deserve an eternity in hell because we are condemned before God for sin. “There is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). Those who do not believe are in a state of condemnation. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). God provided the means for us to be forgiven of sin and to be made fit for heaven. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

The next obstacle to becoming a Christian is the human tendency to claim some credit for having done it ourselves. The Bible clearly states, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). The Biblical plan for salvation places all the emphasis on God and what he has done to provide salvation thus making one fit for heaven. Teaching that we can somehow earn or merit heaven through our own effort is an insult to God and a rejection of his plan. “Even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Good people are not good enough to go to heaven. There is only one way: God’s way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me” (John 14:6). You must exchange your sin for God’s righteousness. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God alone can and is willing to make you fit for heaven.