What Do You Mean,
I’m Not Good Enough To Get Into Heaven???
Being told that you are not good enough to get into heaven
may be one of the most distressing, disconcerting statements that you could
face. Most people will take it to be an
absolute insult, a slanderous statement impugning their character. The first thought that flashes through your
mind if someone says this to you is, “Just who do you think you are?” or “What
gives you the right to say that?”
Most people would like to believe that they are basically
good. I daresay that on the whole most
people commit more good acts than bad acts.
On the great scales of justice that people keep in their own minds, the
good acts probably outweigh the bad acts.
However, that is not the scale or the standard that determines what is
good and what is bad in God’s sight.
16 Now a man came up
to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal
life?" 17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied.
"There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the
commandments." Matt. 19:16-17 (NIV)
God’s justice is perfect and sin is sin; there are no lesser
sins or greater sins before God. There
is just sin whether it be murder or a “little white lie.” Unfortunately for mankind, one sin outweighs
every good deed performed during one’s life.
The reason is that man’s standard is not God’s standard. God’s standard is perfection and no one can
meet that standard, save One.
Before anyone starts feeling like their lifestyle or life
choices are being called into question, let me be perfectly clear about the
presupposing statement, i.e. you are not good enough to get into heaven – neither
am I. I make no apologies or excuses
for what I am about to say – no one is good enough to get into heaven. That includes you, me, any relative that we
might have (including my sainted grandmothers), the Pope or even Mother
Theresa. I am not besmirching anyone’s
character when I say such a thing. The
reason is that I am not the one who said it.
Jesus Christ said it.
25 Jesus said to her,
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even
though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you
John 11:25-26 (NIV)
There is no clearer statement contained in scripture than
this claim. Jesus clearly stated that He
was the resurrection (from death, both physical and spiritual) and the
life. He then goes on to make an
assertion that has made Him the “stumbling block” for non-believers. He leaves no doubt about what He means: if you believe in Him, you will live and
never die. And then He challenges not
just Martha with this direct question but He also challenges us – do you
In a subsequent chapter of John, Jesus goes on to
reemphasize His role in history and the importance of that role. It is a role that identifies Christ according
to His purpose.
6 Jesus answered,
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father
except through me. John 14:6-7 (NIV)
Jesus responded to Thomas’ inquiry when Thomas asked which
way they were to go since they did not know where Jesus was going. Jesus’ answer was much deeper than Thomas
anticipated with his original question
Jesus never made a statement regarding a spiritual matter unless He
intended to convey spiritual truth. In
this particular instance His reply was extremely significant given whom He was
addressing and the culture of the time.
In Jewish culture under Mosaic law, the way to God was
through the Levitical priesthood who sacrificed and interceded on behalf of the
Jewish people. There was not a direct
connection to God Almighty for the individual; that right was reserved
specifically for the priesthood. In
point of fact, the only person allowed to enter the Holy of Holies was the high
priest of Israel. No one else was allowed this privilege and
honor. Jesus now said that no one
comes to God except through Him. This
was a statement that was absolutely exclusive while at the same time totally
inclusive for those who believed.
He also makes a statement that has proved to be
controversial throughout the ages. He
said that He was “the way, the truth and the life.” He did not say that He was a way or another
way to get to God. He did not say that
He was the way and then you had to do other stuff along with it. He said that He was the only way to get to
God. This was an absolutely inflammatory
statement not only for that time but for the present. If you do not believe me, try telling someone
that Jesus Christ is the only way to seek salvation and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
You will find out what I mean.
This line of thought is continued in a very familiar passage
that seems to show up at sporting events, typically near the end zone of
football games. You guessed it – John
3:16. Christians know this verse word
for word and many non-Christians are familiar with it. It has not only become familiar at sporting
events but seems to have become a moniker in contemporary times. How often do we see a name with the notation
“3:16” following it? This particular
Bible verse is probably the most frequently quoted passage of scripture in the
Bible. What are often not quoted are the
two verses that follow.
16 "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. 17 For God did not send his Son into
the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever
believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned
already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
John 3:16-18 (NIV)
This passage ties directly in with Christ’s statement that
He was the only way to get to God. In
fact, it is clear and unequivocal in its expression that absent belief “in the
name of God’s one and only Son”, one stands condemned. The reason was that God sent His Son into the
world not to condemn it but rather to save it.
The way to be saved is then specified; it is belief which is an act of
What did this expression of belief or act predicated upon
faith really mean? What did one have to really
do to inherit eternal life? Jesus
addressed this very issue with an educated man of the time who was also part of
the religious and political hierarchy.
3:1 Now there was a
man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2
He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who
has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing
if God were not with him." 3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the
truth, no one can see the kingdom
of God unless he is born
again." 4 "How can a man be born when he is
old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his
mother's womb to be born!" 5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth,
no one can enter the kingdom
of God unless he is born
of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives
birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born
again.' John 3:1-8 (NIV)
Nicodemus did not initially understand what it was to be
“born again.” This phraseology is common
in our culture today but the question raised is whether people, just like
Nicodemus, truly understand what it means.
When Jesus said that one must be born again, He was talking about a
spiritual rebirth, a time of repentance or tuning away, a new life, if you
will, based upon the express belief in Him (Jesus Christ) as the Son of God and
all that implies.
Many in these end times have a problem with the idea that
belief in Jesus Christ is enough to save one from eternal damnation. What could we have done to deserve this? The answer, of course, is that we did nothing
to deserve it.
8 For it is by grace
you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift
of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in
advance for us to do. Eph. 2:8-10 (NIV)
God’s grace or unmerited favor is the only reason why we
have the opportunity to enter into His mansion and avoid the depths of hell. Clearly, this passage in verses 8 and 9
demonstrates that salvation is a gift from God. We cannot earn our way into heaven (that one
really gives some people problems). We
do not deserve to get into heaven. The
reason behind this passage is quite simple:
if Christ died for our sins but we still have to do something to get
into heaven, then His sacrifice was insufficient. To believe otherwise is a “salvation plus”
theology. Wasn’t Christ God in the flesh? Weren’t His final words on the cross, “It is
finished”? What else could be left to
The issue of works is addressed in verse 10 above. We are God’s workmanship, created to do good
works and God prepared those works in advance for us to do. As illustrated above, works follow salvation,
not the other way around. Why do we or
why should we want to do good works? The
answer is that we love Jesus and we, as believers, want our lives to reflect
the love of Christ. Works are acts of
service performed for the purpose of honoring our Savior. We are not trying to earn our way into heaven
because that is a price that we can never pay; it was paid by the only One who
could. That person was Jesus Christ, the
perfect Lamb of God.
Does all of this really mean that I can never be good enough
to get into heaven on my own? That is
exactly what it means. Thank goodness
for that truth. I never have to worry
about where the line is drawn; my good acts do not have to outweigh my bad acts
before God’s eyes. The price has been
paid in full. That price was paid by
Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
That is a message that must be shared with everyone before it is too
late and God calls us home to be with Him.
Before the Rapture happens, I want to give this gift, the
most important gift that I could give, to my family, my friends, my loved ones
and anyone else I possibly can. It costs
me nothing to give but its value is priceless.
I can think of nothing more valuable to give, especially in these trying
times. I hope you feel the same way.
Comments or questions may be directed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.