It is common to often come across the thinking that all good people end up in heaven. It's what many believe.. perhaps even the majority of people that believe in heaven itself hold to this idea. The purpose of this article is to examine some points to consider.
1). We don't know exactly what good is.
Doing things because we feel they are the right things or good things seems to be inconsistent from time to time.
An example of this would be todays suicide bombers. They believe they are "doing good" by destroying what they believe to be the enemy. It is through their "faith" that they are taught and so believe that this "good act" will get them into heaven.
2). Our own definitions of "good" are susceptible to change over time.
As we grow older and more mature are ethics and morals and values seem to change a little bit as time goes on. In other words what we think is good at age 20 may be different then what we believe to be good at age 40 or age 60. So if God was going to let us into heaven based on how good we are, what standard would God use. Would He use good based on our adolescence standard, perhaps our married with children standard or our mature senior years standard.
3). God hasn't given us the scoring system for how good we need to be.
Imagine being in the classroom of life and the teacher telling you that your entire grade, pass or fail, going to heaven or not going, depended on your final exam. When asking for study material you are told everything is based on the final and only the final exam. How would you prepare?
4). Linking directly to the previous point is the idea that you would use the Bible as the study material.
The Bible doesn't really give a definitive list of things to do in order to go to heaven.
Perhaps the idea that you would follow the 10 commandments and thereby live by the Bible rules would be your guideline. There were 613 commandments identified in the Old Testament itself. Some which cannot be observed today by anyone for a variety of reasons.
5) Jesus turned this theory upside down.
In Jesus day there was a group who tried to follow as many commandments as possible known as the Pharisees. If anybody followed the law.. it was them. If anyone could get to heaven based on following the commandments in the Bible it would be the Pharisees.
But Jesus turned this theory upside down when He addressed this issue in Matthew 5:20.
"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20)
What Jesus was teaching here is that you can keep as many of the commandments as you are able but that something else is needed. A righteousness that is above and beyond that of the professional rule keepers - leaders of the keepers of the law - the Pharisees.
6). The idea of being good enough to go to heaven is based on our own subjective standard...entirely.
If we think that we are good enough to go to heaven then the question arises...we are good enough compared to whom?
We each have our own standards. perhaps not good enough compared to a Mother Teresa or Billy Graham but plenty good enough compared to others whom have perhaps been in much more trouble then ourselves.
Consider these Bible verses when thinking about this article.
We can get a righteousness above that of the Pharisees through the gift of grace not works. This righteousness cannot be earned...only received.
"Good people don't go to heaven - forgiven people do."
Message from Northwoods Church 8-27-2011 By Pastor Cal Rychener.
For a more detailed review of this message please contact:
Northwoods Community Church
10700 N. Allen Rd.
Peoria, Illinois 61615