Man naturally assumes that eternal life is awarded to those who do plenty of good works during their life on Earth. If you asked 100 people how someone gains entrance into Heaven, you would see what I mean. The common assumption is that getting into Heaven is merit-based.
Scripture comes along and blows that misguided theory out of the water. After all, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
In the Lord’s eyes, all have sinned and broken God’s commandments. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). This is why God sent his only Son to pay for our sins on the cross. It was the only way we could be reconciled to our Father in Heaven. Believers are declared righteous in God’s sight on account of Christ. “If righteousness could be gained through the Law, Christ died for nothing” (Galatians 2:21).
You may ask, “What if a person sincerely tries to live a good life, but does not believe in Jesus as Savior?” Many people assume that sincerity is enough. The Chinese philosopher Mencius said, “Sincerity is the way to Heaven.” But is it? The Bible reveals that multitudes of people are sincerely wrong about God, human righteousness, Heaven, Hell, and the path to Paradise. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
The purpose of Christ’s crucifixion was not to change God’s mind about Heaven but to provide forgiveness for sinners so that we could in fact actually enter Heaven. The blood of Jesus shed on the cross has the power to wash away your sins. This spiritual cleansing occurs the moment you rely upon the sacrifice of Christ for your salvation. Trusting in good works to save your soul is futile. After all, performing 10,000 good works does not wash away a single sin.
God definitely wants his children to do good works, but you will first need to place your faith in Christ alone. Those who rely upon their own righteous acts for salvation remain lost in their sins. The only way to be justified before God is through faith in Christ alone.
The Apostle Paul had plenty of experience trying to work his way into Heaven. After his conversion, however, Paul's entire perspective changed. He wrote, “We know that a man is not justified by observing the Law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the Law, because by observing the Law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:15-16).
You realize what this means, don’t you? A person can actually be “too good” to make it into Heaven. Those who seek to earn eternal life by their own righteousness commit a fatal error.
The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “All religions must be tolerated … for every man must get to Heaven in his own way.” Now compare this philosopher’s proud declaration to the words of the Messiah, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
One of the thieves being crucified along with Jesus said to the Lord, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).
Eternal life in Heaven is a free gift. You can’t earn it, can’t buy it, you can only receive it; It’s a gift. Eternal life is free. Do you believe it? One of the final verses of the Bible states: “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).
Once you realize how far your sins have separated you from God, you become thirsty for God’s grace. Will you come to Jesus today and receive the free gift of salvation? Those who repent and receive this free gift instantly become inheritors of eternal life in Heaven.
Sound too good to be true? Oswald Chambers wrote, “The reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much.”
Humble yourself before God and admit that you have sinned against him unless of course, you are too good to get into Heaven. If you are striving to save your soul through your own efforts, then I feel very sorry for you. Until you stop trying to save yourself, you will fail to enter into a relationship with the Messiah.
Simply let go and let God. Trust Jesus as your Savior, as you reject the idea that you can be good enough to work your way into Heaven.
Only then will you be able to understand and appreciate these words which the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Ephesus: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
You see, Christians do good works not in order to be saved, but because we have already been saved through faith in Christ alone. Do you see it now? If so, will you believe it now?
Man’s righteous acts cannot wash away any of his sins, period. Faith in Christ alone is the only way to be saved, redeemed, justified, born again, and forgiven. And salvation occurs on the front end of your relationship with Christ.
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.