Do Good People Go to Heaven?
Do Christians believe that Good people go to heaven?
So, if anyone has tuned in recently to the TV show “the Good place” you might get the feeling, as many people have in the past, that heaven is the place where Good people go and that bad people go to the Hell. (BTW “the Good place” is based on a play by existentialist Jean Paul Sartre and has nothing to do with the Christian view of heaven). You may have seen Bugs Bunny or some looney toons cartoon character die and go up to heaven and become an angel dancing on the clouds while the bad guys always went to hell where they were poked by little red devils with pitchforks. The premise is always good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.
Many non-Christians believe that Christians think that in order to go to heaven you have to be good. You have to obey the ten commandments all the time. You have to go to Church every Sunday and dress like a Christian and talk like a Christians and if you do that you will earn your way into heaven and if you don’t you will be condemned to hell. This is not Biblical Christianity.
So Christians do believe that Good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell, but the problem with that is that Jesus tells us that “no one is good except God” (Mark 10:18). In the New Testament a preacher named Paul reminds us in his letter (Romans 3) that “no one is righteous, no not one”. It doesn’t take a theologian to realize this is absolutely true, that no matter how good we think we are, we mess up, we make mistakes. It seems that no matter how moral we are we slip up from time to time. Christians call this original sin, and acknowledge that all of us sin, and that no one is perfect…yet. So if it were true that only the good got into heaven, we’d have a very empty heaven seeing as no one is good.
That preacher I mentioned before, Paul. He was a guy who understood this very well, as he was actually a persecutor of Christians, Jesus transformed his life, even though he was doing terrible things to Christians, and gave him a new life. So, Paul writes, in his letter to the Romans, he writes “the wages of sin is death.” So, we do believe that if we sin we are condemned to death. God established this rule way back at the very beginning of creation, when he told the very first man and woman that disobedience would mean they would die. They did disobey and we have death in the world, and all of us are destined to death and hell because all of us have sinned. So, if we are all sinful it means that none of us can earn our place in heaven, because all of us, even if we think we are really really good, are all in the same boat. In fact, Paul said “I am the worst of sinners”. So how do Christians go to heaven if we cannot earn our way there?
Well, I’ll finish Paul’s sentence. He said “the wages of sin is death, but the Free gift of God is eternal life”. So, our entrance into heaven is a “Free gift”, we don’t earn it by being good. So how it works is that God said the punishment for sin would be death. So, we all deserved death. But God came to us through Jesus and died in our place, he took the punishment for us. It would be like if a Judge sentenced you for a crime and made you pay a fine and then he paid the fine for you. Paul also says “we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works.” So Paul is saying there that it’s not about how good we are, but about how Good he is. It’s not about what we do, but about what he has done for us.
We receive the gift through faith, meaning we believe that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. Then we repent, repentance is a response to salvation, and repentance means, now we got this awesome new life, so we have a new desire, we have a new view on life. It literally means that we “turn” we turn from thinking about sin and death and we turn to the things of life, and we start living differently and we start wanting to do good, not to earn something, but because our hearts have been changed.
Being a Christian is not about being perfect, it’s about relying on the only one who was perfect, its about trusting in him and not our own works, because let’s face it, if it were up to us to earn our place in heaven by our own goodness, none of us would ever get there, but he was good for us.
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