Do Good People go to Heaven?

October 23, 2013

Do Good People Go To Heaven?

                Do good people go to heaven?  In consideration of this question, many people would say, “Why of course they do.” That leaves us with another question.  Who are the good people?  How good is good enough?  Does the Bible give us any answers to these questions?

Let’s see what Jesus said about it.  In Matthew 19:16-23 we read about a young man who came to him with a question.  This is what it says.  “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,   Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.   But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.   Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” That doesn’t help us much, does it?  In Romans 3:23 the Apostle Paul wrote, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  That leaves all of us coming up short.

If we go to the Bible in search of an answer to our question; “Do good people go to heaven?” we can answer the question by saying, “yes and no.”

First let’s consider the no answer.  According to the Bible, no one, in himself, is good enough to go to heaven.  The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:18 said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”  If he didn’t have what it takes, then you and I don’t either.  In the Old Testament, God gave his people the Ten Commandments.  If we are honest, we have to admit that all of us have broken one or more of those commandments.

Now let’s consider the good news.  There is a way to be good enough.  It is by the righteousness of the perfect, sinless Son of God.  The Bible uses the word “imputation” in speaking of what God does to make us acceptable.  The word “imputation” means “to reckon over unto ones account.” (Ungers Bible Dictionary p. 520)  The Apostle Paul used that word in Romans chapter four.  He wrote that Abraham was not justified by works, but by faith.  Verse 3 says, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”  In verses 20-22 he says that it was Abraham’s faith that made him righteous.  Let’s not stop here.  Keep reading.  In verses 23-25 it says that righteousness is imputed to us also if we put our faith in the sacrifice of Christ. “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;    Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”

Many overlook a simple truth in the Bible because they are convinced that they have to gain favor with God by their own good works.  The simple truth is that we can gain access to heaven but, not by our own merits.   It is only by the merits of Christ that are placed in our account if we put our faith in him.  The good people who go to heaven are those who trust in Christ’s righteousness; not their own.

Christ’s righteousness is put on the account of those who have put their trust in him.  That’s what the Bible clearly teaches.  In Ephesians 2:8-9 we read, “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.” Also, in Titus 3:5 we read, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

There are always those who respond to the teaching that salvation is by grace by saying, “If that’s the case, a man can live any way he wants to and still go to heaven.”  That way of thinking results from a faulty understanding of what it means to be saved.  He who honestly and truly puts his faith in Christ experiences a dramatic change in his life.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.  In Ephesians 2:10 we read, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” It all starts with humble repentance of one’s past life and a desire to change.  Many times people make an outward profession of putting faith in Christ, but their heart isn’t in it.  When that is all they do, there is no change in their behavior, and certainly no change in their final destination.  If you have made an outward profession of faith in Christ, you need to do it again with repentance and submission to the will of  God.

It’s possible that there are some who are genuinely saved but, the idea that entrance to heaven is gained by human merit is so deeply ingrained in their thinking that they can’t seem to change it.  They go on saying, “Of course good people go to heaven.” In that case it is an indication that they are spiritually immature.

Yes, good people go to heaven, but only those who put their faith and trust in the finished work Christ did for them when he died on the cross.  Have you done that?  If not, why don’t you do it now?

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