Most people believe that there is a good place that good people go to when they die; Christians are the exception to this norm as the Bible teaches that it is not the good who get to go to Heaven but actually it is bad people – what?!
This is sometimes a hard concept for me to wrap my head around; when I hear about someone who wasn’t a Christian who died saving the lives of others it makes me sad because they did such a noble and selfless thing yet they aren’t going to get to inherit eternal life or go to heaven.
The problem with this thinking though is that it implies that we can earn our way to heaven and that’s not how it works.
What stops us from getting to Heaven...
People (myself included!) often think of sin as doing bad things such as lying, stealing, or beating up someone. Although all those and every other bad thing is sin, it all flows out from the BIG sin which is rejecting God and wanting to be our own boss.
The main problem we have is a dysfunctional relationship with God where we have decided we know best and want to live our lives our way.
Even the kindest, most generous, most helpfulness person – if they have rejected God as their king, has rebelled against God, the creator and sustainer of everyone, and refused the solution he has provided to save us from the mess we created for ourselves.
This is a hard pill to swallow as it goes against what we feel is right but that is because we have a limited perspective of who we are and who God is.
God created everything. He is the powerful King over the entire universe. He created us to rule his world under him and enjoy all the good things he created for us.
He set us in the world with everything enjoyable and beneficial at our fingertips but we decided we wanted the one thing (among many wonderful things) that we were not supposed to have. Since we did that, we have had to face the consequences of our actions and sin, death, and suffering have been with us since that time.
Yet God loves us so much that even before the world began he had a plan to save us and put things right. He sent his own son – Jesus, who willingly came to take our punishment for our wrongdoing so we could be restored and made right with God.
All we need to do to be made right with God, enter into a restored relationship with him, and inherit eternal life is to accept the free gift of grace that God offers us and let him be the king over our lives.
We cannot and more importantly do not have to DO anything to receive God’s favour and forgiveness as Paul says in 1 Timothy chapter 1, verses 9-10,
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
Why it is good news that bad people go to Heaven...
No matter what we have done, whether we feel it is not too bad or insurmountably bad, we do not have to worry because we do not have to earn our way into heaven and no matter what we have done it is not too much for God to forgive or for Jesus’ blood to cleanse.
There is nothing we can do to get into heaven but there is also nothing we have to do – our performance is a measure neither of our worth nor of our chances of getting into heaven. Since it does not depend upon us or what we do, then no matter what happens or how we feel it doesn’t change our status before God and whether we will be getting into heaven.
As Paul the spostle says in Romans chapter 8, verses 1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you a free from the law of sin and death.”
We have been set free to live good lives not because we have to to earn God’s love or acceptance or our entrance into Heaven but because we want to live out the new identity he has given us as children of God.
It is often still fraught with difficulty and hardship but we can rest assured that as Paul says in 1 Philippians chapter 1, verse 6, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.