I was reading the comments on a Christian post recently and encountered something that I see all too much. Someone was stating that they did not need God because they were a good person. He said he and his wife had brought up their children to be good people too. He explained that they had all chosen careers that helped others, and that they had high moral standards. Unfortunately, he is not the only one who feels this way, and many people who believe this think that God is not loving nor of good character to send people such as them “to hell for eternity.”
The Greek word for Heaven is ‘Ouranos’, which means the dwelling place of God. I often wonder why anyone would want to go to Heaven if they don’t believe in God or disapprove of His manner of doing things. It seems that they would be very unhappy with this arrangement. But many people today don’t feel that they should have any consequences for their choices in this life. Their rebellion against God is one of moral superiority; they think they are good enough to be rewarded with a Heaven-like eternal life, but seemingly one in which God does not have any part. I am all for people living decent lives with high moral standards and showing kindness to others, but we all need to be aware of what God says and what is required for eternal life with Him.
Some assume that God is all-loving and will not send anyone to hell, except the terribly bad people like rapists and murderers. They have decided that they know who is good, rather than looking to God to see what He says about this. Some don’t believe that hell exists, and some believe that those not bound for Heaven will simply cease to exist after death. Others believe that what we do – our good works – are the basis for entry into Heaven.
Let’s first look at what it means to be good. The dictionary defines good, when referring to character, as ‘morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious’. In the Bible, the Greek word ‘agathos’ is most commonly translated into the English word good in the New Testament. Included in its definitions are, ‘of good constitution or nature; good, pleasant, agreeable, joyful, happy; excellent, distinguished; upright, honorable. Goodness, holiness, and righteousness are all in God’s nature. He will always act to do that which is right. He has no evil in Him. Psalm 100:5 tells us, “For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.” And in Mark 10:18 (and similarly recorded in Matthew 19:17 and Luke 18:19) we read, “And Jesus said unto him, ‘Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.’” Humans, however, are born with a sinful nature, and without the finished work of Christ, we would have no chance at eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us plainly, “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.”
We see then that no human being is truly good. Our sinful nature separates us from our Heavenly Father. But in His lovingkindness, He sent His only begotten Son to show us what a truly sinless life looked like. Then Jesus, perfect in every way, took our place on the cross, bearing our sins and suffering a painful death as our substitute. Because of this loving, selfless act, when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior, our Heavenly Father looks upon us as if we were as righteous as Jesus. Our sins have been forgiven, and we are able to look forward to sharing eternity with our Savior and our Heavenly Father. In 2 Timothy 1:9-10, Paul tells us this of God: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
After accepting Christ as our personal Savior, we try to show our love for God in various ways. His great love leads us to praise Him and study the Bible so we can know His will for our lives. We begin to do more things that we know are pleasing to God and express our love for others to emulate the love of our Father. This love also leads us to follow God’s commandments. Just as we do things for our loved ones here to show them our love and appreciation, in the same way we want to show our Heavenly Father how much He means to us for giving us love, peace, freedom, and eternal salvation. These works are not done to gain salvation, because that is a gift we cannot buy nor earn; but as God’s children, we work to show His love through us so that others may come to know Him in the same way.
The truth is that, in and of ourselves, we can never be good enough to earn our salvation, nor to keep it once it is obtained. The Good News is that we don’t have to. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” And we read the words of Jesus in John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man can pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” In the eyes of God, we are only righteous when covered with the blood of Jesus; when we accept Christ as our personal Savior.
If you or someone you know has not yet received the precious gift of salvation available to those who believe, now is the time to make the choice.
Grace and blessings on your path,