Every week, Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., I have the privilege of helping lead an emergency food ministry. What is somewhat unique about this organization is that each person who comes into our facility reads a pre-intake form which tells them that they are about to receive food but must first agree to meet with a counselor to discuss personal and spiritual issues.
Some find us through word-of-mouth, some walk-in as a result of seeing our signs while the majority are referred to us by an organization called Love Inc. When we sit down with a person, after hearing their struggles (which necessitate their coming in for food), we ask them a simple question. “If you were to die today and stand before God, what would you say to Him if He were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven.”
About 90% respond that God should let them in because they are good. I often ask them if they really think He will accept that answer. About half hang their head and say “no.” But even for those who persist optimistically, we share that God cannot let anyone into heaven on the basis of their goodness for several reasons.
1. What defines “good enough?” If we think God accepts us into heaven on the basis of our goodness than He must make a subjective call. Where does He draw the line as to who is acceptable and who is not for entrance?
2. God cannot let good people into heaven. The fact is He is perfect. Perfection that admits imperfection is tainted. God’s justice demands that evil be properly requited.
3. The reality is that none of us are as “good” as we think we are. We’ve lied, stolen, lusted, envied, cheated, been selfish, said unkind things, thought mean thoughts, etc. Any honest person will readily admit to this. Those who won’t are just adding to their sin!
Ecclesiastes 7:20—Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins. (NLT)
Why do so many people think God will let them into heaven on the basis of their goodness? Could it be they embrace a prevalent philosophy that by our good deeds God will accept us? Ephesians 2:8,9 resoundingly trounces such thinking. “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.” Nowhere does Scripture say a person is admitted into heaven on the basis of their goodness, what church they attended, or good deeds they accomplished! Only when we repent of our badness and put our trust in Jesus Christ—making Him our Lord, does the Bible affirm that we can be assured that His Father will let us into heaven. (See Romans 10:9-13). Jesus lived a perfect life, died to save us for our sins but was resurrected to successfully stand before God as an advocate for all who trust in Him!
Fourteen people of the fifty or so seeking food in the past six weeks have placed their trust in Christ for the first time! How wonderful it is to see people admit what is bad to find forever what is GOOD!
We start with the idea that some people are good and some bad; but we are all bad, everyone of us needs saving by Jesus Christ.—Oswald Chambers in The Highest Good
©2006 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)