How good do I have to be to go to heaven?

“And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”   Acts 10:42-43

I have had a few setbacks with my health lately. One of the blessings of being sick is  being able to get caught up with some reading. I am so thankful to have had enough time to think about things and ponder them and compare them with scripture.  There are days that am so bombarded with information and info overload that I have a hard time processing everything. I think it’s important when studying scripture and all things theological to have enough time to meditate on what we have read and really learn from it.  When reading about the modern day Church and the spiritual condition of  many people who call themselves Christians it’s worth a little pondering time as well.

A lot has been written lately about the spiritual state of the modern Christian. With many “Churches” hungry to get people in the door at any cost, Bible Study and Biblical literacy take a big backseat to seeker sensitive schtick of one kind or another and mass confusion about basic doctrine is the norm. I see one status update after another on social media sites about people who think they are going to Heaven because they are a “Nice guy” or as one facebook friend put it ” I put up with a lot of junk from people but I still think nice thoughts and treat them right”.

We are bombarded with every app and gadget imaginable, literally hundreds of bibles line the store shelves,  every day new ones are published and most are free online  and more accessible than ever. Yet we have no clue how to communicate basic knowledge of salvation. It’s epic fail Gospel 101 here in America in 2o11, and according to most things I am reading lately it’s rapidly getting worse.

Here are a few wise words on the subject of Salvation,  I am posting a great sermon from my Church by  Tim Sigmon called “The example of Cornelius” on what it actually means to be a good,  moral, stand up kind of guy but be lost without redemption  in Jesus Christ. I also included a few wise words from J.C. Philpot,  and to finish it off a very thorough article from John MacArthur on these same simple truths.

*For more information regarding chapter and verse in the MacArthur article, just click on any highlighted text and it will take you the scripture referenced.

Sermon by Tim Sigmon: The Example of Cornelius 

(J. C. Philpot, “Answers to Inquiries”)

So Many True and Sincere Religious People

“Cornelius and all his family were devout and
 God-fearing; he gave generously to those in
need and prayed to God regularly.” Acts 10:2

Yet Cornelius and his family weren’t saved! (Acts 11:14)

–A generous centurion build a synagogue. (Luke 7:3-5)

–A young man keeps the commandments from his
youth up. (Luke 18:21)

–Balaam prophesies. (Numbers 23:16)

–Saul weeps. (1 Samuel 24:16)

–Judas preaches the gospel. (Matthew 10:5-8)

Yet none of these men were saved!

It is at times, enough to fill one’s heart with mingled
astonishment and sorrow, to see so many truly sincere
and religious people
, whose religion will leave them short
of eternal life—because they are destitute of saving grace.

To see so much . . .
amiability,
benevolence,
devotedness,
self-denial,
liberality
loveliness of character,
integrity,
consistency of life,
all inescapably dashed against the rock of inflexible justice,
and there shattered and lost—swallowed up with its unhappy
possessors in the raging billows beneath—such a sight, did
we not know that the Judge of the whole earth cannot do
wrong, would indeed stagger us to the very center of our being!

“How good do I have to be to go to heaven?” John MacArthur

Matthew 19:25; Matthew 5:20

Most people understand that doing evil can keep us out of heaven. But few realize the Bible also teaches that doing good cannot get us in. None of us could ever gain enough merit to deserve heaven. We are sinful, and God’s standard is utter perfection. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). He added, “you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Then who can be saved?
The disciples asked Jesus this same question (Matthew 19:25). His answer? “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (v. 26). In other words, our salvation is not something we can accomplish. It is something God must do for us.

What if I stopped sinning now and never sinned again?
We are hopelessly in bondage to sin and could not cease sinning no matter how hard we tried. Scripture says even our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). In other words, we are sinful to the core. Furthermore, a single sin would be enough to destroy us forever: “Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). But even if we never sinned from now on, we still bear the guilt of our past sins. And “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Is there any way to be free from the guilt of sin?
The Bible says, “The blood of Jesus … cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

How can Jesus’ blood cleanse our sins?
When God forgives, He doesn’t merely overlook sin. Atonement must be made. Christ’s death made full atonement for those who trust Him. His dying counts in our stead if we believe. However, that only erases the guilt of our sin. Remember, we still need perfect righteousness in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

Where do we get that perfect righteousness?
The full merit of Jesus’ righteousness is imputed, or credited, to those who trust Him alone for salvation. Scripture teaches that God “justifies the ungodly” by reckoning Christ’s righteousness to them (Romans 4:5). They are clothed in His righteousness, and God accepts believers solely and exclusively on that basis. That’s why Paul was willing to discard all his own efforts to earn God’s favor, preferring instead to stand before God robed in a righteousness that was not his own (Philippians 3:8-9).

If you are not a Christian, you need to lay hold of this truth by faith: the sin that will keep you out of heaven has no cure but the blood of Christ. If you are weary of your sin and exhausted from the load of your guilt, He tenderly holds forth the offer of life and forgiveness and eternal rest to you: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

How can I be sure Christ will save me?
No one will be turned away: “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37). All are invited: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).


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One response to “How good do I have to be to go to heaven?

  1. Excellent introduction Teresa. I loved how you pieced it all together. How true it is that we are bombarded with Bible messages yet so few of us can communicate the Gospel. Most of us would do well to remember the words of Paul in Romans 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” It was the Gospel that caused a seemingly good YET unregenerate man like Cornelius to be born again. May we have the faith to preach Christ and Him crucified to a lost and dying world.

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