I'm a good person, isn't that all I need?
Trying to live a good life is admirable and worth doing, but it isn't enough to get you into Heaven - at least according to Christianity.
Other religions may well say something different.
So let me ask:
- how good do you have to be?
- how do you know when you've been good enough?
- what happens if you're just one good deed short of the entry requirements
- a bit unfair isn't it ?
- what's the scoring system for doing various good deeds and the bad ones
- does giving 10% of my earnings earn me more points than giving £10 to charity once a month ?
- who decides on all of this anyway?
Simply being good can be fraught with all sorts of concerns about whether you will actually get in or not.
Wouldn't it be a lot nicer if you knew what the entry requirements were, and how to measure what you do?
Well, I have some bad news and some really bad news for you. (See Romans 3:20)
The bad news is that you aren't good enough to get into Heaven, and the really bad news is that you'll never be good enough !
Don't blame me, it's God who said that, besides it is His Heaven and He makes the rules.
Only those people who are perfect, who have no sinful blemishes are allowed into Heaven.
Which excludes me, because even being a Christian doesn't stop me from sinning !
Let's just clarify what SIN is. Sin is not merely the breaking of law. Sin is also the breaking of God's heart. This is what makes sin so serious. The law can be satisfied by serving ones sentence. How easy is it to satisfy a broken heart?
God made us to have a relationship based in love with Him, and it is through His love that we can be reconciled to Him and enjoy the relationship that we were originally created for.
Q. So if you aren't perfect then you aren't going to Heaven, and yet you call yourself a Christian. There must be something I'm missing here !
I am a sinner, therefore normally I'd be excluded from Heaven too, but I've got a friend who can get me in.
The way this works is like this:
I'm driving along in my car thinking everything is okay when suddenly I get pulled over by the Police.
I've been done for speeding, even though I didn't realise I was breaking the law.
So I admit my guilt and the officer gives me a ticket with a fine to be paid.
The following day another officer turns up at my door and hands me a receipt for my fine saying PAID and a letter.
The letter is from my friend the Judge, and says:
God, the Judge, can not wipe away my sin as if it didn't matter because then there would be no morallity, no right or wrong, no sin.
But he can and does pay the fine. In paying the fine in Jesus' death he takes upon himself the sin of us all, so that we can be declared to be right with the Judge because our fine has been paid.
I see that you were fined for speeding and that you admitted your guilt.
I could not strike your name off the report since that would be unjust and illegal.
I can and have, however, paid the fine for you.
So as a sinner, there is a fine to be paid, for Christians and non-Christians alike, we're all in the same boat.
The difference for the Christian is that they have a friend who will pay the fine for them.
The non-Christians will have to pay the fine themselves.
Q. So what would be the result of paying the fine myself?
Well, you go straight to jail, you wouldn't pass go and wouldn't collect £200.
The fine becomes payable when you die, or when Jesus comes again whichever is the sooner.
(The thing is no-one knows when either of these events are going to happen we just know they will.)
The result will be that you will not spend the rest of eternity in Heaven but in Hell (whatever that is - the Bible isn't that clear on it)
With Hell, the Bible talks about the second death, a gnashing and wailing of teeth; it doesn't sound a pleasant prospect.
(See Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43)
Q. So I need someone to pay my fine for me - right?
If you want to get into Heaven - Yes! and ONLY Jesus is willing to pay the price and has already paid the price, the innocent for the guilty.
If you want nothing to do with God, or you don't believe me (or God) then that's fine too. It just means that I wont see you when I get to Heaven!
Q. So what do I have to do to get Jesus on my side?
It's fairly straight forward: (See Romans 3:21-26, 5:6-10)
- Acknowledge your guilt, your sin.
- Ask for Jesus to forgive you.
- Thank Jesus that he has already paid the price by dying on the cross.
- Receive His forgiveness and ask him to take hold of your life.
as a prayer:
Dear Lord God,
I am overwhelmingly in debt to you because of my sin. Because of what I am, a sinner, and what I done, I have hurt you, and others and spoilt your world.
I would like a new start and am now turning away from all I know to be wrong and setting my feet on the path to follow you.
Thank you that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sin.
I now receive the gift of forgiveness that this made possible.
Please take hold of my life as my Lord and come to live your life in me forever.
Thank you for hearing this prayer and for answering it.
Q. That's it? I say it and I'm on my way to Heaven?
Basically, yes. You have to say it and mean it - and God will know whether you mean it or not.
Q. Too easy!
For some it isn't so easy. Accepting the fact that God is offering you a free gift to be saved from His wrath at Judgement time is too difficult for some people, they simply can't accept it. They feel that they have to earn it - the thing is it is free, sitting there just waiting for you to accept it.
Also, this is just the beginning.
Q. Aha, I knew there was a catch !
It's the beginning of a beautiful friendship, that I guess is one of the catches.
The other is that you have to start living the way that God wants you to.
Now considering that God only ever wants the best for you, and that He never leaves you, then that's a catch that I for one am happy to get caught by.
What's more, He doesn't leave you alone to get on with it under your own steam, because he knows how easily we fail at things. New Year's resolutions spring famously to mind.
He actually helps us to do things His way, to become the kind of person He wants us to be. The kind of person you were intended to be from the beginning of creation.
(See Romans 5:5, 8:12-17, 8:26-27)
My thanks to:
The Just for Starters Study book for the example of the speeding fine,
and The Y Course for the prayer.
Site created by Richard Coleman on 1st February 1998.
All rights reserved, all trademarks acknowledged.
All information in this page correct as of 15th March 2000.