When asked how they’ll get to heaven when they die, many people say, “I think my good works will outweigh any bad things I’ve done.” The underlying thought is that their good works will be their ticket to heaven. While good works are important, they are not on God’s list of requirements for salvation. Those who think their good works will get them to heaven need to know what the Bible says about salvation. First we have to understand our sinful condition compared to God’s holiness. When the prophet Isaiah was in God’s presence he cried, “Woe to me ... I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). He didn’t think he was so bad until he saw how far short of God’s holiness he was. Sin came into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Their sin may not seem so serious. Some have even compared it to a child sneaking a cookie when mom wasn’t looking. But Adam wasn’t a child and God had commanded him not to eat the fruit of only one specific tree in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:16-17). His eating that fruit was a direct act of disobedience which caused an insurmountable rift between him and God. That act of disobedience is called sin and it resulted in spiritual and physical death being inherited by all mankind: “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin ... in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
There are many Bible verses that show us that all of us are sinners and by our own efforts we are totally unable to please God: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Spiritual and physical death continues for all sinners: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). The Bible tells us that man has no good works worthy of salvation because “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).
God knows us and fully understands our inability to save ourselves. But because of His great love for all mankind, He revealed His plan to save us from our sins: “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (Jn. 3:16-17). And based on his own experience, the apostle Paul wrote that “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
God made salvation available to all, but we need to believe God and trust in the perfect sacrifice Jesus made when He shed His blood and died on the cross to save us: “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed … but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
Salvation is not accomplished by our good works, but by turning from our sinful ways (repenting) and receiving salvation as a free gift when we ask Jesus to be our Savior: “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” (Eph. 2:8-9). And the apostle John wrote: “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (Jn. 1:12).
Receiving Christ into our lives guarantees us forgiveness of sins, the assurance of eternal life and a place in heaven. “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:12-13).
Trying to get to heaven by doing good works will not work. Trusting in God’s plan for salvation will work. Would you like more information about God’s plan? We can tell you more!
By Ian Taylor
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org