Monday, April 03, 2006

Are You TOO GOOD to Go to Heaven?

"How can anyone be too good to go to Heaven? I thought that only bad people could not get in!"

Well, I did, too, but that's not what the Bible teaches! The Apostle Paul wrote in Titus 3:5 that we are not saved by our good works, but by the mercy of God. And in Ephesians 2:9, he said that God chose to save people by grace so that they could not boast of their own goodness in Heaven.

And the truth of the matter is that none of us is good enough to see Heaven, anyway; but those who live a "pretty good life" don't seem to think so. They don't think that God's grace is for them, but for "the real sinners." Consequenstly, they never ask for the grace that is essential to salvation.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable of two men that went to the Temple (the Holy Place in which God's people worshipped Him at that time) and prayed. One, a Pharisee (an educated and very religious man) bragged to God about how good he was, "thanking" Him that he was not like "the sinners." He thought that he was TOO GOOD to need to repent.

The other man, a publican (a traitor to his own people who collected taxes for the conquerors and often charged his own countrymen an extra fee on top of the taxes they owed), knew that hw was no good before God--and repented, crying out desparately for God to have mercy on his soul.

Jesus said that the Publican pleased God!

Y'see, the Pharisee failed to remember that one of the things that God hates the most is pride. Pride is believing that you are better than you are. Many people think that they are good enough to get to Heaven but fail to see that the first sin they ever committed--by itself--disqualifies them forever! James 2:10 says, "For whoever keeps the whole Law, and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of the whole."

In other words, if you have EVER lied, or stolen (no matter how small the value of the item), or desired anything which rightfully belonged to someone else (that's covetousness!), then you have sinned against God and have forfeited your opportunity to earn your way into Heaven. Being "better than" is just not good enough. Your sins are on your record. You need for God to forget about your sins, like He did for the publican.

Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And Jesus Himself said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Jesus is God in the flesh--Emmanuel. His death paid the penalty for our sins, and His resurrection (rising from the dead) guarantees salvation and eternal life for all who repent.

To repent is to stop turn away from your own righteousness and to look to Jesus to be your righteousness. To repent is to begin to hate your evil deeds (pride, lust, hatred, etc.) and to ask God to save you from them. And God promises to forgive and give eternal life to all who do this.

So what about YOU?

Are you evil enough to need God's grace?

Are you evil enough to need to repent?

Are you evil enough to need God's forgiveness?

Are you evil enough for Jesus to save you?

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