DON’T ALL GOOD PEOPLE GO TO HEAVEN?
1-1-2009, Focus On the Family -- In John 6:38, Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me.” Six times in John 6 it is stressed that Jesus came down from heaven, underscoring not only His divine origin, but also that His purpose is to do God’s will. In context, Heaven refers to the dwelling place of God; also where born again believers in Christ will dwell. John 3:3, 7
There is a common perception that because God is loving and that as long as one leads a generally good life they’ll spend eternity in heaven. Many - if not most - people assume that although some “bad” people may need punishment most people are generally “good” and are entitled to heaven. There’s the view that entrance into heaven is on the basis of merit (our works) rather than God’s grace. Also that Hell, if it exists at all, is really only for a marginal few who are responsible for particularly evil heinous acts.
God is The Creator, designer and sustainer of the universe and everything in it. He’s ever present, all knowing, loving and all powerful. He is a personal being active in His creation, but distinct from it. Those who argue that all good people go to heaven making the case that a loving God would not turn away sincere individuals and He would allow them into heaven. This position, however, fails to consider the broad spectrum of the righteous nature of God. God is indeed merciful (Deuteronomy 4:31; Daniel 9:9), but also just (Job 34:12; Psalm 45:6; Isaiah 30:18).
He is also completely holy. These aspects of His nature, particularly His justice and holiness, mean that anything even remotely sinful cannot dwell in God’s presence.
All people are sinners and “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Psalm 51:5 comes across even stronger: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Using the perfect holiness of the Lord Jesus as our standard of ‘good’ we see that we are not “good.” (Romans 3:23). This does not mean that we are always actively engaged in doing evil or participating in depraved acts all the time. But it does mean that in our very nature we are “fallen,” in rebellion against God and incapable of saving ourselves – God requires a perfect sacrifice to save us from our sin – only Jesus is capable – only Jesus is perfect. Ephesians 2:8-9 reads, “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.” Grace is God’s unmerited favor, demonstrated most fully in the sacrifice of Christ. In short, the only way to heaven is through Jesus. (John 14:6)
What about sincere and good people who are not Christian? and “What about those who have never heard?” for related information. Won’t God welcome them into heaven? This assumes that sincerity is enough to correspond to truth, when in reality it is not. As Proverbs 16:25 reads:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Sincerity will only get someone so far, then it must face reality.
No matter how sincere someone may be about being able to fly by frantically flapping their arms, their sincerity will not keep them in the air. Besides, if someone is actively believing something that is not true and, as a result, is implicitly if not explicitly rejecting God, it seems odd for God to welcome such a person into heaven. Sincerity, then, is not enough. One also has to believe what is true.
We too need to be careful how we use and define our terms; and beliefs based on our own ‘goodness.’ As Jesus answered, “No one is good – except God alone” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19).
To answer the question: Do all “good” people go to heaven? Since no one is good as defined by God, the answer is, “No.”
Those who enter heaven do so - not on the basis of their merit - but on the basis of God’s grace as bestowed by Jesus Christ.
We can’t work our way to heaven or claim to be without sin (1 John 1:8). Instead, we must humbly submit to God, repent turning from our wrong behavior and turn to Christ for our salvation. He is the only Way. John 14:6 Source
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