Throughout the years, I have heard people allude to their goodness as the basis for their admittance into heaven. Such a sentiment will sound absurd to many of you, however, I’m convinced this line of reasoning is more common than you think. In many cases, the people I’ve heard making such claims are professing Christians.
When I was a teenager, I believed it myself. I didn’t do hard drugs. I didn’t steal from my parents. I never murdered anyone. By these definitions, I was a “good” person. God would surely let me into heaven, so I thought.
I can vividly recall fearing death as a teenager but finding hope in the fact that if I died, God would invite me in because I lived a good life. But, does the Bible actually teach that? Do good people go to heaven? Furthermore, how good is good enough?
In what follows, I’ll attempt to answer the question of whether or not good people go to heaven.
No One Does Good
God created everything in six days. On the seventh day, He rested. After He created man and woman in His image, God said it was all “very good” (Genesis 1-2). Humanity was the pinnacle of God’s creative work. We were in a garden and things were perfect.
If we would have stayed in that state, in the beauty and perfection of the garden, things would look much different today. Sin and death would have never entered the cosmos had we relished the Creator more than the creation. Sadly, we were cast out of Eden because we disobeyed our Creator (Genesis 3). Sin and death have wreaked havoc on the human race ever since.
After the garden narrative, the rest of Scripture has some pretty pointed things to say about the condition of humanity. Consider the following verses:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” (Romans 7:18)
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…” (Ephesians 2:1-2)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
“The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.” (Ecclesiastes 9:3)
I could cite so many other verses to make my case, but hopefully you get the point. Apart from Christ redeeming us, we are utterly lost and dead in our sins. But just in case I need to further make the point, look at what Paul, quoting the book of Psalms and Ecclesiastes, says about our condition:
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).
So to answer our question of whether or not good people go to heaven, we must respond with an resounding “no.” Good people do not go to heaven because, according to the Bible, no one is good.
Is there any hope?
Declare and Believe
The reality is, good people do not go to heaven. The only way any of us make it into God’s kingdom is by His grace alone. Nothing more.
The hope of the Christian is that God, in His infinite goodness, in His amazing grace, has created a way for us to enter His presence. The cross is so significant for Christians because, when Christ’s blood was shed there, forgiveness was granted to all who call upon his name. The Bible says, “if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Additionally, Jesus said, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
The entire Christian faith is based on this notion of grace. We’ve received an unbelievable gift from God. Jesus took our place on the cross. When we declare and believe in the name of Jesus, we are fully forgiven and able to enter God’s heavenly kingdom when we die. We will receive an inheritance beyond anything words can express.
So, no. Good people do not go to heaven. God’s people go to heaven. God’s people are those who have repented of their sin and trusted in the person and work of Jesus for salvation.
Have you declared with your mouth “Jesus is Lord?” Have you believed in your heart that God raised him from the dead?
If not, today is a perfect day to call upon his name.