Summary: If you asked people how do you get to heaven they would say by living right. But is that right?
A Trip to Heaven must be earned
When asked about Christianity, actress Sophia Loren was reported as saying several years ago in the USA Today, “I’m not a practicant, but I pray. I read the Bible. It’s the most beautiful book ever written. I should go to heaven; otherwise it’s not nice. I haven’t done anything wrong. My conscience is very clean. My soul is as white as those orchids over there, and I should go straight, straight to heaven.”
In a Reader’s Digest interview, Muhammad Ali stated: “One day we’re all going to die and God is going to judge us—our good deeds and bad deeds. If the bad outweighs the good, you go to hell. If the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven.”
Another Reader’s Digest article told of a 67-year-old man named Bill who had donated over 100 pints of blood over the years. No doubt many people owe their lives to this man’s kindness. How do you think this man’s good deeds go over in heaven?
Here’s what Bill thinks: “When that final whistle blows, and St. Peter asks, ‘What did you do?’ I’ll just say, ‘Well, I gave 100 pints of blood,’” Bill says with a laugh. “That ought to get me in.”
Bill was probably joking. But if he was serious, if he truly believes that his good deeds will give him a ticket to heaven, then he has perfectly articulated the gospel of works. If Bill is counting on the giving of 100 pints of blood to get him to heaven—he is trusting in the wrong blood.
What does it mean to be right with God, or accepted by God. Many in and out of the church would give you a list of things to do and things not to do. All the world religions give you things to do to work your way into heaven. Except Christianity. You often hear, “there are no free lunches,” or “you’ve got to work for what you get.” And we apply that you only get what you deserve to our religious experience.
In the Bible many asked the question:
16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" 17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." 18 "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "’Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ’love your neighbor as yourself.’" 20 "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." I pretty sure God would not agree that he had kept all the laws as he thought he had. Jesus knew that his trust could not be in him, because his trust was in his wealth. So Jesus confronted it right up front.
Luke 10:25 25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?" 27 He answered: "’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’" 28 "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."